This week went by so fast! Like holy cow that's crazy.
I've been having lots of ups and downs this week. I'll have a really good day and then the next I'm not as happy and not motivated. It's hard work. The reason so many missionaries gain weight on their missions is because food is the only thing we can control. We can't sleep in or mess around and it's constantly study, plan, teach. So we overeat because it's something we can actually control and so we abuse it and get fat. I've been exercising every day.
I'm truly happy when I'm teaching people. When we are studying or driving around to people's houses, that's when I get down. But as soon as we start talking to or teaching someone I perk up. I just really want to sit and watch tv and do nothing. Which is actually what I'm doing all day today, well not watching tv, but sitting around in yoga pants doing nothing but emailing and binge eating my feelings away haha. I'll tell you why in a sec.
I appreciate your love and prayers and support. This isn't as hard as I thought it would be, but it's still hard and I still can't believe I'm doing this sometimes. But I'd rather do this than anything else.
My investigators are still doing well. Except Susan. She was on date to be baptized but she talked to the bishop and he told her she isn't ready so now she doesn't want lessons for a couple weeks. And she was so excited to be baptized.
Dee is fantastic as usual. We were over at her place on Friday for dinner and a lesson which went well. She is doing is well and I can't wait for her to get baptized when her son's friend gets home soon. I feel like I knew her before I came here, like you were saying Dad. I love her. She's so strong and smart and faithful.
We taught Candy last night. We took her to the VC at 7 and watched The Testaments. By the end she was crying and seemed to really like it. She's uncomfortable with the Book of Mormon but she's getting there and is progressing. She's been at church every Sunday and even participated in Relief Society when we were discussing the story of the woman who touched Jesus's robe. She's great, I love seeing her and teaching her.
I've learned how to use a map. Whenever we go to someone's house I have to pull out the map and direct Sister Johnson as she drives. We get lost a lot and do lots of U turns. We try not to do three point turns since she can't back up unless I'm out of the car directing her which we've had to do a couple times in the middle of a dark road.
I went to the DC temple to do a session on Friday. It was so beautiful inside and out. I loved it. You all should go there one day. It's incredible.
There's a less active family, the Ainsworths, who we have been teaching who have started to come back to church. It's a mother, Kesha (key-sha), and her three teenaged kids. She has such a strong testimony, they've just had a hard time going to church lately. But I want to share her stories because they are so cool. She's a convert of about 10-12 years I think. She moved to Utah with her kids because of a scholarship she got but she didn't want to be Mormon so she purposefully avoided the missionaries on her way to work and school. A lady she knew invited her to the LDS church so she went and loved it for 6 weeks. Then the missionaries came to church one day and she realized that she had been going to the Mormon church all along and freaked out. But she read the Book of Mormon and fell in love with Nephi (she says he's her man) and was eventually baptized.
One day, about a year after they joined, she was having a super bad day. She was going through a divorce and hurricane Katrina had just happened. Her kids were in New Orleans with relatives when it happened and she couldn't contact them or know if they're alive for 10 days. Shortly after when they were all back in Utah, she was trying to find someone to babysit her kids because she was so stressed and needed a break. No one could and she was walking down the street feeling super discouraged and decided that she was done going to church. Right then, the phone rang. And guess who was on the phone? You'll never guess. PRESIDENT HINCKLEY. No joke. Her family had 9 months before sent him a letter for family home evening saying that they were recent converts and that they were happy to be part of the church. So anyway after he convinced her that it was really him and wasn't a joke, he invited her and her family to have dinner with him that night. Right when she wanted to stop going to church the prophet called. Crazy. So they went and had a nice dinner with him and whoever else was there, she didn't say. After dinner, they went on a walk or something and he asked her how she was doing. She had completely forgotten her day's troubles until then and she just said "good." However he said "no you're not" and then proceeded to tell her about God's love for her and exactly what she needed to hear in her situation even though she hadn't told him anything.
It just goes to show how much The Lord loves us. He loved her so much that in her hour of need, he sent his servant, the prophet. That doesn't happen to everyone, but it shows that he's aware of us and our needs and loves us all. So cool. Sister Ainsworth got up and bore her testimony in church yesterday because her son had been in the hospital the day before with stomach pain and was super sick. The two elders in our ward went and gave her son a priesthood blessing and right when the blessing was over his pain went away. God is amazing.
Speaking of testimony meeting, it's so fun here! The members are a lot more diverse and a lot of them are converts so their testimonies are so awesome. One guy got up who's this black, burly guy named Ben. He's a bit older and carries a cane. He used to be in gangs and carry around guns. He told us that if anyone ever tried to bother us, just tell them that we know Big Ben. Will do! Anyway he used to be Baptist and has such a strong testimony and whenever he bares testimony, he bangs his cane on the floor for emphasis and it's so funny. He's way cool. I feel like some of these people would be judged if they were in Utah. Utah Mormons have a knack for being a bit judgmental (myself included). Sister Johnson told me that she's noticed I'm not judgmental like other Mormons she's met from Utah. I told her thank you and that I've worked on it. I used to be more judgmental but I've been trying over the years to be better. We're all children of God and He doesn't love the Mormons more than His other children. Just like Mom and Dad don't love me more just because I'm on a mission.
