Dear Family, Friends and everyone else!!!
Well, I think that a "heat wave" has arrived here in Marquette! It's been in the 30s lately! Which. Is. Crazy! It's practically shorts and t-shirt weather. No joke, I saw a guy running in short shorts this morning. #scandalous. There were two problems with that situation! 1. Shorts not long enough 2. still too cold!!! :) I joke with Sister Dunlap at times that we need to develop a "card launcher" so we can share cards from far away! That would be great. Keep working on that one, everybody! :) Although, in this case I think we would have slingshotted him some fleece-lined leggings!
I gave a talk yesterday, (in honor of a certain Mother whose birthday it was!!!) about the resurrection. Now, this was actually only my third talk ever!! Oh, a side note about how things work in the Marquette ward: so there is actually another building in Germfask that is still part of our same ward! But, they are far away so they get to "join with us" by watching our sacrament meeting. Therefore, our entire district got to see this talk! Oh man. The Elders were teasing me for "procrastinating" (I had to write the talk while they were playing volleyball because of the whole lack of time, super strict schedule and stay together issue. :) We were super busy this week doing assignments for zone conference and exchanges and such. So, I began my preparations early but it wasn't enough for it not to be considered procrastinating! haha. ANYWAY, it actually was a great thing and included a "Yooper joke." For those of you who are familiar with Joseph Smith's Standard of Truth statement (missionaries recite this every morning) you will understand my joke. For those of you who don't, here it is!
"The Standard of Truth has been erected, no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing. Persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, and calumny may defame but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly and independent till it has visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear. Till the purposes of God shall be accomplished and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done!" Haha, yes, missionaries are an interesting bunch of people. :)
Well, I shared that I have come up with a new meaning for how this applies in the U.P. Indeed, "blizzards may rage, snow may combine, wind may assemble, and daylight savings time may apply" but these faithful members of the church still show up to sacrament meeting! They amaze me. :)
The ward really liked my talk and I got lots of comments. So, that's a great thing. It was neat to see I have improved lots in my speaking ability since my last talk!! Go, Spirit!! :)
Actually, I want to share a few awesome things I learned as I was preparing for it. I love quotes! You all love long emails, right? :P Ha!
"The resurrection of Jesus is the most glorious of all messages to mankind" -Bible Dictionary
"Christianity is founded on the greatest of all miracles, the Resurrection of our Lord. If that be admitted then other miracles cease to be improbable." -Bible Dictionary. Love that one! It's so true.
Moroni 7:41. Read it! The hope of the resurrection is the essence of all hope in this world.
"The gift of immortality to all mankind through the reality of the resurrection is so powerful a promise that our rejoicing in these great and generous gifts should drown out any sorrow, assuage any grief, conquer any mood, dissolve any despair and tame any tragedy. Those who now see life as pointless will one day point with adoration to the performance of the man of Galilee in the crowded moments of time known as Gethsemane and Calvary. Christ's victory over death ended the human predicament. Now there are only personal predicaments and from these too we may be rescued by following the teachings of him who rescued us from general extinction" -Neal A Maxwell. Kyle showed me this one. It's awesome!
Not to give my whole talk over again, but I have a strong testimony that living the principles of the Gospel, all of them, help us resolve those "personal predicaments." How cool it is to realize that because of the resurrection we really have very little to worry about! All the big predicaments have been taken care of for us!
We also had to teach the lesson in 2nd hour and I gave the prayer in Relief Society. So, I participated actively in all of church!! #missionlife.
