Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Out of the Ashes‏

Christmas week is a time we get to talk to everyone about Jesus Christ, especially down here in the south! It is such a special time of year and I am so grateful I got to spend this Christmas time away from home and really put into perspective the true meaning of Christmas.

Christmas Sunday we had a wonderful program. I loved it! I especially enjoyed seeing our recent convert, Bill, singing in the choir! :) (I may or may not have suggested he join!) There were some other fabulous musical numbers and we had exceptional Sunday school and other lessons that all focused on our Savoir, Jesus Christ.

On Monday we had P-day and were able to go to this store called Tubbs where I got my family some Christmas presents ... including a mini alligator head! I sent it off a little late but I hope they will enjoy their late Christmas present full of all sorts of southern goodies!
We were able to have dinner and a lesson with a family we tracted into that night! We ate gumbo and the family told us that they are looking for a family oriented church. The husband has PTSD and the wife has anxiety so it is hard for them to get to church.
But we can't wait to keep meeting with them and help them come closer to their Savoir!

Christmas Eve was wonderful! We did a service project for the Lewis family who I am always talking about! We raked their leaves and I couldn't help but jump into them.
That wasn't the best idea though, because the leaves were quite moist and moldy and I did not smell good! But... oh well. #YOSO     (you only serve once)

After we went and cleaned me up and febreezed the car, we headed over to dinner with the Cotton family! They are a family in our ward and the mom is from Sweden. We had dinner with a non-member family from Missouri who the Cotton's are friends with. Both family's fathers work on the air force base together. Bill also joined us and we had a great dinner with wonderful food and singing.

We met a family named the Green's while we were tracting and they have quickly become some of our best friends! They told us to come over after we were done having dinner, so we ran over to their house and shared a little message about Christ with them. Even though they are very devout in their Baptist faith, they are some of the kindest people I have met on my mission so far and they just love us.

On Christmas we got up and opened some packages from our families. My mom sent me the 12 days of Christmas, which was really sweet. There was something for me to open each day. Too bad I didn't know that, so I got to open them almost all on Christmas! Thank you to all the family and friends who sent me a Christmas card or a little package... you will never know how much it means to me!
After that, we ran over to the Simpsons to Skype our families! It was so fun and I felt like I was home for Christmas! But then we hung up and it was back to real life!

After calls home, our district went caroling for an hour! In that hour we were able to sing to people, make a few people cry and get some return appointments.
People would tear up when they saw us, and say "People just don't do this anymore!"
It was so cool to touch people's hearts and Elder Dalton made the comment that "angels must have been helping us sing because there was no other way we would have touched so many hearts."

We had Christmas dinner with the Crandell family in our ward. It was really amazing food, and they had a bunch of cute kids to play with. We stopped by Bill's house afterwards to wish him a Merry Christmas and went home to sleep!
The next day we had exchanges with the sister training leaders. I love exchanges and I learn so much from the Sister Training leaders!!!! We saw so many miracles happen in just that short day.

We were out running in the cold for exercise when a truck pulled up to us. We looked inside and saw our recent convert of 2 weeks ago, Bill, sitting in the car. His head and nose are burned and he doesn't have his glasses on.
Bill proceeded to tell us that his house burned down in the middle of the night. His space heater must have tipped over and started a fire. He woke up around midnight - barely in time to run out with only the shirt on his back. He ran to the neighbors and they gave him some pants and shoes. The fire department hosed the house down, but everything was burned and gone.

Bill doesn't know where we live, but he told his neighbor which direction we lived in. He couldn't even see! But the Lord led him to us, and it was a miracle that we were outside exercising that morning and he found us.
I cried when he told us what happened, but we told him everything would be okay and that the Church would be able to help him get through this!!!

Later that day, the Sisters and I went to go assess the damage.... but there is nothing left. We found a couple pages of his Book of Mormon and his Bible that were still a little legible though!

We read him the scripture D&C 121: 7-9 which reads:
"My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;
And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.
Thy friends do stand by thee, and shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands."

We felt the spirit and I couldn't help but crying as I looked at the ruins of ashes and charred wood that once made up a home. But we promised Bill that he can get through this and he can become stronger. He is getting a brand new start spiritually and physically. "Out of the ashes rises a phoenix!"
It has been amazing to see the ward jump in and help Bill since he lost everything in the fire. They have gotten him glasses, clothes, food, other things, and a place to stay for now. What a blessing this church is!

Some recently baptized people could look at this trial as a sign they weren't supposed to join the church. But Bill has instead turned toward the Lord in humility, rather than away in anger. He is praying for comfort. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. But Bill knows that the Lord will never give him more than he can handle, and he is going to rise out of the ashes and become even stronger.

I am so grateful this week for a wonderful ward family and the strength and faith that recent converts have in the gospel.

I am so grateful to be a missionary in these last days! I have made so many friends and loved people that I will cherish forever more. I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and I want you all to know I love you very much, and so does the Lord! I want to make you all proud, but I am also very happy I am becoming the person that I am. The Lord really works miracles in each one of us.
With Love,
Sister Brown

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