Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Bring on ‘em Gators

Aileens baptism. Her friend, Chirag Parikh baptized her. 

My little piece of heaven!  Rita's is definitely a new favorite!   Gelati is the best--italian ice with custard!  I got mint chocolate chip (no surprise there right?) with swirled custard this time. Yum!  Last time I did Alexander's Lemonade with vanilla custard.  If only there was no such thing as calories and they were free I could eat at Rita's all day!  That's also where we were when the Craigs ran into us :)

I'm being transferred to Gainesville 3rd ward!!!  I am so super stoked!!!  I am really going to miss the YSA, but this change feels really good.  I will be serving with Sister Stitt--she has been out one transfer so I will finish training her.  Which means I get 3 hours of studies again!  Oh you have no idea how excited I am for that extra hour of studies! On her first night in Florida Sister Hale and I went to the mission home to take a sister out with us.  Sister Craig asked us to choose which one we felt should come with us, and something about Sister Stitt stood out to me so we took her to the beach and did some tracting!   She is like a combination of me and Sister Hale so this will be great!   I've found several missionaries who served in this ward and that has made me even more excited!  The ward has a vast majority of young families.  Hey, I might actually remember what children are when I see one! ;)  The leadership is great!  Which will be wonderful since the YSA's current mission leader is less active... haha, fun right?  I've been told Gainesville is a city, but smaller than Jacksonville.  Thank goodness!  Driving here gives me major anxiety!   Apparently Florida drivers don't have to take a written test for their license... and they only have to have a license plate on the back of their cars... asking for trouble?  Maybe.  The worst things is that the drivers have no fear!  They also don't seem to know what blinkers are.  Oh, good ol' Florida traffic!   Also, I'm going to have to get to know a bit more about football!  Gainesville is the home of UF-home of the Florida Gators.  Do people in Florida like their football?  Oh yah!  Do I know anything about football?  I know that marching bands only get the field during half time, and when the team is losing, the pep band pulls out "Rocky" and suddenly we win!  Haha, just kidding I know a bit more... :) 

As long as we're on the topic of transfers I'll start off with our Monday.  We got permission to move our studies so we could help a sister in Ft. Caroline move.  Then we had lunch, went to a lesson with our beautiful Aileen, dropped by the Rhoad's to pick up a registration sticker for our car (which still has a huge dent in it.  The agent handling our case went on vacation.)  Then we went to a referral we just got from the Jax Beach Sisters.  This girl is AMAZING!!!  She grew up in Iran and she studied western philosophy in college.  Through her studies she found Christ.  But it is illegal to be Christian in Iran.  If anyone found out she would be killed.  In Iran you cannot even mention Jesus in your email, or on Facebook or the government will come after you.  She also is a political activist.  She was one of the ones leading the attempted revolution a couple years ago.  The government was sending her warnings that they would be arrested if she didn't stop.  She had to go through a ton to get permission to come to Florida to attend UNF.  She is has been attending a Lutheran church and is LOVING being able to learn about Christ and read the Bible.  She is so strong and so great!  She is trying to get permission to stay in the US after her 2 year visa is up. Especially since it could be so dangerous for her to go back.  She also just turned down an arranged marriage to a man in Iran. We had a great Restoration lesson with her.  She agreed to be baptized if she comes to know this is Christ's church.  We love her already!  And we are excited to keep working with her!

That night we had a super fun family home evening. We were just reaching our apartment from the Mandarin building (a 20 minute drive) when President called.  We had been expecting him to call and tell Sister Fife she was training.  Well this was only 10 minutes before the transfer call so we were confused.  He told us he needed us to drive to the mission home.  Due to some unexpected changes in transfers a sister would be staying with us just until transfers.  So we turned around and drove back to Mandarin to the mission home.  We got there just as President was starting to read off the transfer assignments.  We got to go in his office and I was grateful I had good eyes when I was scanning the board with all the missionaries' pictures on it!  I found myself in Gainsville, but I couldn't quite tell who my companion was.  Looking a little closer I realized it was Sister Stitt and I got super excited!  Poor Sister Fife couldn't read the board from where we were so she still had to live with the suspense until President said her new companion will be Sister Yeakley.  Apparently Sister Fife isn't training!  Sister Yeakley was my MTC companion and she is a ball of bubbly excitement and happiness.  Sister Hale and I have even talked about how perfect she would be in YSA.  So we hung out at the mission home talking to Sister Craig and looking at the Craigs' family and old wedding pictures until about 11:30.  Then we took Sister Fenn home with us.  Needless to say I think some naps are in the plan for today.  We didn't get home until midnight!  SUPER late night for a missionary!  I don't know how President does it?  He called us this morning and told us there were more transfer changes.  This next transfer there will not be Elders in the Jax YSA!  Sisters Fife and Yeakley will be covering ALL of Jacksonville!  Go sisters!  Haha, also we're pretty sure that means there will only be one set of Elders in our district.  Lucky elders... haha!  

Sunday was a highlight of my mission!  We were at the church from 1:00-9:00.  Church starts at 2, the linger longer was at 5, Aileen's baptism was at 6, and a fireside for investigators, recent converts, and less actives was at 7.  Aileen's baptism was beautiful!  She is truly shining now!!!  Sister Fife and I did a flute/violin duet of Our Savior's Love.  A recent convert spoke on baptism and I spoke on the Holy Ghost.  Aileen told her father she was getting baptized and he said he supported her.  She invited him to come, but when he said it was at 6:00 he said, "That's the same time as the soccer game."  But... He showed up!!!!!  Aileen told us he was amazed at how genuinely nice everyone was and he kept trying to describe how he felt!  Chirag Parikh is a recent convert and he is the one who brought Aileen to us.  He was able to baptize her!  I talked to him afterwards and he said it was absolutely amazing to baptize his friend!  

Well, wish me luck in my new area!  I appreciate all of your prayers and letters!  I love all ya'll!!!
Sister Murray