Tuesday, September 1, 2015

It's Time for a Picnic!!

What a week. Craziness. That's all I can say. And I know that I say
that every week, but it kinda holds true every week.

First of all we had the branch picnic this week! It was awesome!! So
many people came! And some actually brought friends! I like friends.
Missionaries like friends. But there were so many people and they all
were in the best of moods. All the kids were playing out on the
baseball field, and I couldn't resist myself. I had to go out and
throw a ball around with them. They wore me out. We had food and face
painting. Veronica was our face painting specialist, and she did a
marvelous job  It was even funnier that Alberto, the Rico father,
got more into it than anyone hahaha. The Ricos even brought a friend!
Actually, a family of friends. The mom's name is Ana and she has two
adorable kids named Bianca and Anthony. She is super excited to come
to church (and she did come to church yesterday) and learn about the
gospel. We will be going to see her on Thursday. Our elders quorum
president, Mike, likes football. We have differing opinions on who is
the best (although clearly it is Alabama). But with the help of
another member, we painted a red and white football on his face. ROLL
TIDE. Altogether, the picnic was an amazing success!

Bonnie's baptism has been postponed a few weeks. We still need to get
a good grasp on the Word of Wisdom, but I am confident it will happen.
It will! She has such a desire to follow Christ. She was incredibly
happy and involved at church yesterday, and with that much happiness,
there is absolutely no way she won't accept the gospel.

Sister Stucki, my trainer and companion of six months, is flying home
tomorrow! It is so hard to believe she is already going home! But she
has served a wonderful mission and has worked many miracles. I know
she will continue to do so as she goes home and serves the Lord from

Lesson-wise, I think I can sum up the week in two different lessons.

1. We taught Nadia. Eventually, when she arrives at Starbucks where we
were meeting, she goes to get a snack, and while she was in there
Conrado told us she wasn't interested in joining the church and hadn't
read the Book of Mormon the past week like we committed her to. When
she came back out we chatted for a little bit, and then I asked her if
she had read the Book of Mormon at all. After about ten minutes of
excuses and us invalidating her excuses, I looked her staging on the
eye and said, "Nadia, do you love Heavenly Father? Do you want to
learn about Christ? Do you want a forever family? Well, all the
answers and everything you could think of is in your hand as evidence
and you refuse to read it." Even that didn't seem to sink in, so I
turned to Sister Clarke, we made sure we were on the same page, and
then she testified about the Book of Mormon, and then I told Nadia
that until she truly wanted to learn and read the Book of Mormon, we
couldn't help her. I told her to read and contact us when she needed
help or when she wanted to learn again. Then we got up and left. The
spirit had been telling us to do it, but we were not sure if it was
for the purpose of bluffing or sincerely dropping Nadia. Later, she
texted us and said she had read the first chapter from the picture
Book of Mormon and would read the next chapter the next day.
Throughout the week we got several texts talking about the different
things she had learned from her reading. So, I am not sure what
exactly is happening, but she is reading the Book of Mormon now! It
just took a very intense lesson to get her to do so. And I am so
grateful for the Spirit convincing her to follow through with it.

2. Ana and Maria (yep! The same Maria that I love so much from when I
was in the south area!) were in a room at church on Sunday and they
asked Sister Stucki to come and help. At one point Sister Stucki pops
her head out the door and I see her and ask if she needed help
understanding Maria's signing (it is pretty hard to understand) and
she said yes, so we both went in there. They had been upset over
something that had happened with one of their friends. After Sister
Stucki and I figured out everything going on, I turn to her and asked
if she wanted to teach a lesson (we each had an investigator in the
room) and she agreed. Sister Stucki and Crawford! Back together like
old times! We still got it! We taught about focusing on God, even when
other hard things are trying to pull their attention away. Sister
Stucki shared the scripture about praying always, so we discussed
about prayer and scripture study. I told to Ana how important it was
to pray and to just  express what she wanted and needed to God.
Then...pause for effect... Maria cuts in and says, "Ana, do you know
how to pray? No? Ok, here's how you do it." And she goes on for a few
minutes explaining prayer and how you start, how you express anything,
she gave some real life applications for Ana, and told her how to end.
We could not have taught it better. We had a couple of tears coming
down. But, that is not even the best part. She goes on to testify to
Ana about how much the gospel and the missionaries have changed her
life. She testified about how the missionaries have come over about
twice a week, every week for almost a year to teach her and her
family, and how she and her family have improved so much, even when
she could not remember things at first, but that she slowly started
learning and remembering, and that she couldn't believe it had been
one year. She went on and on. Sister Stucki and I were opening crying
at this point. At the end of the lesson, we asked to have a kneeling
prayer and asked Maria to say it. She looked at me and pleadingly
asked (like she used to do when she was still learning), "Crawford,
will you help me?" I responded, "No, Maria. You know how." She
accepted, closed her eyes, and bowed her head. She then proceeded to
give one of the most humble communications with God I have seen thus
far on my mission. I have seen some pretty good prayers, but this was
a literal conversation with her Father in Heaven. If I haven't done
anything else right on my mission, I could go home successful, because
I had the opportunity to be one of the hands who brought Maria to
Christ. She has yet to have entered the waters of baptism, but after
that lesson, I have a solid hope that she will.

Have a great week, all! Take advantage of every opportunity to share
the gospel, for they are gifts from the Lord. I love you all!

Sister Smyly Crawford

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