Monday, December 30, 2013

The Little Blessings

Christmas definitely made this week a little bit nuts. Especially with being in a new area and trying to learn all the streets and members while everyone is gone on vacation. But Christmas couldn't have come at a better time. It was such a blessing to be able to talk to my family via Skype and see how well they are all doing - it was also reassuring to see our family room still intact (you never know with my brothers). Since the Mission President told us to just enjoy our Christmas Day, I felt a little lost not doing missionary work all day. We finally figured out what to do with ourselves right before it was curfew though.
Sisters Armstrong, Garzand, and I were given the best after Christmas present though the following day. Since almost no one was receptive when we were tracting, we tried calling some members to see if we could visit anyone. Finally, after calling countless people, the Friday family said we were more than welcome to come to their home and share a Christmas message.
Right after we sat down, Brother Friday asked that we teach a Plan of Salvation lesson. Needless to say, we were a little thrown because we were just expecting to share a scripture and go. But we weren't about to turn down a chance to teach a lesson! When we began to teach about our life before we came here, the Spirit came into the room so strong. Chills ran down my spine, even though it wasn't cold in the room. The two teenage granddaughters began to cry and all of a sudden, a voice came into my head telling me that most of the family weren't members of the Church.
As the lesson went on, the Spirit got stronger and stronger. It was just eminating through and it seemed as if there was a light in the room that had no source. By the time we ended the lesson, there wasn't a dry eye to be found.
I felt heavily impressed to offer copies of the Book of Mormon to anyone who wanted one... And... no one took one. Yet, as we walked away, I deftly left some pass-along cards in the hands of Brother Friday to give to his family. I'm confident that one day, his whole family will convert to the gospel - maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow. But some day!
The best part of the week was on Saturday for I had my very first baptism!!!! His name is Josh and the other sisters had been teaching him for awhile before I came but I had the chance to teach him almost all of the Commandements. I felt so happy and blessed to see this young man enter into his frst covenant with our Lord and Savior - there's nothing more amazing than hearing the waters run in the church font. As I had the opportunity to witness his baptism, I felt filled to the brim with joy for I knew that what he was doing was right and was setting him on an amazing path. So amazing! I wish I could adequately express my feelings, but the right words escape me.
On our way to email this morning, we got a little bit held up. As we were driving, we noticed a young woman sitting in her car, pulled off the road and onto the curb. Everyone was giving her rather nasty looks and just kept driving. Sister Armstrong and I both had a strong prompting that we needed to turn the car around and see if she needed any help. When we finally parked next to her, she looked up at us with such grateful eyes. As it turned out, her car had just ran out of gas and she had three young children in the back seat. She was so stressed and didn't know what to do. Finally, Sister Garzand noticed a near-by car shop, so the three of us left the lady with her kids and made a walk over there. Luckily, the car shop had a gas container and we were able to purchase it and find a gas station to fill up for her.
Yet, as we tried to use the gas can, we quickly discovered none of us could adequately get the nozzle to work! Right then, a random car pulled to the side of the road and a couple of men clambored out and grabbed a large funnel from the trunk of the car. Talking to us in Spanish, we were able to let them know the situation. They quickly unscrewed the gas can and used the funnel to fill up the poor woman's car. As we all walked away, she vehmently thanked us and expressed her profound gratitude.
It was such a blessing to see how the Lord directed many people to this woman's aid right when she needed it most. It was a witness to me that the Lord truly loves each and every one of us and will always give us help.
Anyway, there really isn't a whole lot to report for this week because the holidays somewhat hindered the work from progressing as much as it usually does. Biloxi is great and I feel so blessed to be in a wonderful area like this. I'm beginning to get over the shock of transfers and finding out that I have to learn Spanish (I don't believe I mentioned that in my last letter) and the big city atmosphere. There's nothing else that I wish I could be doing right now than serving my Lord with all my heart, might, mind, and strength. I know that this Church is true and that this is the fullness of the Gospel.

All my love,

Sister Sarah Michéle Durrant

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

My head right now - akdfoadfioanseoifnaeoisdjvoiaerklndgvoijakernfdbv jkaervdiojkaewgsdviklareodjlkaefv[jolkmerfdv.aesd jnawojslkzkasgx huigalmdkutgjnsrtjxfngcdtkghmtuo/.kfwjsym srhtgncsrhtjzgn

Yeah. That about sums it up.

Merry Christmas!!!!

All my love,

Sister Sarah Michéle Durrant

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Time for Change

Well, I honestly don't want to write a letter this week because it's just going to depress y'all!
This week has been difficult to say the least. I've been having extreme knee problems and haven't been able to do too much. Tracting just doesn't work when you cannot walk at all. My poor companion has been pushing me around in a wheelchair almost everywhere! It's quite the sight though when we're attempting to go door to door (attempting being the key word here). It's been really rough though - there will be moments when I just start crying because it hurts so much and medications just don't aliveate the pain.
The worst part of all the knee problems is that it's near impossible to get work done. Haven't been able to walk anywhere, go tracting, or even concentrate in personal study half the time. Luckily (thankfully), Sister Devenport has been able to go on exchanges with the other sisters in the district and at least get SOME work done. While I hang out at members' homes and eat cookies (okay, so it's not all that bad).
All of these problems though has given me an even stronger testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. For awhile, I felt that no one knew what I was suffering. It had been hurting so much. Then on Wednesday during District Meeting, our whole lesson was based on the Atonement. Right then, I knew that Jesus himself felt this pain. He had suffered though what I was going through already - He knew what pain I was in at that moment. Because of that, it gave me strength to smile through the pain. I know that He is giving me strength to handle it. During the afternoon hours when we work the most, Christ lessens the pain and allows it to return ten-fold during the mornings and nights, when I don't have to push myself as hard. It truly has been a miracle to witness His love and intercession these two past weeks.
It may suck being in constant pain, but I wouldn't ask for anything else. For this has strengthened my testimony and given me deeper understanding of the Atonement and all that Christ does for me and all that He will do.
President McDonough made transfer calls on Friday night. Right in the middle of a spiritual thought with some members. Of course, we jumped right up and answered the call because if we miss it, we don't find out for another few days. He certainly was inspired (and probably directed by Sister McDonough) to place me in a new area - BILOXI!
I won't be going far - it's about 40 miles away, still in the same stake and county. Which means I can come back to Waveland ward when Jeff and Domonic get baptized! I'm placed in a trio with Sisters Garzan and Armstrong. My apartment is on the bottom floor (which means NO STAIRS) and I get to work right on the Keesler Air Force base! It's full car (one of the few full car areas left) and there's almost no walking. It's the perfect perfect area for me with all the knee issues I've been having. I'm so excited to go there! I'll be packing up today and heading out tomorrow.
In other news, Domonic came to church on Sunday! Which was amazing because we really didn't have a chance to teach him this week from all the knee problems I've been having and members not being able to come to lessons with us. Once Priesthood ended, he came up to us and asked if dreams were revelatory. We explained that they can be and most people who have received revelations through dreams wake up feeling as if that dream was very sacred. Curious, we asked what his dream was.
Domonic said, "Well, I dreamt that I saw a bright light. Very very bright - it hurt my eyes even. As I was staring at it, my heart swelled and I was thinking 'Jesus Christ' in my head. Then I yelled out 'JOSEPH SMITH' from the top of my lungs and I begun to see heiroglyphics. Then I saw Sister Durrant standing in a freezer, handing me delicious white fruit. I woke up with a very sacred feeling about it."
Sister Devenport and I were just dumbfounded. I'm pretty sure my jaw was dropped and I looked like a fool. I didn't even know what to say! Sadly, before we could elaborate, someone inturppted us and we didn't have a chance to really talk after that.
We set up an appointment to teach on Wednesday, but I won't be there! Sister Devenport and I planned to set him with December 28th as his baptismal date. And with everything that has happened? I feel confident that he will be baptized soon!
It's crazy to look back on his journey. Sister Jones and I tracted into him way back in July. When we were tracting his apartment complex, we actually weren't going to go to his door. We had tracted up to the hall right before him and decided that it was time to do something else. Well, all the members were busy, no less-actives were answering their door, and the library was closed for some odd reason. Everything we had tried to do fell through so we decided to go back and tract the rest of the apartments. Then we met Domonic.
Our first two lessons went really well with him. We walked away thinking that he was golden and we'd have a baptism in no time. Then the next lesson came around and he tried to tell us that the Bible was all we needed and to forget the Book of Mormon.
So we dropped him.
A few weeks later, we ran into him and started teaching him once more. Everything went pretty well for a few lessons but then he started to be contentious and wasn't keeping his commitments.
So we dropped him.
Then the first week Sister Devenport came, Domonic was in church randomly! So we began to teach him once more! All semmed to work out well, but he started to tell us once more that the Bible was all we needed and he refused to read the Book of Mormon.
So we dropped him.
Then about three weeks later, he called us several times begging to meet with us because a Bible verse had changed his heart. This time around, he seemed very open and willing to learn. But after awhile, he started to be angry and tried to prove us wrong in everything we taught.
So we dropped him.
But he came back, sending us a text asking if becoming Mormon will make him a better person. Now, he texts us everyday, asking gospel questions. He's always asking for lessons and appointments and does everything he can to make it to church functions. He's so open and willing to learn. He's a completely different person now.
It's been amazing to watch him grow and change. To see Heavenly Father work on him and bring him back to the gospel time and time again. I feel so blessed I've been able to witness this. I'm just a by-stander in his life - watching Heavenly Father show him the way.
I'm so thankful I've been in Pass Christian for 6 months - for a 1/3 of my mission. I wouldn't have asked for it any other way. I've seen miracles. I've watched people change. I've experienced every range of emotion while here. There's been tremendous joy to crushing heartache. But I wouldn't ask for any other way. I'm sad to be leaving tomorrow, but I'm full of hope and faith for Biloxi.

