Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Got a spare?

Oh family. You know those miracles that you always hear about other missionaries somewhere in the world having that seem so funny and coincidental but are actually true but you would never think would happen to you? Yeah, I had one of those this week.

So we had tried contacting a woman named Mary on Wednesday. When we got there, a man answered the door saying she was not at home then, but on a bike ride with her kids. He suggested we try again another time. Friday came around and we decided to try Mary again. We pulled up and looked at the house. No cars. No indication anyone was home. Darn. Ok. Let's just try anyways. So we get up to the house and knock and ring the doorbell and knock again, but no one answered. Ok, figures. As we walk back to the car, I inspect our car. Then my eyes noticed something was amiss. The left back tire was completely flat.

"Uh, Sister Munson? Does that tire look completely flat to you too?"

"Uhhh, yes, it looks like it is..."

"Sister Munson, did the car feel funny when you drove it here? Like it was already flat?"

"No, it didn't... It felt pretty normal."

Awesome. God must be setting us up for a real miracle. We decide to call the mission office car person and ask him what to do. Since the nearest Pep Boys was over two miles away, he told us we needed to change the tire there. Good thing I know how! This is where I insert a shout out to the best dad in the entire world who taught me how to change a tire properly, star-pattern and all! Thanks Daddy! So we get the stuff out to change the tire and a man pulls up to Mary's house to wait there. At one point he asked if we needed help, but since I was already handling the situation, we politely declined. The entire time I was telling Sister Munson, "Mary is going to have to pull up while we are here. It's kinda the laws of miracles."

Just as we were putting away everything, Mary pulls up from picking the kids up from school. I turn to Sister Munson, smile, and say, "My hands are super black. I need to wash them." She smiles back and says, "Why yes, you do!" So we went over to the car with the man, asking if he lived there. He said, "No, this is my ex-wife's house, but I'm sure she would be happy to let you wash your hands here!" So a daughter that was sitting in the car with them ran inside to ask if we could wash our hands. After getting the approval, the daughter led us to a bathroom. We both knew we couldn't waste the opportunity to talk to Mary. As we go back outside, Mary was right there sending her daughter and ex off to a baseball game. We ended up having a half hour chat with her, talking about this and that. At the end she beat us to the punch and suggested we come back sometime to chat with her again! As casually as we could (while inside we were screaming YES YES WE WILL COME BACK THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR ASKING HALLELUJAH) we accepted her invitation.

That was our fun story of the week. Besides that, we have been cleaning up our area book by contacting and fixing up our appointments. Now that I have arrived in the area, it is apparent that many, if not most, of our investigators are only letting the missionaries come over out of fear of being rude. Also, we are seeing the lack of willingness to progress in many of the eternal investigators. So we are dropping many people. It is not fun at all, but this seems to be a sign that we need to focus on the members and less actives in our area. We also have been in major planning mode with the plans and lessons for individual people and FHEs. This area is going to skyrocket, you'll see. :)

Have a great week!

Sister Smyly Crawford

Thursday, April 23, 2015

All I could do was testify

After four transfers (6 months) in the south area with Sister Stucki, I have been transferred to the north area. I am now with the lovely Sister Munson. We are already setting up some amazing plans for this area! Sister Stucki is with Sister Backus in the south area. The elders got mixed up as well, with Elder Bouck (district leader) and Elder Duckworth in the south area and Elder Peck and Elder Snow in the north area. This will be a fun transfer for sure! :)

Something I forgot to mention a couple of weeks ago... The previous mission president, President Bradford C. Bowen, was made a general authority at general conference. All the missionaries who had served with him puffed up their chests with pride and whispered a quiet, "Yes!" Haha, Congratulations President Bowen! You will serve everyone well!

To be honest, I do not have any story that can top this next story, so I will keep my random tangents to a minimum.

I have mentioned, as I worked in the south area, about working with Maria and her family. She and her boyfriend (the father of their three beautiful little boys) live together. We have been trying and trying for six months to get her to the point of being willing to marry him, which she has been unwilling to do for reasons of her own. She has been progressing wonderfully and is keeping every commandment except the Law of Chastity (living with a man when they are unwed). However, because she and her boyfriend could not be baptized because of this issue, they can not progress anymore. Most of the FHEs and lessons we had with them were to help them maintain the testimony they had already developed. We had discussed this week that a very bold, straight-forward conversation would need to be had with Maria and her unwillingness to marry her boyfriend. Maria and I have quite the bond, and she has told me all of her concerns and worries. She does not have the same trust for any of the other missionaries, although she is friendly with them all. Knowing that I would be transferred out of the area, we decided it would be best for me to have this chat with her before I left.

Sunday came and we waited for them to come to church, as they had promised. I sat and prayed the entire day for inspiration and revelation concerning what to say to Maria and how to say it. I could not think of anything. I received some wonderful counsel from some missionaries. I even shed a few tears worrying about what to do. However, Maria and her family did not come to church. Knowing the conversation still needed to be had, we decided the four south missionaries would go down to the family's house after the baptism later that day.

