On Monday last week we were able to teach Beth! She is awesome! She lives in a small gated community that's been having a ton of break ins. Someone actually came into her house at 3:00 in the morning and she would've had no idea about it but her service dog named Luke woke her up and then chased the intruder out! It was pretty scary for her and I'm really glad she's safe! I think her experience with that is helping her prepare to be baptized, because she's been super close before but had some things come up with her family that threw her completely off track. When we were teaching her on Monday, the Spirit was so strong and Sister Gonzalez and I both feel like she will be baptized! Then later this week we had an appointment with Beth and we swung by Dawn's apartment to see if she'd be willing to come, because she and her family have had a week full of challenges and we wanted to get her out of the house so she could serve someone! It worked out wonderfully! Dawn was so much happier at the end because she could impact she had on Beth, plus it helped her see that she's not the only one with crazy challenges in her life. Beth went out of town for the weekend, so we're waiting to hear back from her to know when she's back home.
Ciara is doing pretty well! She came to a baptism on Tuesday and we gave her a church tour right after that. I absolutely love it when investigators describe the feeling they get from the Spirit when they're at church or at the temple! We took her into the chapel at the end of the tour and taught her about the sacrament and she kept talking about how peaceful it was! On Saturday I was on splits with the Relief Society President because Sister Gonzalez was at a baptism for an old area and we taught Ciara about the Word of Wisdom! Halfway through the lesson I noticed she was drinking from a bottle of Brisk iced tea...awkward! I asked her about it and she said she refilled the bottle with a Vitamin C drink! She said there shouldn't be any problems with the Word of Wisdom now :)
Nevea isn't doing so well. I think she's being misled by her brother and her friends. I hope Ciara will be a good example for her!
A companionship in our district told us that an older couple in their ward has a less-active son living in our ward. It's a part member family and their son, the only member, is less-active. His wife has met with missionaries several times before and isn't really interested right now. They have two daughters who want to be baptized! Their names are Stephanie and Hailey. They also have a 13 year old son named Jerry that is semi-interested. The girls are going to be baptized on September 10! Their dad loves ponds. When we first heard that from the elders relaying the information, we were pretty confused and thought we misheard them, but the guy legitimately loves ponds and has created three of them in his backyard. One is from an old bathtub!
Lonnie, Dawn, and Alison have had a difficult week and called me when we were on exchanges and we went over and talked things through with Dawn. The management at the place they live fumigated the room next door three times and they were getting sick from it and they have neighbors that keep trying to break in, so they're afraid to all leave their home at the same time for church. We talked with them a lot about the importance of the sacrament, and they came! Dawn and Lonnie wanted to leave right after sacrament meeting, but they asked us to show them where the tithing slips are so we went over to the Bishop's office and Alison started crying because she didn't want to leave church! We found a ride for her so she could stay and Dawn and Lonnie could go back home. Lonnie has fallen into some old habits and is learning about the power of the Atonement! They are all so amazing and have been through so much! I feel like the hymn we sang for the sacrament was perfect for Lonnie and the things he's working through!
We're teaching an awesome new guy named Craig! His wife is a less-active member who is coming back to activity. Craig has been coming to church for the past 4 years! He's never wanted to be baptized until now, but let me tell you, now he definitely wants to be baptized! The bishop asked him to start meeting with us and he agreed, and as soon as he made that decision he's noticed so many blessings being poured into his life! He told us that we're the first missionaries that he's ever allowed to set foot in his house. He has a bit of a rough background and told us that he really wants to learn how to forgive, so our whole first lesson with him was about forgiveness and the Atonement and relying on Christ and we set him with a baptism date of September 24! We forgot to plan a date for him before the lesson, but both Sister Gonzalez and I felt like September 24 was the day when we were thinking about it during his lesson! Craig has a ton of questions and sincerely wants to know if the gospel is true! I am so excited for him!
Also, going back to one of my exchanges, when I was in the area as we were pulling into our driveway for the night we got a call from a recent convert of about 10 months. It was actually her niece named Brianna who told us that she's been coming to church for a while and wants to be baptized! Oh my goodness! Before my mission I used to think that this was a rare occurrence, but it's actually happened pretty often! That's how Isaac, Matt, and Mike were baptized! That doesn't change how amazing it is--the field is white, already to harvest! There are people ALL AROUND who are ready to be baptized! We haven't actually been able to teach Brianna yet, but we should be seeing her tomorrow night!
I also went on an exchange with one of the Mission Sister Training Leaders named Sister Hutchins, who is seriously one of my favorite people ever! :) We were in her area and we taught an awesome guy named John who offered the prayer in the beginning of the lesson and asked Heavenly Father to help him absorb everything we teach him! He loves his family so much and knows he's missing something right now, but he also recognizes that we have what he's searching for!
Sister Hutchins and I prayed that we would find a new investigator who would be wearing flip flops and the first person we talked with was wearing them and became a new investigator! It was really cool how we met her, too--she was in the back porch area in an apartment on the lower level, which was halfway underground so we saw her as we were walking by and crouched down on the ground to teach her. We shared Alma 7:11-12 and taught her that Christ can help her with anything and she got choked up! The Spirit is real!
Also on splits with the Relief Society President, we found an amazing new investigator named Tierrah who is 25 and has 2 young boys who told us that she's on a journey to find God's true church! She invited us inside and we taught her about the Restoration and the Spirit was so strong! She wants to be baptized too!
I've been pondering about Ether 12:27 and how it says that God will "make weak things become strong unto [us]" because I didn't get it at first, but now I think I can see part of how it works. Often in the field we are late to something for a number of reasons, but most of them are our fault. Some reasons include taking a wrong turn (or a few) because a) the driver is not paying attention or b) the companion isn't looking at the map right; teaching someone for too long because they talk so much and it's hard to keep them on track, forgetting something in the apartment as we're heading out the door, and so forth. But Heavenly Father knows our weaknesses and makes sure that we go exactly where we need to be at the perfect time, as long as we're listening to the Spirit!
Have a phenomenal week! I love you all!