I love it!!!
I'm in your turf, Gabriella. Right in Chicago! I'm sorry I don't think I could ever get permission to set anything up with you, but my goodness, what a city. I am so excited to be here and the people are wonderful. I'm sure all the other areas in the mission are wonderful as well, but I'm pretty sure this is the best place to be. :) They call us "the Loop Hermanas." Also known as the Wilmette Warriors. Take your pick.
Heidi, so proud of you. I love all the pictures. Jonah, you too! I have such impressive siblings. :) I'm so excited to hear all your successes and you both look smashing. And mama, you did it, you're official, and I'm so happy for all the people you will get to help.
I don't know how to tell you everything I want to tell you! So I arrived in Chicago and met President and Sister Fenn. They are so solid. President Fenn speaks with power. We spent the day at their home, me and 33 other missionaries- the biggest group yet. I actually went and spent the night at the Sister Training Leaders' apartment because they couldn't house all of us at their house. The other missionaries are such excellent examples and everyone loves each other a lot. Then the next day we had some Orientation things and then I met my trainer! Her name is Hermana Williams and she is so wonderful. She hails from California and she is a lot of fun. She talks to EVERYONE. That is the area in which I need to work quite a bit. I'm so awkward and timid about approaching strangers. Working on it. So she is a great example and I feel like I've already known her much longer than a few days. We work hard and miracles are approaching. She's only been in this area for a few weeks because of an emergency transfer so we're both learning the city and we get lost frequently, but now we are getting the hang of things.
Being in the city is awesome for so many reasons. We get to walk everywhere, or take the bus or train, which means we have a lot of time to meet new people. It's incredible how quickly some people trust us and give us all their contact information. Others, however, and much more sneaky and they act completely interested and then give us false addresses and numbers (not surprising- "Hi, I'm so-and-so and we have a message about Jesus Christ..... So, what's your name, last name, number, address?" Jaja. Don't worry, we try not to be so creepy.) But that makes for some funny stories. We get so excited to go and teach someone we met on the street only to ride a bus for twenty minutes to find that it is not a real address at all. The burdens of not having internet access... Last week someone gave Hna Willaims the number to Pizza Hut. I was impressed that they had it memorized. But it usually leads us to someone else who actually does want to meet with us and then all is well.
The people here are incredible. Our ward just split a few months ago and we a bit sparse in numbers but the ward members are so loving and it's inspiring. One miracle we had this week was a referral from mormon.org. Her name is Elena and she asked us to visit her. It turns out her sister-in-law was just baptized yesterday, and she had heard a little about the Church and wanted to learn more. We walked into her house and she and her two daughters were simply beaming. They told us to wait because her mother-in-law also wanted to hear and was on her way. There was a powerful spirit with them. Then Hna Williams found out these were the family members of a family she taught in her last area- the woman who got baptized yesterday. She was ecstatic So at this point there was quite a lot of smiling going on in that room. We didn't have much time to teach so we left a brief message about prayer and gave them a Book of Mormon to read and asked them to come to Church on Sunday. And guess what? They actually came! And they loved it! They are golden. And they were made so very welcome by the whole ward. We didn't have to do a single thing. The bishopric, Young Women President, Primary President, and ward members just jumped right in from the moment they walked in the door and it was beautiful. We are excited to meet with them this week.
Okay, so Jose. I love Jose. He was also a referral and his heart is so good. He didn't come to Church yesterday and when we called him after he said he got called into work and we said, Oh, it's okay, and he said, "No, it's not okay. I lied. I said I would come and then I didn't!" He is eager to learn and we have another lesson with him tonight. We need to help him meet people in the ward so he will feel more comfortable there as well.
Members are crucial in this work. We are working hard to get all the members involved in sharing the gospel because that is when lives are truly changed. Most people aren't going to understand what the Gospel of Jesus Christ can do for them by talking to a stranger for a minute on the street, but it is far more likely if they have a first-hand example in the life of a friend. So all you reading this, SHARE IT. :) Your joy will be great, promise.
I love teaching. I feel happiest when I'm in a lesson with an investigator. It's also the only time I actually feel able to express everything I want to. God blesses me to be able to speak in those moments when I'm fully focused on helping another learn about Jesus Christ. Heavenly Father loves each of us so much and believing in that can give us the strength to choose Him above every other thing in our lives. I'm learning, I'm growing, I'm falling short, and then Christ makes up for all my mistakes. Mostly, I just feel grateful. He's making me who these people need me to be, even if it's not the easiest route. I love these people. I love that THIS is the work and the glory of God, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. What a God. Spread the love.
I love you all so much and I want to to know that I know this where Heavenly Father wants me to be. Thank you for all of your prayers and love! Thanks for the emails and pictures (I can't watch the videos, sadly.). Have a grand week and I'll talk to you...next time!!
Loves and hugs all around.