And the Spartan Sisters are at it again!

September 8, 2014

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We took this picture during weekly planning. Weekly planning is such an awesome experience. We get to spend three hours every week with the Lord, planning how to help his children in the coming week. It’s always a revelatory experience (and usually a yummy one… popcorn is our favorite weekly planning treat). We pray, plan, color, and dance (to hymns, and always during our breaks). It’s one of my favorite parts of the week.

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Dear all of you people that I love,

Greetings! Wow, it sounds like a lot has happened this week! Dad, I know you’ll do wonderfully in your new calling. It’s interesting that the Lord prompted me last week about it. I was in the middle of studies, and the thought “randomly” popped into my head that a new stake presidency was being called. My guess was Scott Rodgers as president (score!). It sounds like it was a really touching experience. Thanks for telling me all about it. I remember how you have always told me that whom the Lord calls, he qualifies. That’s definitely given me a lot of comfort as a missionary, and I know it’s true for you too. You’ll be able to love and serve so many people. Liz, you didn’t react at all to the news?! Come on, you were on the stand and everything! I was hoping for something a little more exciting. 

Mac! We contacted a Portuguese man a few weeks ago, and it was so fun! We spoke half Portuguese, half Spanish, half English, and half sign language. This week, we contacted a really sweet, old Portuguese lady, and we are going back to teach her on Wednesday! I don’t know if she’s really that interested, but we’ll see. It made me think of you.
 
Sparta is still wonderful. This will probably be the last week that Sister Taylor and I are companions, and it is so sad! The area is really starting to blossom, and the Lord is blessing us with so many people to teach! We would prefer to remain companions for the rest of our missions, which usually means it’s time to switch. The Lord never leaves us in our comfort zones. There is no growth there. The weather went crazy this week, and it was hot and humid. Gross. It felt like August, not September! Our walking day was pretty sweaty. We contacted this girl with a pretty cockatoo though, so it was worth it. Then on Saturday, the craziest thunderstorm rolled into Newton and it’s been chilly ever since! Brr! They are saying that this winter is supposed to be worse than last year (and last year was the worst winter they have had in decades). Winter is supposed to come sooner, stay longer, be colder, and have more snow than last year. Great. All of my favorite things. You can imagine my dismay upon hearing this. The people here have been telling me horror stories about how cold it is. I think they enjoy seeing the horrified look on my face. Apparently, there is no article of clothing that can combat the cold, and you should probably just stay inside from January until March. Ah! I’m going to freeze!

Our area covers about ten townships: Newton, Blairstown, Sandyston, Branchville, Lafayette, Hope, Green, Allamuchy, Knowlton, Andover, Andover Borough, part of Sparta, and Walpak. Sister Taylor and I have never been to Walpak, so we decided to go adventuring on Wednesday and see what’s up there! It’s in the corner of the state and borders Pennsylvania (P.S. for those who do not know where my area is, I recently learned that I am in the tippy top left-hand corner of New Jersey). Well, ha, Walpak has a population of 0. It’s a completely abandoned township. It was actually really funny… you can’t teach anyone if there aren’t any people to teach. We drove next to the Delaware River and waved hello to PA, which was really pretty (it looks just like NJ… go figure!). Now, the further north you get, the more country it is, and we were about as north as we could go. On our way home, we stopped to contact a random street just outside of Walpak, so our trek wouldn’t be a complete waste, and we met some odd ducks. It was awesome. This one guy we contacted was an animal whisperer. Apparently, he just has a way with animals and they are his true friends in this world. He’s friends with bears, alligators, snakes, foxes, hummingbirds, everything. I considered telling him about how I feel about animals, but I decided against it. I didn’t want him to form a bad opinion about the church just because one of its missionaries is less than fond of animals, ha.

Earlier this week, we got a head quarter referral, which was awesome. Head quarter referrals are people who put in their information on mormon.org and request a Book of Mormon. They are people who actually WANT us to come talk to them! How wonderful is that! On Thursday, we walked to the address of our head quarter referral to deliver the Book of Mormon and set up a return appointment. We rang the doorbell of the apartment complex and when the door opened, we saw this lady with huge eyes and crazy glasses. She took one look at us and exclaimed, “Oh! Mormons! COME IN.” We don’t usually have that affect on people out here. Normally, they shut the door or run away, so you can imagine that Sister Taylor and I were pretty excited. Her name is Stacy, and she is probably one of the coolest people I’ve ever met. She is extremely intellectual and loves learning about different religions. She was raised Christian, joined a witch coven once, converted to Judaism, says she has psychic capabilities, works a chef, and is now interested in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! She’d picked up a book written by Hebrew scholars who had proved that the Book of Mormon was historically true and real, and is interested in actually reading the book itself. She knows a lot about Joseph Smith, the Lamanites and Nephites, and all about the history of the Church. The best part is that she is genuinely searching for the truth. She wants to know the Lord’s will for her, and she is determined to read the Book of Mormon and pray to know if this is true.

On Friday, we went up to Sandyston to teach S____ and his family! The bishop’s wife and 10 year old daughter came with us, and she has already become fast friends with S______ girls! They are inviting his two daughters to Activity Days this week, and hopefully they’ll be able to come to church on Sunday. It is SO hard to get people to church here, because most people don’t have a car. However, we have one member family in Sandyston, so they might be able to take our investigators to church. We had a decent lesson about the gospel of Jesus Christ, and we invited S______ to be baptized. And guess what! He said YES! (insert joyful jumping, dancing, and cheering). His baptism date is October 4th, and we are so happy for him and his family. His daughters were off playing with the bishop’s daughter, so we didn’t get to invite them to be baptized. It’s okay though, because we are going back this week, and they love reading the Book of Mormon with their Dad and will most likely join him. S______ is trying so hard to bring his family together and let the Lord lead them in the right direction. The gospel really does have the power to bless and change families! Honestly, this is the Lord’s work. There is no way Sister Taylor or I have anything to do with it! The Spirit is what brings people to the gospel, not us. It is the real teacher.

 
 
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