This letter might be a little shorter because we're going to ALCATRAZ today! Wooooo!
So we got transfer calls this Saturday. And, wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles, Sister Osborn and I are staying together in our area! We almost can't believe it. It was a huge blessing to get to be her companion for one more transfer when we first got put together as sister trainers, and it's almost ridiculous that we get another one! We're both very happy. :) We really feel like this transfer is going to be full of amazing things. There is so much potential in our area right now, it's amazing.
So this week I fulfilled one of my dreams as a missionary. I painted someone's living room! And we painted it GREEN! We have some investigators that are really stellar. Leslie, the aunt, and her 2 nephews, Michael and Jesus, all came to church for the second time this week. Flor, the mom, is also wonderful. We know that this family will be able to accept the gospel. They're extremely humble and they're looking for the truth together. Flor's problem right now is that she's completely overwhelmed with work and taking care of her 3 kids on her own. She has so many things on her plate right now that she feels like she can't concentrate on the gospel. We're trying to help her see that learning about the gospel isn't just an obligation or another thing to put on her to-do list, but that it's the thing that will lift her burdens in other areas in her life. But we also want to be there to help out physically and serve in every way we can, so this weekend we helped her clean the house and paint her living room. It was really fun, and then she fed us Peruvian food. :) It's interesting to see how people trust the missionaries so quickly. She lets us come into her home and help her out and trusts us as if she's known us for years. I guess that's another evidence of the reality of our calling as servants of the Lord. People can feel that what we're doing and who we represent is something they can trust.
We had an interesting experience with a new 15-year-old investigator named Cristian last night. The first time we met him and his dad, this kid told us he had a "strong belief in aliens" and that he was "kind of" an atheist. A little weird, no? We went back for an appointment last night and he told us that he believed that God is our Heavenly Father. He even prayed at the end of the lesson and it was really sincere. This all came from reading the pamphlet on the message of the Restoration. We're not sure what to think about that dramatic of a change in so short of a time, but we invited him to be baptized and he accepted, so the baptism is planned for the end of September. We really never know what will happen or how the Spirit will help people to change, but miracles occur!
This week we had lots of cool experiences and neat opportunities (that just sounded like something Daddy would say :D) from a visit from Elder Robert C. Gay of the Seventy. He came for an amazing zone conference. At the beginning of the conference he told us to put down our pencils, stop taking notes, and just listen because he was going to share something he didn't plan to share and hadn't shared with the missionaries in the other zones. He talked about how the Lord takes care of His servants when they are magnifying their callings, and how He will take care of our loved ones at home and strengthen us in our personal trials. Even though our personal problems and weaknesses don't go away when we dedicate ourselves to serving the Lord, we have the promise of His care. The room was absolutely burning with the Spirit and there was not a dry eye in the group. It was a blessing to hear the words of a servant of God as spoken by the Spirit and to come to an understanding of some things that I needed to learn personally.
We as the leadership of the mission also got to have a special three-hour council with Elder Gay the day after zone conference. I was a little intimidated by the idea at first (counseling with 18 zone leaders, the assistants, President Meredith, and a general authority), but it was an extremely uplifting experience and something I'll remember and refer back to for the rest of my life. It was amazing to be able to learn how to counsel and how to take principles and doctrines and what Elder Gay called "scattered revelation" that can be received by members of the group, and then to put it together into solutions and plans that will help the mission and the missionaries progress. We talked a lot about how to work closely with the members and ward leadership in order to carry out missionary work. Elder Gay also gave what was apparently(we didn't get to go) a powerful fireside for all of the bishops, stake presidents, and ward mission leaders in the area, and everyone is excited to step up to the plate and increase their efforts as leaders in missionary work. We're excited about it and have already seen a difference in the way our ward is thinking about missionary work. It's definitely true that we cannot have success without the support and help of the members. I feel like this area of the world is especially in need of finding and fellowshipping through the members because there's so much opposition to the gospel even as we walk down the streets. We're expecting miracles as a result of this visit from Elder Gay. It was an amazing blessing and will do a lot for the success of the work here.
I feel so humbled and so blessed to be having this experience. It is never easy and it is often frustrating, but all of that pales in comparison to the blessing it is to be here and to serve the Lord. I've never felt closer to my Savior and to my Heavenly Father than I do right now. And I've never been able to see people so clearly as my brothers and sisters and children of God as I'm able to now. I love this little piece of the world and the people in it, and my testimony of the gospel has grown so much as I've seen it change people in innumerable ways. I love this work and I love this gospel!