My first full week was wonderful!!! My cold is slowly, but surely getting better and at least my voice came back soon so I can teach! It was perfect weather this week! I'm not going to lie, I miss seeing the snow--especially for Christmas--but I am LOVING the temperature here!
A few things: The Florida Jacksonville Mission currently has 49% sister missionaries!!! YEA! Most of us are in cars, which is nice! Sister Hale and I are soooo spoiled! Our apartment is BEAUTIFUL! We have two bedrooms (though we are in the same one), two bathrooms (so nice for getting ready!), and two walk in closets. yep! Pretty spoiled! The leaders did a wonderful job getting missionaries great places to live! Sister Hale and I are still working on the language. I just can't quite get used to leaving out certain letters, but I'll get it sooner or later. :) Let's see... I got my first two Florida bug bites this week--so I'm a real missionary now! Haha, and I've seen my first couple roaches. . . yuck. I'm learning not to touch the plants, and not to drink the tap water. I've tried some new foods, but nothing too crazy. I mentioned the sauerkraut last week. Last night I tried some new variety of pea. . . white acre? Something like that. Apparently they're strictly a southern food. I also had some creamed corn--both were yummy! I've also tried some new gluten free breads, brownies, and rice nog thanks to my companion's allergies. We've had some good adventures with that! Also, at our dinner last night we had pudding dessert like the one we make every Christmas, except it was made with Chocolate pudding (you'll be pleased to know I am overcoming my taste adversion to it) and there were pecans in the crust! super yummy! :)
Since We're in a new area Sister Hale and I are doing a lot of organizing still. We're trying to figure out who is still living in the boundaries, especially in the YSA ward. So it's a lot of knocking on doors and finding out whatever we can. Facebook has also been a big help. Sister Hale is a Facebook missionary so we've been adding ward members and people we've been trying to contact on there. We can even teach lessons! It's actually really helpful!
This week I was able to teach my first real lesson! We met with an investigator that had been mentioned in some previous records. His name is Johnny, and he is amazing! He had a really rough life before and now he wants to be someone worth remembering. I LOVE teaching! SO MUCH!!! When we were able to answer his questions, and explain doctrine I felt the spirit with us. Unfortunately for us Johnny is moving to California to pursue his boxing career, but we're definitely planning on contacting the missionaries there! And maybe his sister will want to learn more!
We also have been working with an investigator named Ruby. She's about 80 years old and her boyfriend of ten years just passed away last month. Brother Chaplin, or "Chappy" was a member and both would come to sacrament meeting every week. We've mostly been offering what comfort and support we can to Ruby. She is so sweet and is really struggling. On Saturday we were able to visit her with Sister Williams. The Williams family is amazing! It reminds me so much of the Murray family in North Logan! Sister Williams has seven children, 25 grandchildren, and 15 grandchildren (or about that many :) ) and ALL of them are in the Arlington ward!!! Really! The Williams clan practically is the ward! They are a wonderful family! We actually got to have our first Thanksgiving dinner with all of them last week. Well, Sister Williams' husband died in June, and she and her husband had been home teacher/visiting teacher to Ruby and Chappy and the couples were wonderful friends. The two woman had such a wonderful talk. Sister Hale and I mostly just listened because Sister Williams was saying all the right things as she boldly testified of Heavenly Father's plan for us. I have always heard people talk about the light members have, but until that moment I had never really seen such a very noticeable difference. I watched these two women, going through similar losses, and one really did have a glow about her as she testified of life after this. I want so much for Ruby to gain the same light. As they spoke I felt prompted to ask the Ruby if she would like a priesthood blessing. She said she didn't know non members could get blessings, and I told her she definitely could. She chose a man she knew in the ward and we talked to him and set up a time for her to receive a blessing. It was a beautiful experience!
Sunday night we watched the Christmas Devotional. If you haven't seen it yet watch it here!
It was reassuring to know that my family and loved ones were doing the same thing at the same time, just across the country! Sister Hale and I went to Sister Williams house with Ruby and the four of us watched the devotional together while we ate Christmas treats. The messages were so perfect for all of us! I love how the truly apply to so many people! The message Elder Nelson shared about the Savior being the Prince of Peace was exactly what Sister Hale and I had been sharing with members and investigators all week!!! I was grateful for his testimony to be added to ours. We must have been teaching the right things!!! I know that as we come to our Savior through repentance and obedience to the commandments we will feel that peace that comes from living a life in line with Him. He is the source of peace, and he understands what we need to help us get through hard times. I've felt this in my own life, and know that each of you can too. Never forget that He is there for you.
Thank you all for your support and care!