What a crazy week!
Trolley Rides and Delicious Popcorn= best random Thursday ever!
Walnut Creek has a trolley/bus thing that is known as the 'Free Ride'. I have always wanted to ride a trolley in San Francisco, because I saw them there when I visited with friends two Christmases ago. Riding the trolley has also been a silly dream since Mom and I used to always watch "Meet Me in St. Louis". So this was the closest thing to riding a trolley right now. I really wanted to ride it, so I thought about using it to find new people to talk to. Sister Hewett and I loaded up on pass along cards and got on a free ride. I ended up talking to people from Russia, England, and all over the area here. (the free ride is meant to get people to go shopping downtown). I gave out different invitations, like visitors center, mormon.org, and ordering a Book of Mormon. It was also good practice of just talking to people, I would be sitting by someone and I would just start a conversation. I started one by telling the English guy he spilled coffee foam on his pant leg (I have just learned to embrace the awkwardness of always talking to people no matter what). Then I heard he had an English accent and asked him about England. We talked about family and how he finds the ability to balance and find peace in his life with so much travel. It was so natural to testify of families and how the restored gospel blesses them. Sis H and I had so much fun! We got off after riding an hour, and were walking through downtown to get back to our car, when we passed a popcorn shop. We remembered a member telling us it was good, and I was really hungry, so Sis H asked if I wanted to go in. I said yes, and soon the cashier came around and started giving us samples. Then as she was looking down at the popcorn she asked "are you...." and I said "missionaries? YES!" Then she launched into a conversation with us about how she remembers her and her grandma learning from the missionaries at age 10 on their front lawn. Then she said life happened, parents got divorced, etc. and she never got baptized. Then she said her boss has been telling her she needs to go to church. I couldn't believe how awesome she was, we asked if she would like missionaries to come teach her again and she readily said yes! She gave us all her information, sadly she does not live in Walnut Creek so we won't teach her, but some other missionaries will!
Turnarounds from the Book of Mormon
This week we have really slowed down on plowing through lessons and thinking what our investigators really need to progress and build their faith. Then, so many miracles poured out! First, Madhukar had not come to church in weeks, and could only meet with us once a week instead of twice, and he stopped reading,etc. It was terrible, he had been so fired up and now was backing off. But we KNEW he was not done yet! Finally this last lesson he told us he started reading the BOM again, but this time with more meaning, he says he feels like he can get something out of almost every verse, and he wants to not just read it for general learning anymore, he recognizes there is meaning in it!!! Then he came to church again!
Then Priyali, our other Indian investigator, said that she tried the deeper prayers we talked about with her. We had talked about how important it was to pray for others not just ourself. We had also asked our ward missionaries to help with daily contact with our investigators. One of them had texted Priyali all week and through their conversation our ward missionary asked Priyali to pray for her and her husband because he really needs a better job. Priyali said she was touched, and this was when she started to really recognize others needed her to pray for them. She said her prayers were so much better, and THEN she said how it all really connected with what she had been reading in the BOM!! She said all the lessons about charity, etc had more meaning. Tears were streaming down her face at this point, and said she the BOM was so simple yet profound, it could not possibly have been written by man, and that her reading and praying have more meaning now!!! Sis H and I had also taken Norman ( our last baptism) and his wife Mandy to this lesson; we all walked out of there blown away and felt like we were the ones being taught. Norman joked that Priyali put him to shame (he was a lot more quiet in his lessons). I have been so impressed with our dear Indian friends, they are so smart and so humble, and they understand the scriptures so well. She is not ready for baptism yet, but it was such a turning point!! she said she recognized how we weren't just trying to get numbers for our ward, but to help "conversion from within" and she related it to Lehi's dream, how we are here to help her stay on the path! The great part is, is that she had read the dream in chapter 8, but had not read the interpretation in ch 11 yet! WOW!! Definitely a highlight of my mission.
Another investigator (and has been for a year now) had a turnaround this week too, because of the right member. I can not testify to you how much member missionary work matters. It makes absolutely the biggest difference.
Norman and Mandy have been called as ward missionaries!! WOOOOO!! Them, Ross (Lacie's husband), Bishop, our WML, and even Zaya spoke on Sunday! The Spirit was sooo strong and everyone came out of the sacrament saying it was the best one ever. Norman told his conversion story, and Mandy and Ross testified of the joy of having their spouses get baptized. Then we had helped Zaya write a simple testimony of how happy she was, and she did a great job with her English! Then to top it all off Bishop shared his experience of sharing the gospel that I really wanted to share with all of you.
He went to visit a recent convert who had recently been put in jail in San Francisco. He brought a BOM with him to give him something to read, and as he went to the visiting area, he passed a bail bondsmens' office. Bishop said he didn't know really what a bail bondsmen did, so he stopped and chatted with him for a bit. He had a strong impression to give the BOM to this man. He felt it twice, and said he walked out anyways. He felt terrible, and so he prayed to Heavnely Father that if that man was still there after his visit, he would give him the BOM. Turns out he couldn't bring a gift to a man jail, so he had to keep the BOM, so he went down to the bail bondsmen's office. He asked if he (his name was Tony) had ever read this book. Tony said yes actually, so Bishop asked if he had ever been to the Oakland temple/visitors center. He said no. Bishop said he and his family were going tomorrow night, and if he and his wife would like to join them. He said yes! After the temple visit, they met with missionaries. Bishop and his wife sat in on a lesson with Tony and his wife about eternal marriage. During the lesson Tony turned to his wife and said "Of course! Of course this is how it's supposed to be!" Bishop said he and his wife were sooo happy after that lesson they were practically skipping and said if every member felt the joy they did at that moment, we would have to split the ward there would be so many converts. Tony and his wife are now actice members in another ward, and have been sealed in the temple.
The gospel is real. It makes people happy, and everyone wants to be happy. The gospel blesses families, and sharing the gospel blesses families.
I LOVE YOU ALL!