Monday evening we had a lesson win Lana. She walked into the Mandarin 2nd wars and the Assistants taught her several times, but realized she actually lived in our ward so they reassigned her. She is incredible. She is literally the most elect person I have met on my mission! She had a baptism date for this Saturday, but she won't be quite ready so we are pushing it back to April. We started talking to her about her scripture reading, and she asked if we would give her assignments to read in between appointments! Then she took notes and asked questions all throughout the lesson. She turned away from God when her baby died 16 years ago, but has realized things aren't working without God in her life and she needs to come back to Him. She does have two children- 16 year old Hailey (her twin is the one who passed away) and 14 year old Ian. She has been a heavy coffee drinker for the last 25 years and suddenly had a desire to stop drinking. She went through bad withdrawals because she was so addicted, but cut down from 3-4 cups each day to just one. Her friend invited her to church one day and she decided to go. I almost cried when she told me her friend is Aileen Simons--my recent convert!!! She has known their family for years and was amazed by the change she has seen in Aileen and now Aileen's father who was recently baptized. Aileen told Lana about the Word of Wisdom and she completely stopped drinking coffee before we even met her! We had a powerful lesson and when we got back in the car to go home we were literally in awe. Miracles have not ceased.
Wednesday morning we had interviews. Sister Winter taught us about emergency preparedness and Sister Craig showed us the new initiative that will be coming out this week! Get excited and get sharing it online on the 27th!!! President came and got us one at a time to talk with him. It's always good to have some one on one time with President. He gave us some advice for our area books and we talked about setting goals for the last of my mission. And we talked about my family and my plans for after my mission.
Wednesday we went on a trade off with Jax Beach. Sister Aure came here with Sister Gillman and I went to their area with Sister Jensen. Sister Jensen served in Gainesville 3rd after me so it was fun to hear how things went while she was there. We saw a lot of miracles. We had a daily goal to teach 3 other lessons and in a couple golden hours we taught three and taught a fourth later that night. It was a great day!
Thursday after trading back we had lunch at Sister Cano's with Lana. The two hit it off--but honestly I don't know how someone can not love Lana. She is amazing! We enjoyed getting to know one another better and we taught her about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
After that we stopped at Walmart for some medicine for Sister Gillman who has a respiratory infection. We came in for the night so she could rest.
Friday was weekly planning and more rest for Sister Gillman. Then because we are such a unified companionship I got sick too. Not fun. So we spent Saturday laying around too. We were able to call in to give our report for a Ward Coordination though!
Gratefully we felt better Sunday because Lana came to church with her children. Her children are just as amazing! They agreed to let us stop by after church. So that evening we visited some other people like Brother Zielinski. He has still been drinking coffee on and off so we taught the Word of Wisdom again. He said he would stop today. We asked if we could take the coffee he had left and get rid of it for him and he said it ran out that morning. How perfect!
When we showed up to teach Lana and her children, her boyfriend was also over. We invited them all in for the lesson, but we were scared Chris was going to be a negative influence. Especially when they proudly explained he was just baptized (into another church) a couple months ago. Well we had planned to teach the Restoration so it was absolutely perfect! The spirit was strong and Chris's heart just softened. Lana is so engaged in the lessons! Ian is just your typically 14 year old boy, but he has really good questions even if he doesn't always look like he is listening. Then there is Hailey. She was so excited she was practically falling off of her seat. She just kept saying "this is so exciting!" with the biggest grin on her face! At the end of the lesson we invited them all to be baptized. Chris said, yes, but he had just been baptized. Lana jumped right in and reminded him that it hadn't been done with the authority from Jesus Christ (and that comes a lot better from your girlfriend than from two strange missionaries) so he agreed. Ian said yes. And Hailey again almost bounced off of her seat saying yes. That was probably the most powerful lesson I have been blessed to take part in. Sister Gillman and I explained things in ways we never have before--that's when you truly know the spirit is speaking through you. One of the hardest things for people to understand in the South is authority and also the definition of a prophet. They would consider us prophets because we teach God's word. We had the inspiration last night as we taught to describe those who follow Christ but don't have the authority as disciples-so us, them, and even leaders in other churches who help others learn of Christ. That really clicked for them. At the end of the lesson Lana said a beautiful prayer and when we asked if there was anything we could do for them Hailey said "come back everyday!" We can do that! Haha! It was truly a miracle! We left them all with Books of Mormon and gave Chris a Bible too. There is no doubt that Lana's baby, Hannah, is working on them from the other side. It was an incredible way to end the week.
I love all y'all!