Hello! Mom, Sister Taylor and I took your advice – every morning, we look in the mirror and say, “It’s a GREAT day to be Sister _____!” It’s a bit silly, but we love it. It really is a great day to be Sister Cobb!
On Tuesday, Sister Taylor, Elder Walker, Elder Black, and I all drove down to Morristown for Specialized Training. New missionaries have Specialized Training during their third week in the mission field. I’m pretty sure that the main purpose of the meeting is to make sure that the greenies are still alive, somewhat happy, and still in the mission (they don’t want us running away!) It was a wonderful meeting, but it was extremely long. 5 hours. I was completely exhausted for days afterward! The Taggarts are wonderful. President Taggart has such a inspiring vision for this mission and how we can hasten the Lord’s work in New Jersey. He has been emphasizing faith and using our faith to work mighty miracles (because trust me, it takes mighty miracles to do the Lord’s work here. It’s hard, but worth it!) Sister Taylor and I have been praying for the Gift of Faith and the Gift to Work Miracles. Every day, we ask Heavenly Father to lead us to his children who are prepared to here the gospel message. We believe He will do it.
The Sparta Ward is the most eclectic ward I have ever attended in my life. I love it. It’s quite interesting, because everyone in the ward is a convert. I have yet to meet a single person who was born and raised in the church. Our Bishop has earring holes, almost everyone is tattooed, and several people have purple hair. It’s so cool! The people are hilarious too. I spend most of church laughing because they are just so funny! Everyone loves to share their testimony of how they came to know that the gospel was true. I love hearing their conversion stories, because they are all so different. It also really helps me understand out investigators and the experiences they are having. It’s also great because they love going out with the missionaries to teach lessons! We have an average of 108 people in church every Sunday and about 300 less active members of the ward. The ward boundaries take up 100 square miles, so it’s hard to find all of these people. However, we are determined to bring these families back into the gospel! We have been working really hard with less active members, and we have seen a some success. It’s wonderful. Our mission president said that re-activating a member of the church counts as a baptism. Baptisms are nothing, but converts are everything.
Our ward mission leader is the most interesting and hilarious person I may have ever met in my life. He is really dedicated to his calling and helping the missionaries. We are so grateful for him! We are also grateful for his pecan buttermilk waffles. Every Sunday at correlation meeting, he makes us these heavenly waffles for breakfast while we discuss our investigators and their needs. On Saturday, he and his wife invited Sister Taylor and I over to their home for lunch and to make pens. Brother ________ has a passion for wood work and making pens. It’s a really cool process. He helped me use a “lathe” (I believe that is the word…) to chisel my pen out of a block of cocobolo wood! It is such a beautiful pen. The entire ward asked to see it on Sunday (Brother ______ is well-known for his pen making talent). Also, Brother ________ is really talented with nun chucks. Every morning, he wakes up and practices with his nun chucks (eyes closed) while reciting poetry. He taught Sister Taylor and I how to use nun chucks while we waited for lunch! IT WAS SO FUN. I am a ninja warrior sister missionary.
On Tuesday, we were invited over for dinner at the apartment of one of our less-active members. She started coming back to church the week before I arrived in Sparta, and we have been meeting with her every week since then. She is so excited to learn about the gospel and strengthen her relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. This was the first time that she has fed us dinner, and it was so yummy! After dinner, she told us that she never signs up to feed the missionaries because she barely has enough to feed her own family. She never knows if there will be food in the house the next week. However, a few weeks ago, she felt the Spirit prompt her to sign up to feed us that Tuesday. She was nervous, but decided to sign up anyways. That week, she had enough food to feed us and her family. What a miracle! I was so moved by her faith and the miracle that followed. Heavenly Father blesses us when we exercise our faith in Him, even if we are scared and unsure.
What do you believe about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ that you have always known to be true and that no one ever told you? What is the foundation of your faith? One sister in our ward shared her conversion story with Sister Taylor and I last week. She told us that she believes that everyone has some belief in God that cannot be shaken and that that is the foundation of their testimony and conversion. Her foundation was that she always knew that God had a body of flesh and bone. Even though she attended another religious school that did not teach that, she always knew it was true. When she met the missionaries and they told her that Heavenly Father has a body of flesh and bone, her testimony of the gospel began to grow.
She asked Sister Taylor and I to think about what the foundation of our faith is. What have I always known to be true? It did not take long for me to realize what I have always had faith in. I have always known that I am a daughter of God. I know that He is my father and that He loves me. I love Him too.
This knowledge has helped me understand my purpose and my potential. It gives me confidence and courage. Last week, I was able to share this with our neighbor Sheryl. She is a really kind lady, but struggles with confidence and feeling loved. I testified to her that she is a daughter of God, and that He loves her. Her eyes lit up as she felt the Spirit bear witness to her that what I was saying was true. It was such a sweet experience.
On Saturday, Sister Taylor and I picked up a sister from the nursing home to go out and find less active members of the ward! We decided to stop by this one family and invite them to the Sparta Ward’s Pioneer Day Picnic next week. When we knocked on the door, the husband answered. This was a little strange, because he is always working. He came outside and we had a great conversation with him. We invited he and his family to the activity and to church on Sunday. He said that he and his family would try to be there, but it is challenging because they have 6 kids to chase around. Then he told us that he would really like to come back to church. It’s hard to make it because he used to work every Sunday, but he just got a new job that gives him some Sundays off! He told us that he knew the church was true the second he walked into the church. He felt so much peace there. Then he said, “I really want to be baptized too. I’ve taken all the lessons, and I’m ready. I just need to come to church!” Sister Taylor and I stood there in shock. We had no idea he wasn’t a member! I had to pick my jaw off of the floor. Well, good news for him, we can help him with that. We’re the missionaries!
This week was also a little discouraging because no one new wanted to talk to us. In order to find the prepared, we also have to go through tons of unprepared people. People slam their doors in our faces, cross the street to avoid walking near us, and lecture us on why our religion is false. My personal favorite was the lady that yelled from the upstairs floor of her home, “No one is here!” It took all of my self-discipline not to yell back, “Oh yeah? Well, no one is out here either!” However, I didn’t say that because it’s not very Christ-like. I’ve never had people try to avoid me like this before. It’s pretty rough. However, the Savior endured so much more. This gospel is true. I know it is. I love the Savior. He died for me. Through Him and His infinite Atonement, I can be forgiven of my sins and return to the presence of my Heavenly Father. I can do this for Him.
I love you! Be Jersey strong.