So being on Facebook is weird and I don't really like it. I know I'm supposed to share the gospel on there so I've been posting pictures and whatnot but I need to figure out exactly what I should be doing with my time. I'm only supposed to be chatting with people if it's church related. I chatted with Sariah for a couple minutes about her mission papers which is fine and I'm also talking to Mike Fifer to see how he's doing in the mindset that I'm inviting others unto Christ. So if anyone wants to discuss anything about the gospel then we can chat! If you have a question or if someone who's less active or a non member wants to chat then I'm good to go! The problem is finding them. I mean I have plenty of non member friends on Facebook but I can't just start chatting with them and calling them to repentance because that's weird and I'm pretty sure that's not the way to go about doing it.
If you know of anyone who would want to talk to a missionary, I'm more than happy to help! I just feel weird because all I do is scroll through Facebook to see what everyone's up to or to steal people’s statuses and that's not very productive. I'm allowed to do it, that's why I have Facebook, but I need to find out how to utilize it better. We'll see. It's weird seeing everyone continue on with their normal lives and I'm a missionary looking at Facebook like it's nothing. Also you'll notice that all of my pictures and statuses not related to the church are gone. They're all hidden. Crazy. I'll probably keep most of them hidden when I get home. I was annoying when I was younger, I hated going through it to hide. I'm so glad it's gone. We'll pretend my teenage years didn't happen and also that I never had bangs. Eek.
We've been focusing a lot on family history. My area is part of the pilot program where we missionaries learn how to do family history and then we can teach others for free. Not everyone is interested in the church but genealogy is the 2nd most popular hobby in the world. People pay hundreds of dollars to be trained and to use websites but familysearch.org is free and so is missionary help so people are getting interested. Read Elder Bednar's talk from 2011. I can't remember if it's April or October, but it's on family history and it's so good. Now is the time to do family history! The spirit of Elijah is touching the world! And it's fun too, not just for old people. I can't wait to learn more. Everyone go make an account right now and do family history, you'll love it! And it's super important too like it's almost a commandment from God. It matters a lot to Him.
So remember how I was upset that I was called English speaking? Funny story. I'm still English speaking. BUT I talked to a guy on the phone in Chinese the other day. No big deal. Just kidding I was ecstatic. A Chinese man came to the visitor’s center and filled out a card to learn more about the gospel. I didn't meet him but they gave the card to me since they know I know a bit of Chinese. I called him and he couldn't ready understand what I was trying to say. So finally I took a deep breath and said "ni shuo zhong wen ma?" Which means "do you speak Chinese?" He paused and then said "dui" or "yes". So then in Chinese I told him that I'm a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (wo shi ye su ji du hou qi sheng tu jiao hui de chuan jiao shi.) I literally like 2 hours before learned how to say that. He was like "ohhhhhhh." Then he started speaking really fast and I freaked out and was like "sorry my Chinese is bad, speak a little slower" so then we spoke broken English and Chinese. I asked him if missionaries had called him and he said yes but his air conditioner is broken and he's working on fixing it so he can't meet with them yet and I said ok I'll call him next week to see how it went and he said ok and then we ended with a bunch of awkward "xie xie"s and "zai jian"s (thank you and goodbye). It was so cool and I'm amazed that he understood what I was saying. Also, Sister Johnson was so excited when I told her I know Chinese and she said they've been praying to get a Chinese speaker and that I'll be giving lots of Chinese tours in the summer when all the Asians come vacation here. Also President Cooke on Saturday said that I can go to the Chinese branch some time and just to let him know when I want to go and he'll give me permission. So cool! Now I'm brushing up on my Chinese and learning how to say church stuff in Chinese. I love it. God is amazing and knows what He's doing, as always, but sometimes I like to doubt because I'm an imperfect, whiny child of God. But He somehow loves me anyway.
Ok I know you're probably wondering why this email is so long. I'll tell you why. We had a massive snow storm last night and this morning so the assistants to the President told us we aren't allowed to drive anywhere today. So Sister Johnson and I cancelled our dinner plans and we're both currently chilling in yoga pants and a sweatshirt, eating chocolate, and emailing. Us and the two sisters we live with walked to the nearest store to buy junk food which was freezing but kind of fun and we gave out a pass along card on the way. I think they're going to give us time to shop tomorrow since today we can't go to a grocery store unless we want to walk 30 minutes. No thank you. Also, my first Friday here we had a tornado warning but nothing came of it. So happy March! Apparently half the stores close and no one goes to school when it snows here. In Utah this wouldn't have even fazed us. Oh well, I'm ok being inside for now. I'm bummed about dinner because we were going to eat with the Ainsworths and the bishops family.
I can't send any pictures from my camera since I'm doing this on an iPad which is annoying to type on but I have a couple from my iPad I'll send. They're not exciting, but whatever. My camera pictures aren't exciting either. I don't know what to take pictures of. I'm too busy focusing on the work to take pictures whenever I see anything remotely cool. I'm not here on vacation. I'll take more pictures when I go to DC in a few weeks when it gets warmer to do sunrise pictures at the mall and then next transfer I'm going to go see the cherry blossoms. So exciting! Maryland is gorgeous though even without DC nearby. I love the scenery, it blows me away and it's only winter. I can't wait for spring!
Ok that's it! You probably won't get another email this long. I just have a lot of time to kill which is nice but I hope by tomorrow I can get back to work. I also wrote another email btw. You, Mom, can put both on the blog. I think it would interest people.
I love you mucho grande!!! Pray I don't get fat from all this chocolate I just bought... And pray that I won't get down as easily! Read Romans 8:16-18.
Love, Sister Black
Love, Sister Black
What I looked like exercising this morning. Sooo exciting.