This has easily been one of the longest weeks of my life. I can’t even tell you how physically tired I feel and how spiritually PUMPED I feel simultaneously. I can’t even believe that it’s only been a week since I’ve been in my new area.
So. First thing’s first. New area. The one and only ELIZABETHTOWN, PA. So. Elizabethtown. Cute place in Lancaster County (yes don’t you worry, we literally got held up in traffic behind a buggy that was turning into the grocery store, Weis, and had blinkers on the back of the buggy… Like electronic ones… Yeah, what?). I’m serving in the Elizabethtown Ward in the Lancaster Stake and my new companion is Sister Johnson. She was trained by my MTC Companion, Sister Bateman and she’s only been out east! Now, I was in State College which was KIND OF east, but not really. State College is its own little bubble of a world. But Elizabethtown is the epitome of eastern Pennsylvania. It smells like two things any given day: manure or chocolate. There’s a chocolate factory nearby and on Saturday when we got out of the car in Mt. Joy, it smelled like brownies! Haha. So weird.
My district is AWESOME. I’m seriously so excited for it. Sister Morphy who served with me in Cranberry is in it and I get to go on exchange with her this week! And Elder Gibson is our district leader. Weirdest story about him.. We flew out together and sat next to each other for both flights. And on the flights we talked the whole time and were instantly best friends. We both said the first areas we wanted to serve in and we both went there! I wanted State College and he wanted Hershey. So crazy! And now he’s my district leader. Awesome. The elders in my ward are the Zone Leaders and they are seriously the bomb. I love them. They’re hilarious. I’m so pumped to be serving with Elder Taylor and Elder Durham! It’s already been a blast.
Okay so Tuesday I drove from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg, then to Elizabethtown. We got home about 10:45 pm. Longest day ever. THEN, we worked on Wednesday as normal but quickly got back in the car on Thursday morning to drive back to Cranberry for Elder Holland. So I drove into my old area almost just two days after I left it. Long drives filled with lots of laughing, especially at the Zone Leaders who got pulled over on the turnpike when they were trying to be cool and passed us. Don’t worry, we got a video of it. 🙂 Anyway, so.. ELDER HOLLAND.
Oh man. Quick highlights. So much to say. So little time.
First, Elder Coons (Area Seventy).
Talked about the new mission president and said that when there’s a new one coming in, there is usually a divide: those who are loyal to the new one and those who aren’t. The key factor? Are you obedient to mission rules and the guidelines of your current mission president? If so, you’re set. Awesome. I’m there. Sounds great. I feel like I can be successful at that.
Second, Elder Donald L. Hallstrom (Presidency of the Seventy)
Said that that day could be a day of significant change in our lives if we listen, ponder and DO what we are told basically. Not just in missions but in our lives. Missions are about becoming. They are about FOREVER. Not just on the mission. We should never fully leave our missions! He talked about discipleship a lot. What it means to be a disciple and what the characteristics of a disciple are. It was very inspiring. We have to act according to what we believe. That’s true faith. THAT’S true discipleship. Following Christ because we believe in Him. Whatever is standing in our way from becoming a disciple can truly be overcome through the Atonement.
Third, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
They shook all of our hands individually and looked us in the eyes and thanked us for our service. How cool. And then he said that they interviewed us personally in that brief interaction and that we look good. We are doing well as a mission. What an amazing thing!
He talked a lot about how well we were doing and then told us that we need to get with it. All of us, as a church. But as a mission, we have so much more that we can achieve. He talked about energy. How when something is going to explode, there has to be a catalyst. We have to find our catalysts to explode in our conversion. Do we draw near Him with our lips but our hearts are far from Him? We have to give him EVERYTHING. And be excited about it!
He got very emotional when he talked about missionaries who come home and fail to remain faithful in the Gospel. It’s hard enough to lose the sheep… but we can’t afford to lose the shepherds, too. The converts of the church ALWAYS remember the missionaries who taught them. And Elder Holland said, “Don’t you DARE betray them.” It’s so true. We have to always live worthy of the trust of those whom we have taught. Always. This isn’t just about the 2 years or 18 months. It’s about forever!
He looked us in the eyes a the end and told us to always and forever remember that we heard him say, “This is the truth of the Almighty God.” This is the bread of life! This is happiness. THIS is salvation and eternal life. What a miracle.
It was so cool to have the opportunity to see President Topham get to see us all together one last time. He was so emotional and overwhelmed by his gratitude to see each of our smiling faces individually as we shook the hand of an apostle of the Lord. What a great and glorious opportunity. One that I will never forget.
Now, here’s just a funny quote from Elder Holland in our meeting.
“King Noah was kind of a slob! Forgive me, that’s not an apostolic word… (after quite a pause).. Well, he wasn’t an apostolic person!”
Haha it was so great. He walked through the aisles and talked WITH us. Really spoke with us. There is no doubting that he cares for the missionaries of the church.
Anyway, there were so many other things but I’m rambling. Ask me about it in 5 months. I’ll give you all the details.
Other highlights of the week:
–Sister Johnson got pulled over and almost had to do a sobriety test the first night I was with her. Um. Yeah. What’s with other people’s driving? Haha. I have pictures that I’ll send from that night. The cop showed us the video of her driving. It was hilarious.
–We had someone referred to us who has already been mostly taught and really wants to be baptized. WHAT?! Yeah. I maaaaay get to be a part of my first person being baptized while I’m there! Cross your fingers!
–Seeing all the missionaries at Elder Holland was SO SO awesome. So many people I so dearly love. What a blessing to see them all! Except my shirt came untucked for like ten pictures and NOBODY TOLD ME!! Ahhh I’m so mad. So so mad. Oh well. There’s still some good pictures. 🙂
–Memorial Day was so fun. We played volleyball and had a barbecue and played baseball! It was great. I’m so tired today but it was worth it!
Everyone I love and miss you! I’m having a blast in Etown! And I miss you so much you should all send me mail. 😉 Haha. Keep being awesome everyone! Love you!