Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Decent Week of Work. . .

Okay y'all, it was a pretty decent week.

First of all--I need to apologize because in my last email, I didn't finish the story about Molly! After being semi-bold with her, Molly still was hesitant and said she wasn't ready yet. So that's frustrating. We don't really know where to go with her...she's one tough nut to crack.

Our investigator Paulina (16) is GETTING BAPTIZED ON JUNE 25TH!!!!!! We had an awesome church tour where SHE told US that she was ready and everything just lined up so perfectly! Seriously, she is so solid. She's been going to early-morning seminary and stuff for the last week and came to church yesterday, and just everything is awesome. Awesome.

We also were able to go to the temple this week and I think I almost cried. Actually I did cry when I saw my pal Sister Fuller from Snellville working there--what a happy reunion. :) Anyway...I started taking this tiny journal into the temple with me to write my thoughts in while I'm in the celestial room and it has been amazing. The thing that stood out to me the most this time around was just how much God's plan allows us to have JOY and fulfill the measure of our creation. Man, the word JOY just popped out so much, it was nuts. :) Next time you go, count how many times you hear the word "joy" in the session, and pay particular attention to the context! You'll leave feeling THAT much better. I could go a lot deeper into what i actually learned, but I'm sure that would just bore you and I don't really have the time for it haha. 

Faith did not get baptized this past weekend. I'm still not even sure what happened. The morning of the baptism, I got a call from the AP's saying that it had been cancelled and that was the end of it. Man, that was a really long day. However, I was blessed with a really special experience following the phone call. Faith is something else--to quote Sister Howell, "she really lives up to her name". She is one of those who has truly, truly been prepared by the Lord for the gospel, and for me to find out she wasn't going to be baptized was pretty darn hard because i know how ready she is. After the call, the tears started to flow and as I sat there feeling sorry for myself, the Spirit whispered to me that I needed to just get down on my knees and pray. But I didn't really know what I needed to say. As i knelt down, I started to pray for Heavenly Father to help Faith feel peace, and for the Snellville Sisters to be alright because I was sure Sister Howell was feeling pretty lousy as well. It was a really simple prayer, but immediately afterward, I felt this overwhelming sense of peace and humility wash over me and I knew that it was all going to work out and that God had a bigger plan for her. The enabling power of the Atonement is a beautiful thing. :)
That morning, i had a super awesome personal study about this that continued to bring me peace. Here's the sweetened-condensed version:

Last Monday, my dear friend Brother Davis from home sent me an email that prepared me for what was coming-- "Whenever you're about to do something amazing in life, especially regarding your relationship with Heavenly Father, Satan will try to stick his grubby little hands in your business and mess things up.
"HOW TRUE THIS IS. I've seen it way too much in just these 8 months!
Some examples:
-Joseph Smith in the sacred grove: JSH 1:15
-Moses  after he spoke with the Savior: Moses 1:12
-Jesus Christ himself after his 40 day fast: Matthew 4:1-10
No matter what though, in each of these cases, Satan's antics were defeated by relying on the Savior and His Atonement. 

Some of my favorite scriptures were brought to memory as i read this--
D&C 123:17 "...Let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power, and then may we stand still with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God and for his arm to be revealed. "
John 16:33 "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer-i have overcome the world."

When we live the Gospel of Jesus Christ JOYFULLY, and do all things in our power, we are able to see how His hand was in our lives during those difficult times when Satan was trying to win, and understand that it is only through the Savior that we have already WON and have peace! Satan is doing all that he can to keep this work from progressing. Much like Joseph Smith, "the adversary is aware that we are destined to prove disturbers and annoyers of his kingdom. Else, why would the powers of darkness combine against us?" (JSH 1:20). Satan has already lost the war--so why should we be sad when one thing doesn't go right?

I promise you that as you rely on the enabling power of the Atonement, and "do all things that lie in your power" when trials come, you will find that our Heavenly Father wants nothing more for you than to succeed--all you need to do is accept the Atonement by living the gospel (having faith, repenting, keeping your covenants and JOYFULLY enduring to the end through your obedience to the commandments). Turn your life over to God and "have JOY therein!"

"Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that he can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, life their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends and pour out peace." 
-Pres. Ezra Taft Benson

I think that's enough for today. :)
remember that God loves ya lots.

Sister Lawson

Monday, May 9, 2016

PTC Week 2 (Peachtree City)

Gaaahhhhhh Mother's Day was the bomb. I missed y'all as soon as I hit that "end" button. But it's fine! Because only 10 more months til we can hang out again non-virtually. :)

First off, AWESOME NEWS: Remember Faith from Snellville? She's 15, had been taught in Illinois for 2 years, basically already a member...yep, her. I just received word that she's getting BAPTIZED THIS WEEKEND! How awesome is that?!?! The answer is: REALLY AWESOME. We're in the process of finding me a ride so I can head up there to Snellville (which I'm crying about because #excitement) for the baptism, but yeah. I'm pumped. Faith is really something special--me, her and Sister Howell just really connected I feel like so I'm excited for her!

