Friday, July 5, 2013

Letter #38: what wild lives we lead

I feel like every time I come to write an email, I want to start out by saying, "This week was SO wild!" But then I remember that I thought that same exact thing last week. And every single week can't be wild, can they?

Oh yes. They can.

And this week was definitely a wild one. I went on exchange to a Spanish area again and that was fun. Even if I never actually get to be a Spanish missionary, at least I get to pretend every now and then.

Okay, so remember how the assistants came into Nova a couple transfers ago and split the area? Anyways, the whole boundary thing was never really straightened out. I kept feeling like I should discuss it with them, that it wasn't drawn out the way God wanted it to be...anyways, we finally had a comp study on Saturday about it. First off, I just love the assistants. There's Elder Gust, who is a cowboy from St. George, Elder Torres, who is a brilliant 20-year-old and organizational guru, and Elder Plowman, who we just discovered yesterday is Mr. Darcy in the flesh. They are so wild together and it's been fun serving around them. Anyways, in this comp study we talked about a lot of things, but eventually it got down to the boundary question. They said that they had discussed it with President and there were basically 2 options for us to choose from. Option one was to re-draw the boundaries in Nova and got it all squared away. Then, they told us to hold onto our seats for the next option. I don't know what we expected, but it definitely wasn't what they said! Option two was that Sister Steg and I whitewash the Ft. Laud West area and become the first sisters to serve in the Ft. Lauderdale ward. 

I would just like to point out how CRAZY this situation is. They gave us the choice to pick our area! Oh myyyy. As the assistants noted, this never happens. It just doesn't. Missionaries get assigned, they don't get the choice. As soon as they said the second option, though, we both just KNEW it was what God wanted. It was one of the strongest spiritual impressions I've ever had. I actually started crying because I knew that God wanted us in Ft. Laud ward and it was going to be so sad for me to leave Nova! 

During this whole experience, I was just struck by how much trust Heavenly Father has in us. The fact that He was letting us choose our area said a lot to me. I have always loved the part in Helaman 10 when the Lord is talking to Nephi and he gives Nephi power and promises him that he will have anything he asks for, because the Lord knows he won't ask for anything "contrary to His {the Lord's} will." I always wanted to be able to have a relationship like that with the Lord; that He would know that He could grant anything I ask for because my will would be so aligned with His that everything I ask for would be His will anyways. And this was one of the first instances where I actually felt like that. Just 2 days earlier, Sister Stegelmeier and I had been (jokingly) talking to the Ft. Laud ward mission leader and telling him that we were going to come to Ft. Lauderdale, take over the west area, and be the first sisters there. Afterwards, we both discussed how much we would actually love that opportunity. And Heavenly Father honored that request! 
I think one of the coolest parts of this experience was that I knew that no matter what we chose, He would completely support us in that decision. He truly honored our agency and allowed us that decision.  However, the Spirit confirmed to both of us immediately that we needed to be in the Fort Lauderdale ward; and I knew that no matter what I wanted or how much I loved Nova, that I needed to do this God's way. I know that submitting to His will is truly the only option for success and happiness, and after we made the decision, we both felt so much peace and relief! I haven't felt this peaceful in a long time. I know that Ft. Laud is exactly where we need to be. I'm so grateful for the opportunity that we had to make this choice because it really did teach me so much about my relationship with my Father in Heaven.

But we're both REALLY excited. Even though it is going to be hard to leave Nova unexpectedly, this is going to be seriously amazing. Plus, we both felt so much peace about this change! We went harvesting in our new area yesterday and it was MAGICAL. And even though I love YSA with my whole heart, I'm excited to be able to work with families.

It's so interesting to look back at the last couple of weeks and see how our Father in Heaven has truly been guiding us and preparing us for this change. We have really been struggling in our area...we've had a hard time finding, we haven't received many solid referrals, all of our investigators keep getting kicked out of their houses and disappearing, plus with our 2x/wk exchanges and living so far outside of our area, we just weren't being able to put in as much time to working it as we wanted. But through it all, we learned a lot about humility and truly learning to trust in Him. We had to put down a lot of pride and just admit to Heavenly Father that we truly needed help. We were so unsure about what needed to happen with the area and how we were going to successfully fulfill our purpose.

And then, after realizing on Saturday that He wants us to be in the Ft. Lauderdale ward, we finally understood how amazing He is! He was teaching us all of these lessons while helping us to separate from the area, all at the same time! It would have been a lot harder to leave Nova if we had been finding tons of solid YSA that were preparing for baptism. Obviously, everything was done "in the wisdom of Him who knoweth all things."

Also, to truly help you understand how magical this is, let me tell you a little bit about the Ft. Lauderdale ward and in particular our new area, known as "deepside".

a. We attended the Ft. Laud ward yesterday and the closing prayer was in Creole.
b. The ward has been requesting sister missionaries for a loong time. Apparently on Sunday morning, the issue came up in ward council again...someone asked, "When are we going to have sisters in the ward?!" They are going to be thrilled! 

c. Our area is referred to as "deepside." That should say enough in ITSELF!
d. The area was originally made by assistants, for assistants. Aka it has actually been referred to as "the best area in the mission" by multiple people.

e. There are approximately three white people in deepside.
f. I can't count how many times Elder Torres said, "Sisters, just make sure you're careful. Listen to the Spirit. Please be careful." {he's referring to our new area. oh yes. this is REAL LIFE! i'm working in deepside!}

g. Ft. Laud West is one of those areas about which people said, "They would NEVER send sisters there." Even I am guilty of saying this. ;)
h. We already have a dinner appointment for next Sunday to have some home-cooked jerk chicken!

If you can't tell, I am SUPER excited. Even though the area is relatively small compared to my other areas, it is dense and full of apartment complexes packed full of people waiting for the gospel!
So this change is effective immediately...mid-transfer whitewash, pretty wild. We're still kind of keeping a foot in Nova...we're going to attend the branch until the end of the month and transition out just in time for transfers, when they'll call a new set of sisters in to serve with the assistants there. We'll keep working with the investigators that we have but start focusing most of our attention on our brand spankin' new area.


sister Dougal

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