Monday, August 26, 2013

It has certainly been another long and laborious week. I don't even know where to begin.
On Tuesday, the Turfitts came with us to teach John and his wonderful family. It was actually a really good lesson. Baxter and Kaley helped out a lot with his questions because they have a lot more experience than we do and Baxter actually used to be Catholic. In the end, Kaley finally told John that he needed to stop looking at things from a logical stand point and trying to have faith. She actually asked him if he believed in the Catholic church because it made logical sense or because he actually had faith in it. John didn't have an answer to that and just sat there in silence for a long time. I pray that it Kaley's question will help him move forward and take a step in the direction towards faith. During the whole lesson, the Spirit was so prominent that I had chills down my back, and you could tell that everyone else was feeling the same way. Things seem to be making progress with him - Sister Jones and I are praying like crazy that he'll gain faith.
After the lesson, we were asked to help Donna with cleaning up her yard because her landlords were coming by that week. It was certainly an experience. As I was clearing out some plants, I felt an awful stinging in both of my hands. Before I knew it, I began to shake really hard and couldn't stand up or see straight anymore. Luckily, Donna was a nurse and rushed over to help me out and see what exactly was the matter.
The bad news is that I got my very first yellow jacket sting. Along with my second one. 
The next bad news is that I'm slightly allergic to yellow jackets apparently.
The good news though is that I'm not that allergic! No shock or anything. Just some swelling and hives. 
I am one of the most accident prone missionaries that ever lived. 
Because I was stung pretty bad and was having a slight reaction to it, I was able to just sit down and relax while everyone else worked. I felt really bad that I wasn't able to help, but it was nice to finally get some rest after 10 weeks of constantly working.
The best part about the whole week was on Thursday when we had a general authority come visit, Elder Kopischke. He's from the Quorum of the Seventy and was willing to make the travel out here to good ol' Mississippi. We all piled into the car and made the two hour drive out to Hattiesburg to listen to him speak. Previously, I was asked by one of the Assistants to the Presidents to play opening and closing hymns, along with prelude. I, of course, agreed. Little did I know what playing prelude entailed. We were asked to arrive an hour early so that we could be in our seats and prepare to meet an apostle. I assumed that someone would speak to us then and talk about serving the Lord. Nope. The President's assistant got up to the pulpit and said to everyone, "In this time, we would ask that we be reverent as we prepare to meet Elder Kopischke. Sister Durrant, from Pass Christian, has agreed to play prelude. Please listen to the piano and bring the Spirit into the room." My eyes went huge. An hour. Of playing hymns that I didn't really know. In front of 100 people. 
I got up and made the long walk up to the front of the chapel and with shaking hands, I began to play the hymns that I knew well. Within a few minutes, my hands stopped shaking and my mind cleared. As the minutes passed, I became more and more confident in my playing. Before I knew it, I had sight read almost half of the hymns and arranged a few on the spot - two skills that I had never been good at. It may be a silly thing, but when Elder Kopischke came and I could sit down, I felt like I had became a better pianist right then and felt truly accomplished. After the meeting ended, almost everyone came up and said that I play beautifully. Elder Kopischke even had the mission president call me that night and relay to me how wonderful he thought I was and how I should keep playing and even consider it for a career. Needless to say, that phone call made my night.  
Elder Kopischke's address to us was amazing. He began by saying that he had no plan on what to tell us. He didn't know what he was going to say and he didn't know how he was going to say it. He invited us to write down what we wanted to get out of the meeting on a piece of paper and questions that we had. I wrote down several things, many of which I didn't think would be answered. 
Looking back, I couldn't tell you a single thing that Elder Kopishcke said. I have no idea the topics that he touched on and I don't know the questions that others asked. Yet, I have five pages of pure revelation filled out in my notebook. One of the strongest impressions that I received was concerning sin. My question going into the meeting was, "If Christ says we don't need to suffer for our sins, then why do we always feel so awful when we commit sin? Why do we almost always feel pain?" Throughout the meeting, I got bits and pieces that pertained to my question. While I was writing something down, I caught a bit of what Elder Kopischke was saying at that moment. I don't know what he said before and I don't know why he was saying it, but I heard him say, "The reason we feel pain when we sin is not to atone for what we've done. We never pay for our sins in this life. Rather, the pain we feel when we sin is to bring us closer to Christ and to drive us to apply the Atonement in our lives. Let me say that again - we don't pay for our sins in this life. The pain we feel is not to pay for what we've done. It's to bring us to Christ and His atonement." 
My question was answered straight out. It was amazing to hear that answer come in such a way. Many of my other questions were answered, not quite as directly, as Elder Kopischke spoke. I testify now that we can all receive revelation when we open our hearts. You may not remember a word that was said in a meeting, but you will always remember the impressions you had. You will always be able to receive revelation, regardless of your topic, if you just listen for it.
The week continued on after that and I kept receiving answers to my questions, well after Elder Kopischke had left the area. What an amazing experience it was for me to witness it first hand and see the difference it made in my life. 
As I mentioned in my last email, we have been without a car yet again. Salvation finally came on Saturday though! We were given a Ford Focus to drive and I couldn't have been happier - I actually cried because I was just so overwhelmed with joy. Sadly, Sister Jones' driving privileges got revoked by Salt Lake so it was a bit of a hard day because she had a rough time with it. Yet, I am now the official driver! 
We got to drive our new car down to the Elders' baptism at the church. They had been teaching a young man, Andrew, for quite awhile and he agreed to be baptized not too long ago. It was truly a wonderful thing to witness him go down into the water and come back up clean from all his sins. Dirty from the water though - the instant he went down, a cloud of dirt came up from the water and settled on all of us. Mississippi water is disgusting. Watching Andrew get baptized help invigorate me to keep working hard and to bring the joy that I saw in him to everyone else here in my area. 
Then, the best news ever came. Kaley Turfitt, our Ward Missionary Leader's wife, finally had her first born child!! His name is Porter and is the cutest baby I've ever seen. Of course, Sister Jones and I started screaming and jumping up and down when we heard the news! The Elders weren't as excited as us... But that's okay.
A few random notes about Mississippi:
Scenic Drive, the road that I drive on every day, is one of three roads on the National Historic Registry. That's pretty cool if you ask me. 
Mississippi water is gross. Our Zone Leaders came up from Louisiana the other day and they asked for water. Of course, we gave them water. They took one look at it and said, "No. We asked for water.... Not lemonade..." It's that gross. Pretty sure I'm going to get something from this water. 

All my love,

Sister Sarah Michéle Durrant

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