Last Monday I was writing a letter and pondering on whom the Savior would be seeking during Christmas week. I was convinced that Christ spent much of his time with those who others wouldn't. I thought about all the times I have heard people say they don't associate with certain people because they are 'weird,' or unattractive, or creepy, or smell funny, or something of the like. I wanted to find those people who really needed to feel love and who would be transformed by the atonement of Christ. The day before Hermana West and I accidentally ended up in a sketchier part of town (result of being double transferred and unfamiliar with the area). We were talking to someone on the sidewalk. Given that we were in a neighborhood, we were in front of someone's house. The house had one of those "Forget about the dog, beware of the owner" signs with a picture of a gun. A man inside the house slowly and repeatedly defogged his house. Both Hermana West and I felt a need to leave that area promptly. Hermana West was thoroughly creeped out by any and all houses with similar gun signs.
Monday night, we were biking to a center to contact, and got lost(another result of being double transferred). We changed our plans and tracted in the neighborhood we ended up in. After getting a few rejections, one house stood out to me. I start to approach it, and Hermana West frantically says, "Sister Sheffer!!" She pointed to a gun sign this house had. We were in a safe area, and I highly doubted they would be intimidated by a couple girls on bikes. She was still very hesitant, but walked with me to the door and I knocked. The family there is super nice. They belong to the Church of Christ. We had a good talk with them, and they invited us back. Hermana West is now convinced that we need to knock any and ALL houses with gun signs on them.
Tuesday we had another wonderful district meeting, and then met with the family history consultant as part of Hermana West's training. It was such a wonderful experience. He asked us to close our eyes and try to lift the veil. He asked what we saw. I saw passed family members busily working, but they were SO CLOSE. I know that we all have loved ones that are working WITH us, and they are closer than we realize. I got excited about it, and look forward to spending more time with it.
We met with a wonderful lady, Jeanine. Her husband and kids were baptized early in 2014, and we heard different reasons for why she was not. We were able to establish a good relationship with her. Her house was a little chaotic, and we didn't have an opportunity to ask her, but we did a Christmas lesson with her family. We both feel really good about her. I wrote my talk with her in mind. I was disappointed when she didn't make it to church, since she is normally there. She is so neat. Pray for her, we both think she could be baptized soon.
That same night, we were out contacting, and Hermana West suggested trying Joann's (craft store). WE were on our way, but were distracted by people standing outside. We approached them, and had a good talk about Christmas and keeping Christ the center of it. They were from out of town, but committed to looking up He is the Gift. Without thinking we were continuing to walk in the same direction, when I remembered Hermana West had suggested we go to Joann's. We turned around. It was getting late, and stores were fixin to close. When we walked in, I almost doubted for a second, there didn't seem to be a single person in the store, but we walked all the way to the back to see a woman frantically throwing things into her cart, and scouring the shelves for something. We asked what she was looking for, and helped her find a special kind of yarn she was looking for. She was so stressed and frazzled. When she found everything, she breathed for a second, and we gave her a big hug. She started crying and said we were angels. She then told us of hard other things that were going on, and said she had just been praying for help from God. She readily accepted our invitation of bringing a message of peace and God's love. God's timing is amazing.
Christmas Eve, we tracted and contacted. The public areas were PACKED. Before we went into a store, a vendor outside said she would pray for us. Haha. Hermana West met her first super nice people who say we are deceived and that they will pray for us to come to know the 'real Jesus.' I was surprised it over two weeks, the people in this area are so kind.
That night we went to the extended family Christmas party of the Hispanic family in the ward. There were a ton of people, so they gathered at the church since they couldn't fit in a home. So fun. So much food. Lots of non-members and less-active members we were able to meet. All such neat people. We had to leave when temptation got too great with all the dancing going on. :)
My love has grown so much for the Bishop's family. They are so so neat, and I was so glad we got to spend time with them on Christmas Day. I think the wife needed it also.
Friday was amazing. There is an older convert in our ward named Martha who joined the church in the 1970s. She is the sweetest person and loves the missionaries. She invited us over for breakfast and asked if we could help her with a few things. We more than happy to, since she has a hard time getting around. Poor Hermana West has a hard time with spiders, and there are lots of them here, and were lots where we were helping Martha. We finished the tasks she needed assistance with and she told us she wanted to take us to two homes to teach the gospel. She drove us out to a far area to see her great niece. We came into a cute trailer, and a girl my age and her mother were tending to a bedraggled dog. Chelsea, the 22 year old, had seen the dog on the road, and seeing what poor condition is was in, got it into her car and took it home. While we were there, her mom was squeezing a sizable ablasion as mucousy, smelly liquid ran out of the wound. I thought I was going to throw up, it was disgusting, and I was amazed at the heart of these people to help such a pitiful creature. They are good souls. Martha boldly told them, they needed to bring Jesus into their lives, and raise Chelsea's baby right, and the only way they could do that was through the church that had the priesthood. Martha is awesome. We got to know them, and of past happenings that made the mom especially feel something like that dog, and completely abandoned by God. We shared scriptures from 3 Nephi 22 with her and it brought her and her daughters to tears. They both agreed to work toward baptism and meet with us regularly. I love those ladies so much. So excited to work with them.
Saturday we weren't feeling well. We got a text from the Bishop's wife saying she was home with sick kids, but they had signed up to clean the church. She asked if we could help with that. We love that family, and couldn't turn down a chance to serve them, so we smiled and did it. We then went to an appointment with Barbara. Barbara had rescheduled twice. Someone else answered the door and said, "Barbara wants to know if y'all can come back later." I'm out of patience for that. I knew Barbara was sitting in the front room listening, and I politely but firmly told her our time is valuable and if she couldn't keep her appointments, she at least owed us the decency of a phone call...somewhere in the middle of my tangent, Barbara said, "okay, y'all can come in." We met with Barbara, her daughter Rika, her niece Sharieka, and her grandbabies Breanna and Malaysia. In our 'How to begin teaching' with them, Barbara expressed desires to change, she said she can recognize Satan working on her, and just wants help to come out of the darkness. She and Rika expressed confusion with the different things they hear from all these pastors, and an inability to know what the truth of it all is. So prepared. They were transfixed the entire time we taught the Restoration. Barbara says she already knows it's true. Rika said this answers all the questions she has had. It was such a neat experience. Barbara accepted the baptismal invitation, Rika, is holding off for some things. Sharieka isn't into it. I love these girls. They color my world.
Kind of crazy that during that appointment, I don't remember feeling sick, but IMMEDIATELY after, I felt that I was about to throw up. We had an appointment with the family we met MOnday night, and were deliberating as to whether or not we could make it. I hated that I didn't think I could. The elders called, answer to prayers! I asked if they could take that appointment for us and they did. We have some great elders. They showed up to our apartment later with pepto-bismol. I had never tried it, but they swore by it. They're testimonies of pepto reminded me of Elder Bednar's story of his son sharing a medicated soothing ointment with his brother and friends. I tried it. I don't really know if it helped at all, but it was really kind.
Sunday we were the only speakers for sacrament meeting. The talks went well, and we are feeling better and better acclimated to the ward and area. Excited for another week with holidays and sickness behind, and people coming back to their lives, we'll hit it hard.
I love y'all. Y'all inspire me.