Christmas is getting closer. The bright lights, yummy smells and continuing cold without snow doesn't stop here in Missouri. We still see miracles despite people being "too busy" to hear the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. But we keep plugging along. I love the little community college here with all it's lights for Christmas. I love the Shoal Creek Valley Ward that we serve in and all of the members that help us with this work. I love being able to drive past the Kansas City, Missouri temple and see it being completed. I love my sweet companion who speaks Spanish in her sleep :) I love teaching the gospel! All of these things are making this Christmas probably the best Christmas I have ever had.
Lately, I have been able to learn a lot about listening to the spirit and trusting that we can be directed. It's exercising the faith and then seeing the blessings from that effort. In our area the other day, I felt like we needed to go to another part of our area. We struggle with being conservative with the miles and if we are in one part of our area, we try to stay there the whole day. But I kept feeling like we needed to be somewhere else. We got into our car and prayed. As Sister Holbrook said the prayer, into my mind came two words: South and Lia. Sometimes the spirit tells us things that we don't think we can do. The last thing I wanted to do was go back to Lia's home and bother her seeing that they didn't want us to come back. But the spirit continued to nudge. When Sister Holbrook finished the prayer she said "I think we need to go to the South." Gah...sometimes, as a missionary, you can get away without listening unless the other half gets the same prompting. We drove the fifteen minutes to the other side and knocked on Lia's door. Sweet Lia was home with her kids and immediately let us in. We had a neat talk about how she is STILL trying to find the right church and into my mind kept coming the idea that she needs to learn more. We talked about the plan of salvation and I think something stirred inside her. She was very kind and told us even though her husband wasn't interested that she would still listen to us. Hmmmm.....we'll have to prayerfully decide what things we need to teach her that will help her the most. I asked her to read the book of Mormon and she said she had already started out of curiosity and that she is "hooked". She can't wait to hear what happens with Lehi and his family. I asked her to read the whole thing and she said, "I will but don't you dare ask me to pray about it!" Why not Lia? Do you think it could be true? Ha ha It was interesting hearing her say that. She has been deceived in the past by other pastors and is afraid that she will receive a prompting that is not from the spirit. We explained how the spirit speaks with us and she seemed a little less worried. We'll continue to try with her.
The spirit is sometimes like magic. Something that is not there can all the sudden appear. With faith. Like an investigator. We were in an area and I had the thought to pray about which street we could go to in order to find someone ready for baptism. I turned to my companion and said "Sister, do you have the faith that if we pray that the Lord will show us the street we should go to?" She looked at me, thought about it, smiled and then said yes. We prayed a deep heart felt prayer and when we opened our eyes and looked at the map, the street named "Potter" stuck out to me. Sure enough, first house we visited on Potter had the Powers family. They have met missionaries before but were never really taught by them. They have a 19 year old daughter that we started teaching too. The power of prayer and faith. It's so incredible! Like magic!
And yet another case where we prayed again and "Ditzler" street stuck out. We didn't have as much time to tract the whole street so we decided that we would drive and if a house stuck out to us we'd go visit. We drove up to a house with a big blown-up snowman with a snow globe in his belly (ya know the ones?). Either it was the spirit or excitement of taking our picture next to Mr. Snowman that we picked this house. We met MaryAnn and her family and are going to start teaching them. She is really good friends with the Tree family who is in our ward. It's so neat to exercise faith and have it work! I think we have the fear of exercising faith sometimes because we don't trust that it will happen. My faith has been tested through serving a mission and I'm grateful for it. It has grown stronger.
We taught a little family on Sunday. They are wanting to learn about our basic beliefs but nothing more because they already have a church (the same church that investigator Beth goes to). As we taught them the spirit entered the room and we could tell that they felt something different. The dad has read parts of the book of Mormon when he stays in hotels that have them (he travels a lot). When we gave him his own personal copy, he was shocked. "Wait, is this really for me? My own copy?" Gosh! I wish everyone would say that every time we hand out a book of Mormon! We'll see what happens :)
We also taught Margo and Beth again and they both have been reading the book of Mormon. Margo is already to 2 Nephi! It's so neat because you know that as soon as they read and pray, they won't be able to deny the answer they receive of the truthfulness of this record and of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Margo wants the gift of the holy ghost without having to be re-baptized. We explained proper authority and the priesthood in both baptism and confirmation. I testified to her that as she continues to read the book of Mormon, she will come to understand the importance of baptism by proper authority. We asked her how the spirit speaks with her. She said she didn't know. We explained that for some, everything becomes really understandable and their thoughts are clear. I told her that when I feel the spirit, I feel this warmth inside. I put my hand on the book of Mormon and said "I can promise you that if you read this sincerely and with real intent, you will receive an answer. This book testifies of Jesus Christ, proves that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that this church is true. I love this book. It means everything to me." I love being able to feel the spirit of the Lord work through us when bearing pure testimony.
I'm so grateful for this work. I am grateful for the birth of someone who would save us all. Someone who would grant us the gift of overcoming death. I hope this Christmas fills everyone with the spirit of gratitude for our Savior, Jesus Christ. Merry Christmas! Love you all!