Hello!! This email is probably going to be pretty long because its been a super busy week and I havent been able to write in my journal, so this is going to be like my journal for the past week! I'll send pictures from my iPad later.
So this week has been so busy and so much fun! We spent the earlier part of the week in Garden Ridge teaching our wonderful investigators and trying to write good notes and such for the new missionaries that would be coming in. (It ended up being elders that doubled into Garden Ridge!) We had incredible last lessons with Sue and the Sanchez family. It was SO sad to say bye to them and to the ward members, but it's so comforting to know that other TSAMers will take just as good care of them, and that I'll get to see them again someday. Those people changed me forever, the investigators and members alike. Garden Ridge will always have a part of me.
We headed to transfer meeting, and the way we do transfers is really fun. We do call outs, so on Sunday evening you just know if youre staying or going, then at transfer meeting you recieve your assignment as the assistants call it out. If your name isnt called at the San Antonio meeting, then you pile into the vans and the assistants drive you up to the Austin transfer meeting. So I could just feel that it was my time to head up to Austin. So I waited to hear my name called, but neither mine or Sister Scott's name was called, so we knew we were going to Austin! So we drove up there with a ton of new missionaries, and then at that meeting I found out who my companion was and what area we were doubling into!
My companion is Sister Storms from Idaho Falls and I love her. We are in the New Hope ward in the Round Rock stake and it's so great!
Our area covers parts of Cedar Park(where I had been before when we came to a doctors appointment), Round Rock, Leander, and Georgetown(mom!). It is absolutely incredible here and already feels like home. I have absolutely no idea where I am or anything at any given time, but it just feels so good here. Sister Storms is so awesome. She's been out for 14 months and is really funny and a powerful teacher. She's a really great missionary and we're already having so much fun together. This area is so busy and we never seem to have enough time to see everyone we want to! We also live with other sisters, which is so fun. We all sleep on bunkbeds out in the living room. I'm living the dream life. Haha. For real though.
The ward is incredible! They are so focused on missionary work and on helping us in any way possible. Also you know you're in Texas when the bishop is wearing his suit and cowboy boots. Haha. I love it. We have some wonderful investigators right now, and they are so prepared! I just can't say enough how much I love it here! It's really busy just picking up where someone else left, but we're grateful for the work that is happening and for the fresh start. We have the sweetest investigator named Fong who is from China so we get to teach her using materials in simplified Chinese and have to translate lots of things. She is so sweet and sincere and loves coming to church because of the Spirit she feels and how kind the people are. I'm so excited to meet with her and see the miracles that will come there.
Another sweet investigator we have is an 83 year old man named Herman. We told him he's like a grandpa to us, and he said "Well, if you'd like to, you can call me Papa." Melt my heart. I just love the people here and I wish i could tell you about everyone and the experiences i have each day but that would go on for hours. We've been meeting with lots of former investigators and they are so receptive! The work will continue to roll forward and we're going to see miracles.
So if you can't tell and if i haven't already said it enough, i love it here. The Lord truly knows us and what and who we need, and New Hope is what I needed at this time. What a blessing it is to work with such incredible people, to live with amazing sisters, and to have Sister Storms as my companion. I have learned so much this last week and I wanted to share with y'all part of what i've been studying.
First of all, we're doing a mission study of the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet. It's words are not only for the youth, but for all people. The principles are the exact same and will guide us in our lives. President Slaughter asked us to read it and focus on the agency we're given, and how we will be requried to stand alone a lot of the time. Something I've noticed from each section as I've been studying is that it points to the temple, the house of the Lord. Everything we do in life should lead us to being worthy to attend the temple and receiving the blessings that are found within. The media we use, the friends we have, our desire for education, it all relates to us and our eternal families and preparing to live with God again, which is possible through the temple and the restored priesthood authority. It's amazing that our leaders and our prophet are so inspired that they try to help us see that bigger picture from such a young age.
The other thing I've been studying is how baptism is a rebirth, or being spiritually reborn. So what changes occur as we are spiritually reborn? We receive a new heart, a heart that knows the Lord (Jer. 24:7). With that new heart, we are so open to the Spirit and to more and more knowledge that will come as we sincerely and diligently seek it. I continued to study this change of heart, because it is mentioned over and over. So why is the heart so important? We know that "the Lord looketh on the heart" (1 Sam 16:7), not on the outward appearance of us. The Lord doesn't see us from the outside in, but rather the opposite. The Lord sees our hearts first, and if they are changed. He sees what our true hopes and desires are, and if we have really turned to Him. Yes, He does want us to obtain knowledge and seek answers, but if we simply have knowledge without conviction and belief in our hearts, then it doesn't do us much good. I feel like before I came on my mission, I knew the gospel from the sense of having knowledge of it. I knew things in my mind, and most of the time they did make sense. But by giving this time to the Lord and learning to truly love Him and serve Him, my heart has been changed, and I won't allow it to be temporary. The love I have felt is so real and pure, and I can't imagine not having that with me. If our minds are the only things turned to the Lord, then the change will be temporary. But if our hearts are turned to the Lord, then we are committing ourselves to lifelong and eternal discipleship.
This blessing is not limited to those who serve full-time missions, it can be experienced by all. Spiritual rebirth is a continuous process, and as we change our hearts, our very natures will change and we are filled with the love of God. I love Alma 5:26--"And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren,if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?" I have felt it, and I can feel it now. The change continues as we keep the commandments, as we love and serve God with all of our might, mind and strength, and as we study His word and talk to Him. We will feel the Spirit, we will experience that change of heart.
In the beginning of Preach My Gospel, there's a letter from the First Presidency, and in it they say, "More happiness awaits you than you have ever experienced as you labor among His children." That is my change. I have never, ever been any happier than I now am. And I didn't know it was possible. I am changed because that joy doesn't come from anything the world has to offer, it comes from a loving Heavenly Father and His Son. And seeing others experience that change of heart and sing the song of redeeming love only increases that happiness and joy.
I love this gospel and the Lord more than anything, because it is the only way to receive true and lasting happiness.
I love y'all so much!
Me and sister storms this morning
Leander, TX-basically represents all of my beloved texas