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

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