I was so scared to have this conversation. I did not know how angry Maria would be for my honesty. She might not even want to see me again. I knew I was not exaggerating because of her reactions before when I tried to show some bold honesty. Driving to and walking up to that house was so hard. You know that feeling you get when you have to go to the doctor for something you don't want to get (i.e. a shot or bad results or something)? You are scared out of your mind and your knees are shaking and you can barely move, yet your body somehow still pulls itself forward towards the doctors office? That's how I felt driving to and walking to her house. I was so scared. Maria is one of my favorite people, and I did not want to hurt her at all. I love her so much.

We walked in the house and immediately the three other missionaries sat down with the boys and read the scriptures so I could have a chat with Maria. I was already starting to cry. I told Maria I was being transferred out of the area so this was the last chat we could have for a while. We sat down at the kitchen table. I said a quick prayer and immediately started crying. Maria was a little confused (people tend to be very confused and shocked when I cry, as I do not seem the kind of person who has those kinds of emotions). All I could do was testify. I testified of how much I loved her and how much I was willing to do for her happiness. I testified to her of the life of Jesus Christ. I testified of the redeeming power of His Atonement. I testified that if she put her life in His hands, everything would be ok. I testified of the love Heavenly Father has for her. With tears flowing openly, I begged, yes, begged her to obey all the commandments, because if she did, she could be with her family forever. I begged her to do everything she could to be with her family for eternity. I begged her to allow Christ to help her. At the end of my monologue, I sat there and waited for her response. I knew I had said everything I possibly could to help her understand the gravity of the choices she had to make.

She was quiet for a moment. Then she looked me in the eye and asked, "Do you promise me that my family can be together forever?" My tears started again as I said, "Maria, I promise you in the name of Jesus Christ that you can be together with your family forever." She said she understood everything I said and was actually a little floored. I asked her to ponder more about what I said, and she agreed. I asked her to say a prayer, and she did. She prayed to Heavenly Father about the things I had told her, and I had the relief of knowing she understood everything I had told her. She even asked Heavenly Father to help me stop crying. She did not hate me, nor did she refuse the missionaries to come back. In fact, she asked when she would get to see me next. I did not waste this opportunity to encourage her to go to church every week, even if it was just to see me.

I love Maria so much, and I sincerely hope my testimony impacted her. I hope with all my heart that she will choose to follow the plan Heavenly Father has for her. I hope I can be there when she gets baptized, and even when she becomes sealed to her family in the temple for all time and eternity.

I love you all and hope you all realize the tender mercies of the Lord in every day you live.

Sister Smyly Crawford

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Busy Week!

So sorry for not sending an email last week. Time did not permit me to send one amongst sending all the other emails I had to send.

This week was quite an interesting one.

Tuesday was quite the emotional roller coaster. We were able to go to the temple. I love going to the temple. It is my favorite place on this entire Earth. After the temple we went and got Cafe Rio as a district (let's be honest, the only reason I go there is for the mint limeade. Y.U.M.) We came back to do our emailing. I found out that night about a dear friend here who had a terrible miscarriage that weekend. My heart goes out to her. I am happy to know that she has a testimony that she will see her baby again. She is so strong.

For General Conference Saturday Morning, the four of us South missionaries went over to the Ricos' house for the session. It was so much fun. We missionaries distracted the crazy boys while their parents (and friend who was there...Awesome!) could watch General Conference.  Those boys *shaking head*... Let's just say they got a hold of the stickers and I ended up with 143 stickers completely covering my face and neck. Hey, we all had fun.

We went on a hike with some of the Young Women in the branch. It was so much fun!!! They had a great time and it really made some of the young women feel so much more included.

We had a party for Sister Backus and her 9 month celebration. That was fun! We got a pinata! :) :) :) And of course afterwards we played with the helium in the balloons.

We also had a birthday party for Elder Duckworth and his birthday on Saturday. I promise we don't always party! We just have several birthdays and celebrations coming up soon! Elder Bouck bday, then Elder Peck bday, and then my 9 month, then Sister Munson bday, and then three missionaries are leaving (NOT a celebration), and then my bday... Don't forget me skyping in next month! :)

I have been reading a lot in the Marriage Instructor's Guide for the church. I am reading it in order to better figure out how to help Maria and Alberto get married. We are still working on that... But it is interesting how really, most conflicts that happen in any relationship, not only marriage, is lack of communication. If we are better about being honest and just letting people know what is happening and what we are thinking, so much conflict can be avoided. But the key is not to just blurt out every thought without regard to what it sounds like, but to express with love and with the desire to better help the relationship grow. I have really learned the importance of this over the past month, and I can tell you that even the worst situations can be resolved with honest, loving communication.

Sorry for the weird spiritual thought, but that's what I have been studying :)

Love you all! Have a fantabulous week! :)

Sister Smyly Crawford _\,,/