Okay, I had better move on so this email won't be a mile and a half long. Maybe just a mile is okay. :)
We also had an incredible zone conference! It was a combined zone conference, so that means Sister Dunlap and I weren't the only girls, haha! We got a new microwave. Yep, it was sitting there waiting for us on the couch at zone conference. :) Anyway, one thing I've been slowly realizing lately is the principle of raising my potential. None of us will be perfect in this life. But, over the course of my mission, I've learned that I can raise my personal potential, much more than I ever thought I could, by relying on and applying the Atonement in my life. I may never be that "perfect missionary" but I can keep making slow and steady progress! And progress is what it's all about. :) We may not die perfect but if we are found striving and struggling to stay on this path then we will stay on it for eternity and one day we won't have these imperfections. It used to really bother me that I have weaknesses but it no longer does. I can see my focusing on it as Satan trying to push me off the path. But, I'm never ever going to let that happen! :P
*Pardon my overly-enthused missionary spirit for those of you who are reading this and thinking I'm totally weird! Because I am right now. My mission has made me so! :P*
So, I left this conference with not only a strong determination to give these last 6 months my all, but to do even better!!! Whatever that means. It was sort of a mid-mission crisis. I love my mission and I'm so grateful for all that I've learned so far. :D We had a cool training by President Cutler where he wanted us to answer questions about the Plan of Salvation, deep questions, using the scriptures. He told us that asking questions and using the scriptures is the key to obtaining personal revelation and that we can learn so much from doing that. I surely did! It was great. President is also very sneaky at asking for referals! He asked this one lady and she didn't even know what he was doing until it was too late and he invited the elders serving in that area to visit the person she said she was concerned about! Haha. :) Oh, and every time he talks about how eternal life is family life. 5 times per zone conference, haha. So, naturally, it was the Plan of Eternal Life rather than the Plan of Salvation that was discussed!
I met the most awesome sister from Oshkosh!!! I actually was there in sacrament meeting when they announced her mission call. She's now serving in Appleton or something. But she played the violin!!! It was so fun to talk with her about Oshkosh and all the wonderful people there. :) I told her, we have GOT to work something out for next zone conference and play together!! So great.
I did try pasties this week! It's a "Yooper" food. Basically a pie crust filled with rutabega, potatoes and hamburger. Again, I need to find a better way to post pictures! Coming soon. :) As is the hat picture. Someone shared the gospel with his friend this week by talking about "the new missionary with an awesome hat that looks like a birthday cake." Oh dear! :P
What else did we do? Well, we had a "blitz" exchange here in Marquette. This means that Sister Roylance and I stayed in Marquette while Sister Dunlap and Sister Kealer went out to Base (still in our area). It was crazy trying to get ready with so many sisters in our tiny, smoky apartment. :P It was really great! We found some awesome new people. My email is pretty long already so I won't get too much into that. But, suffice it to say, miracles occured! The small ones are the best kind. :)
Oh, I forgot to mention what Sister Dunlap ate last week. It was pretty funny so I had to include it! She ate cheesy hotdogs and oysters for breakfast!! xD haha. I can't say TOO much, though, because I've been known to eat green beans and eggs for breakfast.
We also found out we can do some contacting on the college campus so I'm excited and looking forward to that!!!
We also went mini golfing last p-day. More pictures coming, I promise!
Sometimes I hesitate to write about the awesome people we meet in case it ends up not working out, but I feel pretty darn hopeful about this one! So it was actually an awkward experience. We were following up with people in this neighborhood where all the apartments look exactly the same. I had written down this number, thinking we had taught this person but had just forgotten to write down their name. Nope! She answered and I asked if we had shared anything, thinking she looked familiar but she actually wasn't. Totally an accident but we went inside and taught her the Restoration. This lady is honestly the most prepared person I've met on my mission so far! She almost died twice and got involved in drugs and alcohol and has since went to rehab and joined a non-denominational church, because she was never sure which one was right. The whole time we taught she was relating with every single thing that we said, especially Joseph Smith! She is really looking for which church God wants her to join. I felt prompted to tell her that it was no coincidence that we met her today. She totally agreed!!! I invited her to be baptized and she said "Absolutely!!" and that we have no idea, but this is just what she's been waiting for!! It was so cool. :) I'm way excited.
Ahh, miracles are happening!
Everything else is going great with our other investigators, especially Mary. Well, most of them have been out of town for spring break. But anyway, She was at church again and we watched the Joseph Smith movie with her this week. She really likes comparing things with the Bible and how the persecution that Joseph Smith and the early saints faced is similar to what the prophets faced in the BIble. She is so cool! We think she has the seedlings of a testimony!! Still working on it, though, of course!
One more insight before I close. I have absolutely loved reading about the Savior's experience in Jesus the Christ, both in Gethsemane and on the cross and all the horrors that happened in between. It's kind of painful just to read about it, but one thing that truly stands out to me is the pure confidence that the Savior displayed. Even amidst scourging, and vicious taunting and humiliation of the nastiest and hightest degree, he remained silent. Such pure confidence!!! In fact,I think it's the greatest example of confidence that the world has and will ever see. It inspires me to no end.
That's all for now!!
Sister Woods :)