All my love,

Sister Sarah Michéle Durrant

Monday, December 9, 2013

The 4th Return of Domonic

On Tuesday, Sister Devenport and I had just gotten out of a lesson and were heading home for the night when our phone lit up with a message from Domonic. If you don't remember, we were teaching him about a month earlier (after dropping him several times) where he seemed very open to what we had to say. Well, he became contentious (again) and began to tell us (again) that we needed to just rely on the Bible and forget about the Book of Mormon. So we dropped him (again) for the 3rd time. 
Needless to say, a text message from him was the last thing we expected. What he said was even more unexpected though. He asked us, "Will becoming a Mormon and being part of the church help me achieve what I want to become?"
We got soooo excited - my voice went up several octaves and Sister Devenport just sat there, eyes wide. I had to pull over because I was just so happy over the text message! After about 5 minutes of celebrating the text message, we realized that we still had to answer him. So we, of course, said that it would help him become who he wanted to be and asked when he could meet!
Because of Domonic's hectic work schedule, we weren't able to meet until that Thursday. That lesson was THE best lesson I've ever had with him. He was so open and willing to listen to what we had to say. He sat there earnestly nodding his head and actually agreeing with us! Domonic even contributed to the lesson and didn't try to trip us up! I've never seen him so excited and willing to learn. We talked a lot about Christlike attributes and how the Church can help him become more like Christ and eventually stand in his presence. I've never seen someone light up so much at the mere thought of seeing their Saviour once more.
He came to church on Sunday and seemed so happy to be there. He earnestly set up another appointment with us for today and I cannot wait to teach him again! It's amazing to see the change in him once more and see how he has become more open - more so than he's ever been before. That's the amazing part about serving in this Gospel - I get the front row seat to watching it change lives and change people. I cannot wait for the day to watch Domonic descend into the waters of baptism and make his first covenant with the Lord. There's nothing more amazing.

Saturday was another special treat for all of us missionaries. Elder Zwick, from the quorum of the seventy, came to instruct us missionaries on how we can become better teachers. It was enthralling to listen to him and learn from his experiences in missionary work. One of the best parts of the evening was when he had the ward counsels come in from the stake and instructed them on how to be member missionaries - something we've all been waiting for. What effected me most was when he said, "Don't limit yourself by what you think is your capacity. The Lord can expand your capacity - and He will." I thought that was so insightful because I know for myself that I often tell myself, "I can't do this or that," and I let it stop me from becoming who I was meant to be. 
Another amazing part of the evening was when he announced that iPad minis and online proselyting will be arriving to our mission in a few short months! The buzz around the missionaries was indescribable - I'm so excited to be able to better serve the people of Mississippi through technology!

Sunday was pretty.... crazy as well. One of the speakers for Sunday ended up not coming.  When Bishop Grover got up onto the stand to announce the talks, he said, "Bob Davis will be speaking and right afterward, Sister Durrant will be giving a talk. I ask her to use D&C 138:56 in the talk and mention our pre-mortal existence. After that, I ask her to talk a little bit about what Elder Zwick talked about on Saturday and elaborate with her own personal experiences and thoughts. After her, we will hear a talk from the high counselor, Brother Study." My jaw just dropped and I was pretty sure I looked completely dumb struck. The Bishop just told me, from the pulpit, that I was going to give a talk in about 15 minutes. I had no idea that I was going to give a talk until that second! The worst part was when Brother Davis only took about TWO minutes for his talk - so I had absolutely no preparation. I got up to the stand, cracked a few jokes, and somehow managed to give a 20 minute talk on santification and who we were in the pre-mortal existence. I have no idea how I did it nor what I said. Somehow, I gave the longest talk in sacrament meeting that day - and I was the one who had no idea what I was saying!

Needless to say, mission life is fantastic. I love getting to share the gospel and I love being able to completely immerse myself in it. There's nothing more special. There's nothing else I'd rather be doing.

On a completely unrelated note - I keep seeing all of these signs all over the town, saying "What does the fox say?!" WHAT IS GOING ON???? WHAT ON EARTH DOES THE FOX SAY??? I'M SO CONFUSED. Anyone know? Please oh please tell me.

All my love,

Sister Sarah Michéle Durrant

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

If there's anything I have a testimony of in missionary work - it's of tracting. I know that many missionaries complain about tracting and having to find the investigators themselves. I know that the First Presidency has said it is the least effective of anything you can do in missionary work. Yet, I know that missionaries tract for a reason.
Awhile back, I related a story about tracting into a less-active woman, N. Recently, she came to church and invited us over for dinner the following day. So of course, we went to dinner at her house and she finally told us her story.
"The day before you girls came to my house, I had an awful day at work. I received one of the worst evaluations I'd ever gotten and I was despising work. I didn't want to keep doing my job. It was miserable. I went home and made a post on facebook, basically asking for a miracle. That night, I prayed for the first time in such a long time. I asked Heavenly Father what I should do, where I was supposed to go, and how I could do it. I needed so much help.
"The next day, I decided to stay home from work. Something I'd never done. Then, you two showed up at my door. Y'all didn't even know I lived here. You just knocked on my door and I answered. The one day I was home from work, you came. Right when I needed church, you came. That's a coincidence I cannot deny. The Lord is watching out for me and He wants me back at church. I'm supposed to be there. I may not have a testimony of everything in the church but when I was going, I always knew exactly what I was supposed to be doing. He wants me back at church."
Somehow, the Lord lead us straight to N. when she was home. Right when she needed us most, the Lord had us out on our feet, knocking on doors looking for investigators. Instead, we found someone who was already a member that needed to come back so much. 
I have a testimony of tracting.
A few days later, Sister Devenport and I were tracting in the same neighborhood. After door after door was slammed in our faces, but we kept tracting! I just have to tell this story because it's too hilarious to pass up.
We approached this one house hidden in the woods and knocked on the door (as usual) and waited for someone to answer (typical). Right as we put a pass-along card into the cracks (normal) Jackie swung the door open and started to talk to us. "Alright!" Sister Devenport and I thought, nodding to each other. "We might just have someone here!"
Before we knew it, Jackie started telling us how she was a prophet. How God had sent her a vision to build an altar and place Jesus' body on it. She started then to prophesy for us, saying how we will eventually see God in all His glory, rising from the dirt of the earth. Then, she stared at us with wide eyes and kept telling us how she was to build this altar. She went on and on about how she was going to make a temple, which was going to take 40 years, and in there, she was going to perform sealings, baptisms, and other ordinances. 
Right when she said that, I whipped out the Salt Lake City Temple pass-along card and told her how it took 40 years to build it and that in the temple, we perform the exact ordinances that she named! I was soo excited! Then, Jackie rejected it, saying that she was the one supposed to do it and that God gave her the exact measurements for this temple. 
She went on and on about how she would just sit at the computer and be able to write out all these prophesies all day. The whole time, all I could think about was Professor Trewlaney from Harry Potter. She even looked like her. Even though she rejected our message, I felt as if Heavenly Father told her that missionaries would come to her and talk about the temple and she just got a little confused. All in all, it was a fantastic tracting experience. 
I have a testimony of tracting.
The same day we met Jackie, we tracted into yet ANOTHER less-active member, D'Laun. (That's now 6 less-active members I've tracted into.) He's already back at church and everything now! He's even offered to come to lessons with us and put on a youth fireside!
Needless to say, I have a testimony of tracting.

