Querido familia que yo amo mucho,Every week there is so much that happens and I just don't even know what to tell you! I'm attempting to organize it all in my head, but just work with me here if it gets super scattered.
So for your questions. On Halloween we have to be in our apartments by 6:30 for safety reasons and what not. We're going to a member's house for dinner that night and then we'll just head back and study or write in our journals or things like that. I did get to go to a Halloween party this past week though! I went on exchanges and went to another area. One of their members holds a party every year so we got to help run booths and games for the kids. It was a lot of fun and so great to see all the kids dressed up! Super cute. And yes, you are right about Texas being part of the bible belt. There are so many churches everywhere and a lot of them are massive! Chicken is also huge here. Chicken restaurants are everywhere you look! And, to prove both of these points...there is even a restaurant called Church's Chicken. So that pretty much sums up Texas for ya! haha There are so many religious people here which is awesome because everyone is willing to talk about God, but also a lot of people say they're already set in their own religion. But that is one thing that is so cool about being on a mission. You get to know people on a completely different level than you would if you were just in a regular conversation with them. So that's awesome!
So far we have found most of our investigators through knocking and past investigators. We're working with our ward right now on getting them more involved in the work, but it just takes time, and therefore a lot of patience. That is definitely one thing that I have had to work on a lot while being out on the mission is my patience. We just want things to happen in our time...right here, right now. We've got to remember that we're on the Lord's schedule, and everything will happen in His time. So patience. Yes I am working on that a lot right now with the language, teaching, people, etc. It's good for me! We have been visiting a lot of members and less actives as well to help create that unity that we need. We found 4 or 5 new investigators this week, so I am really excited to get working with them. 3 of them are from one family and I am so so excited to continue teaching them. They are incredible. We had been teaching the mom for a little bit, but we went over one day and started talking with her daughters too. One of her daughters has 3 kids, and her husband passed away about a year ago. She has been really confused about what to believe about life after death and what her husband is going through right now. A perfect opportunity for us to teach them the Plan of Salvation! Wow, wow, wow. One of the best experiences I've had on my mission so far! As we explained this to them, their faces all lit up with hope. A hope that this is true and that it's not the end. She said she really likes this, and it's different than what they've heard before. This plan is for us to be happy! It brings us hope! Ah I don't even know how to explain it. The Spirit was so strong. We asked them to pray that night to know that the plan was true. I'm excited to talk to them again to know what they've been feeling. One thing that I found so amazing though, was how my testimony of the Plan of Salvation and God's love grew. There is hope for everyone! I feel so blessed to have this knowledge and to share it with others.
I already mentioned how I went on exchanges this week, and I want to tell you a miracle story from this too. I went to the Oakcrest area with Hna. Glauser. We went knocking for a little while and the coolest knocking experience I have had yet happened. It was honestly one of those "meant to be experiences." We knocked on a door and a young man (probably in his 20s) answered the door with a cigarette in his hand, and then his mom followed him to the door. I thought they were going to tell us "thanks, but no thanks" because they did not seem at all interested. We kept asking them questions and continued to bear our testimonies to them. We found out that her mother had recently passed away and they were going through a hard time. We asked if we could leave with a prayer and they accepted. After the prayer the man went inside but the mom stayed and talked with us for a few more minutes. She started telling us how she had just made a really difficult phonecall, but didn't elaborate past that. But then she just broke down in tears. She started thanking us multiple times and telling us how much it meant to her that we had stopped by. So, I don't know exactly how, but I think that in some way we were an answer to her prayers. I have so many more stories that I could tell you, but I just don't have enough time. But I want you all to know that I know the Lord is mindful of each and every one of us. He puts us in people's paths so that we can become better and stronger together. I can't even tell you how many times we have had appointments planned that have fallen through, but then we see miracles that would have never happened had the appointment worked out. The Lord knows what is best!!
And this is my last thing for you today. Today I read in 1 Nephi 11 after praying to know of the love of God and to have a better understanding of it. (All of you should take the time to read this. Seriously though. I mean it.) Wow, were my prayers answered. As I was reading I recognized how many times the Spirit tells Nephi to "Look!" It's simple--I need to do that too. The Spirit is telling me to look. There is evidence of God's love surrounding us. We can't get away from it. We can choose to ignore it, but why deny that love? So rather, look. Look and behold the marvelous love that God has for YOU. Because it is there. The love of God "is the most desirable above all things," "and the most joyous to the soul." (vs. 22-23) Why, why would you choose to not have that in your life? Don't you want that joy? It is the words of God that lead us to this everlasting love. Nephi bears witness of Christ ministering to, healing, and teaching the people--giving them God's word. But, people still chose to reject Him and His words. How can you do that when all He did was serve you and your people? Nephi saw these people judge Christ and watched them lift Christ upon the cross. He witnessed the crucifixion and death of the Savior of the world. I cannot even comprehend watching that. In 32 and 33 it says:
"And it came to pass that the angel spake unto me again, saying: Look! And I looked and beheld the Lamb of God, that he was taken by the people; yea, the Son fo the everlasting God was judged of the world; and I saw and bear record.
And I, Nephi, saw that he was lifted up upon the cross and slain for the sins of the world."
My eyes tear up and my heart aches each time I read those scriptures. I literally had tears pouring from my eyes this morning as I read and understood more of the love that the Savior has for me. So, why reject Jesus Christ? Why reject the perfect and infinite love that is given to us, that surrounds us, that is more desirable above all else and will fill us with the most joy? Accept the love that God has for you, and show your love to Him in return. Feast upon the words of God because they will lead you to feel of their love. And listen to the voice of the Spirit. Look! And marvel at the love that you are surrounded by. I cannot begin to express even a portion of the gratitude that I have for my Savior. As I put myself in Nephi's shoes and imagined myself watching the Savior die for the sins of the world, I wanted to sit there and sob. I cannot imagine what it must have been like to witness that. I think about what we must have been feeling as we looked down on Him from above--us being the cause of His suffering. His love is perfect, and it is infinite. I am so grateful that I was able to recognize that this morning and that the Spirit answered my prayers. I am going to try really hard this week to LOOK! and see all the things around me that are evidence of His love. And I challenge you to do the same. May we all recognize the love the Savior has for us and choose to love others in the same way. So I want you to know that I love you all, and I hope that you can feel of my love for you every day.
Hermanas Hoj and Driesel