This was a very busy week! Here is a day by day play by play. (Everything is amusing when you are a missionary!)
Monday - We went grocery shopping at Walmart and were able to stock up on some of the necessities like make-up and deodorant. It is the simple things in life, like new mascara, that bring me daily joy. We had an amazing lesson in which she said she is leaning toward believing the Book of Mormon to be true! We invited her to church on Sunday - she said she couldn't come this week because of the Super Bowl, but that she'll be there next Sunday. We have another lesson with her tonight! We then had a quick lesson with Farah about the Priesthood and Priesthood blessings. It worked quite perfectly because I had asked the Elders for a blessing for a migraine that had been bothering me for a week now (and thus bothering Sister Wilcox) so we asked them to come at the end of the lesson so that Farah could experience one and hopefully she'd ask to have one herself. (She eventually did) It was an amazing blessing and my head stopped hurting immediately. This seems to be a monthly occurrence for me on my mission. I am so thankful for the power of the Priesthood to heal and to give comfort. Farah then got to stay for FHE. She is doing so well!Tuesday we talked more about faith in District Meeting. We also talked about an area wide fast on Sunday. All the missions and stakes in the North America South East Area fasted on Sunday for missionary work - our mission specifically fasted for faith and to become the prepared missionaries that the Lord will lead the prepared people to. I became even more excited about it.
Tuesday we had two lessons fall through so we went to campus and ended up having an amazing experience! There was a traveling preacher, Brother Micah, on campus yelling at everyone. He was telling them that they are all going to Hell and that they all hate God. He said that he was no longer a sinner, that football is a sin because it is violent. He even said that Bobby Bowden was going to Hell. I thought they were going to kill him when he attacked their beloved football coach. It really is sad that he thinks this way, but it led to some great teaching opportunities for us. A girl named Amanda asked us if we were Christians and if we were with him. We responded yes and NO respectively. We explained that we're missionaries, sometimes called 'Mormons' and we got to tell her and her friends Megan and Josh that God loves them and that while He doesn't want them to sin, they can repent. We talked about the Book of Mormon and the Atonement. Brother Micah especially hates homosexuals and Jews. We had the chance to talk to several people and explain that while we don't support homosexual marriage or actions, they have agency and the inclinations alone doesn't make it a sin. It is the actions, just like it is for heterosexuals, that make it a sin. We even have a new investigator, Dan - or Sparkles, who is interested in what we believe. It was a completely unexpected day and much better than we could have hoped for. We had to leave campus to teach a lesson to a less active that another set of Elders found, Madisen. She hasn't really gone to church since she was 8, but she is reading and praying and knows the Book of Mormon is true. She understands what we teach her and desires to learn more. It is really great to get to teach her.
Wednesday it was raining so Brother Micah didn't show - we were there though. We did some research on lds.org so that we'd know exactly what the church teaches about homosexuality so that we can better teach. It was really helpful and very uplifting. It eventually stopped raining and we contacted people on campus. I had an interesting conversation with Frank, a man from China that is here for six months doing research in finance. He asked me about debt and my experience in it and I told him about the counsel of the Church to stay out of debt and the blessing that has brought. When I had answered all of his questions he allowed me to talk to him more about the church and the Book of Mormon. I was able to teach him a full first lesson :) We had a lesson with Kiley, a girl whose New Year's resolution is to come back to Church. She knows just enough to be dangerous, so it is really good that we are teaching her and that she is able to feel the Spirit testify of the truthfulness. We were spending the last bit of the day on campus when we ran into the Elders at a fountain that had been bubbled. It was a much needed lift for all of us as we've been struggling in some areas of the work. The Lord answers prayers in many different ways.
Thursday we spent more time on campus with Brother Micah. We taught nearly two dozen people! Sparkles (Dan) was contending with Brother Micah and when we greeted him Brother Micah said that it was interesting how well the Mormons get along with the gays. We responded that we like to get along with all of God's children. He didn't hear us, but several of the people around us did. After we left for a dinner appointment the Elders said they overheard Dan telling people that they should talk to Sister Wilcox and Sister Short, who isn't very short, because we knew about love. I love the gospel! It really is a message of love, hope, and happiness. I can't imagine a message of anything else.
Friday morning we had a lesson with Farah and we talked about several of the commandments. She said she is going to miss sweet tea, but she committed to live by all the commandments! She even said the closing prayer- she hasn't ever prayed in a lesson before. It was powerful and she really was speaking to her Heavenly Father. I loved it! She also asked if she could receive a blessing on Sunday! She is growing so much and so quickly! It is only a month ago that she even heard of the Book of Mormon, two weeks ago that she started to really pray to her Father in Heaven, and next Friday she is going to be baptized. I am so thankful to have the chance to see her progress from start to baptism. It is such a blessing!
Saturday we had 3 lessons at 10, 11 & 12! Jacqueline came with us to all of them. At 10 we had one with Kalee, Jerika & Cora. Kalee was sick and Jerika was sleepy, but Cora was really excited. She expressed that she didn't want to be baptized or something like that until she was ready to be faithful. She didn't want to do planned repentance or anything like that. She may take some time to gain a testimony, but when she does she will be a powerhouse! Jerika was really sweet and poor Kalee was sick as a dog, but they all agreed to read from the Book of Mormon. We had a lesson with France, but she wasn't home, so we talked to her non-member cousin briefly. We had another lesson with Madisen and then we talked with Jacqueline for an hour or so about less actives (she is the Relief Society President). We began our fast as a mission through a conference call and then attended Jon's baptism. He came to our Christmas Eve Celebration and didn't really talk and wasn't very happy, but now he is well groomed, stands with good posture, and talks with people. It is amazing to see the change the gospel makes in people's lives.
Sunday was amazing as usual. Farah asked some great questions about the Sacrament and about testimony meeting. Her blessing was powerful because her faith is so strong. She loves and trusts in Heavenly Father. We broke our fast via conference call again - it was amazing to be so unified as a mission. This morning we received our first media referral. A meaningful fast is powerful!
I love you all!