This has been one of the best and most memorable weeks of my life. We are now a trio!! Sister Woodward, from Orem, Utah, arrived in Minnesota fresh from the MTC Wednesday, and joined Sister Luk and me in Rochester! We are having a great time together. Trios are so much fun!! And things are going GREAT. I wish I could do a better job of telling about all the awesome people we are teaching — I feel like I don’t have enough time to tell everything about them all, and also I try to be careful to not include names or personal details in these group letters; I’ve thought of making up pseudonyms, but I think I would just confuse myself and lose track of them all. But I’ll tell a few highlights of the people we taught this week. One lady who is fairly busy and hasn’t been able to meet with us very regularly texted us out of the blue on Saturday to ask if it would be all right if she came to church — YES!!! Sister Luk and I cheered and whooped and jumped around the room and had to try and explain to Sister Woodward why we were so excited. She did come to church, and so did several other people we’ve been teaching, as well as a few friends of members! It was a great Sunday! Well, it was stressful, too, because we were teaching both Gospel Principles class and Young Women’s — welcome to Sundays as a missionary, Sister Woodward! (Sister Woodward did a fantastic job — she is wonderful!) Last night we had an awesome lesson with one of our Chinese friends, one of our favorite people in this area, and he is praying about being baptized. He is awesome. We’ve taught him Law of Chastity, Word of Wisdom, even fasting — and he has no problem with anything. He even comes up with some supportive insight from a doctor’s perspective (because he’s a doctor) as to why such-and-such commandment would actually be quite beneficial. He just needs to feel and recognize what steps God wants him to take in his life, because we don’t want anyone to do something just to please us. Except maybe get baptized. Just kidding — especially get baptized! I do really, really hope he will be baptized before . . . well . . . before my time here is up. This is it — the final inning! Gotta make the absolute most of it!
Poor Sister Woodward — she probably got about two or three hours of sleep Tuesday night before she came here, and she was so tired! We decided, given the circumstances, it would probably be good to schedule a nap. We did put it in our plans, but it never happened. We’ve just been so busy! Sister Luk and I hope she doesn’t have a rough time when someday she gets transferred to a new area that doesn’t have more people to teach than we have time for and doesn’t have meals with members scheduled every single night. Well, actually, this week was kind of strange. We had quite a few people cancel dinner — I think maybe they were just overly excited to put their names on the beach ball. So the ward mission leader’s wife took us out to Texas Roadhouse one night, Bishop’s family had us over another night and sent us home with a bunch of leftovers, and now we keep hearing that the ward was rebuked by Bishop in the third hour of church yesterday (while we were with the young women) for the travesty of not doing their job of taking care of us. One sweet sister called us today and said she had groceries for us — bags and bags of fresh fruit and vegetables!!! And a bag of M&M’s. 😉 Really, this ward is incredible. Throughout my mission, I’ve been so amazed at how much people do for missionaries. At the end of our young women’s lesson, we had a little missionary Q&A. One cute young woman asked if there were any skills we recommended developing to prepare for a mission, such as cooking or sewing. Sister Luk quickly responded, “You just need to know how to make a good meal calendar.”
Our lives are so perfect right now. 🙂 We are so blessed. I hope I do not sound flippant in talking about how well things are going in our area – I know that success is a gift from God. Sometimes missionaries go through really trying periods, and I am just really happy that that doesn’t seem to be what Heavenly Father thinks we need right now. I will keep praying that things continue to go so well — unless he has something greater in mind. 🙂 But things are pretty great!
So now that you know how things are going right now, I need to tell just a little bit about Tuesday and Wednesday — truly, some of the greatest experiences of my life. Since I am going home a week early and will not have the opportunity to take part in the traditional departing missionary activities the day before I go home, I got to take part in those events with the missionaries who just went home this past transfer. It was a big group of departing missionaries, many of whom I’ve gotten to work with closely at different times in my mission and who I respect and appreciate a lot. There were a couple others, like me, who, instead of going home, would be going back to missionary work for just a few more weeks. We all met in Bloomington Tuesday morning. We had classes on education and dating and watched Elder Holland’s talk, “Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments.” Then we got to go to the temple. We had was an entire session full of missionaries, including President and Sister Barney (it was their first time in the St. Paul temple). I cannot really convey in an email what that experience was like, or what it was like to gather back at the mission home, and, after an excellent dinner, have a testimony meeting and hear the testimonies of men and women who have just spent two years or 18 months in full-time service of the Lord, having gone through challenges and grown in many ways and shared experiences that no one else would probably really be able to understand. The spirit present in that room, and the love and gratitude I felt, were palpable. I feel a little like the Book of Mormon writers who said that that no tongue can speak, neither can words be written to describe their experiences.
The next day, the departing missionaries loaded up their suitcases and themselves and pulled out to head to the airport. A few hours later, since Sister Luk and I are training, we got to meet the new missionaries that had just flown into Minnesota. It was a super surreal experience to be a part of both ends of mission life within the same day. I am so grateful for these experiences.
I am so grateful to have the experience of serving a mission. I know I will look back on this period of my life as a sacred time in which I have experienced God’s power and felt His Spirit and have come to gain a greater testimony that this is His work.