Monday, December 16, 2013
This week was full of planning and preparations so next week we should get to teach! Yea!!! It's hard not being able to teach very much, which might sound weird if you haven't been on a mission. I really want to be out doing work, and we didn't get very much of that this week. I know numbers aren't everything, but ours were pretty low this week. Sister Hale has been recovering from a sinus infection and Tuesday was a bad day for her so we stayed home most of the day to let her rest. I got some really good studies in though. Wednesday we were busy with district meeting in the morning. I got to play piano which was wonderful! I miss my piano and flute! I was so excited when President Craig said I could have my flute sent to me! So hopefully that will work out sometime in the near future!
Thursday was AMAZING! We had a Christmas devotional for the ENTIRE mission! Every one of the 264 missionaries met in one church for a talent show, dinner, and an uplifting devotional. (speaking of food, apparently the average weight gain for the FJM missionaries is 35 pounds. . . time to work out a bit harder!!!) We were reminded to let the joy of Christmas fill our hearts every day, and to focus on what we have. President Craig shared his experiences of past Christmas days spent serving in homeless shelters in Salt Lake. It truly is eye opening to hear how little some people have, and it is a wonderful reminder to be grateful for what we have. Each companionship was sent home with a bag of gifts from various wards, a Florida Jacksonville Mission pin, and an apple pie! Someone donated pies for everyone! The pie is heavenly!
Friday night and Saturday we had trade-offs with the Sister Training Leaders. I was with Sister Fife and Sister Hale went with Sister McCleary. It was good to see how other missionaries work, and it was a good experience to meet other people. Saturday night was the long awaited for Arlington Ward Christmas Party. It was a big hit! The food was delicious, and most importantly we met a lot of great people--both members and non members. Several members have asked for my mom and dad's address/phone numbers to send letters and pictures. It is so sweet. One ward member even made gluten free brownies for the party so Sister Hale could have dessert! They take good care of us here! The Elders even bought one-piece pajamas to be Santa's helpers! Did I mention they also went caroling to their investigator's house in them? Yep! Those are our zone leaders!!!
Saturday after the party Sister Hale and I found a little friend in our apartment. A frog! he was hopping around on our carpet. . . I was able to catch him in a cup and we let him go outside. it was raining hard that night and we were running some cookies to the other sisters and the elders apartments. On the way a huge toad was right in front of us and startled us! Some of the elders cookies may or may not have ended up on the ground outside the sisters' apartment. . . It was huge, and we were definitely not expecting it! haha, we had a lot of fun with frogs that night!
On Sunday night I extended my first official baptism invitation! We've had a competition this week to see if the Elders or Sisters in the East Jax Zone can get more invites. Sister Hale and I were teaching a sweet, elderly African American couple we had found in the potential investigator sheets. Between all of the woman's stories we got in a pretty good restoration lesson. I guess we didn't quite get the whole "proper authority from God" part into their minds though because when I asked if they would be baptized she said "I've already been baptized!" This is a pretty common answer in the South. So, no go on a baptism quite yet, but we have a return appointment and we're so excited to meet with them again!
Can I just say I LOVE serving a mission in the South? Basically EVERYONE LOVES Jesus and is willing to talk about their faith. It's a great conversation starter. I'm really trying to work on bringing up the gospel in conversations, and I think it's going to keep getting easier. I encourage ALL of you to do the same! I've been reading the book Power of the Everyday Missionary! It is wonderful!!! It teaches how simple missionary work can be, and testifies that each one of us is capable of sharing the gospel. I would definitely recommend buying and reading it! What better gift could you share with someone this Christmas than the gospel of Christ? We're praying for a "White Christmas" full of baptisms in the Florida Jacksonville Mission, and I hope each of you will pray for opportunities to share the gospel as well.
Have a blessed day!!!
Love, Sister Murray