Unfortunately I was being a space cadet this morning and I totally forgot my journal so I may not do the raw emotions of this week’s events justice. I’ll try my best.
So this week started out kind of weird because we went on exchange. It was a completely different experience than I had with the previous exchange to Lock Haven. My first exchange, I was really just excited to have a break from bus contacting and my companion situation which was really frustrating at the time. It was a relief to get away for a day, and it was really hard to come back to State College. But this time, I was actually not too excited to leave. I missed out on two amazing lessons, dinner at someone’s house that I was dying to go to, and I was starting to feel the nerves of missing out on what was potentially some of my last days in this area that I love. I still don’t know for certain if I will be transferred or not. Honestly anything could happen. But it may be my time. It was really hard to leave for an exchange.
But, in Lock Haven I was super humbled. The living circumstances of those in Lock Haven are much more characteristic of typical Pennsylvania. They don’t have too much to give, but they give all they have. We taught a woman who Sister Ferrin actually just taught to baptism for one of her recent convert lessons. Her name is Amber. She lives with two nonmembers. When we first walked in, they offered Sister Parker a porcelain doll to keep and send home because they remembered that she mentioned she loved them. I personally think porcelain dolls are just about the creepiest things that have ever been on the planet, but hey. We all don’t have to have the same interests. And Sister Parker was so grateful for it! So that was awesome. We also had dinner at this couple’s apartment who are less active. They literally have a one bedroom apartment… We sat on two chairs and they sat on their bed as we all ate dinner together. They spent all their food stamps on the meal that they prepared for us. Wow. What a different experience from State College. They were so sweet.
Also… When we were teaching Amber, one of the three 30 pound cats came up to me, put its paws on my leg, started licking my elbow (I was freaking out), and then…. NIBBLED MY ELBOW. AHHHHHHHH OKAY KILL ME. That kind of ruined the Spirit for me for about ten seconds until I could figure out how to shoo the cat away without anyone noticing.
All in all, the experience I had in Lock Haven was a great one. Sister Parker and I get along fabulously and we had very similar styles of teaching. But I did miss my area and I was glad to be back. I feel so at home here… Another reason why I’m probably gonna get transferred. Blah. The dynamics of missionary life, right?
Anyway, that was just the beginning of an amazing week.
So, on Thursday we had Elder Mervyn B. Arnold of the Seventy coming for a mission tour. But he made a special request to hold a fireside with the young adults in the State College area the night before. So, keep in mind…. This is a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy… and our teeny tiny little branch. I think about 30-40 people were there, plus the missionaries and President and Sister Topham. Elder Arnold did a whole thing about the nature of the Godhead and Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost and their specific roles and attributes. There was music playing and it was seriously amazing. I can’t quite describe the incredible spirit that was in the room. Then, he invited (keep in mind: invited, not asked) everyone there to take out their phones for ten minutes and write down all the names of the people we knew that were not members of the church. We had our investigators Luna and Anthony there and they wrote over a hundred names each. Luna was so engaged, it was awesome. Then, Elder Arnold invited the institute teacher, Brother Done, to offer a prayer and invited everyone to consider those who they had written down and put a mark next to anyone’s names that stood out. After that, he asked Luna who she had checked on her list.
Luna began to tell him about this man that she worked with who is not a member. Then Elder Arnold asked her what she was going to do to help share the Gospel with him. She proceeded to tell him how she had already invited him to her baptism that is coming up on November 2nd. As soon as the words rolled out of her mouth, Elder Arnold’s eyes lit up and he exclaimed, “You are going to be baptized! Wow, congratulations! I had NO idea you weren’t already baptized! I am so happy for you!” He just beamed with excitement. He was so thrilled. Then, the next person he asked was Anthony. The same thing happened. Elder Arnold had been so sure that they were both members. He was floored. At the end of the fireside, he asked Luna if she would be willing to pray to close the meeting. She was so nervous. She’s only ever prayed for us twice or so in lessons. But she said a beautiful prayer and thanked Heavenly Father for bringing her into this loving family of people and for leading her to the Gospel so that she could find the truth. After her prayer, she could help but bear her testimony to all who were in attendance at the fireside. Sister Hurdsman and I just sat there and wept.
THIS IS WHAT MISSIONARY WORK IS ALL ABOUT. It’s not about anything that Sister Hurdsman and I have done for Luna. This is about being the vehicle for the Gospel to touch a prepared soul like Luna’s. We didn’t find her on our own. We didn’t do anything to prepare her. We just do all we can to be obedient and have the Spirit with us and then miracles like Luna happen. Man. I was on FIRE. It was amazing.
After the meeting, Elder Arnold took Luna aside for about ten minutes and talked to her. Afterward, she showed us that he had given her his email and asked if she would write her testimony and email it to him. So… Our investigator just got a general authority’s email address? Okay. THIS IS NOT REAL LIFE. Except it is. And it’s awesome. 🙂
So, with that spiritual high I was ready to conquer the world. I was so pumped up to get out and go find more of the Lord’s children that he has prepared. And then, we had our mission tour and I just about caught fire. Man, Elder Arnold is a stellar man. He really knew how to bring the Spirit to the meeting. I am pretty sure there were about six different times in the meeting where he asked me to talk about the experience we had had the previous night with getting referrals from our investigators. He was so fired up about it, too. It gave him such a light when he talked about it with all the missionaries.
He also did something great. He gave us all a fresh start. He said that we could start new. He had us write down specific things that we’re going to do to improve ourselves and our missionary work. And holy mackerel. I am ready to get to work. I cannot express all of the emotions that were there in that meeting. But I can express how grateful I am to be a missionary. You just don’t get experiences like that in everyday life. Maybe you do, but I sure don’t. I feel so edified and uplifted and I’m ready to hit my six month mark strong. (By the way, can you believe it’s almost been six months? These things FLY.)
I hope everything’s going well at home. I really sincerely think about all of you and pray for you on a regular basis. There’s a lot of things I miss (i.e. Mountains, naps, Cubby’s, music, etc.) but it is all so worth it. I have a goal this week to live HERE AND NOW. I tend to look toward the future too much. I love it here. And I have such a short time to dedicate all my time and attention to the Lord. I can always improve upon that. But I’m going to work on it. I’m doing my best to not be too crabby in the mornings and to shake of the mid afternoon sleepy eyes and GET. TO. WORK.
This is an incredible time in the Church. But we are ALL apart of it. Missionaries cannot succeed without members. I hope everyone is remembering Elder Ballard’s invitation to reach out to someone before Christmas… And that by doing so, millions will feel of the love of the members. (At least I think it was Elder Ballard). That is us. Nobody is exempt. Pray for missionary opportunities. That is really what this life is about. I wish I had realized it sooner. And I wish that I had realized that missionary work isn’t always just inviting a friend to sit with the missionaries. But it is loving, bearing testimony, calling back the lost sheep, home and visiting teaching, and serving your fellow children of God. Man. What an amazing time to be on earth! We have a great work to do.
I love you all! Keep the faith. And if you get a chance this week, go listen to “The Way of the Disciple” by President Uchtdorf from 2009. It’ll blow your mind in the best way possible. 🙂
Sister McKann Hanseen
10 Vairo Blvd #32D
State College, PA 16803