Minha familia bonita,
How are y'all? I love and miss you more than words! I hope y'all are doing really well. First off, I wanna say HAPPY BIRTHDAY SKYLER!!! I love you buddy! I can't believe that you're 16! You're gonna be a priest! You have to tell me all about it! Including your first date ;) I love you!
Sister Wilson and I the night that Elder Anderson spoke to us at the Mariott Center. Walking back to the MTC in the pouring rain! Luckily, Elder Gale lent us his suit coat.
It has been a really good week! I went on my first official exchange. I was in Gray, GA with Sister Wood. We get along really well! So well that it's probably a good thing we aren't companions. But I learned so much from her. And ever since then, Sister MacDuff and I have worked so much better together! Like much more than before. We've been communicating better, our companion studies are better, and we've been teaching by the Spirit better. It's kind of like a marriage (from what I hear anyways) because you need that little break from each other once in awhile. I've even got her to help me with my language study. I read a verse in Portuguese, then she reads it in English. I used to just read it all in Portuguese by myself and wasn't getting a lot out of it. And she even speaks Portuguese words to me sometimes, words that I've taught her and that I say to her. She used to always respond in Spanish, but now she's been responding in Portuguese. It's just been really helpful for my language learning. And we cooked our first actual meal! We made fajitas. It was so fun, and I feel like it brought us closer. We've been working in unity so much better. Things have just been really great since the exchange.
4am - saying goodbye to our sisters at the MTC!
Except for that we got more cockroaches! So nasty. But I just have to tell you how blessed we are to have these really awesome Elders in our ward. We tell them pretty much everything that goes on from our investigators to our cockroaches. So they gave us a bottle of this bug spray for the perimeter of our apartment. We ended up spraying the perimeter of every room for good measure. We just work really well with these Elders. Elder Forbush and Sister MacDuff have actually been in the same district since the MTC! And Elder Clay goes home in February.
My first chigger bites!
The four of us have developed a 5-step plan to get the members more involved in and excited about missionary work. Basically it's just 5 lessons we teach them and some commitments we extend so that they can create their own family mission plan. It kick-started this week with our 5th Sunday lesson about hastening the work of salvation, and it will come to a close when the ward holds it's annual Christmas Social, where members will invite their nonmember or less active friends. Our plan is to close the Social with a chapel tour so their friends can learn more about the church and feel of the Spirit that dwells there. I think it will be really great! I don't know if I'll be able to see the whole thing through, but I'm excited to see what happens to the work in this area.
After tracting in the rain, Sister MacDuff and I had to get a pizza
Yesterday, Sister MacDuff and I went tracting for the first time in a week probably, and we knocked on the door of this nice East Indian family! I'm not sure if the father fully understood what we were saying and what our purpose was in being there, but he took our phone number and said he would call when they were free for us to return. They have three young children who were there at the door with him. They seem really nice, and I'd love to be able to teach them. I'll let you know what happens there! There's actually a member in the ward who I just learned attended church in India! He said the meeting was in New Delhi, and there were about 70 people in attendance! It just made me so excited to hear how the work is progressing.
Saying goodbye to the Smythe's! We helped them pack their house up last Monday for their move to Washington. This family is AWESOME. We miss them a ton.
As for our investigators, we've been struggling to get them to progress more. K**a is scheduled to be baptized next Friday, but she hasn't done much reading, and she wasn't at church this Sunday. She's only 9, so we really feel her family needs to be more involved in getting her progressing. They told us they would hold family prayer and scripture study, but so far they haven't really followed through with that. K**a is supposed to be interviewed this Friday, but she may not be able to be baptized if she isn't keeping her commitments. We have a lesson with her tomorrow, so hopefully we'll be able to express our concerns to her mom and they'll be able to help her progress more.
A*a hasn't been to church the last two Sundays. I love her and her son E***ck so much. It's really hard to see her not progressing. Her son was baptized earlier this year. He'll be graduating high school this year and thinking about serving a mission. His dad passed away last December. Just a lot going on there. He hasn't been to church the last two weeks either. We just really feel like there's not much more we can do for them right now. We stop by to check on them, but they haven't been putting their effort forward. So we're going to visit them once this week, give them a lesson about the Plan of Salvation again, and tell them we can't keep coming back. If they want this, they have to show that they are committed to God and want to follow His will. It breaks my heart that we have to do that, but we need to know if A*a is really willing and wants to commit to be baptized. I'll let you know how that goes.
Other than that, things have been good! I can't tell you how much closer I have felt to the Spirit this week than before. The Lord has been here to comfort me and guide me and protect me in times when I have needed it. I love feeling the Spirit and knowing that my Heavenly Father loves me. I want to do His will, and I am striving to realize how to do that more and more. It's a really great feeling. I also have been feeling physically better! All week, I only took Zyrtec every night, and my throat has been much more clear. Not 100% better, but still better than before!
I love you all so much. I'm proud of you and all that you have been doing. Take care of yourselves and write to me soon!