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