Monday, September 16, 2013

On Tuesday, I had the chance to attend my very first Zone Conference and Specialized Sister Training Meeting. It was a very uplifting conference that lasted literally all day. We drove east to Gulfport at 7 am and didn't get home until 9 o'clock at night. During the conference, we held a long discussion on the enabling power of the Atonement. It is truly a great experience to listen to young men and women from the ages of 18 to 29 all discuss in the depth how the Atonement brings us strength. There were three scriptures brought up that changed the way I viewed the Atonement, John 16:33, Alma 7:11-12, and Philippians 4:13. In each of these wonderful verses, we are taught that Christ "overcame the world", that he "took upon [our] infirmities" so that we "can do all things, through Christ who strengthens [us]." How remarkable is that? Often times, I wondered, "How can Christ help me bike this bridge? How did Christ help the pioneers trek across the plains?" 
During that discussion, it resounded in me that Christ is able to help us because he overcame the world. He took upon all of our infirmities and afflictions and temptations. Including physical trials. Often, people emphaize the fact that through Christ, we can be cleansed from our sins and that we may be healed. Which I have such a strong testimony of. Yet, not nearly enough do we talk about how Christ gives us the strength. The Atonement of Christ enables us to be able to do what we couldn't do otherwise. He provides strength because He truly did experience all. He felt the good, the bad, and the hard when He descended below all things in the Garden. And because He felt it all, He knows how to help us. If any of you get the time, I highly recommend that you read those three scriptures, study Elder Bednar's talk, "The Enabling Power of the Atonement", and seek out what that means to you. I promise that it'll change all of your lives - much as it has changed mine.
Sadly, all good things had to come to an end. After Zone Conference, we headed home and Sister Jones finally succumbed to the sickness that she had been fighting for a few days and we found ourselves entrapped in our apartment until Friday or, if we did get a chance to go out, it was a struggle to just get through the day. 
Thursday night, though, I became a true Southerner. It was about 3 in the morning, Sister Jones was awake with the flu and I heard some thumping. I was woken up to seeing Sister Jones trying to kill a cockroach, while looking sick to her stomach. I sent her to the restroom while I promised her I'd take care of the cockroach. For 20 minutes, I chased the thing all around the place with a shoe. Finally, I finally killed the cockroach - I've officially been inducted into the Southern lifestyle! Everyone here has told me that you aren't a true Southerner until you kill a cockroach. Not thinking though, I threw the dead cockroach into the trash can. 
That afternoon, while studying, I looked over and saw the very same cockroach walking around on the floor. I checked the garbage and sure enough, it was gone from there. Yes, we had a walking dead cockroach. THOSE THINGS DON'T DIE. Finally, after following it for what seemed like forever, I was able to crush it under a shoe (for the second time) and throw it outside. 
On Friday, we had a chance to go out and tract a little. Here in the South, many people have screened front porches so we often find ourselves knocking on screen doors. We came up to a house, knocked on the screen door, and as usual, no one answered. I turned to Sister Jones and joked, "What if we just clapped? You know, like they do in South America? Clap and everyone comes out!" We figured, what the heck? So we started clapping. Then, we started to get a little silly. Before we knew it, we were doing a full out jig on someone else's front door step, set to the beat of slapping hands. Right then, I remarked, "What if they came out of their house?"
Sure enough, the owner walked out and was starting at these two sister missionaries, clapping and dancing on his front porch. Laughing, he told us that he loved our little performance. Quickly, we scrambled to pull ourselves together and tell him of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Sadly, he wasn't very interested in what we had to say. Now, I'm sure that there are rumors going around of the dancing Mormon missionaries. 
The weekend was spent with Sister Tomisin and Sister Jenkins - the Sister Training Leaders. They go around once a month to train the Sister missionaries and go on splits with them. By the end of the weekend, we had somehow obtained pumpkin bread, t-shirts, mardi gras beads, art work, more bread, cookies, and pears - all for free. It's remarkable how much people love giving missionaries free stuff, even when they don't want to listen to the message that you carry. 
Being a missionary sometimes is difficult. You find yourself killing resurrected cockroaches, hanging out in apartments all day, and dancing on front porch steps. But, at the end of the day, you know you've done the best you can do when you truly care about the Lord and the people of your area. Every day, I can feel the power of the Atonement changing my life and changing my actions. Every day, I am reminded of the love of God and the great work He has for us. So great is my calling, so great is my love and joy!

All my love,

Sister Sarah Michéle Durrant

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