All my love,

Sister Sarah Michéle Durrant

Monday, November 25, 2013


Friday evening, we finally got around to teaching Nick again. The week before, we asked him about a baptism date and when he feels he should be baptized. At this lesson, we brought up that commitment and he said that he'd been praying about one but has yet to decide on a date. Sister Devenport and I then decided to ask him how he felt about being baptized on December 14 and he seemed to light up when we mentioned that day. Of course, we fervently invited him to pray about that date, but I'm very confident that Nick will be baptized on December 14. 
I cannot adequately express the joy in my heart! I've been teaching Nick since August and he has come such a long way. I distinctly remember my first lesson with him - completely shut off, wouldn't even look at us, and didn't say a single word. The whole time, he sat there fiddling with his hands, staring at the ground. I felt so awkward when I left.
And now? The whole lesson he was staring at us straight into our eyes. He was absolutely beaming and shared so many amazing stories with us. His countenance was bright and he couldn't seem to stop smiling and nodding. The light of Jesus Christ has entered into his life and you can distinctly tell. Nick expressed that he wanted to be absolutely sure about the Church before he was baptized, but by the way he said it, I could just tell that he would know for sure by the baptism date we set.
I remember one of my first weeks in the mission, Elder Green, my district leader then, said, "I'm glad that we don't baptize a ton of people. Because every person who I teach that enters into the waters of baptism? They mean so much to me. I remember every single lesson I ever taught. I remember watching them change. They're not another number among dozens of baptisms. I know them and I love them."
He was so right. I could tell you about every single lesson with Nick. I could tell you all about him - his wants, his fears, his dreams. He means so much to me. I wouldn't trade anything for those lessons with him, those moments. I truly feel as if he's one of my friends. 
I cannot wait for December 14th. 

My current district leader said the other day, "You either already have a ton of hope, or you need to learn hope in this mission." It's true. Hope is what drives us missionaries here in the Mississippi Jackson mission. Hope. You wake up in the morning, hoping your lesson for that day doesn't fall through. Hoping that you'll meet someone to teach. Hoping. When that lesson falls through, you hope that you can reschedule. You hope that they are still interested. You hope for them. You hope for their salvation. In this mission, you hope that you can bring save one soul unto salvation. Hope that you make a little difference in someone's life. You either already have a lot of hope or you were sent here to learn how to hope. 

I wouldn't trade this mission for the world. I am supposed to be here. I'm so grateful that the Lord has seen fit to send me to this mission. The days sometimes drag on, the weeks sometimes seem bleak, but the future is bright. I have hope.

All my love,

Sister Sarah Michéle Durrant

Monday, November 18, 2013

Faith and Hope

Another seemingly short week in Mississippi. The time flies - especially around the holiday season. Of course, as I previously lamented, it doesn't feel as if it's winter at all. But, when some of our members started playing Christmas music and it was dreary and raining outside? It certainly felt like Christmas time! It does make a little home sick to hear "I'll Be Home for Christmas" when I'm out and about - sorry, I won't be home for Christmas. Or the next one. But serving a mission during Christmas time is the best because you truly learn what Christmas is all about. I've started to see a difference in attitude in everyone as they realize the season for remember Christ's birth quickly approaches. It's lovely to see the difference, yet it's sad that I have seen one - we should be living the spirit of Christmas during the whole year, not just two months of it! 
Excuse me while I stand on my soapbox. I'll get off it now.
We were able to teach Evan earlier this week and it has topped off all the other lessons I've ever taught. Brother Oelke said that he'd be able to come and it was a perfect fit - they're both Sea-bees and are in the same unit so they had the chance to build on common ground and easily become friends. 
Sister Devenport and I walked in fully intending on teaching him the plan of happiness. Yet, when he expressed that he hadn't read Alma 32 (the chapter we left him to read previously), we completely threw our plans out the window and sat down and read it together. As we all read the verses, Evan would occasionally ask us to stop so that he could be sure that he was understanding what he was reading.
Then, we got to Alma 32:21 - "And now as I said concerning faith-faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true." 
He turned to us and said, "There must've been something lost in translation here. It's basically saying that faith and hope are the same thing - I don't like that. Hope isn't good enough. Hope isn't strong enough."
We sat there for a moment, not exactly knowing what to say.
I didn't know what to say. I didn't know what to do. But I opened up my mouth and began to just talk, letting the Spirit guide me. 
The Spirit (not me, let me reiterate that. Not at all me) said, "Remember a time when you were walking in the light of day? You could see every step in front of you - you knew the ground was there and that you were safe. Sometimes though, the light fails us and we can't see the ground. We walk to the edge of the light and stare at the darkness. We don't know that there's solid ground to stand on. We hope that there is but we don't know. That's where faith comes in - faith is taking that step into the darkness, having faith that either there is solid ground to step on, or that we will be taught how to fly in that moment. Hope is the feeling. Faith is the action."
As that was said, I saw a few tears fall down Evan's face. Here he was - a grown man, in military garb, tattoos up and down the arms, smoking a cigarette with a tin of chewing tobacco nearby. Being touched by the Spirit. That there is the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Not being a respecter of persons. Touching the hearts of anyone who is willing to listen and humble enough to apply it.
When we left that evening, he said that he was going to start praying and reading more. He promised us that he'd do it because he truly needed it. 

Later this week, we had the chance to teach Nick. What a wonderful and amazing experience! Walking into that lesson, Sister Devenport and I both knew that he was ready for baptism - he was so very ready. We began by simply talking about baptism and the power of the Holy Ghost. Halfway through the lesson, we asked him what he thought about being baptized.
"Well. I know I'm going to be baptized. I know that."
Then, we began to address the when. He said that he wasn't sure when yet and we asked him, "Why delay the blessings you could be having now for later?"
Finally, Nick said that he would begin to pray about a date and would have one for us next Friday. The whole time, I was so thrilled to see his humble nodding as we talked to him about the sacred ordinance of baptism and the effect it would have on his life. 
Hopefully by Friday, Nick will have decided on a baptismal date and he will take his first step towards eternal life. I couldn't be more thrilled. 
I've loved watching his journey in the past few months and watching him grow in the spirit of truth. It's amazing to see the change that the gospel has on others and seeing the light come into their lives. 
The Spirit of the Lord is great. It truly is. I cannot deny that this is the true gospel. Just like Joseph Smith said, "I knew it, and I knew God knew it and I could not deny it nor dared I do it." 

