Happy St. Patricks day first of all. To be completely honest I had no idea it was st patricks day until we went to walmart today haha (sorry irish people). I love to hear about all of your adventures and life at home. It sounds like fun! There is so much joy in every day life. I have thought back alot on my mission as I have been away from each of you about how some of my most cherished memories are just being together with each of you. We were talking about kitchens for some reason at a dinner appt this week and I told the family we were eating with that the kitchen was where my family gathered alot. Food tends to do that. I have thought alot about the amazing little conversations and every day moments that we get to spend together as a family. I have come to learn they are the most important.
Sorry we are emailing late today. We went to the Kartchner Caverns today. It is a REALLY cool cave system right here in Benson, that was really cool. We went with our zone. Unfortunately we can't take pictures there, so I didn't get any. :(
That is awesome that you talked to sister vansickle. She is awesome!! She fed us the other night, and her and her family are so wonderful. I LOVE the members here in Benson. They are so great. Like I said before they treat us like their own family.
As for our week. It was SUPER busy, which is really good in missionary work. We had an amazing week. One of the best I have had in a long time. The work is rolling forward here in Benson. Our mission has standards of excellence, and they are very challenging to achieve, and this week we hit them. The Lord has blessed us ALOT. It has been amazing to see.
Our investigators are all doing really well. Darlene is doing great. She is working through some last minute word of wisdom issues, but she is soooo close. She is such a good person, and her faith is so great. She is one of the most unique people I have taught on my mission, and that is sayin something because I have taught some fascinating people haha. Darlene said something this week that I love. I wrote it down because I loved it so much. "Coincidences are when God performs a miracle and chooses to stay anonymous." -Darlene Houtala. How awesome is that!
Alfred is doing really well. We had a bit of a set back because his big toe nail had to get removed this week, and so he couldn't come to church. What has been amazing with Alfred is there has been a huge change in him as he has been taking the lessons and coming closer to the savior. I didn't know pre gospel alfred, but Elder Fairbanks says he is so completely different. The gospel is truly all about change (the good kind.)
One of the biggest blessings of the week was getting to meet and work with a guy named Dan. Dan is the brother of one of the best members ever here in Benson Sister Heaton. He has been addicted to Heroine for many many years. Sis Heaton has been praying and fasting for decades for him and also that they could even find him. Through a succession of miracles Dan ended up coming here to Benson to enter rehab and be close to his sister. He is a baptized member of the church, but doesn't know/remember hardly anything about the church. When he first got here he was in really bad shape.. REALLY BAD. It was pretty intense. But we have spent this entire week visiting him and teaching him every single day at the rehab center here. I don't know if it has been more amazing for him to see the miracle of the change in himself or for us to witness it. We had some very powerful lessons with him. One lesson I will never forget we talked to him about hope. What a simple and beautiful principle that is. As we learned about it together with him, the spirit witnessed to all of us about the hope that the Savior can give. I am so grateful for that hope. It is especially tangible and miraculous to talk about hope with someone that needs it so much. There is nothing quite like that. I am so grateful to have been able to work with him this week. It has been a true miracle in every way.
Another cool experience I had this week was at ward council. The ward here is awesome. I LOVE the bishop here. He reminds me alot of Elder Eyering. No joke. And in Ward Council it was amazing to watch the love and care that the bishop and all the members of the ward council had for so many people. We spent 2 hours talking about how we can help some of God's children here in Benson. It was really cool to see, and be a part of.
Some sad news in the week was that one of the councilor's in our mission presidency's wife passed away from cancer this week. It saddened me as I always loved her testimony and her spirit. She was an amazing woman. She always loved a poem that she shared with us missionaries alot. I really like it too. It is about raising a child with disabilites, but it applies to all people that enter a path in life that they hadn't really planned on. That is really all of us in the end. In her honor I want to share that poem with you.
WELCOME TO HOLLAND
byI am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......
Emily Perl Kingsley.
Emily Perl Kingsley.
When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."
"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."
But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.
But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.
I am so grateful for all of my many blessings. Life is not always exactly like we imagined it would be, missions can be the same, but it sure is great! I am so glad every day to be able to be a missionary. Thank you for that opportunity. It has changed my life, and I hope done some good for some other people's too!
I have been thinking alot about small and simple things this week. They are what make all the difference in life. It is the small and simple things that really can mean the most, and make the most difference. Look around this week to see if there are any small and simple things you can do for someone else. I know the Lord will give you that opportunity.
I love you all so much!!