The heading for this e-mail comes from what started as wanting a picture with Brother Jeffrey, our custodial friend at the visitor's center. It ended in him letting us change one of the light bulbs. Scariest experience ever. I was dying. It was pretty much the best ever though.
This weekend has been the best birthday weekend of my life! I can proudly say I have never felt so much happiness and joy. Joy overflowing from my entire being! The Lord has blessed us so greatly and all because of this work and the power of prayer! I seriously hope I can convey the amazing miracles we saw unfold before our eyes this week. But to begin, I'll need to start way earlier in the month.
I had just had an interview with our visitor's center director who changed my life and rest of my mission by telling me that we set our own limits and that I can set any goals I desire to achieve and the only difference between setting and making those goals is the time in between. So that night, I went home and prayed. I asked Heavenly Father for the desires I had deep inside. I told him I had set the goal to have a baptism before my birthday and in general before the end of the transfer. I had also prayed that for my birthday (August 22, Sunday) all I wanted was for this goal to happen and for a birthday present, to have a new investigator. Well, faith without works is dead right? So Sister Witkamp and I have been working hard. As hard as we could to make these things come about. We've been meeting with some of our potential investigators and really trying to commit them to learning more about the gospel. For the past 3 months, we have worked and worked. We haven't seen any outward success of our work. Since I've been in this area, Sister Witkamp and I have never had an investigator come to church. None! I was starting to doubt ourselves. Doubt the Lord. Doubt everything I was doing. But I didn't want to give up! So we continued on.
So we had set up a family night with a family in our ward and our investigator, Andrianna with her two little girls, Alyssandra and Alena. I had been looking forward to this family night all week! Time came where we went to go get Andrianna so she could follow us with her girls to the family night. We got to her home and no one was there. We called her cell and house phone over and over. Left messages. Waited. It got closer and closer to 7:00, the time of family home evening. I had been so excited because Andrianna is so close! She knows it's true and knows she needs this gospel in her life! But she is so stubborn and Satan is working extremely hard on this sweet family. Which is why I was so excited to finally have her come to this family night and to have some friends in the ward. Sister Witkamp said "Well, let's just drive over and pray that she will call us back." We drive for what seems a decade. I prayed and prayed in my heart that she would call. We finally got close to the family's home and Sister Witkamp pulled off to a side street and turned off the car. We sat in silence and finally, Sister Witkamp says "What do we do?" My first thought was to jump out of the car and tract the entire street we were on to demonstrate the faith that when we work hard, the Lord blesses us. Instead I couldn't move. It felt like I was filled with lead. I slumped over into my seat in the car and started to cry. "Sister Witkamp, my heart is broken." I have never felt so much pain before in a long time. Probably since my Dad passed away was the last time my heart felt like it had been broken. My heart hurt from making the Shaws move their FHE from Monday to Thursday night. My heart hurt from trying not to be angry with Andrianna for forgetting this precious appointment. My heart hurt for Andrianna and her children's souls. They don't know what they are missing. Sister Witkamp says "Should we just go?" I'm praying this whole time to Heavenly Father to just make everything okay. Either make her call or help us find a miracle within all of this. My sweet companion, right then, is inspired. "Let's call sarah." Now Sarah is an investigator that we have tried to get a hold of for the past 18 days ever since other sisters told us about her. We called her and she answered! She told us life has been crazy but that she wants to meet with us tomorrow. I was so happy. Happiness- true, real, deep happiness. Heavenly happiness. The Lord answers prayers. And I also thought of calling Sister Hefter, a single mom with a little girl the ages of the family that we were visiting. She said she could come and she ended up coming with us to the family night. And even though, Andrianna wasn't there, I found it to be a miracle because Sister Hefter needed to be there with her little girl for a family night instead.
The next day, we met with Sarah at the visitor's center. I have NEVER met someone who has been more prepared than she has. Her husband is a less active and he came too! We talked with her and she lost a little baby a couple of months ago. They have a 6 year old girl named Bobby. She said she has prayed and knows it's true. She said their ultimate goal is to be sealed in the temple! We talked about the holy ghost and what it feels like and asked her husband, Jack, to explain what it feels like. This huge Polynesian guy who looks like he could beat anyone up, starts to cry. He explains that after their little baby died, he was angry but he prayed and that the Holy Ghost told him that it was going to be okay. That Heavenly Father needed her and that he was going to be okay. The spirit was so strong. We committed Sarah to baptism and she said yes. She will be baptized on September 5th. As they walked away, I said "Sister, I'm not worthy of such an amazing blessing." But we have worked hard and the Lord has given us a tender mercy. When we went to pray, Sister Witkamp said, "You know how you wanted a baptism for your birthday? Well, it's not the actual event of a baptism, but you have a baptism set now." I prayed for a baptism. Not to actually see one, but to have one. The Lord answers prayers! This is the best golden birthday gift I could ever receive. I told Sister Witkamp I was happy. True happiness like I've never felt before. I felt like my heart couldn't contain the joy I felt. It was heaven.
The day before my birthday, we had another miracle! We had two appointments set up, one with Sarah again for a church tour and another with Sister Wood, a less active. Both of them called within the same hour and canceled. This time, Sister Witkamp felt like she was going to die. This roller coaster mission stuff is not so good. I feel like I am going up and down constantly. But because of the two canceled appointments, we were able to meet Leroy (who is another story in just a sec) AND we met with Andrianna who said she was sorry and said life was crazy and she said she would come to church the next day. Well, Leroy seemed pretty interested in coming to church. He texted us later and asked what time. We drove back to meet with him and he wasn't home so we put sticky star notes on his door with the church address and time. Well, this too good to be true Leroy, texts us that next night and says "I know you can't send messages but I read the stars on my door and would like to say I think u two girls are a gift from god because I been searching for a lady that I can make my wife and out of no where u two pop up it feels like a miracle."....................Uh....what? Let's just say we won't be going back to see Leroy again. ha ha ha
Yesterday, on my birthday, I was given the best birthday gifts I've ever received. My wonderful family sent me WAY too many wonderful gifts but along with those wonderful gifts were the gifts at church. Andrianna and her little girls and Sarah, Jack and their daughter Bobby, all came to church. And Katie, a 14 year old girl came too. It is through Katie that the Lord answered my prayer to get a new investigator for my birthday. Katie is our new investigator that just came to church with a family and we will meet with her this week! The Lord answers prayers! Please believe me when I say this! The church is true. Sister Witkamp and I have been greatly blessed and it's all because of our Heavenly Father! I am so blessed to be a missionary and to be involved in this amazing work! Thank you everyone for your love and support! The church is true! Love you all!
-Sister Witkamp and I sitting in what we call the "hot seats" at the visitor's center (meaning the seats that say you are next up for a tour....not saying we're hot ha ha)
- A picture of "the great and spacious building" being struck by lightning across the street :)