All my love,

Sister Sarah Michéle Durrant

Monday, November 11, 2013


I keep hearing from home all about the cool weather and how quickly the holidays are approaching. Down here, it's a nice 70 or so degrees every day and not a cloud in sight. I cannot even tell that it's time for Christmas and Thanksgiving - it feels more like summer! In fact, we studied on the front porch this morning because it was such pleasant weather.
This whole week has definitely been an emotional roller coaster, that's for sure. The start was a bit rough - we said goodbye to Elder Mobley and welcomed two new missionaries into our district. But the work pressed on, as always.
After District Development Meeting, Sister Devenport and I took off for an appointment we had set up with Junior, someone we had tracted into weeks ago and just haven't had a chance to get back to for awhile. Yet, when we got there, a rough man was standing outside and said that Junior wasn't home. When I say rough, I mean gauges in ears, tattoos covering every inch of shown skin, wearing a raggedy wife-beater, smoking cigarettes, and downing beer.
Initially, both of our reactions was to just leave and come back another time. Yet, before I even mentally registered what I was doing, I started to approach him, hand extended, and my mouth somehow magically opened, saying, "Well, I'm Sister Durrant! Nice to meet you!"
By the time I realized what was going on, I turned back to Sister Devenport and she was tentatively approaching the man right behind me as well. As we talked, we found out that his name was Chavez and he was in fact searching for a church to raise his children in because he wanted the best for him.
Then, his friend, Chris approached. He turned to us and we asked him if he knew Junior as well.
"Yeah! I do! He actually mentioned y'all stopping by and said y'all were pretty cute. I must say, he wa'nt lyin'! I'm single."
Laughing, I kindly let him know that we weren't searching for boyfriends and that we were in fact serving the Lord. Afterwhile, both Chavez and Chris expressed a want for a copy of the Book of Mormon. Sister Devenport pulled one out of her bag and I rummaged through mine, but remembered that I had given my last one out just hours before. Somehow, I miraculously found a miniature copy of it and was able to give it to Chris.
Our next appointment with them is actually tonight, so I'm more than excited to see how this will all turn out. Moral of the story is to not let first impressions faze you. People may seem rough and tough, but I promise that everyone is searching for the gospel. If God is not a respecter of persons, neither should we be.
Later this week, as Sister Devenport and I went tracting, we found yet another less- active member whose name wasn't on the records. When she answered the door, she immediately welcomed us into her home and we talked briefly about why she left the church. From the sounds of it, she had gotten into some anti-LDS material and it deeply shook her testimony.
Sister Devenport shared a general conference talk with her and we both talked about how we need to turn to God when we find that our confidence in the Church is shaking. As we got up to leave, Nicole turned to us and said, "You know, it's funny y'all turned up today. Normally, I'm at work in Picayune and I'm not home this time.... And I've been thinking a lot about how I need to go to church. It's funny. I think y'all came here today for a reason."
As I walked away, my heart swelled with joy - we didn't even intend on tracting that street at first, yet as I drove past the street, I knew it was where we were meant to go. It's amazing to see how the Lord works in mysterious ways and I'm so pleased to hear that Nicole is listening closely to the small mercies in her life.

Towards the end of the week, we had a lesson set up with John and then with Nick shortly afterward. When we walked into our appointment with John, something didn't feel right. We sat down at the kitchen table while John had his baby girl on his lap, holding her close to him. There was a strong presence of despair settling and I just could not figure out what was going on.
Then John looked up, with haunted eyes. My heart began to pound - something was wrong. I was confident that he was going to ask us to stop visiting him. He opened his mouth and said three words that I never thought would shake me as hard as it did, "I have cancer."
My heart dropped. It took every inch of self control I had to not start crying once he said that. For the rest of the evening with John, we simply talked and played simple games with his children. Once we got into the car to head to Nick's, a painful silence ensured. I couldn't help myself to keep from crying as I thought about the long road ahead of him.
That's when I realized the whole point of missionary work - it's all about love. I hadn't even noticed how much I had grown to love John and his family until that moment. All I could feel was despair over his cancer and just complete heart sick that he had to suffer through this trial. I never knew how much one could grow to love a complete stranger in the space of 4 months. But I had.
Somehow, I managed to pull myself together and go teach Nick. Which turned out to be one of the best lessons I've had in a very very long time.
As we started talking, we simply followed up on everything we had been teaching him since we haven't seen him in almost a month because he was on vacation. The subject turned to church attendance, praying, and reading. Nick said, "I noticed a huge difference. When I was going to church, praying, and reading, I got a job. I bought a house. I was happy. I was sleeping through the night. But when I stopped, I
got extremely sick. I ended up in the hospital. I don't want to stop again."
He's ready for baptism now. It's all about setting a date now. But he is definitely more than ready. It's been wondrous to see the turn around in this man's life. To see him become a man of the Lord. I cannot wait for Friday, when we will have our next lesson with him.
It's definitely been a rollercoaster week. From complete despair, to encouraging excitement. But it's all worth it in the end. It's all worth it for these wonderful people I've grown to love so very much. The church is true. I know it is. It changes lives. It provides mercy. It gives people the chance to sanctify and edify themselves.
All my love,

Sister Sarah Michéle Durrant

Monday, November 4, 2013

Another week has come and gone, another transfer ended and with that - a fourth of my mission has now passed by in what seems like a blink of an eye. It's strange to look back and reflect on how far I've come since stepping into the MTC five months ago. I don't even recognize that girl anymore, yet it feels as if it was only yesterday when I said goodbye to my family.
The day before Halloween night, we obtained permission from President McDonough to attend the ward Trunk-or-Treat. As a mission rule, we aren't allowed to really change our appearance for Halloween. Since I was really looking forward to dressing up for the occasion, we found a very creative way around the rule. Sister Devenport and I put on white shirts, black shirts and tied scarves around our necks. Then, we put our hair up and taped "Elder Mobley" and "Elder Martin" over our name tags and pretended to be the elders for Halloween! It was so much fun - the Elders put on their superhero masks while the other Sisters dressed up as women from the 60s. John's family and Evan's family both came and attended the Trunk-or-Treat and I was thrilled to see the members lovingly approach them and welcome them. 

Halloween day, not much happened. I believe it was because everyone was preparing for the festivities of that night. We, on the other hand, were confined to our apartment Halloween night. Yet, in a surge of brilliance, the other sisters in our district proposed that we stay the night at their apartment. So we headed over around 5:30 and spent the night with Sisters Keyes and Harr cooking pumpkin bars, playing Scattergories, and just talking and getting to know each other better. It was really quite lovely to have a girls' night for the first time in a very, very long time. Luckily, almost no trick-or-treaters stopped by our apartment (since we had no candy) and we were able to sleep soundly that night. 

The day after Halloween though was the best day of the week. After waking up from our sleepover and making the long drive out to Slidell for our interviews with the President, we received the glorious news that both Sister Devenport and I would remain in Pass Christian for the next 6 weeks! On top of that, Sister Harr and Sister Keyes were remaining in the area as well - but being put into a trio. Elder Mobley is the only person to leave the district though. It's hard to see him leave because he's been with me ever since I came out - almost 5 months serving together. We even sat next to each other in the MTC!
Once interviews ended, we drove out to Diamondhead and helped build a playground - kind of. Most of the work had already been done earlier that day and all they needed was some people to help shovel mulch and dirt. So, of course, we spent the next two hours shoveling in the hot sun. By the end, I was completely exhausted and ready to go to bed. Yet, there was still work to be done! Earlier that week, we arraigned to have dinner with John's family and the Turfitts (our ward mission leader and his wife). 
We left the playground construction to go prepare to this dinner - mentally, spiritually, and physically. In the end though, we didn't get a chance to teach John at dinner or after and it turned out to just be a great opportunity to get to know him and his family better. We walked away beaming though and with an appointment to teach on Wednesday. I can just feel that he's getting so very close to gaining a testimony of this church. We just need that last push!

