Dear family and everyone who reads this:
WHAT IT IS?! My first week in Oakdale was great! We achieved the standard!!! It is the first time since being on my mission that that has happend. And the first time in a long time since Oakdale has achieved the standard. Oakdale is a small, quirky little town. So are the other towns that we cover. I am loving Oakdale! I could NEVER live here forever, but it's not bad as long as you are busy.
Sister Thomas has been great, I really like serving with her. The only thing that's hard is that she has been here a while and hasn't been seeing a lot happening and it's been hard, so I am trying to keep her positive. Being in Oakdale has really boosted my self-esteem for some reason, but I am happy to be here. Sister Thomas is from Rexburg, ID and has 3 siblings. One of which is serving in the Macon, Georgia mission. She was going to BYU before she left and is majoring in English Language. Not English. It's more like linguistics. It sounds pretty cool to me.
You want to know what happened with Reggie? Well OH MY LANTA! He is my favorite. Ha, this week we saw him Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, called him Saturday, and he came to church on Sunday. And! Drum roll please...he is committed for baptism! May 22! Reggie has been going through a divorce (which takes a year in Louisiana) and it has been really hard on him and he has been depressed. He told us that every time we come over he starts to feel good again, but then we leave and everything starts going bad again. Can you say the Spirit?! Ha, on Friday night we opened our lesson by singing A Child's Prayer, after we finished he got up and was like "Awe, that was beautiful! Give me a hug!" We got these sad looks on our faces and said "We can't." He jumped back astonished! We told him we can't hug people of the opposite sex. He already felt bad because we couldn't come in his house unless there was another woman there, ha, that just topped it off. Anyway, after we sang that song we watched the movie The Restoration. It was powerful. It really brought the spirit and we started to testify of the power of prayer, and then we taught him about baptism, the holy ghost, and the priesthood. He told us that he has been baptized so many times and never felt anything. So we explained how it needed to be done by the proper authority. Reggie has tried being Muslim, Catholic, and Baptist. He didn't like any of them. On Sunday he called us during his break (he had to leave sacrament early to get to work) and told us that his day was going so well! For the first time in a long time he didn't feel depressed. Ah, he just gets us so excited! I love teaching him, he is a funny man and I can't wait till he is baptized. He doesn't want to be rushed into it, but he told us he has begun to pray to know if this church is true.
It truly is a miracle that we have been teaching him. I know that the Lord does prepare those who are ready to hear the gospel. That is why we go from house to house no matter how many times we have been there. Maybe the people weren't ready the first time you knocked, but the second time, maybe they were. Reggie's door had been knocked by Elder's before, and he told us that he was always offended because what could two 20 year old boys know about Jesus that he didn't already know? How we met him, when we met him, and what we talked about, it was the perfect timing. We never expected him to call us after we gave him our card, but he did, and it was AMAZING! AH! Ha, man I love missionary work.
This week was also Zone Conference. All we did was talk about the Atonement. The Spirit was so strong at that meeting. President Woods said something that really stood out to me. To truly understand the atonement we must understand the Savior's life and mission. How true is that? The atonement was not just Gethsemane, Calvary and the Resurrection, it was his life. It was before the world was created. Without knowing all we can about the Savior, how can we fully comprehend the Atonement? We can't. We also watched a video clip of a young LDS boy named Rick Hoyt. Well he's not so much young anymore, but we were told that this man suffered from Cerebral Palsy and couldn't communicate for most of his life. One day the family got a computer so he could communicate with them. They realized he was smart! And more than anything he wanted to compete. So when his Dad was in his 50's, he started to train for triathlons. His dad carried him the whole way in these triathlon's. Ah, you should try to find the YouTube clip. But the Savior is the same way. When we are too weak and too frail to move on, the Savior carries us. He is with us all the way. We just need to put in our effort and we'll be with our Heavenly Father before we know it.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson also came to our mission! Also Elder Larry Gibbons & Elder Robert Gay of the Seventy. They all gave amazing talks. Elder Gay talked about the importance of members in missionary work. He gave us some ways to build member work:
1. Realize members are missionaries. Did you know that? Members are the BEST way for missionaries to find people. Knocking doors...not very effective, but when we receive a referral from someone, it helps so much!
2. Invite others to come unto Christ... As missionaries this is part of our purpose. We aren't supposed to just invite investigators, we are to invite ALL people to come unto Christ.
Elder Gibbons talked to us about how we need to be bold in who we are. We are to never let anyone make you feel awkward for proclaiming the Gospel, if you are, Satan is getting to you. Don't be scared to let people know you are a Mormon, be proud of it!
Elder Christofferson talked about the importance of our mission president, key indicators, and commitments. Ha, if a missionary comes over and leaves you with a commitment, do it! It's only going to bring you closer to Christ. :D
Anyway, it was an amazing week. President talked about being obedient this week and I can't email anyone back, but tell Wilson to write me! That is awesome he got his call, that's exciting! He's going to be such a great missionary. I'm sorry if I didn't answer a lot of questions, but just know that I love you all and I hope that everything is going well. I know that the Savior loves you! (Have you heard that Primary Song? So cute!) Love ya'll!
Sister Stacy Earl
Louisiana, Baton Rouge Misison