Nov 1, 2011

assignment three: Burgess Falls

I don't even know where to begin with this area.  I was there for six months, loved almost every second of it, and saw miracle after miracle take place.  I will do my best to condense some of my favorite journal entries from that time period into a post that I hope will not be too long or tiresome!  Here's to serving with the Burgess Falls ward in Cookeville, TN.

Cookeville, TN...November 2010-May 2011

"I am in Cookeville!  And what a glorious place Cookeville is so far.  We live in a really old apartment on the square, but its cute and I really love it.  Everyone we've met so far has been awesome-so helpful and spiritual.  The second day we were here we had about twelve people from the ward call us saying, "we are SO excited to have Sisters back!  What can we do for you?  Let us know if there's anything you want or need!"  They are so awesome.  They are also really excited about missionary work and want to do everything in their power to help us out.  We feel like we are being extremely spoiled, but we're not complaining!  So far Sister Larsen and I have been invited to seven thanksgiving dinners.. we only said yes to four of them before we started realizing that our stomachs might explode if we accept any more.

"Saturday was really cool. We have been trying extra hard to be obedient and faithful so that we can have the spirit with us more fully and be led to the people God wants us to find. Saturday we saw some results.  After a morning of teaching some former investigators, we were driving past a street where Sister Larsen noticed a lady sitting on a couch on the side of the road.  She felt prompted to turn around and go talk to her.  As we pulled up, we noticed she was crying.  I rolled down the window and told her we were missionaries and asked if we could do anything for her.  She just broke down in sobs and couldn't even talk, so we pulled over and went and sat with her.  Through her sobs she told us that she has just prayed for the first time in ten years she had just prayed asking God if He really was there.  She asked God if he could show her some sign that someone cared about her, and then we pulled up to comfort her and help her get the place she needed to be.  She told us that we were the fastest answer to her prayers she'd ever gotten.  We gave her a Book of Mormon and prayed with her before she left and she said that when we prayed she felt something she'd never felt before in her life.  She was blown away by the miracle that had just taken place.

"Yesterday our friend Wendy came to church for the first time with her cute little boys, and they loved it!  We have been teaching her for about a month, and her faith is really growing.  She loves the Book of Mormon and the things the church teaches, despite the different doctrines she's been taught her whole life.  Damon is another person we're teaching, and basically we met him by a pure miracle.  We prayed and felt very strongly that we needed to be in a certain neighborhood, and the Spirit literally led us straight to his house.  He opened the door with a huge smile on his face and welcomed us in, and since then we have taught him 2-3 times, invited him to come to the Christmas party and to church on Sunday, and he is loving every minute of it.  He called last night just to say thank you and that "this church is bringing the light back into his life"  He loves the Book of Mormon and everything else so far.. its amazing.  I've never met someone so prepared.

"I think the Lord knows that I need an extra boost being away from home at Christmastime.  He has also blessed me by allowing me to help decorate 5 different homes for Christmas ( lights, trees, ornaments, all of my favorite things) and by giving me tons of chocolate from every direction. On Christmas Eve, Sister Larsen and I had our first baptisms here.  Two boys we have been teaching, Dylan and Zach, were baptized in the river behind their house!  Yes, they were baptized in a river on Christmas Eve.  It was freezing cold and we were a little nervous they would get hypothermia from the experience, but they both came out smiling and the ordinance was done beautifully!  What a wonderful Christmas present.

     I love it here.. I don't know if i have mentioned that. This week was kind of crazy but so incredible.  Because Damon, James, Wendy, and Nikki are all getting baptized soon, we had to teach a lot of important (and kind of stressful)  lessons this past week.  We talked a lot about the importance of the covenants they are making, and also taught them all the word of wisdom. All of them love their coffee (or tea or tobacco), and we were worried about asking them to give it up. But miracles are real..we have been praying like crazy for them, have gotten them all priesthood blessings, and lo and behold they have all three been keeping the word of wisdom since we asked them to!  If that's not a miracle I don't know what is.  They all have such strong faith and devotion because they have felt the spirit of this gospel and know that it is true and worth it.  I can't wait to show you pictures of their baptisms next week!    Nothing is better than watching these people who we've worked with and spent countless hours praying for finally take this step to come closer to Jesus Christ.  They are so strong and I admire them so much.

"I am so thankful for Sister Larsen and Sister Warwood.  They are so awesome.  I think the three of us are perfect together, we are a good balance.  Every lesson we've taught lately has been so powerful, and the spirit of God is constantly confirming that this gospel we share is true.  I have been struggling lately with some things from home, but my companions have helped me out so much.  Every time I feel lousy, all I have to do is talk to my companions or teach the gospel, and suddenly I feel at peace again.  Today they found another way to lift my spirits.  As we were driving home from Sparta for our lunch break, Sister Larsen told me she had a surprise for me.  She turned away from our usual route home and stopped at the Burgess Falls trailhead.  We spent our lunch break hiking (yes in our skirts) to the beautiful namesake of our ward.  Only a true friend would know that there was nothing that could bring me more joy than hiking to a waterfall in my skirt!

"Well, I am training again!  Sister Warwood and I will be staying here in Cookeville together, and we are training Sister Jasper from Alaska.  I am so thankful I get another transfer here! I have been out for nine months now, and can't believe how fast time is flying.  Our little trio is working out quite well so far!  I attribute it all to Heavenly Father; he knows I can only handle so much at one time so he's decided to step in and take over for a bit.  He truly is carrying me.  We have been working a lot with less active families in the church lately, trying to help renew their testimonies and bring them back to church.  I love seeing the light reignited as we share basic principles of the gospel, and then see the renewed motivation that accompanies that. We were also able to go to the temple for the first time with Wendy, James, Nikki, and Cordell.. and that was truly a once in a lifetime experience.  How I love to see and be in and feel the power of the temple. 'From small and simple things are great things brought to pass.'

"Basically here is what I have learned in the past few months: God definitely answers prayers and miracles do happen!  You just have to ask, have faith, work hard, and He will take care of the rest!"

1 comment:

  1. Just dont pray someone out of work next time lol


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