And... that's really all that happened this week. Everyone was extremely busy getting ready for Halloween!

I love this work and I love my Lord! I'm so grateful for the chance to serve Him in the short time I've been granted. Even though it's passing so fast, I know that I'm here for a reason. I haven't been called to a place, I've been called to serve in place of Christ. That's what's so great about this work - it isn't for you. You don't matter at all in it. It's all about bringing others to Christ and serving them.

All my love,

Sister Sarah Michéle Durrant

Monday, October 28, 2013

Glenn Beck as Prophet, Seer, and Revelator!

Sometimes, you meet crazies here in the South. Actually, we meet crazies almost every day. There is never a dull moment in the Mississippi Jackson Mission. I cannot even begin to recount how many times I have hurt my sides from laughing way too hard. To illustrate, I'll tell you a tracting experience we had not too long ago:

*knock knock knock*
"Come in!" yells a voice from the other side of the door. Hesitantly, we pushed open the door and walk into the house. An old man raises his head from the couch that he's lying on and stares at us for a moment.
"Who are you," he asks.
"We're missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!" 
Again, we tell him that we are missionaries. Three more times, he yells asking who we are. Finally, the message that we are missionaries finally sinks in. The man lays his head back down on the pillow, away from us and screams, "I'm asleep!"
Stubbornly, I shout back, "Are you sure you're asleep sir? You were just talking to us a moment ago!"
He mumbles into his pillow a muffled shout, "Yes! Sound asleep!"
Again, I ask, "Are you?"
All of a sudden, the man pretended to snore. As loud and as obnoxious as he could.
Completely convinced me he was asleep. *sarcasm* 

That, ladies and gentlemen, is how my day goes. Almost every single day. The South, I'm telling ya. Miss-ippi to be exact. And I found out the other day that my area has one of the highest rates of illegal meth produced in it. Along with that, this was where Al Capone got all his bootlegged liquor and drugs from. And it's one of the headquarters of the KKK apparently. WELCOME TO HANCOCK COUNTY.

As for actual missionary work? 

We taught Domonic a few times this week, trying to prepare him for baptism. I don't think he'll be ready any time soon. Let's just say it took us an hour to explain how spirit prison is just basically another name for hell. An hour of explaining and re-explaining. Whenever we'd just try to move on (because it really isn't that important if he calls it hell or spirit prison), he'd bring it right back. Chewing on his shirt the whole time. It'll take a long time to get him baptized, but I'm confident that the Spirit will continue to work within him to tell him that this gospel is true. One of the most frustrating aspects of our lesson was when we were talking about the Book of Mormon. Domonic kept saying he still wasn't sure about the Book of Mormon and whenever he'd read it or think about it he'd get a "nabbing at [his] heart and some funny warm feeling". 
Of course, we told him that was the Spirit and showed him countless scriptures about it. He still maintained that it wasn't. And then he told us that he had a dream where "Sister Durrant was in a freezer and she was handing me fruit - it was really really delicious fruit. I don't know what that means! Do you?"
Before we could explain what we thought it meant, he moved on and wouldn't listen to us.
Let's reiterate. It'll be a long time before he's baptized.

On the bright side, we've set yet another baptism date! Actually, three to be exact. As I mentioned last week, we tracted into a sea-bee, Evan, and his adorable three children. We've begun to teach them almost on a regular daily basis. It's definitely different from teaching everyone else here though because he doesn't have a strong belief in Christ or even a solid Christian background. Each and every one of the lessons we've had, I've adored. The Spirit is always so strong and present. It's been a wonderful experience to see the light of Christ in this family and watch as their homes seems to feel brighter and happier each day we come. His oldest, Brianna, even gathers her younger brother and sister together every night to have a kneeling prayer together. I've never seen children so excited over the gospel and the blessings it promises. We've set them with the baptismal date of December 6th (couldn't do December 7th because that's Pearl Harbor Day) and I'm fervently praying that I won't be transferred before then. I've loved getting to know this family and watch them grow in the gospel. I know without a doubt that this gospel is true - I've seen how it can change the lives of three young children and a seemingly beaten down man. I've witnessed the light come into their home and watched how their smiles seem a little brighter every day. There's nothing quite like it. 

Along with my miraculous week, we met this amazing man while tracting (illegally). His name is Jay and he LOVES Glenn Beck and his program on the radio. It was a great point to gain common ground with him, but.... He's convinced Glenn Beck is the prophet. Absolutely, totally, and utterly convinced. We've actually set up a return appointment with him and I'm very excited to teach him. He's so giving and sweet towards his neighbors and he calls himself a "Jesus-freak". When we gave him a Book of Mormon, he remarked that he was going to add it to his daily Bible study (he already reads a proverb, a psalm, and two chapters in the New Testament every day). We just need to somehow teach him that it isn't Glenn Beck who's the prophet.... I can't wait!

Our last crazy experience this week was when we met a less-active lady who lives over in Pass Christian. When she let us in, she started screaming at us because the missionaries before us forgot to give her a call back months ago. Once we established it wasn't us who forgot to give her a call back, she turned very civil and started asking us about ourselves. She turned to me and asked, "How old are you? 16?"
Laughing, I told her that I was 19 and Sister Devenport remarked that she just barely turned 21 in September.
That let loose the cannon. The woman started to go on and on about how Sister Devenport was a "Virgo" just like her and how amazing she was because of the month she was born in. And all the traits the she was naming wasn't at all like Sister Devenport. Then she asked what month I was born in. I, of course, told her I was born March 19.
She looked at me and said, "Oh. A fish. You're very mean and jealous and weak-minded."
Yes. I'm horrible person because I was born in March. And then she turned back to Sister Devenport and continued to talk about how exalted the Virgos are. She wouldn't talk to me for the rest of the evening.

Regardless, we still had a fun time that night!

This church is true. I know it is. If it wasn't, I still wouldn't be out here. I wouldn't be working this hard. I'd have given up by now. This is the way to salvation. It isn't just a church - it's a way of life. It's a pattern of change. It's how we can all prepare for heaven and live once more with our Heavenly Father. If I can just bring one soul to the Lord, how great is my joy!

All my love,

Sister Sarah Michéle Durrant

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Lord's Hand

Has it really been a week? It feels as if it's been longer since last Monday came and went, especially since halfway through Monday, we got a phone call that greatly changed the course of our P-Day.
After we went grocery shopping at the local Wal-Mart, we glanced down at our phone and saw about 10 missed calls - all from the same (unknown) number. Of course, we immediately returned the call and asked who had been calling us so much. On the other end, Domonic answered. Yes. Domonic. The very man who had told us to stop reading the Book of Mormon and just read the Bible instead. Domonic then expressed that he NEEDED to meet with us right away. Not about to miss an opportunity to see what was going on, we bolted for our usual meeting spot to see him and hear what was going on.
As we waited for Domonic to show up, my heart was in my throat. Butterflies were hatching in my stomach. Was Domonic coming just to attack us more? Had he found Anti-LDS material that he wanted to show us to convert us away? What was going on? My mind was racing - I was completely terrified.
After what seemed like hours of anxious waiting (in reality, it was only about 10 minutes), Domonic ran up, sat down, and pulled out his Bible. He thumbed through and showed us a passage in 1 Thessalonians that stated, "Deny not things of Christ." He looked at us with huge, bright eyes and said, "If the Book of Mormon truly is something of Christ, I want to know. Tell me more." 
My jaw dropped. I didn't know what to think! Weeks ago, he told us basically that the Book of Mormon wasn't revelation, that it was of the devil. And now? He had been humbled and came back to us - earnestly seeking to have an answer. We jumped on the opportunity to teach Domonic more. Eventually, he brought up a scripture about baptism and we began to teach him more about how it needed to be performed by the proper authority. The Spirit was thick. Sister Devenport and I exchanged glances and knew - it was time to ask. I opened my mouth and asked, "Will you be baptized by someone holding the proper authority in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?"
He looked down at his Bible and slightly nodded. Then, he said, "Well, if I know it's true, I will." In a sense, Domonic agreed to baptism. As he walked away, I felt like Ammon - my joy was full and all I could do was glory in my Lord. He had helped Domonic come to this point where he needed to be. The Lord had worked on him to soften his hardened heart and bring him back to the true gospel. I was filled to the brim with complete joy as we offered a prayer of gratitude to our Heavenly Father. 
It was a complete turn around in him. Not even 2 months ago, he was preaching to us how wrong we were and how we needed to still seek out the truth. Now? He has opened up his heart, even accepted baptism when he comes to know that these things are true. How great is the Lord God? I cannot even begin to describe.

