I can't say this past week was super productive in terms of teaching. We did a lot of street contacting, had a lot of laughs and learned a lot of lessons. One of my favorite lessons I learned this past week was at the famous La Vida Real. Sister Ednis Smith is always a hoot and a half. I love her. This week we did some service for her by working in her garden and planting a hydrangea bush. It wasn't easy. California soil is definitely not the best. It was difficult to find a spot that was soft and not covered by roots of other plants; she has a lot of them. We finally found a pretty good one with some shade. I was given the shovel for some strange reason and went to work. I'm pretty sure I would've made you proud, Dad, with the physical labor I performed; skills you taught me! Anyway, this spot was hard to dig--super rocky, and still a lot of tough roots. I was about five minutes into digging when the lovely Sister Smith said "I think you should just quit." No statement has ever struck me so hard. Not necessarily just because she wanted me to quit digging, but thinking also about life generally. She wanted me not to work so hard, but let me tell you, I've never felt more motivated to dig a hole in the ground. I turned to her, smiled and said "Don't worry: I've got this."
With the help of my companion we did get it. Even though we dug into a PVC pipe in the ground, that didn't stop us. We started the hole farther away, cutting roots, digging out rocks, making the soil softer. And we did it. Don't ask us how long it took but perseverance and determination goes a long way. The best part was probably our sweat and the compliments that came after. Sister Smith was really pleased and impressed with our persistence. I think we have gained her trust. :) I left there so happy and so uplifted. Service does a lot for the soul and it allows you to learn many lessons. Do it. Today! Never quit. You'll come out a better person because of it.
We also did some weeding for a less active member. Just to shorten the story, there were a LOT of weeds and the temps were in the upper 90s. But it was the BEST! The look of satisfaction on that woman's face and her appreciation was worth all that hard work. I love it! Service rocks.
On a more humorous note, we were contacting a lot of potential investigators and less actives this week. Most of the time people weren't' interested and never answered the door. At one particular visit, the results were similar. No one answered. In order to get into the complex, we had to punch a code into a gate. We had the code and did this with ease. Apparently, however, the only way out is in a car. We did not have our car, because the visitor parking lot is outside the gated area. So we were kind of stuck. No cars were coming, no one was outside, and no one was leaving. We were surrounded by walls and there was no way out.
What was the lesson I just learned? Never quit! So I decided to climb that brick wall that stood in our way. I did. I climbed a brick wall and as I was climbing it and my companion was laughing at me, someone came out with a key. I awkwardly waved and smiled kindly as I dropped down from the brick wall, punched in the code, and opened the gate for my companion.
We all had a good laugh and once again I learned to never quit. There is always a solution with God's help. It was also again confirmed to me how important modesty is. You never know when you might have to climb a brick wall in a dress. I was very grateful for my long dress. Modesty ROCKS.
One of our investigators, Elijah, who is a cousin to our recent convert has a baptismal date of August 15th! This 12 year old is even more prepared than his cousin Arthur was. He's reading, praying, loves the Young Men's organization, and he's even reading the picture book version of the Book of Mormon to his little cousins. He's soooooooooo cool. God is so amazing and prepares the best people! What amazes me even more is though he has a lot of distractions around him with family members that aren't super great examples to him, he focuses. He's an amazing kid and I feel blessed to be able to teach him. I can't believe I've been able to witness so many miracles in a short amount of time at the beginning of my mission! All of this success is making me want to work harder and I feel like it's preparing me for the times when it won't be so successful and we won't meet a lot of people. I'm prepared to work hard and effectively no matter the circumstances. I will try to improve EVERYDAY. I would encourage everyone to do this.
One last lesson. I continue to work on my humility. I was studying with my companion one morning and we were discussing pride and how we don't want the approval of men, but we want the approval of God. We talked about learning to ignore judgments of man and just continue on doing God's will. And our gift will be eternal life. ETERNAL LIFE!! How cool is that? When you think about it, it's not that hard to do the will of God, and the prize is SO much larger than our efforts. Especially when we have someone like the Savior to catch us when we fall. I'm so grateful for the Savior. To know that while he was feeling everyone's pains and sins and illnesses, at point during that intense suffering it was specifically for me. Sister Whitcomb. He thought of me and thought about how much he loved me. I can never deny that love he has for me. I need to help others feel that love as well. The Savior has changed me and I never want to go back.
I LOVE YOU ALL SOOOOOOO MUCH! Thank you for everything you do for me. All of you really don't feel that far away--you're all in my heart. I love all of you!
The pictures are from last week. They include most of my district and zone.