So... It's safe to say that December pretty much didn't exist. How does time go by so quickly? I basically had an anxiety attack the other day thinking that I will be home this time next year... I love you all and can't wait to see you again, but there is no better feeling than sharing the gospel! It was really good to Skype you all this week though! I was happy to see you! P.S. Read all the way to the bottom because there are hidden miracles in this email. I know it's long. Sorry, but not really.
We've had some really great stories this week. It's the end of the month and the mom-mobile has been driven to Pittsford twice (65ish miles each way) and we live about 10 miles outside our area so.... We were SUPER low on miles. Amherst (the other area in our ward) used to be a biking area so the elders have a couple bikes in their apartment which they don't use because they now have a car and they're a trio at the moment, so we asked if we could take the bikes for the rest of the month. They absolutely refused. "It's not proper for sisters to be riding bikes in the winter". Yeah yeah.... We don't have any snow and it's been super warm lately. So basically this last week turned into Battle of the Bikes. We desperately needed the bikes to save on miles and they weren't going to let it happen so they tried giving us some of their miles (which we couldn't take because they needed them). Neither of us were going to cave. Friday we were so sick of it so we told the elders that we were going to pick up the bikes in the morning, no questions. Well Elder Walker who is as stubborn as I am, said "just let me make a couple phone calls.." Within 10 minutes the ZLs called. I was praying that meant more miles! Then I hear Elder Skinner talking to Sister McLaren and he says "How do you feel about miles?" We didn't understand so we asked what he meant and he said "well we're going to have to take some miles away next month.." I about jumped out of my footy pajamas (thanks Jeanne!) and then we hear all the elders on the phone laughing. It took them a few minutes but they told us that they were kidding and they gave us 700 more miles for the month. We definitely don't need that many but hey.. It was a tender mercy. Elder Walker became my new favorite. I don't know who he called or what he said but I'm secretly relieved that I don't have to try biking in a skirt. Whew!!
Christmas Eve was such a great day! We car pooled down to Pittsford with the elders. Everyone stuck their white elephant gifts and guitars for the talent show in the trunk of our mom-mobile and we went on our way. (Somehow Elder Walker managed to get a HUGE TV that he used as his white elephant gift... Super useful for a missionary haha) we sang to Nashville Tribute the entire drive which is the closest thing to country music that I'm going to get on my mission. (Mom if you can find their new cd called "redeemer", I would LOVE to get that!) the Christmas party was pretty great! A bunch of the sisters here played volleyball in high school so I snatched a ball and started peppering with one of them. Within 2 minutes half of the mission had gathered around to play with us. Haha it was a ton of fun! There were a few elders that were super good and I got to set them and DANG! They are good hitters! I miss volleyball a TON. But I will never regret my decision to not play in college. I know that I was meant to be here on a mission and I wouldn't have had this experience if I'd chosen volleyball. That makes me think of my farewell topic: "Sacrifice Brings Forth the Blessings of Heaven". At the time, I thought it was a sacrifice to let go of something that was my whole life, but the things that I've gained and learned and the happiness that I feel completely make up for what I thought I was losing and then some. I remember a quote from President Hinckley that said something along the lines of: "What appears today to be a sacrifice will prove instead to be the greatest investment you ever make." My mission literally has been the best decision I've ever made. It's preparing me to be a much better wife, mother, teacher, and daughter of God. I know that sometimes it feels like we have to sacrifice a lot in the gospel, like with tithing or going on a mission or the word of wisdom.. Whatever it may be, I know that the blessings that come from that sacrifice will make up for anything you may be losing. The blessings may not come how you expect or desire but they come!
It was so good to see everyone for the Christmas party! I forget how much I love the sisters when I don't get to see them all the time. On the drive home, the elders pulled out the guitars and we sang the whole way home.
Mom I know you were asking about Bill and Dee and what's going on with them. Well I have some good news. :) Friday, we went and did service for Dee and then since the weather was so nice we went for a walk along the Eerie Canal. We had a really great discussion with her. She told us how when she was in San Diego she saw the temple and thought it was so beautiful so they went in and she was saying how even though they could only go into the lobby, she felt like she was in heaven. She loved seeing everyone all dressed in white and the way she felt was so amazing, she couldn't even explain it. but when she couldn't go in any further she felt like she was being turned away from heaven so we talked about the temple and how sacred it is and the standard of worthiness for going there. I know she'll get to go back someday! I know she will. She loves us and she's really opening up to the gospel. That's not the only good news though. We talked to both her and Bill about how we were singing in sacrament meeting and guess who showed up at church?:) Bill and Dee! BOOYAH!!!!! I've never sang in sacrament meeting before but we decided that we'd sing since all of the Amherst elders have nice voices and Sister McLaren is a great piano player and then there's me. Haha so the elders and I sang Where Can I turn for Peace in church yesterday! I wanted to pass out. But it went pretty well.
We were also expecting Eugene to be at church yesterday. He's the man I was telling you guys about on Skype that has cancer but chose not to have any treatments. He hasn't been to church in a while because of how sick he is but he had to come to church one more time so that he could be interviewed to receive his endowment on Tuesday. Well... He got sick that morning and wasn't able to make it. I wanted to cry. We had gotten him so excited about the temple and he was going to be going on Elder Walker's last day in the mission and it was going to be the perfect almost New Years present. Then a miracle happened. The bishop and stake president decided that they were going to interview him anyway and guess who's going through the temple on Tuesday?! I am seriously so happy.
Finally last night after our dinner appointment, we realized our other plans for the night had cancelled on us so we were trying to figure out what to do so I suggested to say a prayer and we both felt like we needed to go see this sweet lady in an assisted living center and we had a great lesson with her and then we started talking to her aid. MIRACLE!!! She was praying for direction for a way to change her life and to find a place to go to church with her kids. She was praying for that right as we came! She's not normally Sister Stebbins aid on Sunday's so it was a TOTAL miracle. It was no coincidence that we were led there at that time! (I had always heard RMs tell stories like that where complete miracles happen but I haven't seen too many of those HUGE divine intervention moments on my mission. There are constantly miracles but they hadn't been so drastic until yesterday.) She loved hearing about the restoration and the Book of Mormon and wanted to meet with us again tonight! And she accepted the invitation to be baptized!! This is exactly what she needs and what she's looking for! Sadly she isn't in our area, so we're giving her to the Buffalo elders but that's ok! I got to be part of this woman coming to know the truth and I promised the Lord that I'd work my hardest no matter what the outcome, and he put me in this woman's path:) the elders will do a great job with her! As we were leaving, we were walking out to the mom-mobile and I started singing "living on a prayer" by Bon Jovi (sometimes worldly music pops into my head but I thought it was fitting!:) haha) the Lord will always inspire us and put people in our path that we need to touch! Never postpone a prompting!
Have a great week, and be the answer to someone's prayer!
Sister Amanda Nield