As the week went on, I began to notice more and more how much the Lord had His hand in what we were doing and how much He was truly protecting us. On Wednesday, it seemed as if everything was falling through. We had several appointments set up to go teach - yet, every single one of them got cancelled. We ended up simple helping the poor Waveland Sisters clean out their apartment since the previous tenants were Elders and had completely trashed the place (I can now say I've done dishes in a bathtub). Once we got the place cleaned, Sister Devenport and I tried to brainstorm over what we could do. Nothing came to mind. We finally just decided to go tracting - it was a nice day regardless and we had nothing better to do for the evening. We set out and began knocking on doors. One after another, no one answered. 
Finally, an older lady stopped us and politey informed us that the neighborhood had a covenant that forbade soliciting (something we already knew, yet tactfully ignored) and asked us to leave. Dejectedly, we drove over to Timber Ridge, a nearby community and set out to tract there instead. A house in, we found an amazing man, Evan, who had been struggling with life after coming back from being deployed in Afghanistan. He talked to us for a long time and we were finally able to set up an appointment to return and share with him the healing gospel of Jesus Christ and how it could help him through his struggles. Walking away, we both felt so very fulfilled over the fact that we were able to give this man some light. The appointments were cancelled, we were kicked out, just to meet Evan. Our whole day was thrown to smithereens, simply to bring the gospel to this man. It was meant to be - the Lord knew where we had to be, and He made sure it happened.

After some more tracting, we approached one home. The moment Sister Devenport lifted her hand to knock on the door, a feeling a complete dread overcame me. Something wasn't right about that house. Sister Devenport looked at me with wide, scared eyes and I knew that she was feeling the same thing. I could physically feel the Spirit leave and all I knew at that moment was that we had to leave. That very moment. We rushed down the flight of stairs and started to head out and out of nowhere, this huge Lab popped up. 
He began barking as if there was no tomorrow. Teeth bared, fur raised. My hands began to shake, I was completely terrified. The dog approached us quickly, took one look at us, and turned around. We started walking off and the dog led the way in front of us. Quickly, I felt comforted by the presence of the Lab. He lead us the whole 2 miles we had walked away from the car. Once we got into the car, we glanced outside, looking for the dog. He was no where to be found. Curious, I began to drive around, searching for this dog - yet we didn't find him. He disappeared just as he came - out of nowhere. 
Sister Devenport turned to me and said, "That dog was sent from the Lord." 
A rush of love overcame me and I knew that she was right. As silly as it seems, Heavenly Father sent us a dog. He sent us that lab to protect us from whatever danger presented in that spirit-less house.

I know without a doubt that the Lord is here. He is mindful of all of us. He helps us in whatever way we need it - if it's through a bible verse, a cancelled appointment, or a dog. HE LOVES US ALL. I know it without a doubt in my heart - the Lord is mindful of each and every one of us. He's preparing a way for us. Serving a mission has made me homesick - not for Utah or returning back to normal life, but homesick for heaven - to be with my Heavenly Father once more, much like how I miss my wonderful father and mother here while in Mississippi. Being away from my dear family has helped me to understand how difficult it must've been for our Heavenly Father to send us hear to Earth, away from Him for some odd 90 years or so. A short 18 month mission is a lot like our live here on earth. Many missionaries leave with their families telling them, "Return with honor." I personally believe that before we came here to earth, our loving Father too pulled us aside and whispered in our ears, "Return with honor." May we all return with honor.

All my love,

Sister Sarah Michéle Durrant

Monday, October 14, 2013

Fighting to the End

In reality, not much happened this week since Sister Devenport got the flu really bad for two days straight and we were confined to our apartment from Wednesday night until Saturday. Yet, somehow in the midst of it all, we managed to teach 22 lessons and set two baptismal dates.
We met with Angela and Jakira on Tuesday and it was a great great lesson! Yet, since I had a horrid migraine, I wasn't mentally there for the duration of the whole lesson. Which really makes me sad! Yet, as Sister Devenport tells me, somehow, I challenged them both to baptism and asked them to be baptized on November 2. I honeslty don't remember asking anything like that at all. But, apparently, they were both very very eager to be baptized and showed a ton of interest in what we were teaching. I dearly wish I could just recall what happened in that lesson. Yet, it is such a testimony to me that the Spirit truly works through us as missionaries to help Angela and Jakira draw closer to our Father in heaven and His true gospel. He was able to work through me, a simple servant who couldn't think, to bring someone to the waters of baptism. I am so very thankful to be a vessel of the Lord in His great work.
Almost right afterward, we left to go teach Rick and talk to him more about the gospel. Another lesson which I physically cannot recall because I was just so sick through it all. Yet, from hearing what happened, it sounds as if it was a very successful lesson. Rick apparently opened up to us a lot more and was very accepting of all we had to say.
Wednesday was... interesting at best. Since we have the van, I drove all 6 missionaries in our district (Sister Devenport, Sister Harr, Sister Keyes, Elder Martin, Elder Mobley, and I) for an hour to Slidell for a Zone Development Meeting. Once I get onto the freeway, I heard from the back of the van Elder Martin screaming, "I'M BATMAN. I'M BATMAN." And then Elder Mobely starts chimming in, screaming at the top of his lungs how he's Iron Man. Of course, I turn back to see what on Earth was going on and there was the two elders.... With superhero masks on. Fighting each other. And thus was my drive to Slidell. The whole way. Somehow, I didn't kill us all.
After the meeting, all six of us missionaries drove out to Diamondhead (a city in our area) to meet with members. All 6 missionaires. Luckily, no members answered their door so they weren't overwhelmed by the mass. Luckily, there was a huge parade going on up in Diamondhead so we were able to all split up and go find people to teach. Sister Keyes was quick thinking and managed to grab the superhero masks from the elders before we set them lose on the people of Mississippi.
Later that day, Sister Devenport and I got to teach John again. In all honesty, it was a difficult lesson to teach. We mainly focused on the Great Apostasy and the need for a reformation, but he couldn't see it. John started talking about how the Catholic church has had 2,000 years for a firm foundation to build upon as a church and how our church hasn't been around for even 200 years. He then went on to talk about how nothing has changed in his church for the 2,000 years it has been on the Earth. Of course, it took every bit of my self control to not challenge that statement. We urged him with every word we spoke to pray about the Book of Mormon and to continue to study it. We focused on how he could know that there was a restoration needed by reading the Book of Mormon.
Thankfully, John is very genuine and agreed to study it more. I know that he sincerely wants to learn more by the way he asks his questions. He doesn't try to challenge us - he sincerely wants to know the answers so it can help him on his journey. I know that as he continues to read and pray, he will come to know his answers. We're merely guides to help him through it all.
The next two days were very uneventful, as Sister Devenport caught an awful bug and was sleeping the whole day away. It gave me an excellent opportunity to study the gospel more in depth though and just breathe.
I know that the Lord sent me here to Mississippi for a reason. He could've sent me anywhere else in the world - yet He chose to send me here, to the deep deep South. I'm supposed to be here and I am confident that there are people here just waiting for the Gospel. I know without a doubt in my heart that Mississippi is ready to hear the word and to grow in the Church. Now is a time to put on the armor of God and fight. The time is drawing close at hand and the Lord is hastening His work. He is bringing to pass the immortality of man, for it is His work and His glory. It's the final surge, it's zooloo - the last bang before the end. The devil is wrapping up his hands, he's getting ready for the showdown. We've all been reserved for this day and this age because we are fighters. Show him what you've got.
All my love,

Sister Sarah Michéle Durrant

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Kingdom of Heaven is At Hand!

