Wow, this is strange to think that this might be the last email from my mission!
We met an elderly gentleman named Bill who told us his wife died a year and a half ago and he's been distraught ever since then. Somehow he believed that she was still there somewhere but he didn't think he would ever see her again. So we taught him about temples and I showed him a picture of the Portland temple and he said it looked like the San Diego temple! I asked if he'd like a picture of the San Diego one and he said he did, so we planned another time to bring it by. Thank goodness I had that picture from a packet my mom sent me! I almost gave Ruby the San Diego one but ended up giving her the Salt Lake temple picture instead.
We taught Lois (Steve was sick and couldn't be there) about some of the commandments and it was incredible because she already knew that she needed to make some changes! She's already stopped doing some of the things she asked us about before.
A recently returned missionary in our ward named Brooke invited us over to her house to teach her friend named Chris! He said he's atheist and we showed him the #LIGHTtheWORLD video. It's amazing how everyone is touched by it!
Remember the lady who called us last Monday morning named Darralee? We taught her on Tuesday and she told us that she's just drawn to Mormons. She realized that she only wants to be around people who don't drink. She knew about the three degrees of glory and temples already! She shared an experience that she had a lot of guilt from. It's wonderful that we can be freed from any guilt we have through the Atonement! We invited Darralee to be baptized on and she got this really weird look on her face. Sister Cheyne and I were both thinking "oh no, what happened?" and Darralee told us that date was already really significant to her! So she's definitely going to be baptized then :) Words just cannot convey how wonderful it is when people know they're missing something and then learn about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and live it!
One of our wards had a service project instead of a dinner for Relief Society and Lois and Darralee came! It was phenomenal! Every time I see the ward Christmas parties they look really fun, but then I think about how much was spent on it and how it doesn't really have a lasting impact and I'm so grateful the Relief Society presidency organized this! One of the sisters in our ward who happens to be a ward missionary is a middle school teacher in a very impoverished part of town. Lots of the kids there literally have nothing because their parents either have no income or the parents spend whatever money they have on drugs and gambling. So this sister organized a "Santa's Workshop" where we all assembled stockings with basic necessities for the kids and one of the counselors from her school came and spoke to us too. Lois and Darralee loved it! Darralee actually knows the daughters of the sister who hosted the activity at her home! I'm so glad they were both able to come, and I know it's something they'll never forget!
Lois always says that she loves meeting with us and wants to be baptized because there's "no chink in our happiness" and when we first met her she asked if we were on some sort of "tang". Well, at the service activity there was a massive bowl of punch and when Lois saw it, she looked right at me and said, "I found the tang!" Thank goodness she understands what the Spirit actually is :)
Eugene is still doing well and Deborah is participating more in lessons! We even got his brother Carl to come in for the Christmas video and then the rest of the lesson, and Eugene's friend Ryan comes to all the lessons now too! They say they're moving to a new apartment complex soon but the place changes every day, so I don't actually know when they're moving. The last place they said is still in our area though! And if they do end up leaving the ward boundaries, I know whichever missionaries they end up with will be a good match for them.
On exchanges we inspired knocked and met some kids named Miracle and something else very unique that I can't remember. We showed them the Christmas video and Miracle told us she felt inspired by it and wanted to go out and do something to help people! I love how Heavenly Father leads us right to those people.
We also taught one of their investigators named Esgar who is married to a recently activated member. His family is in Mexico and is very, very Catholic. He feels like if he's baptized, his parents will reject him, but he knows that the gospel is true. The member who came with us was absolutely perfect for him! She joined the Church in April and basically read his mind perfectly and explained how she thought he was feeling and then addressed his concerns. It came down to how he's not really receiving any blessings from being neutral, but if he acts on what he knows to be true he'll receive blessings! He then accepted a baptism date in February :)
We taught Steve and Lois again and it was wonderful! We finished the Word of Wisdom with them and Lois asked what she should do with the coffee she has left. She is amazing! Steve told us he quit his addiction before because a previous girlfriend asked him to quit and Lois said "I'm asking you to quit too!" Steve committed to living the Word of Wisdom! He's changed so much since we first started teaching him. The first time we invited them to be baptized Steve said he would if he didn't have to live the Word of Wisdom but now he actually wants to! We also invited Steve to ask for Sundays off work and he said he couldn't because he needed to support his family, which is a valid concern, and then Lois told him if he did and got work off God would make things work out! We invited them both to receive priesthood blessings for the Word of Wisdom and Steve said he'd quit on his own because he felt like there were other things he needed to ask God for. But we taught him that Heavenly Father wants him to keep all of the commandments and will always provide a way to do so and shared 1 Nephi 3:7 and also taught him that he can still pray for other things.
We found two new YSA investigators named Jada and Deja! We taught them about the Restoration and they were amazed by it. The Spirit was incredibly strong and they both asked to be baptized! We set them for and then passed them off to the YSA sisters :) We should be having a pass-off lesson with them this week.
One of our wards had a Christmas party and one of the wonderful members brought two less-active recent converts and their nonmember brother named Zane! Zane loved the party and told us he was agnostic and didn't really see the need for church, but we invited him anyway and sure enough he came on Sunday!
Also at the Christmas party we were asked to have a part in the Christmas program and we taught the Grinch! Pictures are at the bottom.
Our 9 year old investigator Jack is doing really well! His family is still trying to figure out a date for him because his father wants to be worthy to perform the ordinance. His dad also asked us who we knew who could use some help this Christmas and then bought gift cards for them! What a miraculous answer to our prayers! The Lord will always provide a way.
We had a zone meeting and I met another sister who was new in our mission but was serving on the east coast and then had medical issues and had to go home for several months and was temporarily reassigned to the Nevada Las Vegas Mission. I know it's no coincidence that we were able to meet!
On Thursday I received a call from the missionaries serving in my last area in Las Vegas saying that Linda was going to be baptized and I was able to go to her baptism! She has made huge changes in her life and it was wonderful to be there to support her as she made her first covenant with God. The person assigned to fill up the font forgot to put the plug in and then came before the service began and discovered an empty font, so we sang lots of Christmas hymns for a while as the font finished filling. It all worked out!
This has been the best year and a half of my life so far. I'm extremely grateful that I felt prompted nearly two years ago to serve a mission despite my own plans and I know that I've been blessed with many opportunities to serve in Las Vegas (and Warrenton) that would not have come if I just continued my education at BYU. My mission took everything I had and it is worth it! I know the impact will continue for decades to come both for me and for the people I taught.
I know that this is the true restored gospel of Jesus Christ. It is completely true, and I mean it. Just like there's a difference between sanitization and sterilization -- something that is sanitized still had germs (things that aren't true) but something that is sterilized is COMPLETELY clean and the gospel is ENTIRELY true. I know that the Book of Mormon is proof of the divinity of God and our Savior's ministry to the people of the ancient Americas and I know that our Savior gave His redeeming sacrifice for all men, no matter what has happened in the past. Heavenly Father loves each of his children!
With all my love,