Monday, September 1, 2014

I Know That My Redeemer Lives

"Doing better than our best is doing our best with the Lord's help."
That hit me so hard. Sister Carroll and I were discussing 'doing our best' as we serve. And I said how I'm always working my hardest and doing my best, because that's how I was raised, I never half-worked at something, but always gave my best (thank you, daddy!). So anyways, we were talking about that. I mentioned because of that, I never feel like I didn't do the best that I could that day. But rather, looking at things positively and seeing how much we DID do that day. And then Sister Carroll said, "doing better than our best is doing our best with the Lord's help". From that, I learned that maybe I am doing the best that I can do by myself, but with the Lord, I can do so much more! And that's what I plan on doing. I will exceed my best, because the Lord will fill me up. (:

I've mentioned Laura Deal before, but I think it was very brief...
We met her in Little Rock at a park. She is from Camden, AR, which is about 2 hours south of here. An appointment we had scheduled fell through as soon as we got to the park to meet with her. So, we went walking and met Laura and her brother, Samuel. We discovered the Laura has been "investigating" the church since she was 7 years old, and she is now 15. Her aunt is a member, and she's been going with them. But, her parents would not let her be baptized. Anyways, we met her dad, so that it didn't seem like we were creeping on his kids. We discovered the reason why they were here-- Laura's mom just got surgery at the hospital and so they were here for a few days. And then that was it. Off we went.

Sister Carroll and I went to Subway for dinner, and 10 minutes later, Laura and her family walked in. We knew that was a sign. We had to get her number! So, we did. The next day, we asked if we could go to the hospital and say a prayer with her family. She said yes, so we went on over. The pastor of THEIR church was there and it was really awkward. After his prayer, and after they left, we hung around a bit longer to pray with Laura's mom (Samantha).

About an hour later, Laura texted and asked if we could have a lesson with her and her family. So, then we met her, Samuel, and their dad, Randy, at the church and taught the Restoration. Randy thought it was interesting and we think he finally understood.

A few days later, we got a text from Laura saying that she has "great news". She never replied, so we just expected to hear it from her on Sunday (since they were in town, they were gonna come to church). But, things didn't work out. Long story short, in Relief Society, we got a text saying that she's getting baptized! After the lesson with us, she asked her dad if she could get baptized. He asked "is that what you really want?", and of course, she said "YES"! He then said, "I guess you're old enough to make that decision for yourself".

She told us that she's getting baptized on the Friday, August 29th, in Camden. We tried ALL week to try and find someone that could take us there so we could be at her baptism, which we got permission from President to go to. Finally, on Thursday, Sister Stewart said she could take us!

(With the Deal Family at Laura Deal's baptism)
We took a two hour road trip to Camden, Arkansas for the baptism of Laura Deal. It was the sweetest moment ever. She has been wanting to be baptized for 8 years, and finally, it happened! Afterwards, she came over to us and gave us a hug. Tears rolled down her cheeks, and she was so grateful. It was a precious moment, and one I hold dear. She was my first baptism, in a sense. I am so grateful for the opportunity that Sister Carroll and I had to make a difference in that young girl's life. I know that the Lord puts people in our life for a reason, and the reason that we met them was so that we, as sister missionaries, speaking by the Spirit of the Lord, could say something that would touch the heart of her dad, and soften his heart.

After the baptism, I jokingly was saying to Randy that he's next. He actually didn't put it off. But rather, he said that he's thinking of it. And I asked if he's gonna start meeting with the missionaries. He's not too sure though. I hope that Laura's influence can be a good one for that wonderful family. I am beyond grateful for the time I was able to spend getting to know the Deal Family.

Side note: I realized that missionaries are kind of like hospice nurses. Hospice nurses prepare people for their death, and so do we as missionaries… But SPIRITUALLY. We are preparing people for death (: We teach people what they can know for themselves about what will happen after they die. We provide hope, and a sense of belonging. It's incredible.

Also, guess what I did?! I sang…. In church.… In Sacrament…. Yes. Crazy. I know. Sister Carroll, and a younger lady in our Ward, and I sang "I Know That My Redeemer Lives". Not the original Hymn version, but rather the one by Michael Hicks. Listen to it. It is powerful. Guess what else? There was a point in the song where I sang Alto, all by myself, and Sister Carroll sang Soprano, and the other gal sang a descant. Yes, I sang a part by myself. That never happens. But, I was able to do it because the Lord helped me. I know that with Him, all things are possible. It was a powerful song. As we were singing, I was looking out at the congregation, and the women were close to tears. It took all of me to keep myself together. I love that song. I love the testimony in it.

Another incredible experience happened this week...
For Ward Outreach, I went with a sister in the Ward, and Sister Carroll went with a different one, and then we go see less-active members and invite them to church and to visit with the missionaries. On this particular time, I went to try and see a less-active member named Terry, with Sister Stewart. However, we did not meet Terry, but rather an older woman named Jerry. She said that Terry used to live there with her but then stole from her and ran off. She proceeded to invite us in.

We learned that her parents are Members of the Church, but that she is a Methodist. I shared a bit about the Restoration, but then scheduled another time to come back.

Later, Sister Carroll and I realized that she visited Jerry before. She took them out to dinner, but then the sisters never contacted her again because she didn't seem interested. Going to the scheduled appointment, we were timid. We weren't too sure what to expect, so we didn't plan for much, and were planning our escape, so we would only have to be there for 30 minutes. But, the Spirit had other intentions.

We felt the Spirit soooo strong! I was trembling. I literally spoke the words of God, and as I did so, I spoke with power and conviction. I had no idea what I was saying. The Lord was speaking words through me… Words that touched Jerry's heart... She desired to learn more. She had questions. And the Spirit had answers. I was trembling so hard while I was a tool in the Lord's hands. It was truly an amazing experience.

That was the first time I actually was teaching to a person's needs rather than teaching a lesson. And that is something I desire to have happen with every appointment and with every person we talk to. And I know the only way that can be accomplished is through exact obedience. As I follow what the Lord wants for me, and the guidelines the Mission President has established, then miracles WILL happen. I have no doubt about it.

God is real. He is mindful of everyone. And He lives. I know He lives. I have felt Him in my life. I have experienced it. I spoke His words. I know they weren't mine. I know he directs His children today. I know that plans fall through so that His plans can happen. I know miracles happen AFTER the trials of our faith. I know that I have a loving Heavenly Father. I know that because of that, He sent His Son so that I can return to Him. I know that He walked this earth. I know that it is only through Him that I will live.

I know that my Redeemer lives.