Tuesday, August 5, 2014

August 4, 2014

Dear Family,

I officially peaced out from my area for three days this week; exchanges with West Monroe Tuesday (sadly no Duck Dynasty sightings), and Mission Leadership Conference in Jackson Thursday and Friday. I guess it used to be called Zone Leader Conference until the sister-explosion gave birth to STLs which then lead to a name change for the monthly powwow. It was good stuff, but one of those mission things that you don't really understand unless you've experienced it. Essentially there's a bunch of opinionated missionaries that voice opinions on various policies; a few decisions are reached, and some get tabled for next month. The scripture discussion on preparedness, the other random doctrine tidbits, the musical number, and the departing missionary testimonies at the end were extra good stuff. President committed the leadership to various things, including experimenting with no music in the car for the next month. Luckily Sister Newman and I are both really bad at remembering to turn the stereo back on after prayers/ phone calls, so we've already got a head start on that one ;)

A1 and A2 are both doing well. A2 and her husband have been crazy sick this week, so we couldn't teach them, but they still made it to church :) They both have hulk-status testimonies of the gospel, but there's always the bitter to balance out the sweet, so hopefully they can overcome their health problems. A1 has been really excited about all the changes she's been noticing in her life since we've started teaching her; yesterday she told us she's even stopped swearing, which we never knew was a problem of hers, but by increasing her faith through daily prayer and scripture study, the spirit simply helped her make those changes on her own. They also watched a session of conference (Sister O gets all the DVDS, speaking of Sister O I forgot to mention last week, but she's actually in Utah due to the birth of a grandchild, so she was really only there for the first two lessons. I guess we've only taught them five times, but A1 made crazy progress over the past couple weeks, so it feels like more), and she loved Uchtdorf's talk "Come Join With Us." She said it felt like he was speaking directly to her. Easiest investigator? Elect. She could be baptized this weekend if she really wanted to, but her Mom is planning on coming in town from Texas around her birthday, so our ballpark is mid August. We may have to get creative with things to teach her... Good thing the missionary department has us teach all five lessons before baptism now, so we don't have to get TOO creative ;)

Due to them being out of town for a music camp, this week I finally met the Relief Society President and her first counselor. Scratch that last title and insert "my other ward mission leader." Haha they're best friends, and really funny/ intense about their callings. The first counselor was put in charge of missionary work for the Relief Society, so we had a correlation of sorts with her over lunch Saturday. It was really hard core, and hilarious. They have a theory that if someone has been offended by something small, then they probably can be bought by something small, so they deliver a lot of brownies. When we left I told Sister Newman that I'd be scared if women had the priesthood, because I think we just got a glimpse of what it might be like.

We had a really awesome lesson with a less-active couple this week. He converted in the 90s, and is an Elder, but fell away, then married his wife around 2007, and started coming back a bit, and she got baptized, and then they both fell away. Brother P has a testimony of the church and the difference it's made in his life, but they're currently active in a Baptist church, so he feels conflicted. Sister P seemed anti at first the Sisters said, but has since sat in on lessons with us, and really seems to like us, even though her testimony is still questionable. We were able to answer a lot of really good questions from Brother P (he'd forgotten a lot of doctrine over the years), and we helped him understand the importance of weekly partaking of the sacrament blessed by priesthood authority. The Spirit was there, and at the end of the lesson he said, "I feel like I've asked y'all this question before, with my wife even sitting to this side of me," (their furniture had just been rearranged, so he was describing deja-vu) "but I went through a back-sliding state, so how would I get back in church?" So cool. His wife is still a fan of their new church, but they're making big steps :) When we left I told Sister Newman that missionaries in foreign countries utilize the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues, but sometimes in the South I feel like I'm using the spiritual gift of speaking in Baptist. Ya. Sometimes I think I'm funny. Except it's also true, I'm getting fluent in Baptist.

Love y'all oodles and boodles and zoodles!
Sister Markle

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