On Thursday, as we were doing our Mormon.orging, we got a call from the nearby sister in Picayune. Confused, we left the library to talk briefly to them. Excitedly, they started screaming at the top of their lungs about Hurricane Karen and how it was coming in a few days. As missionaries, we all look forward to hurricane season because most of us have never seen one or experienced the excitement of it. Sister Devenport and I just looked at each other with dropped jaws - we hadn't even thought about a hurricane! After talking with various leaders in our mission, we were advised to go back to our apartment and pack up everything and pull in our bicycles. Hastily, we dashed home and pulled everything into suitcases to prepare for the on-coming storm. In those moments, you truly learn what means the most to you and what you wouldn't mind leaving to be destroyed by a hurricane. There were only a few possessions of mine that I wanted to save - scriptures, pictures, letters, and journals. Everything else, I realized that I didn't care if it got ruined by the water or winds or if they were stolen. All I cared about was the written words I so dearly treasured and the few photographs I had of family and friends. There's a defining moment when you make those decisions.
Luckily, the hurricane dissipated into a mere tropical storm. Yet, there was still a chance it could turn into a hurricane at any moment, so our bags remained packed for four days. There isn't much fun in living out of a suitcase and in fear that you'll have to dash out of the area in a moment's notice. I'm very grateful that the storm has passed and that life can assume as normal (well, as normal as it can be for missionaries). Of course, Sister Devenport and I had a fun time joking around, saying that we were going to stand out in the middle of the hurricane, holding up posters that read, "REPENT. THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND." If you can't tell, we're running out of ideas on how to find people. 
This week, Sister Devenport and I had the wonderful chance to teach Nick, an investigator that we've been meeting with for a long time now. At first, our lessons were slow. It felt as if we were just teaching at him rather than teaching him. Originally, he'd just sit there, listen to us, and then bid us farewell once the lesson ended. He only began taking lessons from us because his girlfriend is a very active member in the church and advised him that the Gospel could help brighten his life as he suffers through hard times. Yet, this week, as we began to teach him, Nick started to open up to us. He told us about his background and his difficult life before we met him - how his struggles and service in the army shaped his life. He divulged how he'd been forced to go to church as a child and stopped going the instant that he could. Finally, we were able to learn what we needed to do to teach him better.
Then, for General Conference, we were able to watch it with him. In between sessions, we taught a brief lessons and covered any questions that came up while he listened to the prophet speak. At one moment, he told us, "I don't like this spiritual thing! It feels weird!!!" I couldn't help but to smile as I listened to that small testimony of his - that he was finally beginning to feel the spirit. As our lesson went on, he also brought up the subject of baptism himself. He commented that when he's baptized, he wants to be baptized on the beach! Of course, I was elated to hear that! As time has gone on with Nick, I've started to feel the immense love that our Savior has for him. My heart has doubled in it's capacity to feel for others and I have this sincere desire to just see Nick happy. All I want is for his happiness - especially as he deals with the burden that our Father has entrusted him to carry. 
General Conference was truly a great experience to watch. On Saturday, we texted John and reminded him of conference and he replied saying that he would watch. Later that evening, we got to talk to him on the phone and he mentioned how much he loved President Uchtdorf's talk. We're really hoping to be able to get back in and teach him this week.
Because of the excitement of the hurricane, little got done this week - evidently. BUT I do know that this Church is true. The longer I've been serving my Lord, the stronger my testimony of that fact has grown. The other day, Sister Devenport and I were searching old teaching records, looking for someone to teach. Since our area used to be an elders' area, almost all the teaching records were from former elders. Reading how poorly the teaching records were kept, there's no way this church can't be true. If there are elders writing "We mowed their lawn. They fed us lunch. They're very nice." for the whole teaching record and somehow, these investigators got baptized? There's no way this church can't be true. There's just no way.
Heavenly Father loves each of us. He's known us longer than we've known ourselves. He knows what we need and how we can become better people. He knows us perfectly and loves us perfectly. This church, I can boldly say, is God's kingdom here on Earth. 

All my love,

Sister Sarah Michéle Durrant

Monday, September 30, 2013

After the Storm

Transfers were this week! In all honesty, I was very sad to see Sister Jones leave. We had became great friends - but it was time for a change and to shake things up a bit here in Pass Christian. On Tuesday, Sister Devenport finally came! She is so very sweet and demure. I see a lot of myself in her and we have very similar personalities. She's from Payson, Utah and has already been out for nine months! I'm confident that this transfer will get along very smoothly and that things will get done.

On Wednesday, we got the change to meet as a brand new district. Two of our elders, Elder Green and Elder Christofferson were transferred out along with Sister Jones. To replace the elders, two new sisters came in - Sister Keyes and Sister Harr! Now, we have a district that comprises of two elders and four sisters - a nice change from the mainly male domination! Our district leader is Elder Martin and I can already tell that he will be an excellent district leader. He appears to be a wonderful missionary and loves us all (in a completely appropriate way). Because of District Development Meeting along with all the unpacking, not much work got done. But that's okay! It was a great opportunity to get to know my new district.

Thursday morning, we got a referral from All the way out in the Kill - a good 30 minute drive from our apartment. Sister Devenport and I had to throw all our plans out the window to go contact this referral. Who turned out to not be interested in the least. But, I found the blessings in it because it gave us a change to go visit Sister Snow, a less active in our ward. I believe I mentioned her a few months ago - Sister Jones and I met her and had the opportunity to talk to her. When Sister Devenport and I came, she was home and we got to teach her a lesson about patience. Then, we got her to commit to coming to church on Sunday! Afterward, we got to visit a less-active part member family, the Hattons. They're both very kind and very giving. They actually told us that they've been thinking a lot lately about going back to church. There were definitely blessings in the referral that day. 

Later that night was the turning point of our week - we got to go teach John and his family about the Gospel of Jesus Christ (curious as to what it is? Read 3 Nephi 31 to understand it all)! The whole lesson, John basically talked himself through it all and taught himself. All Sister Devenport and I did was provide gentle guidance (which is ideal) and pointed him in the right direction. Eventually, it got to the point where his wife flat out asked him, "Do you believe in the Book of Mormon?" John didn't say he believed in it, but at the same time, we could tell that he didn't want to deny of it's divinity. His wife maintained that the Catholic faith was the true and only faith, but John seemed to begin to think differently. We could tell that he was starting to feel the strength of the true gospel and feel its truthfulness because he refused to deny it.

We also got the opportunity to teach Jeff, a member's boyfriend. We've been teaching him for awhile, but it appeared that not much progress had been made. Yet, this week, he finally opened up to us and we were able to have a break through. I won't go into it, but the Spirit in the room was so strong and real, I felt as if I could've cut through it with a butter knife. We talked about General Conference and how it was coming up, and he anxiously checked his planner to be sure that he would be free those two days to hear the prophet's voice. We were both so ecstatic to see him finally feel the spirit and realize how much it can help him out.

