Hey hey hey!
Great news: Sister Buxton and I are staying together for ANOTHER transfer! Which means we’ll have Thanksgiving here and hopefully the first snowfall, too! (We’ll see about the snow, though. Some say not til December but others say before Halloween. I vote for the latter). That will be one third of my mission with just one area and two companions (By the way: I heard from Sister Herrick. SHE GOT HER VISA!!!! She’s leaving for Brazil today!). CRAZY! At first I was a little disappointed. I wanted something to change whether it was a new companion or a new area, but then I thought about it and I’m happy with it. Of course, the Lord knows what He’s doing and already I’ve been able to see the blessing of having Sister Buxton as my companion for a fourth transfer. 🙂
Oh by the way. Remember those three bears I mentioned? Yeah. Okay cool story time! So. We have to stay out until 9:00 every night and now it gets dark at about 6 or so. So we’d gone to visit someone and were headed back home to go in for the night. We were just walking and talking (la la la la la) and were about two houses from our apartment. We heard some rustling and just thought a neighbor was doing something outside. We pass their house and I look over and see… MAMA BLACK BEAR. NOT EVEN 15 FEET AWAY. We both freeze and snatch each other’s hands (Sister Buxton thinks I snatched hers while I think she snatched mine, so we’ll stay with a happy medium) and slowly sit down in the middle of the road (don’t ask me why, but that’s what we did. Hopefully that’s what you’re supposed to do when you see a bear (make yourself small and hope they don’t notice you anymore). I just know you’re not supposed to run or climb trees. :P). She stared at us for a minute before her two cubs ran the other way and she followed them. So that was exciting.
Alright, I have to make sure I mention the wonderful Severance Ward Primary. I got some pictures that they drew (now hanging on my wall around a picture of Christ) and letters from them this week and it was wonderful! Man, I love and miss that ward. Everyone there is super awesome (so is everyone here, though). I also hear that the elders in that ward are fantastic, so that’s wonderful, too.
We had a wicked sweet miracle happen this week. So Tuesday, we taught Bonnie and Lexi (who are doing pretty well) and they had a couple friends there, who sat and listened and participated in our discussion of the Plan of Salvation. That in and of itself was way cool. But at the end, we asked if they knew anyone (referrals) that would like our message. They gave us his mom’s name and address, sort of as a joke like “Oh. Visit my mom. She’ll go crazy and probably slam the door in your face. But it’d be funny.” Not the best of feelings there, but Sister Buxton and I weren’t about to say no. So a couple days later, we had some time in the morning to go and visit her. It was an apartment building that you have to be buzzed into and the guy had asked us not to use names. Hmmm. We were at a loss for what we could say to her for it not to be too weird. Finally, Sister Buxton just depended on the Lord to give her the words she’d need to say and pushed the button. We got buzzed in and as we walked down the hall, the lady stuck her head out and had a confused look on her face, but also a little bit expectant. I introduced us as missionaries from our church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and she didn’t even wait for me to finish. “OH MY GOSH! I’ve been planning to CALL YOU! I was even going to do that today! I’ve been talking to my sister about a church to find and she told me to look you up. I was going to call today!” Ummm. What? Hang on. Back up. Hold the phone. What just happened? Sister Buxton and I walked into the apartment with those words in our heads, completely blown away at this crazy encounter. We spent a couple hours with Pattye getting to know her and comforting her. When we gave her a Book of Mormon and talked about it for a bit, she opened it to a random page in Alma and read a verse that said something like “I believe all the words that thou hast said.” And she said “Oh that fits perfectly for this situation!” Okay. Heavenly Father, you’ve knocked our socks off twice already. What’s next? She starts flipping through Alma. “Whoa. He’s a big book. Where’s the end?” We helped her find it. “I’m going to read this whole thing.” Socks off yet again. “Oh there’s an index? Oh cool. I know just what I’m going to study. I need help with my sickness, so I’m going to study that in here.” Time number four of having socks blown clean off. She took a Restoration pamphlet, said she’s read it and proceeded to mark all the places she’d found in the Book of Mormon with it… Probably the coolest miracle I’ve ever experienced.
Yesterday we had an amazing sacrament meeting. Our Bishop spoke and gave three scripture references that I’d like you all to read AND study. D&C 130:20-21. Matthew 6:33-34 (be sure to take a look at the JST). And Helaman 5:12. Read them. Study them. Ask yourself what they mean and why it’s important to you. What can you do to apply it in your own life?
The Stake Patriarch also spoke and he spoke about the Book of Mormon. He started by saying that we need to have both a spiritual AND intellectual testimony, though you can’t have a testimony without a witness from the Spirit. He said that even if something good is being taught (like the Gospel), it’s not going to mean anything or do anything for you if there isn’t a spiritual witness first. This is definitely 100% true. I know that this church is true, but there’s no way I’d know it if the Spirit hadn’t told me. A lot of people try to look at everything logically and find evidence and all that good stuff. That’s cool, but there’s no way you can KNOW without the Spirit telling you it is. When people try to tell us that there’s no evidence of things from the Book of Mormon or other things like that, whether there is evidence or not, the Spirit has witnessed to us of the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And that is one thing I will bank my life on. The patriarch mentioned Moroni’s promise in the last chapter of the Book of Mormon (Moroni 10:3-5). He said that it was over 40 years AFTER he’d been baptized before he tested that promise and actually prayed to know if it was true. And even that long after, what do you think happened? The Spirit bore witness to him of the truth. And that is my challenge to each of you this week. If you’ve read the Book of Mormon, pray to know if it’s true, even if you’ve already done it. It’s so helpful to have the Spirit testify to you of the truth many many times throughout your life. If you’ve read only parts of the Book of Mormon, ask if what you’ve read is true. If you’ve never read the Book of Mormon, read some of it (you don’t have to tackle it all at once), and then pray to know if it’s true. I know that the Spirit WILL testify to you of its truth. God never lies. He loves us and He wants us to have the truth. He will give it to you if you ask. He won’t take away our agency by forcing us to know. He’ll only give us this solemn testimony if we specifically ask Him “Is the Book of Mormon true.” Read Moroni’s promise. Then do as he has exhorted you to do and ask.
Well, that’s all I’ve got for today. This week is going to be super awesome. Actually. The whole transfer will be. I hope it’s just as awesome for you as it is for me. 🙂 I’ve been happy to hear from some of you and hope all of you are doing very well! Keep writing to me because I love hearing from home and abroad (plus it’s just exciting to get mail). Love you all! 😀