Monday, June 3, 2013

Collette's first week as a missionary - "Hastening the Work!"

AHHHH BEST WEEK EVER! I love being a missionary so much. Thank you everyone for wondering whether I would have a great or horrible week. It's been great, no worries. I don't really know where to start. Summing up a week in the mission field is so much harder than a week in the MTC. I will try to address all questions but that won't happen.

Sister H and I get along super well. She's basically really chill and extremely stubborn so when we are debating something I've learned to jokingly say "You're right, I'm wrong. You're big, I'm small" Apparently it's from a movie. Hopefully I have time to put on pictures this time, I tried to take some creeper shots so you can see what she looks like. We were talking on Friday or Sat night, I can't remember, all the days are a blur, and she slipped in the conversation "Oh yeah, I was engaged for a year before I came on my mission" and I was like "WHAT THE HECK why did you wait this long to tell me that!!" So there's a fun fact about Sister H, got engaged at 18.

Sister P., the lady we live with is seriously like my favorite lady ever. She loves to talk-and I mean loves. Since she lives by herself I don't blame her. One day she told us "I wasn't able to get a dog, so I got sister missionaries instead!" It made me laugh so hard. Now whenever we come home I say "Sister P! Your dogs are home!" We sometimes have a hard time studying because Sister P comes in and talks and we can't really tell her to leave, but she's so precious it's okay. Speaking of dogs, everyone here has one and I love it, it's like I have a billion pets.

The ward is..... really different than Felicita. There are about 600 members and I think 100ish are active. Guess what that means, the missionaries say a lot of prayers and are asked to make a lot of comments in class. Even though it's small I'm growing to love them. This area is really humble, like I said earlier, a lot of people live in apartments and for most dinners we have sat on metal folding chairs. Since basically everyone is less active, Sister H and I spend a lot of time visiting very single dang person in that ward directory and 95% of the time they don't come to church, so it works out well! This week was basically all finding. There is a pair of elders in our ward also who had already been there so they gave us our only 3 investigators (2 are 11 and 13 year old girls in a part-member (less active) family) and none of our investigators are considered "progressing" since we've only been able to meet with them once.  I'm going to try and talk about all the cool things that have happened this week but my brain starts to explode when I think about typing it all.

The spirit REALLY guides us. A lot of the names we visit in the ward directory don't even live there anymore and I'm pretty sure every single time we've gone to a house like that, the people who live there now showed interest and we were able to set up an appointment with them for this coming week. How cool is that? One time we were driving off a street and Sis H said "wait, does anyone else live on that street?" I found one name that did and we turned around to go see them. When we knocked a 23 year old girl who looks about 16 opened the door and just let us in without us saying anything. The house smelled of smoke (most houses here do) and we were able to talk to them and they showed interest in coming back to church. Things like that happen a lot, we just always seem to be in the right place at the right time.

We rarely go knocking on doors, just sometimes because there are more effective ways to find people which I will talk about later, but after meeting with our investigator S. we went to knock on her neighbors door, Sister H skipped one and went to the next and I knew we would have to go back to the one we skipped. When we did go back, a tattooed woman holding a baby answered and we just chatted for a little then asked "We're sharing a message about Jesus Christ, would it be okay if we came in?" Then do you know what she said? SHE SAID SURE! I was really confused for about 5 seconds because I'm not used to people letting us in. Sis H still makes fun of my face when the lady said that. She said she wanted to tell me "Sis Knowlton, pick up your jaw" We talked to her about her family for a little and then gave her a Book of Mormon, asking her to read the Introduction, she read it in front of us and seemed to really like it. She told us she was Baptist so I was scared she was going to start a Bible bash but she was really open to it.

