I can hardly believe how fast the weeks seem to go!
This week started off with a beautiful knock at my door by a UPS man delivering a package to Sister Murray! I was soooooo excited to have my flute! Mom sent my old flute in order to keep my nice one safe at home, but whoever did the repairs on it is a miracle worker! Some of the high notes are still hard to hit because the keys are still a bit off, and because I am used to my nicer one. It will probably take some time to adjust to this one again. I also enjoyed the snowflakes, notes, and pictures from family and friends! It's the little things from home that mean the most! I got a really good laugh when I read Tiffany and Janese's notes. They are EXACTLY the same! It reminded me of the weekends when I would call and talk to one, and then when I talked to the other I would find myself having the exact same conversation! Silly twins... thanks for the laugh! Sister Hale and I are super excited to try the gluten and dairy free soup too!
My flute has already been put to good use! Sister Hale "helped" me volunteer to do a musical number at our district meeting on Tuesday. It really invited the spirit! Ya'll have no idea how good it feels to play again! On Sunday we borrowed a violin from a YSA for Sister Hale to play! We're definitely going to put together some musical numbers soon!
It seems like we had appointments falling through left and right this week, but we were able to have some great lessons. We taught The Gospel of Jesus Christ to Aaron. He is so great! I cannot wait to see him baptized! We were also able to find Pete home this week, which was a miracle because we keep missing them when we call or drop by. Now we have a set appointment to officially teach the Restoration to him this week! We will probably doing trade-offs with the Sister Training Leaders at the time so we'll see how well we can teach with a new companion!
Oh, I keep forgetting to mention that I met Megan Allred! Her father is Joel Allred, my elementary principal and high school vice principal. Her Sister in Law was my marching band director for two years! She took a picture of me and Sister Hale on her phone to show her family. It was so nice to see someone with a connection to home! She's a legend of member missionary work in the YSA branch! I met her the Sunday before she went home to Utah. She is actually the one who invited Aaron to church! I love all of these connections!
I've been getting a lot of questions about what I've learned from my beautiful companion, Sister Hale. There's a lot! To start off, she is so genuinely loving about EVERYONE! She has a natural ability to connect with people and really care. It's still hard for me to speak up sometimes and talk to everyone, but I'm working on it. The past couple weeks we've made it a goal for me to talk more and her to talk less. It's been getting a bit better, and this weekend she came down with a cold and lost her voice. We laughed about Heavenly Father knowing he needed to intervene to get me talking! I better work on it faster so she can get her voice back! haha! Another thing I've learned is that it's ok to laugh and have fun! You have no idea how many times we've gotten stuck in laughing fits just when we were going to say a prayer. I think, perhaps, one of the greatest things I admire about Sister Hale is her strength and determination to serve the Lord. I wasn't sure if I could share her story with you before, but I do so now with her permission.
About two years ago Sister Hale was in a car accident, along with two of her younger sisters. Sister Hale was left in a wheelchair temporarily, and the younger of these two sisters, Katelyn, was killed. It was a really hard time for her family. Sister Hale still knew she should serve a mission and turned in her papers. When she arrived at the MTC she literally left her cane at the car and walked in. Now her family has three daughters serving missions. Sister Hale in Jacksonville, FL, Sister Hale in Temple Square, and Sister Katelyn Hale serving on the other side of the veil. When Sister Hale bears her testimony of the Plan of Salvation and eternal families it is so powerful. She is really able to connect with people going through the loss of a loved one, and I admire her strength to share this experience when she is prompted.
After about five months Sister Hale went home due to medical reasons. After much testing and many doctors she learned she had several allergies including dairy and gluten. She changed her diet and began working to coming back on her mission. While she was home an Elder from this same mission, who had been in the MTC with her, was also sent home for medical reasons. When she learned that she gave him a call to give him support, because she knew firsthand how hard it is to go home from a mission. They kept in touch, and even did companion study together to keep up their missionary abilities, and soon their conversations turned more personal, and before she knew it Sister Hale was flying to Utah to spend time with this elder and his family. We'll just say things took off from there. :) Gratefully Sister Hale got her diet under control and felt she needed to return. This Elder is still struggling with his medical problems, and trying to get better. They offer strength to each other, and I they're pretty cute. (even if letters to Sister Hale stink up my letters because he sprays his with cologne)
This is Sister Hale's third transfer back in the mission. It's hard sometimes since she seems to be following all of the areas a certain Elder served in, and people are always asking how he is doing, but it's all good. Also, Sister Hale has been trying to get over a sinus infection basically since she's been back. The poor thing! She is so determined to share the gospel she doesn't let anything stop her! It makes me reflect my own diligence. That is probably the greatest lesson I learn from Sister Hale and all that she has gone through to get to this point.
I love to see the work moving forward! I am also really gaining an appreciation for member missionary work! We've began going to members homes and teaching lessons about how to start sharing the gospel. We're taking our lesson right from the Power of the Everyday Missionary by Clayton Christensen. I wish EVERY member would read this book!!! It is inspiring, and really simplifies missionary work so it doesn't feel overwhelming. I really want to apply it to my life for the rest of my life!
To answer your questions about food: the members feed us maybe once or twice a week. One week we had a meeting with a less active YSA who took us to Panera Bread. It's kind of like Kneaders, and it is soooo good! The funny thing was that the next morning a different less active YSA took us to Panera for breakfast, and within the next week ANOTHER less active YSA took us to... you guessed it! Panera! Good thing we love that place! Last week the Brown family fed us for the second time since we've been in Arlington! They are such a fun couple! Also, since she has diabetes and he has Crohn's, they know how to make healthy food that Sister Hale can eat! This week they fed us delicious rosemary chicken and rice and SQUASH! I LOVE squash! So I really haven't tried anything else too crazy lately, just the new gluten free food that Sister Hale has gotten. It's so kind of the members to go out of their way to feed her, even if it's just dropping of a snack she can eat!
My final happy news of the week is that I have been called to serve as a Facebook Missionary! Normally missionaries will not be called until they have at least finished their 12 weeks of training, but since there are 250 missionaries for President Craig to keep track of he forgot how long I had been out. With a good word from my zone leaders he decided I was ready to begin training this week! I'm so excited! It's amazing the work being done with technology! Also, the first group of missionaries in the mission got their mini IPads! Next are the Sister Training Leaders and the Zone leaders, and then we'll all be getting our own IPad! It is going to be so nice to keep track of ward members, and to have a gps right there, not to mention using them to show videos in lessons! I am so grateful for all the good things we can do with the tools provided! One more thing to mention, on Tuesday we got called to the office for a car trade. Ours was a bit of a gas guzzler and we have a big area to cover with YSA. We got a brand spankin' new Corola! It's beautiful! When we got it it had 20 miles on it!!! We are so blessed!
Happy Missionary Day (ya'll are missionaries!!!)
Have a blessed day!
With lots of love, Sister Murray