|Hermana Garner's mission |
will be the first to use smart phones,
she has her new phone
but won't be using it until training.
The Lord Guides Us!
The best way to describe everything that happened and everything that I've learned is just to type out my journal entry from Saturday night. It gives you a feeling of exactly what this week was like for us.---
Sabado, 26 de Agosto, 2017
Today was an AMAZING day!
First, we had rehearsal for the musical number for Elder Andersen. It's sounding so good! And I really do love directing the music. It reminds me of working on Little Women and how proud I was of my cast as they performed. We have one more scheduled practice before the meeting, and I have no doubt they'll be ready ... the Spirit will be strong. It was so strong during the practice today!
We were supposed to have a lesson with Letty and Diana at four, but they weren't there when we showed up ... but Rodolfo was, and we were able to share a scripture with him!
Dinner was at Panda Express with Hna Ruelas, which was really a miracle because we have almost no food left ... But now I have left overs for at least two meals. The Lord truly does provide for His missionaries!After dinner we went to a baptism with Jimmy. It was really amazing, and incredibly spiritual, and he felt that. Just before the service started, the oldest of the three getting baptized was embracing friends and crying. Jimmy turned to us and asked, "Why is she crying? Is she nervous?" I responded, "No, she's probably really happy and excited." He was a little surprised by that, and was really engaged and focused throughout every single part of the service.
After the baptism, it was almost 8:00 PM. We hadn't done any of our plans for the day and were at a bit of a loss, as we always are at that time of night. Sister Showalter felt prompted to go to a specific neighborhood and tract. A few things about that - we don't usually tract in this neighborhood because it's littered with members and doesn't have many Spanish speaking residents. So there's not a whole lot of potential there. Also ... it was 8:00 PM. I was surprised by her suggestion, but decided to trust her - it wasn't like I was getting a different prompting. So we went, and eventually stopped in part of the neighborhood where there were a decent amount of lights on. The first house we knocked, we saw someone look out the window, but they promptly retreated and didn't make another sound, probably hoping we hadn't seen them. So we left after just the one knock.We knew it was late, so we felt awkward and very unsure of what to do. So, standing on the street in front of the house where we'd just been passively rejected, we stopped and said a prayer. We were both praying we would find someone, as unlikely as it seemed.When we finished the prayer, I looked back up at the house right next to us, one door over from the one we'd knocked. I'd been thinking about going there next before the prayer, but after the prayer it seemed undeniable that that was where we were supposed to go. Without a word to one another, Sister Showalter and I simultaneously walked up and knocked on the door. A kid about 10-years-old answered ... and immediately said, calling out to his parents, "It's the Sister Missionaries!" They were members, two families actually, gathered together to watch a football game. Just before we left, we asked if there was anyone they thought could use a visit, and they sent us to some other members just around the corner. As we walked back to the car, I was pondering why we'd felt so prompted to knock their door. It really wasn't our jurisdiction. The members they'd referred us to were not only members, but English speaking. I almost told Sister Showalter we should just pass the information along, but something stopped me. So, we went to the house. At this point it was 8:30 PM. I was sure we weren't going to find anyone, but trying to trust in the Lord and that He had a purpose for leading us there. We knocked. We waited. No one answered. I was feeling a bit discouraged, to be honest, but knew we'd been trying to follow the Spirit. That was when we saw a man walking to his car. We watched him for a moment, and Sister Showalter muttered, "Should we go talk to him?" But we both hesitated, and soon he was in the car, door shut, starting to pull away from the curb.We both felt awful, and chastened. Sister Showalter sounded so disappointed in herself as she said, "We should have talked to him." I was quiet as we started to walk towards the next-door neighbor's house, feeling guilty and wishing I'd been more ready to follow the promptings of the spirit. His headlights hit us as he turned around, and I waved and smiled, hoping to leave a good impression of friendliness if nothing else. He passed us, but then, to my surprise, we heard a voice calling out to us from behind. He'd stopped his car, rolled down the window, and he was trying to get our attention. Unable to understand him from the distance we were at, we hurried over to his car. He was asking, "Are you LDS by chance?" We quickly answered in the affirmative and introduced ourselves. When he spoke next, there was a mix of relief and excitement in his voice, the kinds of emotions one feels when a long search is over. He said, "I was meeting with some LDS missionaries in Missouri, going to church and everything, but when I moved back home I didn't know how to find them here, and I've been looking."He introduced himself as Derek. He didn't live in that neighborhood - he was only there to watch the Merryweather fight with his coach, so we're assuming he's a fighter for his job. In fact, he doesn't even live in our mission - he lives in downtown Phoenix.We exchanged numbers and got his address, and promised him missionaries would get in touch with him soon. We told him that he could walk into any church tomorrow and find a service to go to. He seemed excited and grateful, and after a few minutes he laughed. "You know, it's crazy because just today, my LDS friend sent me a text to see how I was doing."The Spirit washed over me, and I said, "Derek, we were praying really hard tonight about where we needed to be, and this was where the Lord directed us. That's not a coincidence."The whole interaction lasted less than five minutes, and he left. But in those five minutes I had one of the most powerful experiences of my life. There was no logical reason we should have been in that neighborhood, on that street, at that time. The odds of us ever meeting this man were so small I don't think you could calculate them. But our lives crossed paths for 5 minutes - 5 minutes that will allow him to get back in touch with missionaries and continue on his journey to accept the restored gospel.
It could have been any missionaries that were there to bring him back to the church. But the Lord knew we were available, and were trying to be dependable, so He used us. He directed our paths, because He knew where Derek would be and what he needed, and He loves him immensely. The worth of souls is truly great in the sight of God, and my testimony of that grew with this experience, as did my testimony that this is the Lord's work and we need to let Him direct it, always, and not rely on ourselves. Every single part of that story was essential to lead us to exactly the right place at exactly the right time. Feeling led to that neighborhood. Saying that prayer. Visiting with those members. Going to the house they referred us to. It was all to lead us to one of God's beloved children - to Derek. I am so humbled by this experience. Sister Showalter immediately grabbed me in a hug when he drove away, and we were both filled with gratitude in seeing the hand of the Lord in our lives. We said a prayer, and Sister Showalter was so overcome with emotion and gratitude that she didn't even try to say it in Spanish. "I need to accurately express my feelings," she said.This is the Lord's work. He used us to find one of His elect and help him come back to the fold. It is such a privilege to be His servant and see Him work miracles first-hand.