As I took Sister Devenport around the area to show her what there was, we headed into a nearby neighborhood that Sister Jones and I had a few potentials in from a few months ago who never answered the door. I decided that we should try Angela's house one last time before writing her off. We walked up to the door and knocked on it. Lo, and behold, she answered! She let us in and grabbed her Book of Mormon - that Sister Jones and I gave her back in July. We started asking her how her reading had gone and Angela said, "It's gone good. I'm in Chapter 19 of Neffi." Instantly, I was quite impressed! Most of the time, people hadn't read very much. Then, she looked at us and said, "I know it's true." 
WHAT. My fingers were tingling. My heart was racing. She knew it. She knew it was true. We hadn't seen her for months, we had only met her at the doorstep. And she knew it was true! I couldn't believe it. Heavenly Father had prepared her for this moment. He had been guiding her and watching over her and protecting her. Helping her come to the realization that the Book of Mormon was true. 
We instantly started talking about the truthfulness of it and elaborated more upon it. Then, Angela asked us, "What do you guys believe about prophets? I have a friend who attends the church down the road and the pastor says he's a prophet. But that just doesn't sit right with me. I don't think he's a prophet." Again, I had to keep my jaw from dropping. She was so very susceptible to the spirit, she could tell something wasn't right. As the lesson went on, we asked her to be baptized and she instantly agreed. I couldn't be more happy!

The very best part of the week though was Sunday. As we pulled up into the parking lot, there was Dominic, all dressed up and ready to go to church. Domonic! If y'all don't remember, we taught him a few weeks ago and we basically dropped him because he wasn't listening to a word we said. And then! We saw Jeff walk into the chapel. Shortly after, John's face appeared in the doorway. Finally, we saw Sister Snow meander into the room. Three investigators in church. One less active. My heart was fit to burst. There's no way to describe my feelings except for pure, absolute joy. Biting my lip was all I could do to keep from tearing up. 
During Sunday School (where I was roped into teaching at the very last minute), each and every single one of them participated and had something to contribute to the lesson. They all seemed to have felt the Spirit there within the walls of the church building. My joy is full - I could go home right now and feel as if I made a difference as a missionary. I wouldn't want anything else. Three of our investigators in church. There isn't a better feeling. 

There is definitely peace after the storm. There is sunshine after the darkness. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Last week was one of my most difficult weeks in the mission field. And now, I couldn't be more happy than I am at this very moment. I promise to all of you that are struggling, that feel your hearts failing, that are experiencing hardships - there is hope. There is light. There is an end. Heavenly Father is mindful of you and He is watching over you. He has not, will not, nor ever shall forsake you. You are loved. And there will be an end to the pain. There is light, joy, and happiness ahead. Keep your chin up and remember - you are a son or daughter of a king. 
All my love,

Sister Sarah Michèle Durrant

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Monday, September 23, 2013

Slap Yo Neighbor

All missionaries have thsoe weeks where all of your numbers are almost zeros when you call in your weekly report. And it seriously sucks. But there isn't anything you can really do about it if you tried the best you could that week!
On Tuesday, we decided to take a break from sweating out in the heat and went store contacting. We went into a teeny little shop and after wandering aimlessly around, the store owner asked us if there was anything we were specifially looking for. Somehow, we got into a great conversation about missionary work and how great the food is here. The owner gave us a good resturant to go visit, J's, and he said, "The food there is so great, it'll make ya wanna pop right up and SLAP YO NEIGHBOR." As we left with the promise to go to J's, he left us with the parting words, "There is a one thing ya gotta remember about the South. Day may be po' but day dress goo' and day eat goo'." And it's true! Everyone here is crazy poor, but they all dress well and eat well.
After that, we had almost no success. Just to make things worse, our District Leader, Elder Green, called us up and told us that Bay Saint Louis was being taken out of our area. The Bay was the only place where we really had investigators and were able to tract. In that one phone call, we lost all of our investigators to the Elders. Every single one of them. Later that night, we went over and begged to keep at least John, because we had grown to love him so much and weren't willing to let him go after teaching their family for almost three months. After many promises and much begging, Elder Green decided that we could keep John. But everyone else we lost. Domonic, Sam, Sue... Everyone.... The Elders got them ALL. The worst part about it was the area we are left with.
Pass Christian - there is basically only slabs of concrete where homes used to be and stairs leading to homes that were destoryed by Hurrican Katrina
Diamondhead - a private city-community that doesn't allow people to go door to door in and the members give us no referrals there so we can't work in that area
Kill - no way in heck will we go there without a priesthood holder with us.... It's called Kill for a reason....
It will be a rough few weeks now, trying to find investigators again and just figuring out ways to find people. If any of y'all have an idea, please please let me know!
Later that week, we got a member to take us to go visit less-active members over in the Kill. When we walked into Sister Ladner's house, we took one look around and noticed two young men in white shirts and ties sitting on her couch! As it turned out, the Elders from the bordering zone were teaching her non-member daughter! We had just walked in on a lesson! Of course, they popped right up and had the guiltiest looks on their faces - they were well aware that they were out of their zone (which isn't allowed) and teaching in our area (which isn't allowed either)!!! Yet, we were nice and allowed them to keep teaching her... It was really funny though - what were the odds that we would walk in on a lesson?!
Then, from Thursday to Sunday, I caught something really bad (we think it's a mild case of West Nile Virus since it's been going around lately) and was flat on my back with terrible symptoms. So... No work got done. My poor companion was confined to our apartment while I slept the day away.
Somehow on Thursday, I was able to drag myself out of bed and go teach John a lesson. While we were "teaching" (more like - while Sister Jones taught and I tried not to die), the words, "Ask John if he believes in what we're teaching! Ask John if he believes in what we're teaching!" kept popping into my head and wouldn't stop. Finally, at the end of the lesson, I turned to him and asked that very question. He was silent for a moment and finally said, "I think I do... I just don't understand why God would take away the Church for so long though."
I was so estatic. We had finally figured out what was holding John back! We promised to teach him about it next time (since I couldn't handle sitting up anymore) and then we asked him, "If you find these things to be true, will you be baptized by someone holding the proper priesthood authority into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?" John sat there for a moment and finally said, "If I come to know it's true, yes." My heart soared!!! In a way, John had said yes! Normally, you're supposed to challenge them to baptism on the first lesson, but on our first lesson with John, the Spirit distinctly told us not to ask, not yet. But at that moment, we knew that it was finally time to ask. I know without a doubt that happened for a reason and that Heavenly Father knows exactly what John needs and when he needs it.
Transfer calls were made on Friday night and Sister Jones and I didn't get our call until 10:30 at night. It was one of the longest days (it didn't help that we couldn't work because I was basically dying)! Finally, when the call came, Sister Jones snatched up the phone and almost screamed from the built up excitement. Originally, I was supposed to be training this next transfer, but something changed at last moment. So, instead, Sister Jones is going to Magnolia, Arkanasas and switching places with my new companion, Sister Devenport! I'm so excited - it'll be a great change. I'm sad to see her leave, but it's the mission life!
On Sunday night, our whole district put on a fireside for the youth. We asked them to invite friends to it so that they would get a missionary opportunity and Sister Jones and I also invited John and his family. For the fireside, we taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ and ended with the Atonement. It was a powerful powerful ending - we pulled out a bag of candy and asked the first youth if they wanted candy. Of course, they said yes! We turned to the Bishop and asked him, "Are you willing to do 5 push ups so she can get a piece of candy?" The Bishop said that he would. We went up to every single person and asked them, "Do you want a piece of candy?" And then, if they accepted it or not, Bishop still had to do 5 push ups. For each and every single person. Towards the end, everyone was refusing a piece of candy because you could just see Bishop struggling to do the push ups. There wasn't a dry eye in the chapel as we all cried on behalf of Bishop - watching him atone for our candy - whether we took it or not. It was so powerful to see. We told the youth that that was just a taste of what the Atonement is like. Christ still suffered for us - even if we don't use the atonement in our lives. Elder Green then said something that stuck with me, "Have you ever sweated a lot? I'm sure we all have. It's gross, isn't it? Now. Imagine that as blood. That's what the Savior went through. Only so much more." At that moment, I almost broke down in tears, because I could only begin to imagine sweating blood to that extreme.
I know that the Savior truly did suffer the Atonement. He wept and bled in the Garden for each and every one of us - even if we don't use it in our lives, He still suffered for it. I know it happened. Without a doubt in my heart.
All my love,

Sister Sarah Michéle Durrant

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