Monday morning sports at 6:00 A.M. = one of the best things that has ever happened to me :) After I persuadingly drag my companion out of her beautiful dreams, we jog down to the sand volleyball court where 8 other companionships (elders and sisters) are playing volleyball before the sun has even come up. I LOVE it. 1/4 of the missionaries here are Polynesian and tend to get overly competitive (example: every time we score, they chant in Tongan, "Clap Once. Clap Twice. Clap Three Times!" and we clap in unison which makes the other team ridiculously angry) It's times like these where I love seeing the sun rise in Independence, Missouri.
This past week I had the opportunity to go to a leadership conference that lasted all day with the assistants to the president, zone leaders, district leaders and trainers in the Missouri Independence Mission. We were taught so many amazing truths that will strengthen and bless us in this missionary work. It's continuing on everyday even when you think you can't continue anymore. It was so neat to be around all of these other amazing leaders who love the Lord and can't wait to pound out another day as a missionary.
Several times this week, we met with our investigator Andrianna who is continues to learn and grow in the gospel. We will have had a challenging day or have walked and talked all day with no evidence to show that our work did any good and it's like coming home - she is growing closer and closer to the Savior and it shows. It's amazing to see the hand of the Lord in other's lives. The other night we taught her a lesson while her 2 girls colored and then we roasted marshmallows. Best ever. We also watched the rainstorm while eating fresh strawberries and related it to the gospel. My favorite for the week was last night though where we had Family Home Evening with two other families in the ward. After first, Andrianna was apprehensive about going and wanted to get it over with, but as we got there and got talking, she warmed right up. Her kids had a blast playing with the other kids (who are exactly the same age - no coincidence at all!) and we had the best dinner. We ended the night with a lesson on the atonement and how it fixes broken things. Since little kids usually have an obsession with bandaids and using them even if they don't need them, we performed a magic trick and ended with the bandaid analogy.
I never thought I could grow so close to a family I've only known for a month or two. I love them with all my heart. The other night we went over and Allie and Lena (Andrianna's two girls) had painted us pictures and she had them framed. This painting will be with me forever. It's having the opportunity to bring a light to their lives that will always overcome the darkness.
One of the most important truths I've learned from this experience of serving the Lord completely 24/7 is that sometimes the Lord needs to break us down before he can build us up to be who he needs us to be. Elder Eyring said something that I will always remember. He said something along the lines of how being in the service of the Lord and his children won't always be easy and it may sometimes be painful. When the words, "contrite spirit" and "broken heart" include not only those we are serving, but our own lives as well. To truly come to know the Savior and be involved in His work, we sometimes need to suffer and painfully grow as He did. It's the price we pay in order to receive such a priceless gift. I'm so grateful for the chance I have to come to know the Savior. He lives. He knows our pains and our sorrows. Spencer W. Kimball said "No matter how much we say of Him, it is still too little." That will always be the case. I love our Savior and his divine role as our redeemer. I love you all!