So! First things first. I got peed on by a dog this week. It was.....a fun experience :) bahaha. Next, I had a Peanut Butter and Jelly....cake. Yes, a cake. It was delicious! The Zumbrun family is so much fun. We had dinner with them again. My favorite quote from a story from them: someone asked their brother: "If you could have any superpower, what would it be?" he responded: "Immorality!!" his brother turned to him and said: ".....uhhh..you might want to talk to the Bishop..." ..... "bahahahha" (he meant immortality). It was really funny. :D Sister Colton and I couldn't stop laughing. They are just too fun.
Third, I had a GREAT birthday!!! I got packages from you all and it made it the bestest birthday. I must say, I felt loved :) And I LOVED Dawn's "200 things why I love you most" thing. I may have cried just reading #1 with the web song. Yes, I might sing that to myself out here when I can't fall asleep :) [and Sister Colton and I may or may not have eaten the red velvet cupcakes for breakfast the next morning...they were sooooo good!!]
I love you all!!!! It was great. I went to the Peacock's for dinner and they sang me happy birthday and everything. They are pretty much our family away from home. I love them!!
I have some exciting news though!! 5 baptismal dates for September!! Wahoo!! First is Wayne! He is progressing so quickly. he feels like he has finally been getting an answer from Heavenly Father that it is true! He likes the spirit that we bring, and reading in the Book of Mormon has really helped him come to know. He has been praying so much and constantly hoping to find out, and he is!! It is so hard when you have an investigator who is trying to know if the message you bring is true, and they pray and pray, but feel that they never get an answer. That is how he has felt for a while now. But he told us last time that he felt that God was telling him that it was true!! What?! Hooray! We are just so excited for him :)
Next, the Bowers family has a baptismal date! It is for Sept 7th. They have been working with the missionaries for quite some time now and they are ready to get baptized. So, really, we did no work, we just came in picked them back up as investigators, and they pretty much asked us to give them a date. It was GRAND!! They are so ready and so excited :) I can't explain how happy I am for them! We had a lesson last night, and they were just so much fun. They are starting to open up to us more and get comfortable with us as their new guides. I love this work! Even though, you go out day-to-day and feel like you are doing nothing, the Lord blesses you and as you look back, you realize all that you have learned and become.
I had a great exchange this past week with a sister named Sister Ward. She actually went home this past Saturday. Lets just say that I learned A LOT! She is an amazing missionary. She is a powerful teacher and is full of the spirit. I am so grateful that I got to spend just a couple of hours with her. I learned so much! But she went with me to our lesson with Shelby, which was great! In our lesson with Shelby, she really opened up. She is recognizing the spirit and wants to know more. We found out more of what she knows about the Church and were able to teach to her needs. We taught her a lesson to her needs about eternal families and tied it into the plan of salvation. She really lit up and understood what we taught. She even gave us a referral to her grandparents who are very catholic (and that is the last thing I thought would ever happen!). It is amazing to see how the spirit works. Shelby told us that she has definitely feels the spirit as we are with her. She told us that she understands why we need the Book of Mormon...she just gets it!! That is the power of the spirit. It helps them understand. If I didn't have the spirit, I would be doing nothing out here. Nothing would even matter. But, with the spirit, all things are possible. But, Sister Ward is such a Bold missionary. She tells people how it is, but in a loving way. She knows how to talk with everyone. She can teach people to their needs. It was just so great to learn from her! She chose to come up to us for an exchange out of all of the other sisters. The President asked her to go around to just a few sisters and she felt prompted to come to us. I definitely learned so much! I have so much more to do and become. But I am just going to take it step by step and the rest will work out.
I learned something really cool about grace this week. I learned it from the talk called "His Grace is Sufficient" by Brad Wilcox. I have had a difficult time understanding grace as a missionary. People here have a very different concept of it. They think that because Christ did everything for us, we can pretty much "sit back and enjoy the ride". They don't have to do anything. But, he compares the way grace works to a mother and her child with piano lessons. here is what he says:
"Christ’s arrangement with us is similar to a mom providing music lessons for her child. Mom pays the piano teacher. Because Mom pays the debt in full, she can turn to her child and ask for something. What is it? Practice! Does the child’s practice pay the piano teacher? No. Does the child’s practice repay Mom for paying the piano teacher? No. Practicing is how the child shows appreciation for Mom’s incredible gift. It is how he takes advantage of the amazing opportunity Mom is giving him to live his life at a higher level. Mom’s joy is found not in getting repaid but in seeing her gift used—seeing her child improve. And so she continues to call for practice, practice, practice."
When we do things for Christ, when we follow him, we are not paying him back. We are "practicing" or in a sense, we are showing our appreciation to Christ for his incredible gift. His grace can and will transform us if we let it. Something he also said in his talk really hit home to me. He said: "The miracle of the Atonement is not just that we can go home but that—miraculously—we can feel at home there."
It is an amazing talk!! If you haven't read it...read it. The Savior and His atonement...it is just incredible. We truly don't understand everything that the Savior did for us. And we never will. All we can do it try to show him how much we love him and appreciate Him for all he has done for us. We must forget ourselves, and do what he wants us to do. That is the only way to true happiness.
We had Zone Conference yesterday, and it was GREAT! Oh man. I love meetings. I know I am a weirdo, but I just love them! They get me so fired up and ready to go and conquer the world. Yesterday President Porter made a statement that brought me a lot of comfort. He said that I don't necessarily have to "want" to do this work. All I have to do is be willing and to do it. He made the point that even Christ, as he began the atonement didn't necessarily "want" to suffer all of our pains and punishment, but he was willing and he did it. We must align our wills with God's will. That is the only way to true happiness. Being a missionary has been so hard for me. I am exhausted every day. I have to push my self every day. I often just want to curl up in a blanket and watch a movie. But, I don't. I focus on WHY I am doing this. Missionary work is the work of Salvation. Because we have been so blessed to be members of this church, we have the duty and privilege to go out and share it with our brothers and sisters. I feel honored to be able to be a missionary now. I am learning to LOVE this work. This outpouring of missionaries is a fulfillment of prophecy. If you read in D&C 88:72-73. We are the Elders (or Sisters..) who the Lord is sending to "hasten [his] work". The prophecy that was made over 150 years ago is being fulfilled right now!!! And we are a witness to that. And I have the honor of being part of that force of missionaries. I just get filled with such gratitude when I think of it. I am truly humbled. The Lord allowed me to be sent here to earth at this time to be a part of the great work. He knows us, He loves us, and He wants the best for us. Sorry if I sound all preachy! I just get so excited when I talk about it. :D I just love this work!!!!!
Our dear Sister Kennedy (our Ward Mission Leaders wife) makes the BEST chocolate cake!! Today, she had us over and she showed us how to make the chocolate cake. It is sooo good. I will have to make it for you when I get home! It really is my new favorite recipe. mmmhmmm.
I also wanted to make you all aware that Sister Porter (the mission president's wife) has a FaceBook page for the mission! She posts LOTS of pictures on there constantly (namely, tons yesterday from Zone Conference). The page is called "Ohio Cincinnati Mission" So, look it up and you can get updated about things that are going on and find fun pictures! :D
I love you all! Thank you for your letters and your support! It means so much to me. I hope that you all have a wonderful week. I know our Father in Heaven loves us and watches over us. As long as you put Him first, everything else will work out. I LOVE YOU!!
Sister Emilee Brooke Farr