Oh my, I'm not even sure where to START. The last seven days have been so miracle-packed that I don't even think I have time to write them all down! At transfer meeting last Wednesday, President counseled us to make this week a week of miracles by going out and giving our all, and we truly took that counsel to heart and have reaped the blessings.
The miracles actually started on Tuesday last week, before transfers. Sister Gordon and I had been talking to someone on his doorstep and while we were talking, this guy in a truck drove by and was watching us. He pulled off to the side and approached us as we walked away from the door. He asked us what we were doing and we explained that we were missionaries. He asked what the difference between our church and other Christian churches was and we taught a mini-Restoration lesson right there. He was really interested and set up a return appt with us for a couple days later! He came to Institute (and even brought a friend) and we had an amazing lesson with him. Also, the best part? He is YSA with transportation! EXACTLY what we have been praying for. Definitely a huge miracle.
Each day brought us even more amazing miracles and every night Sister Stegelemeier and I found ourselves being amazed with the blessings we were seeing. On Friday, we went on exchanges and I was able to help train one of the brand new sisters by bringing her down to my area in Nova. We had an incredible day and I loved watching her get progressively more excited about missionary work over the course of the day.
The biggest miracle of the week happened on Sunday. On Saturday night, we visited Adam and committed him for baptism the next day. He had a baptismal date before and had been SO excited about it, but all kinds of things kept getting in the way. Satan was fighting hard to keep him from being baptized. We'd visited him Friday for the first time in about a week and helped him recognize this, as well as helped him sort through the things that had been happening to help him remember the Spirit that he has felt when we talk with him and when he came to church. Sunday morning we tried to round him up for church but he wasn't at home, so instead we talked to him on the phone. He told us that he was having a really hard time because a good friend of his had died the night before, but he was still good to go. We told him his ride would be by at 12:30.
Around 12:00 while we were in ward council, we got a text from him trying to back out and saying that he just really wasn't in the mood. We testified via text that coming to church would bring him peace and was the best place he could be right now. We didn't hear back from him and so we were holding our breath, praying that he would change his mind and decide to come. Our prayers were answered when he showed up at church just in time for it to start! We testified again and promised him blessings that he was going to feel God's love today at church.
Unfortunately, right at the beginning of sacrament meeting he left. When we noticed he was gone, we left also and circled the church looking for him. We couldn't find him anywhere! We couldn't spend too much time searching because we both had parts in the sacrament program. We went back in, hoping and praying that maybe he was just in the bathroom. At the end of sacrament he still hadn't showed up so we went searching again. We searched the whole parking lot, the park next door, all the classrooms and bathrooms...he was nowhere to be found. Finally one of the members let us know that he had gotten a ride home because he was just really having a difficult time. We were disappointed but we returned to gospel principles, planning to go see him after church. However, when we walked in, Elder Torres asked us what happened and we explained in a whisper the events that had transpired. He said, "Well, are you sisters going to go get him?" We thought about it and then at the end of gospel principles, we decided to pray. We did so and decided that we were not giving up until we had given our ALL. During this whole experience, I kept thinking about how when I came on a mission, I covenanted to give the Lord EVERYTHING. And after our prayer, we both looked at each other and knew we had to go find him. After all, neither one of us would have felt okay knowing there was more we could have done.
So, we quickly started racking our brains to think who could come with us to pick him up and drive him back to church for his baptism. We thought of the perfect person, Lance, but Lance hadn't even been at church that day because he was in Miami. The words, "Too bad Lance is in Miami," had barely escaped my lips when all of a sudden, Lance turned the corner and greeted us. We knew that this was happening! We told Lance that he needed to come with us to rescue Adam and that God wanted him to help us. He didn't even ask questions, he just said, "Okay" and asked if we wanted to come with him instead of using our own miles. So, we ran to relief society and grabbed one of the sisters so that we could ride in Lance's car. (Luckily, the Nova branch is ABSOLUTELY AMAZING and everyone was so willing to help!) We drove over to Adam's house and found him sitting despondently on his porch. We expressed our love to him and told him that we came to see him because we knew how much he needed to feel his Savior's love at this time in his life. Then we testified powerfully of baptism and how it truly could relieve the burdens he was holding onto. We utilized every tool we had (personal experiences, testified, promised blessings, re-identified the spirit, used urgency, and boldness). He was very back and forth but we were not giving up. We knew he needed baptism TODAY. Finally, the spirit pierced his heart and he said, "Okay, do I need to bring anything for my baptism?"
Long story short, we got him there and he got baptized and it was powerful. It was the most amazing experience to watch the change that came over him after he came out of the water. After the service was over, you could just see the difference in him. He was HAPPY! Happier than I've ever seen him in the last month or so. It truly was a miracle and I learned an incredible lesson. As we give the Lord all the we can, not holding anything back, He truly does make up the difference and miracles happen!
Oh, it was absolutely incredible. I have never worked so hard for a baptism on my mission but it was SO worth it!
Basically, it was an absolutely amazing week.
Also...this is an exciting thing...this transfer, they introduced a new leadership position in the mission: sister training leaders. It's a worldwide change that the Church is implementing. For those of you who are up on mission lingo, you could view it as having sister zone leaders. And....apparently God & President Anderson think that I am qualified enough to be one of them! Yes, they called me to be one of the first sister trainers. So Sister Stegelemeier and I both have this calling, which basically means that we have stewardship of all the North companionships of sisters (8 companionships). We go on exchanges twice a week and account with each companionship twice a week as well. Pretty wild, especially because they didn't tell me or give me any kind of advanced notice! When people get called to leadership positions, they just put it next to their names on the board at transfers...like next to your name will be the initials ZL or DL. It was the same thing with this. They put "STs" up next to our names and I was like...oh my goodness, does that mean what I think it does? Yup. So definitely a little overwhelming (a LOT overwhelming) but it's exciting! There are 6 of us total.
It's going to take a LOT of organization and planning on our parts...good thing we both have fairly yellow personalities...uh-oh. haha. No, it's going to be awesome. It's going to be a bit of an experiment at first, trying to figure out what works and the best way to go about things so that we can not only be good stewards of the sisters but of our area as well. I definitely have a lot more respect for zone leaders now, I will say that!
I feel very humbled (and a little overwhelmed) about being called to be a sister trainer, but I'm also so excited about the opportunity. I'm already seeing miracles happen and I know the sister trainer positions are inspired--not only as to who is called, but also the whole concept in general. I think this is going to be an amazing tool for helping our sisters become the most powerful and effective missionaries that they can be! I am looking forward to seeing the miracles that happen. I know it's making me into a better missionary as well, since I know that I have to be an example to the sisters in my stewardship. I am excited to be companions with Sister Stegelmeier in the amazing area of Nova and I know that the Lord is going to use us as His instruments to do great things!
(Also...we are having the time of our lives together. SO MUCH FUN!)
Also...tomorrow is my 9-month mark. Aka HALFWAY. Umm...when did that happen again?!?!?!