Thank you for the emails - sounds like Easter was a good one. Sounds like Rachel had fun at the prom - my senior prom was at the Winery too, and it was way sweet - for 2 reasons: whoever thought of doing dances outdoors was a genius because you get so much less sweaty and gross, and therefore at the end of the dance I still felt great and was thinking "It's over already?" and also the lights and stuff were cool - it felt like a Jane Austen era dance. The only thing I need to complete the experience is to have one of those brightly colored striped suits with white pants like Bert in Mary Poppins when they jump into the chalk picture.
Well, this prep day has been a little different - we haven't done our studies yet and so I feel a lot less spiritual, hopefully it doesn't show in the email. We went to the Easter Pageant 6 times, it was pretty cool. We either took investigators, recent converts, or just worked it (walked around trying to find people to teach). I like it more and more the more I saw it. It really made this Easter season special for me, so much more Savior-oriented than Easter Bunny and candy oriented, which of course is the point!
This week went pretty well for us, our numbers were better - especially now that we have two investigators with dates! D. set her date for the 23rd. She seems pretty happy, hopefully she can keep improving (she's been having trouble with the self-discipline necessary to read scrips and pray every day - which is essential to daily conversion of course!) We had a lesson with T. on Monday, and after answering questions and starting to explain the blessings of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost, he basically asked to be baptized! He is such a stud - he really thinks about things and is just so in-tune. He asked us about faith & testimony vs. physical scientific proof, (pertaining to if the church was true) and he knew and believed in his heart the answer better than most kids raised in the church. We were able to get D. and L. to the Easter Pageant, and they both liked it - hopefully we can get everyone progressing towards Christ!
So we had a lesson with S. and he taught us how to do a move in card magic, so now is the time to practice. He said it took him a year of practice to get it down, and that he got blisters from practicing it. No lie there - the top of my pinky started to feel raw after just two days! So I slowed down a bit but we'll keep going until we can put Chris Angel to shame! (not really..)
It is pretty funny how I just feel like my mission is my spiritual school. I work hard everyday and learn something every day as well, including very pivotal things in my outlook and perspective on things. My mission has been a very humbling experience as well - looking back I've realized I've been way, way too much of a prideful person, and at the same time I realized that that pride was completely misplaced. The best analogy I can use is the fig tree that Christ cursed - all looking like it has all the fruits under the summer leaves but really being bare underneath. And that has been part of my new focus on my mission - relying on the Lord. I can honestly say that I have worked my fanny off on my mission, I have no problem saying that truthfully. But I've realized that, while that is good and very necessary, that I haven't been able to have my efforts blessed by the Lord because if He had I wouldn't have said (for example) "It was because of my efforts that [so and so] was baptized..." I realized this when I read a verse in the Book of Mormon. Luckily, I was able to hear the message.
Then, at the very end of the week we were riding down the street at like 8:30 pm (so only 30 min left before we had to be in our home) and we saw three people walking a couple dogs. I had the same excuses come into my head as always (I've learned how to combat most them, but it only works if I have the right attitude) but then I decided to listen to the Spirit, and I felt good about talking to them. Satan put as many fears and excuses into my head as he could, but then I remembered that if I was really relying on the Lord I would obey every command even if I was scared of consequences. So we stopped and talked to them. They were members, but we might be teaching one of their less-active daughter's friends (the daughter was one of the three, actually) who will most likely be moving in with them. That was the first time on my mission that I actually got a referral out of anybody I talked to on the street. And it was only because the Lord willed it - I had nothing to do with the outcome.
"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me" Psalm 23
PS for the missionary newsletter:
A paragraph for the Quorum and other 5th Warddiors? (I thought a combination of "ward" and "warrior" would look cool, but I guess not...) If anything I'd like to thank everyone in the ward - I know that the quorum has affected me in more ways than probably anything else, except for my family (and hopefully the Savior). For Alma Academy, I disliked the idea that we would be picking our "quorums". If you had given me all of the first picks I would have just chosen everyone in the ward. (I think Jordan still has hard feelings against me for not drafting him - Despain just got the jump on me!) Just remember that part of the white handbook - how our time where we can serve the Lord completely is extremely short, do everything you can to make the most of it, and never give up or stop relying on the Lord.