One of my favorite moments was on Wednesday, we went to meet with our investigators the B's. The mom, dad and oldest daughter are all less active members and they have two younger daughters who are our other two investigators. The oldest daughter is 16 years old and has a 2 year old baby boy because she got pregnant at 14. Apparently this situation was the cause for the family to be offended by some people in the church. The mom is renown for the one time she made an elder cry after he tried to tell her, the gospel is perfect but the people aren't and even though it's hard she would have to forgive the people that offended her. That most definitely was not the right thing to say so she told him off big time. As we sat there and listened to her story and situation I have never felt more love for someone in my life. I was almost crying when she would cry, talking about her daughter getting pregnant. She expressed that she feels guilty because she let that happen and as we talked to her, I knew exactly what to say and when I opened my mouth, I didn't know what I was going to say next, it just happened. As she expressed her guilt I had a very clear prompting to tell her that she needed to forgive herself. If she was truly sorry and had repented to God, he had already forgiven her and the next step was to have faith in Christ's atonement and forgive herself. The spirit in the room was so strong, it wasn't me or Sister H talking. I don't know how to describe it without sounding weird but I know this is God's work because he helped me very directly. He needed to communicate something to her and as a missionary I was able to be the mouthpiece.

Moments like that are really cool but unfortunately we don't teach many lessons right now since we are finding people. I wish I could tell all the cool finding stories, generally people are pretty nice when we knock on their doors and I've been surprised at how many people show interest. I think most people here are having a really hard time so they are open to anything they think would help them. We have been praying to find those 5 people who are ready for baptism and I feel like yesterday we found one of them. After trying to meet with a less active member we saw a man and his wife working in the garage and went over to talk to them. They were both really nice and chatted with us for a super long time. Finally the man said "So, what church are you from?" we told him, and he said "Oh, my neighbor (the less active man) invited me to his mom's funeral at your church and I really enjoyed it. I'd definitely like to try it out" I tried to keep my cool but inside I was like OH MY GOSH THIS IS A MIRACLE! YOU'RE GETTING BAPTIZED! Obviously I get a little overexcited sometimes. While visiting another less active, there was another couple with their door open and we stopped to ask if they needed help since they looked like they were moving. After chatting for a little we asked if we could give them a Book of Mormon, the wife seemed really cool with it and her eyes lighted up, she said she had Mormon friends and had never read it, but the husband wouldn't have it. We kept talking and gave them one anyways. Although they are moving and we will never see them again I could tell that Book of Mormon was going to do something in their lives. As we walked away Sister Hand said "see you on the other side Donna."

The mission president called a surprise zone meeting and talked to us about a meeting the mission presidents had had with Elder Cook. He was telling us about how we HAVE to work with members and instructing us how to do that. Elder Cook told them that with this mission age change this is now the time that the work will hasten. We have seen people joining the church in the thousands and tens of thousands but now it will be in the millions. That's a promise from an apostle!! Holy Cow! SO COOL! There are double as many missionaries because there are now double as many people being prepared my the Lord to hear the gospel. We now meet every single night with members and work really closely to get referrals from them. So far, they have all been really excited. Mom, I did bare my testimony in church, the Bishop had all 4 missionaries in the ward come up and talk. Bishop E is really helpful, he is all about the missionary work. The ward really loves Sister H and I, I kinda feel bad for the elders because they are all mainly excited to have Sister missionaries. (Especially little girls, little girls love us haha) We are becoming really great friend with our elders, we do a lot of things with them. Also we are required to do 10 hours of service a week which is kinda hard.

Some moments of the day can be discouraging and exhausting because no one will answer the door and we just drive around trying to find people and I get discouraged for a little but then I get over it pretty fast. Sister H and I have a good time, she's finally starting to think I'm funny ;) We love listening to our MoTab CDs. She makes fun of me because I didn't know we couldn't eat in the car and I was in the middle of eating a cookie so I stuck my head out the window, took a bite and said "strict obedience!!" So now she says that all the time. Okay I gotta go soon.

I love you all and appreciate your prayers, the church is true, the Book of Mormon is true and I know it. Now go read it and give the missionaries a referral! BYEEEEEE

Sister Collette Knowlton
PS I got my hand stuck in the seat of the car for a long time and we laughed really hard. The end. bad story sorry.

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