Week 2 in Peachtree City was pretty decent. The transition has been so much easier than I thought it would be, surprisingly. After spending 7 months in the last place, I was really worried that I'd majorly struggle. So far, I am doing really well with directions and can already get myself to church without a GPS so that's a major improvement! (Dad, you won't believe it--I'm GOOD at directions now!). The ward is cool, the culture is cool-ish, the area itself is cool...the only thing that's been a struggle for me has been just feeling at home and feeling a real love for the people in the area. I love most things about this place, it's just that I can't quite get settled in. I feel like I'm still on an exchange or something and will only be here for a few days haha. it's weird, I don't really know how to describe it. I guess I just feel disconnected from everyone and everything... But I keep forgetting that I haven't been here that long so I need to not be so hard on myself for being distant. It's just so different and I don't really know how I fit in yet. I'LL GET OVER IT THOUGH. I can see myself gelling in the future, it just hasn't happened yet.

Earlier this week, we had a really powerful lesson with our 16-year-old investigator Molly and her dad who is a member. (**sidenote: Gahhh she reminds me of my friend Grant from USU so much and it really freaks me out sometimes..they have the exact same personality!).
Here is the background info on Molly: She's the only non-member in her blended family besides her Mom and Grandma who are both Catholics by tradition, and don't live the religion whatsoever. She is deciding between Mormonism and Catholicism, and is leaning more towards Catholicism for whatever reason. We still are not even sure why.
Anyway...we had this lesson with her at the church that ended at the baptismal font and at the end, we talked about baptism. Now, throughout the whole lesson, Molly would say things like "I believe the Book of Mormon is true" or "I did the reading assignment" or would answer the questions we asked her with the "perfect" answers. You'd think she really had a testimony! But when we talked about baptism at the font, she was really hesitant and kept saying "I'm not sure if that's the right path for me, but i don't really know what i want right now" and completely avoided giving us a straight answer.
[Being a missionary has really made me hate passive-aggressive people, and I could tell she was holding something back.]
Finally I was just like "Molly, right now i'm going to be Brenna, not a missionary. *takes off nametag*. I'm tired of hearing you beat around the bush and not tell us what your real concern is. Right now, I want you to tell Brenna what is truly on your mind, and not tell us what you think we want to hear. You are holding yourself back from the blessings of being a member of the Church because you won't let us help you and you are denying the spirit that I know you are feeling right now. Why won't you be baptized?"
Haha I didn't even know i had it in me! At that moment, I was able to see just how far I've come as a missionary. 8 months ago, I would have never been able to talk to someone like that with the boldness or love i had in that moment for God's precious daughter Molly. The mission truly does change us! And I'm not even half-way done changing! :)

I'm really just so thankful and blessed.
And out of time. :)


Peachtree City: "The Bubble"

Sooooo this last week has been one of the longest of my life, but also not that bad.
As you all know, I left my home in Snellville this week (which was a lot harder than I thought it would be) and have moved to a lovely place called Peachtree City!

Here are a few random facts about the Peachtree City area:
1. About 50% of the ward is made up of one super connected family. They are all named Clarke, or have been a Clarke at some point in their life, until they got married and took a new name. I think there are at least 7 Clarke families on the ward roster haha.
2. The area is about 3 square miles big (small). This means the ward is basically a Utah ward because it's so compacted, and probably 80-90% of the ward is totally active. As a missionary, this is slightly difficult but that's alright.
3. This is one of the richest areas in the mission. Also slightly difficult as a missionary, but that's alright.
4. EVERYONE RIDES AROUND IN GOLFCARTS. Everyone owns a golf cart too. You think I'm joking but I'm not. The whole town is laced with trails all over for golf carts, not for bikes. There are even golf cart signs instead of pedestrian signs. Crazy. It's kind of cute but really weird at the same time haha. I've been on at least 3 golf cart rides already this week and IT'S AWESOME.
5. I am one of only 2 sister companionship's in the whole mission that rides around on bikes. So therefore, I am going to be much o buff and in shape this transfer which is exciting. However, I have been sick with something weird this week so the bikes have been a bit of a problem.
6. Everyone in Peachtree City literally refers to the town as "The Bubble".
7. I have talked to one black person the whole week. This is also weird.
8. We are currently teaching 2 fifteen year old girls (Molly and Paulina....I've only met Molly so far and she's so cool!) and yet again, it's so weird to me because no matter where I go, I can't escape the youth-aged girls hahaha.
10. We are staying in a 4-man apartment and it's SUCH A PARTY.

Fun facts about my companion, Sister Leyba (lay-buh):
1. She's from Lehi, UT
3. Her personality is kind of a mix between my cousin Hilary, my roomie Brenna From Kansas, and a Disney Princess.
4. Overall she's just way awesome and hardcore and sweet and kicks my butt on the bikes, and makes me breakfast and cute notes and is overall a more Christlike person than me in every single way possible. YES I LOVE HER!

I'm sorry y'all, i don't really have much else to say or much more time!

Shout out to Snellville for being cute and stuff...love ya and miss ya!

Sister Lawson

1. Selfie with the Cahills on the last night in Snellville :(
2. Me and compy on a golf cart ride. :)
3. The golf cart signs
4. Bike fun
5. Post-rainstorm riding
6. Our friends saw us out riding bikes on the streets!
7. Our cute investigator's daughter and her LEOPARD GECKO