This has been an amazing week!
This week we got to be part of our first bike gang, haha. Almost though! The youth in our ward had an activity where they all brought their bikes and met at the church, then biked all together to and around a nearby lake. One of the advisers asked us to come to help support and as part of our continuing efforts to help strengthen the youth of the ward, and it was a blast! We proved to the whole ward that yes, you really can bike in a skirt, and a bunch of kids came who usually don't, and we got to know a lot of them and help them get pumped about missionary work. And it did feel pretty cool to be biking around the streets of Minneapolis in our own little posse of bicycles, shouting the directions at each other in Spanish.LEO WENT TO THE TEMPLE!!!!! You might not remember him, but he is a member we taught in Lakeville and he was hesitant about going to the temple for so long, and we prayed and worked long and hard that he would have a change of heart and a desire to enter the house of the Lord. I am so proud of him because he conquered his fears, and decided to act in faith, and went for the first time to do baptisms!! It was a perfect day. The temple is in St. Paul in my first area, and I got to see Leo and many other beloved members from the Lakeville branch for the first time since I left almost 9 months ago. And the bishop and his family from the Rochester ward also happened to be there and it was wonderful to see them again. It felt like coming home, and it was a perfect conclusion to see so many of the people from so many of the places I have grown to love so dearly, not to mention the many other past companions and other Hermanas who were there and we all got to share in that special day with Leo. Words cannot describe how perfect that day was, and I am so grateful I got to be there for it.
We have met a lot of cool people this week, and I am so determined to keep working hard and keep seeing miracles up until the very last minute. I still learn so much each and every day. One day it was pouring rain, buckets of rain, and a member had invited us to her daughter's birthday party to come for dinner. So we were running down the street to get there, and turned the corner past the fence, and saw half of the families in our ward huddled on the porch or inside the little apartment waiting for the rain to pass. But they hadn't let that stop their celebration! With the little room and space they had they made do, and continued to be happy even though it seemed all of their plans had been ruined. And I felt like that is a perfect metaphor for life. Sometimes we will have everything all planned, and an unpredicted rainstorm will come and seem to ruin all the plans we have. And then there are people who give up and get frustrated and cancel the whole thing. Then there are the people who don't let it stop them from having the party and being happy. It isn't ideal, but life never is, and we should never let a wrench in our plans stop us from living our lives with our true purpose in mind, to find joy! A few of my fondest mission memories involve pouring rain, whether they be storm clouds above us or the trials that God sends our way or to the lives of people I have taught, but I know that despite all of that, we can choose to smile and be happy, even dance, because Christ is our savior and we know that despite whatever happens it will be ok.
It reminded me of one of my favorite talks from the October 2016 General Conference called "Joy and Spiritual Survival" by President Russell M Nelson,
"Life is filled with detours and dead ends, trials and challenges of every kind. Each of us has likely had times when distress, anguish, and despair almost consumed us. Yet we are here to have joy?
Yes! The answer is a resounding yes!...Saints can be happy under every circumstance. We can feel joy even while having a bad day, a bad week, or even a bad year!
My dear brothers and sisters, the joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.
When the focus of our lives is on God’s plan of salvation, and Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening—or not happening—in our lives. Joy comes from and because of Him. He is the source of all joy. We feel it at Christmastime when we sing, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come.” And we can feel it all year round. For Latter-day Saints, Jesus Christ is joy!"
I can testify that absolutely nothing about these last 18 months has gone the way I have planned it, but I am so grateful for every unexpected journey, every little detour, every tempest, because each has brought me closer to my Savior and helped me see how I can find joy through Him.
There is so much more I could share, but time is running short. And next week will be the last time you hear from me and there is a lot of stuff to do today to get things ready. But I know this is the work of the Lord, and that this is his church, and that through Him, no matter what is or isn't happening in our lives, we can find joy! I love you all!
Baseball games, temple, and bike trip to Lake Harriet