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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