Oh my heavens, I have way too much to write about from this week and a half. Perhaps to your disadvantage, I'll just share a few select tidbits. It really has been a great past couple of days!
The Lord has been very, very kind to Sister Noker and me this past week. We have desperately been in need of new investigators and to strengthen our teaching pool as it is, and He has been giving us the opportunity to do so.
Tracey is getting baptized this Sunday!! It is absolutely a miracle. We have been teaching her ever since I got here. The previous missionaries had just stopped teaching her when I arrived, and when I met her I convinced Sister Noker to start teaching her again. Her husband was baptized a little over a year ago. From the beginning she made the missionaries and her husband, Brian, meet out on the porch because she didn't want them in her house. Ha ha, she was really mean to them. But eventually it got too cold outside, and Brian begged her to let them come inside. So she let them, but only if they'd meet in the basement. But then she'd blare the music so loud so she couldn't hear what they were saying. Eventually she got too curious for her own good and the stereo got less and less loud and she began listening to the message from upstairs. Tracey eventually started reading the Book of Mormon and met with the missionaries for herself. She has a sure belief that the Book of Mormon is scripture and that Christ's gospel has been restored. She was planning on being baptized in April, but Brian was struggling coming to church so they both stopped coming for a while. When I met them, neither of them were coming to church, and for no good reason at all. They both had such a strong testimony of the gospel, but were not making the effort to do what they knew to be true. After meeting with them for about two months straight and nothing much was changing, I was sick of it. I warned Sister Noker that I was going to "throw down" on them about a week and a half ago when we had a lesson with them. Sister Noker was a little frightened, but she said she trusted me. We had a wonderful lesson where I was pretty bold and eventually they understood that if they believed the gospel was true, God should mean more to them than everything else, and they should desire to obey the things he's asked them to do. Voila! Just like that, they came to church! And just like that, Tracey is prepared to be baptized, two weeks later (which is this coming Sunday). She bore her testimony this last Sunday in church and said how much she needed me to kick her into gear, and how her baptism means everything to her. She's excited to finally be baptized. That meant the world to me. I'm so excited.
I love those moments during my mission where it hits me like a wall of bricks why the Lord needed me in that particular place at that particular time. I know that Tracey is one of those reasons. I'm grateful to be a participant in His marvelous work.
Speaking of marvelous work, did you know that I'm an electrician? [Editor's note: Mallory has always believed that she has an unusual ability and talent to operate power tools and instinctively to perform handy-man tasks, notwithstanding any emergency room trips or other mishaps that may have accompanied her use of this "talent"] I know that I've sent a lot of renovation photos recently, but I bet you've just been craving more. I've now successfully learned how to wire a basement and how to wire electrical outlets. I'm a genius, so it's fine. So I've included some pictures of my handiwork, and although it may just look like a regular old outlet, don't be deceived! The entire thing has been lovingly caressed with my fine hands.
So... do you want to know some absolutely DREADFUL news?? I looked it up in the phonebook the other day, and there is not one single Starbucks in any of the towns we cover. What. A. Tragedy. It's been more of a trial for me than you know. Especially as the weather gets colder. Oh, the things we sacrifice as missionaries. BUT we had a meeting this week in an area covered by another set of missionaries and I just about died when I saw that blessed mermaid sign. We pulled over immediately so I could partake of the consecrated drink I'd been craving. [Editor's note: of course, she's referring to her favorite drink of Starbucks hot chocolate] Dreams really do come true.
On that happy note, I hope that you all know how much I love you. I love Thanksgiving (even though this one caught me early... wonder why!) and the perspective it gives me. I love the chance truly to ponder the marvels of this world, and to recall all the many blessings I have in my life. I don't know where I'd be without my family and those I love. My God takes such great care of me. It is an honor to (sometimes) suffer and serve these 18 months for Him who suffered for me that I might live with my family forever. That is the truth of this message I live for, and the gospel I am so grateful to know.
- Thanksgiving Dinner #1 at the Diogo's house. Fit for a king, for sure.
- Me with Tracey and Brian after Thanksgiving Dinner #2 at their house
- My electrical works of art.