Congratulations Alan!!! I'm assuming from what I've deduced of Mom's and Dad's letters that you're going to the Texas Fort Worth mission, Spanish speaking via the Mexico MTC, leaving September 11th? I don't know if the email was never written, never sent or misdirected, but I didn't actually get it. Congrats all the same! That's so exciting! I did forget to include my guess in my last email, so you'll have to trust me that I'm being honest. I guessed Texas for state side and Mexico for foreign!! haha. I've been working on my discernment skills (make way for the lightning!!) ;) If I got any of the details wrong, I'd love to have them corrected. I'm so excited you're coming to Texas! I actually had a dream this week after thinking right before bed "what if Alan got called to San Antonio?" that we were in the same mission and I saw you at a mission meeting. You had grown to be 6'4" and when I ran up to give you a hug, I felt like a midget. Maybe it's symbolic for spiritual growth. :) You're going to be such a good missionary.
Dad, Happy Father's Day!! I realized yesterday that this year is the second of three Father's Days that I wasn't able to/won't be able to call home. The upside is, right after the next one, I'll basically be able to tell you in person. In our Sacrament meeting yesterday, Sister Forsyth spoke about Fathers and she asked a question that made me think. "Why did we need to leave Heavenly Father's presence in order to learn and grow?" She compared it to leaving home and learning how to appreciate your parents more. So true!! Both points. One thing that I am increasingly grateful for every day of my mission is my wonderful, Priesthood holding, Christ exemplifying Dad. I can't even begin to express how many scummy men I have met on my mission, and how downright floored I am to be the recipient of such a blessing as such a Dad. Thank you so much for being who you are and always being an example, and always being my Dad. I love you. I also know that Heavenly Father loves each of us and is mindful of us. He did send us to earth to grow and I am increasingly amazed to realize more and more how perfectly he knows us and teaches us. Life is hard, but I'm so grateful to be here, because it's so worth it.
I enjoyed hearing about all of the yard work changes this week. I vote for a cookout pad beneath the deck. I think that sounds like a lot of fun!! I can relate to the bug bites too. Every night we go out (which is every night) we come back in with a few new red, bumpy, itchy battle wounds. I've got a massive bite from something or other on my wrist right beneath my watch strap that bled when I first got it and turned into a super itchy, semi-purple goose egg. It's looking like it's getting better though, so I'm not going to worry about it too much.
Congrats on the new RS presidency and surviving Father's Day. It's so fun to hear about the Sister Missionaries in your area as well. We've talked about this a couple of times this week, one of the ways going on a mission changes you, is you understand the missionaries, because you literally walk several thousand miles in their shoes, haha. All of those years the missionaries would come over and we would ask them how their day had gone and they would give a vague, nondescript answer, I now know exactly what they were thinking and could have said if they had wanted to. I feel for Sister B. She'll be great. Training is hard at first, but it's not really as bad as we freak ourselves out to thinking it's going to be.
I'll start with the sad news first and then move on to the happier stuff. We got dropped by I this week. We had an appointment set up with her for 6 and even had a member there to teach with us. When we got to her house, she was on her way out to dinner. After asking if we could reschedule for a bit later, she told us she had decided that she wanted to stick with her church and didn't want to read the Book of Mormon any more. We gave each other hugs and said goodbye, and that was that. Ouch!! That was a heart breaking moment. I love that woman so much, and I know that the answers to questions she has had for years and YEARS are contained in the Book of Mormon. And her questions aren't just gee whiz kinds of things, they are questions of the soul. It just killed me to have that moment of hugs and goodbye. When that happens, you just have to turn your investigator over to Heavenly Father and trust that he really does know what's best for them, and in their own time and His, it'll work out. I may never see her again, but I sure hope she'll be ready someday, and I'll give her a big hug when I see her in Heaven.
An RCLA named K is really struggling with the gospel right now, and I'm crying for her as well. She has always struggled with her marriage and was hopeful that when she joined the church, it would help things to improve. Unfortunately, J likes to blame her participation in the church for their problems, and so whenever she goes or we come to visit, problems flare up. Her faith is really wavering, and it's so hard to know how to tell her that she has to keep the commandments in order to receive the guidance that she needs when all she sees is that keeping the commandments cause problems. She hasn't been to church in a month, even though she knows it's true, and without the Sacrament to apply the Atonement and invite the spirit, she's really having a rough time. So pray for K.
We had a great lesson this week with J. We taught her and L the plan of salvation, and her biggest problem with it, is that it's too good to be true. J has had a hard life and her attitude, while surprisingly not bitter, is just very realist. "Life's tough and then you die." To her, the idea that there's a loving Heavenly Father, that we lived with him before we came to earth, that the Atonement is real and allows us to return to live with him again is "too much of a fairy tale." She doesn't think it has any grounding in "the real world." However, she did feel the spirit as we were teaching her, and I'm having faith that eventually, it's going to sink in. That lesson also made me realize once again how blessed we are to know about Heavenly Father's plan for us. It truly is a beautiful, loving and merciful plan, and I am so grateful to be a part of it. I'm so grateful for the Restoration of the gospel that brought the knowledge of that plan back to full light. I'm grateful for the Atonement that makes it possible.
Dad, I really loved your thought of the week (surprise, surprise, I always do.) Poor Sister L is so sick of hearing how much I love the commandments, but I really do. I love them. People are always trying to find loopholes to living the commandments, but really, commandments are the loophole. They allow the Atonement of Jesus Christ to be applied in our lives which is the great loophole to avoiding the consequences of eternal laws that we can fulfill by ourselves. I also really loved your point about the increased maturity of Nephi's thoughts and about the difference between being in the MTC and in the field. The MTC does fill you with a lot of unrealistic expectations, and I understand why. But every missionary struggles when they get to the field with trying to decide if they're really doing enough or if the reason they're not seeing success is because their faith is wavering. I know that Heavenly Father has provided a way for all of his children to receive exaltation if they choose it. I am part of that plan, but all I can do is keep the commandments and invite others to do the same. That's all there is too it. Sometimes, it doesn't work out the way you think it will in the MTC, but that's ok, because it's Heavenly Father's perfect plan, and not the faulty one I would choose if I were in charge. "Oh that I were an angel! But I do sin in my wish, for I ought to be contented to the things which God has allotted me." (something like that.)
I love you all so much. We see miracles every day, even when they're just little ones. For example, an investigator we passed over to the Elders after a lot of non success finally came back to church this week. I was teaching gospel principles this week, and since he was the only investigator there, I was able to completely revamp the lesson we planned and tailor it specifically to his needs. Blessings. We were knocking yesterday and found a woman named L who was baptized when she was 13 and always wanted to be a missionary, but got married to a man that didn't like the church and hasn't been since then. I'm sure she's not on anyone's records and has been MIA for many many years. We're going to see her tomorrow morning. Blessings. Stuff like that. Little things that happen all the time that just let you know that Heavenly Father is mindful. He loves us and he has a plan for us.
Keep up the good work everyone! I love you all so much!!!