Monday, January 27, 2014

Sharingitis and Blessings

Saturday session of Stake Conference.
Sisters Murray, Hale, Chappell, Siegel, Houtz, Bradford

After lunch with the Kendall and Beth Williams family. their house is right on the St. John's River.
We saw some jelly fish washed onto the beach. They are weird looking creatures!

The Williams dock. From the dock you can see the zoo and the skyline of downtown Jacksonville. The Williams said we can come back and visit anytime. Who wants to come back with me? There's lots of fish, and the dock even has a sink to clean fish on it! They have two boats, water skis, surf board...and dolphins often swim to the dock. They see dolphins like we see deer in Utah. It's crazy!

Williams house from the dock

Monday, January 27, 2014
First off, can you believe it's been 6 years since President Hinckley passed away!  I remember, it was January 27th, the same day I received a call to sing in a choir for the General Young Women Broadcast. That day was truly life changing!  (And it's my half-birthday, which helps me remember it!)

It was a different kind of missionary week.  On Tuesday Sister Hale's sinus infection was much worse so the Sister Training Leaders drove us to the doctor.  Sister Hale was diagnosed with Laryngitis and a double ear infection.  The poor thing!  Apparently, at the District Meeting one of the Zone Leaders was trying to say that she had laryngitis, but accidentally said something more like sharingitis... we decided it comes from working so hard to SHARE the gospel!  She spent Tuesday through Friday resting, and trying to recover.  I spent the week with personal studies, which I really enjoyed.  I realized how out of practice I was at sitting and studying for hours on end though!  I put a lot of time into studying different commandments and the blessings promised specifically to those commandments.  That was something I had been wanting to do, and something President Craig said was important to know.  I was able to read several conference talks, watch a few church movies, catch a few naps, read letters, write in my journal, reread letters, read through my old journal, and plan for lessons.  I really enjoyed the time in my journals.  I brought my most recent journal from home with me and I was amazed, yet again, to see how much the Lord's hand was in my life in just the past year.  I also got a good laugh when I read the very first line of that journal.  The date was May 16, 2013 and the first line reads: "What a blessed day!"  Was I meant to serve in the South or what?  I can't think of a better way to describe a day where I feel so blessed!

It truly was a miracle that the Sister Training Leaders were available during every single one of our set appointments with our progressing investigators.  On Wednesday, Sister Fife came with me to teach Aaron.  We had a great lesson on the commandments.  Aaron told us about his visit home to see his parents.  He was watching a show with his mother, and there was a Mormon couple on.  He was able to teach his mom about the Law of Chastity!  He even had the pamphlet we've given him!!!  That's our investigator!  We were so proud of him! 

Thursday Sister McCleary came with to teach Caitlyn, the student at UNF (University of North Florida).  We went over the Gospel of Jesus Christ and it went really well.  

Friday, Sister Fife came with me again.  We went to visit Pete.  I believe I've mentioned his story before.  He was raised Catholic, but doesn't agree with a lot of their teachings and acts.  He started dating Sister Ramirez in our ward, who hasn't been to church for a few years.  Around Christmas time they were going out and he made a wrong turn and went past our church.  That's how he found out they are Mormon, and then we came knocking on their door looking for a YSA on our roster.  So Friday night we begin teaching the Restoration.  It is going really well.  When we get to the Book of Mormon,  I look over to see tears coming down Pete's face.  He conveniently holds his copy of the Restoration Pamphlet higher so we can't see.  We ask him about how he's feeling, and the only way he can describe it is, "sad."  We explain that when the Holy Ghost speaks to us sometimes it makes us feel emotional.  We continued the lesson, and Sister Fife handed him his own copy of the Book of Mormon.  He had only held it about five seconds when the tears returned to his eyes.  I've heard stories like this, but I was actually living it, and it was powerful!  I know that the Book of Mormon is another testament of Christ, and I love helping others come to find it for themselves!  There is a power in even holding the book that I so often overlook.  We ended the lesson and invited Pete to pray.  With some guidance on the way we pray, and some help getting started, he gave one of the most sincere prayers I've heard.  The spirit was so strong there!  I cannot wait to see Pete progress!  I know that Heavenly Father has prepared him to receive the gospel!  Now it's up to him to choose to accept it.

On Saturday Sister Hale felt a bit better so we made it to visit one woman in the ward, and we swept the floor of another elderly sister.  We promised to come back to mop the floor next week.  

This weekend was stake conference.  We had a meeting Saturday night, and the missionaries were all required to meet early to practice for the choir.  It was actually just the missionaries in the choir, and we sang a medley of Onward Christian Soldiers and Called to Serve.  We included FJM's third verse of Called to Serve which was really fun.  A member said she counted about 25 Sisters and about 25 Elders singing.  The meeting was completely focused on missionary work!  The work is really going to get moving when the members get on board!  I am so excited to see the progression!  Everyone is encouraged to read The Power of Everyday Missionaries, and yes I will continue to mention that book because it is changing the way we look at missionary work!

Sunday was a regional meeting broadcast from Orlando.  The speakers were Robert Gay (of the 70-his Mom lives in Florida so he sent her a "hello" from the pulpit), Carol F. McConkie (General Young Women's first counselor), Erich W. Kopische (of the 70), and Elder Russell M. Nelson.  They all gave amazing talks, and we really enjoyed the meeting.  Elder Nelson taught us that whenever the scriptures speak of the doctrine of Christ "doctrine" is in its’ singular form.  When it is used in a plural form it is not, such as "doctrines of men..." and such.  He said the Doctrine of Christ is like a diamond with many facets.  These multiple facets are definable and they make the diamond sparkle.  He said he went with a less expensiveness diamond with 9 facets: The Godhead; Plan of Salvation; Atonement; Dispensations, Apostasy, and Restoration; Prophets and Revelation; Priesthood and Priesthood keys; Ordinances and Covenants; Marriage and Family; and Commandments.  It was a beautiful way to describe the doctrine we teach. With Valentine's Day coming up, I need to share another truth he taught!  He said, "The highest responsibility of a man who bears priesthood is to love his wife.  Each day God gives you (priesthood holders) breath.  Use that breath to tell your wife you love her."  

Finally, on that note, I want to say how grateful I am for priesthood blessings.  On Tuesday the Zone Leaders came over and gave Sister Hale a blessing.  We had to pull a chair outside since they aren't allowed inside, but it was great!  We also had Elder Draper give Sister Hale a blessing on Wednesday and I was able to receive on as well.  Then Sunday before stake conference we talked to President Craig.  He and Sister Craig were watching the conference in the same building as us and it was good to see them!  Their daughter, son-in-law, and new granddaughter were visiting, and it was fun to meet them!  There was also time for President Craig to give us both priesthood blessings.  It's funny, I hadn't realized how much I could use a blessing until I received them.  I am truly grateful for worthy  priesthood holders!  The blessings I received this week were very specific to me, and were just what I needed.  It was especially meaningful to receive a blessing from President Craig, who knows me and cares about me so much, as he does all of the missionaries in the Florida Jacksonville Mission.  I know that Heavenly Father calls us to serve where and when he needs us, whether it's as a missionary or a calling in our wards.  As we do our best to magnify that calling he will send us blessings to help us along the way. Of course, some of those blessings depend on our asking for them.  Sometimes we simply pray for those blessings, but other times a blessing through a priesthood holder will truly strengthen us!  I know I've seen that this week in my life!

I wish ya'll the best week!  
Sister Murray