June 30, 2014
Hello hello hello!
This has been the most AMAZING week in the entire world. I love being a missionary. I can’t say it enough – I love being a missionary!
I have had such an eye-opening and memorable week. I decided to make a list of “Mission Firsts” and weekly highlights to remember it all. Here it is:
1. I approach complete strangers and offer them the message of the restored gospel and the Book of Mormon. The first couple of times I tried contacting were quite nerve-wracking. It’s not socially acceptable to walk up to strangers and strike up conversations about religion, but we do it anyway! Sometimes they give us weird looks, but most of the time they are quite nice. Honestly, contacting is not my favorite thing to do in the whole world, but I am working hard at it!
2. I have met more crazy people here than normal people. And I actually mean crazy.
3. Someone offered me a glass of “warter”. What on earth is “warter”?!
4. Sister Taylor and I ate at a New Jersey diner. They are quite famous for them (and it was delicious).
5. Bishop Lambert asked me to bear my testimony on my first Sunday in the Sparta Ward. At the MTC, they warned us that this is fairly common, but I was hoping it was some sort of awful joke. As it turns out, our teachers were being completely serious, and I bore my testimony in the middle of Sacrament meeting!
6. I have extended the invitation to baptism to a real investigator, instead of a fake investigator at the MTC.
7. I broke the shower in our apartment… the sliding glass door completely fell off of the track one morning! Sister Taylor couldn’t stop laughing at me. Luckily, it didn’t shatter into a million pieces, so the door (and I) are still in one piece.
8. I baked my first batch of cookies in New Jersey! The ward asked the missionaries to teach combined YM/YW on Sunday. Sister Taylor and I were praying about what we should teach them, and as soon as we closed the prayer, she looked at me and said, “FOOD. We need to bring them food”. I’m pretty sure that was inspiration straight from heaven.
9. The Lord blesses us with miracles every single day. He protects His missionaries.
10. I have been able to feel a (small) portion of the love that Heavenly Father feels for His children, and it is wonderful. Heavenly Father loves us so much.
11. We committed 3 people to baptism in 3 days. Did I mention that Heavenly Father blesses us with miracles?
12. I saw the light of Christ in an investigator’s eyes as she bore her new found testimony of the restoration of the gospel and of the Book of Mormon.
13. I have made a million mistakes.
14. I feel a huge sense of responsibility for the salvation of our investigators, ward members, and myself.
13. I am realizing just how incredibly inadequate I am as a missionary, but that doesn’t matter. The Lord as called me to me to do this work, and I have faith that He will qualify me for it.
We have had a miracle-filled, long week in New Jersey! There is so much I’d like to tell you!
On Tuesday, I was assigned my trainer! Her name is Sister Taylor, and I am pretty sure she is the most perfect, charitable human being I have ever met. The Lord blessed me with a wonderful trainer, and I am learning so much from her! She is from Florida, is 22, has only been out about 7 months (but they still called her as a trainer, because she’s that good), and loves missionary work. I have been praying for the Lord to help me to learn to love these people, and He blessed me with a companion who is a great example of Christ-like love and kindness. I love Sister Taylor!
We are assigned to serve in the Sparta South area. It’s out in the country, so it gets a pretty bad reputation here. All of the missionaries want to be assigned to the big cities, so when they heard I was going way out to the country, they all made fun of me and gave me sympathetic looks. But we love Sparta! In the mission world, Sparta is my “birthplace”, which means I am a true Spartan. It’s pretty cool. Our area consists of about 10 “townships” (which are mini-towns), and it is so beautiful and green here! The area we’re in looks like it came straight out of a fairy-tale – forests, rolling greens hills, ponds, deer, fireflies… it’s quite enchanting.
On my first night in Newton (the township where we live), we had an appointment with a new investigator. Her name is ________. When I first met ________, I was quite thrown off by her appearance and lifestyle. But the Lord has blessed me to be able to see her with “spiritual” eyes. _______ is one of the sweetest, most precious people I have ever met in my life. The Lord dearly loves _______. During that first lesson, we taught her how to pray. She had never said a prayer before, and it took her a while to understand how to pray. We invited her to say the closing prayer after our lesson, and she was so nervous! When ______ started to pray, the spirit filled the entire apartment. She gave the most simple prayer, yet it had so much power. All of a sudden, I saw ______ for who she really is – a beloved, precious daughter of God. The Lord loves _____ and He protects her. _______ has invited us over to teach her almost every night this week. Our lessons are very simple – primary style. We are learning how to teach the gospel in a very clear, beautiful way. On Saturday, we felt strongly impressed that Heavenly Father wanted _______ in church on Sunday, and that we were to do everything in our power to get her there. It took a lot of faith (and a few miracles), but she was able to attend church! A ward member picked her up and brought her. It was the most amazing experience to see _______ attending church. The ward was so kind and welcoming, and she loved it. She sent us a text that night, saying that she wanted to come back next week. It brought tears to our eyes. ________ is set to be baptized on August 23rd.
My testimony of our own divine nature has grown a hundred fold this week. I have learned to look with my spiritual eyes instead of my worldly eyes. It does not matter what someone may look like, what addictions they have, or what they have done. We are not our weaknesses. The Lord knows and loves every single one of his sons and daughters. We are all invited to come unto Christ and be perfected in Him. As a missionary, I have the privilege of feeling the love that He has for his children. It is changing my heart.
On Thursday, Sister Taylor and I set out to walk to the Newton Hospital to visit another new investigator. Her name is *****, and we love her so much. ***** was a HQ referral from the church. She has been in the the hospital for the past two weeks because of a few near-death experiences (and one actual death experience – she was declared dead for a few minutes, before she was brought back to life). When we walked into her room, she got so excited to see us and tell us what she’d been learning. She had received a Book of Mormon a few weeks ago before her health problems arose, and she has been reading it everyday since then! She spends all of her time reading the Book of Mormon, NT, OT, Pearl of Great Price, D&C, LDS.org – you name it and she’s reading it!
During our first lesson with her, ***** taught us about the restoration and the Book of Mormon, while Sister Taylor and I sat there beaming. She bore such a powerful testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith and of the Book of Mormon, and how it has changed her life. ***** practically invited herself to baptism at the end of our second lesson! She was waiting the entire time for us to extend the invitation, and interrupted Sister Taylor’s, “Will you follow the example of Jesus Chr-” with a, “YES! Yes, of course I will be baptized!” The Lord has been preparing her to receive the restored gospel for her entire life, and it is such a blessing to see her accept the it! She is set to be baptized on July 19th.
The Lord has blessed us with miracle after miracle here in New Jersey. He has protected us, filled our mouths with His words, filled us with His love, led us to the elect, and directed our paths. I know that this is the Lord’s work. He lives and He loves each one of us. I have been so blessed to be able to see His love change the lives of the people here. I love being a missionary, and I love New Jersey. I know that this is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and that through Him, we can do all things.
Please do me a favor this week: Go find a less active member of the church or an investigator. Stop by with cookies, invite them to church, sit next to them in Sacrament meeting, or go out with the missionaries. Members are so powerful in moving the work of the Lord forward!
I love you all so much! I am grateful for your prayers and faith.
Sister Cobb, of Sparta