This last week was so full of miracles and happy moments and my heart is so full of gratitude! This story starts the first Sunday of January. We had a lesson in relief society about reaching our potential through change (kind of fitting for New Years right?) Well at the end, the teacher handed out a piece of paper and all it said was "One Little Word". On that paper we were supposed to write down a word that we wanted to work on for the year. Some people put faith, others patience, others scripture study. I put a lot of thought into it, since in the past I've basically sucked at new years resolutions, and I decided that the word I wanted to work on was "sacrifice". Since then I've studied sacrifice in the scriptures, read talks on it, etc. I've even picked a theme scripture for the year -- Omni 1:26. Ever since I've been working on sacrifice, I've felt like the Lord keeps putting situations in my path in which I have to sacrifice something. I've tried to have a good attitude about it, knowing that when we sacrifice things, it usually means something better is around the corner.
A couple weeks ago, we sacrificed time in our area to go do exchanges in Dansville and Gowanda, but it didn't really feel like a sacrifice because we got to spend so much time with those wonderful sister and to help them in their area. We saw miracles! But since then, things have been pretty slow in our area. We've had to sacrifice dropping people who aren't progressing in hopes that the Lord will provide more people to teach, but it just didn't feel like it was happening! I kept thinking of my word, Sacrifice. Sacrifice: to sacrifice is to give up something we value for the sake of something of greater worth.
I felt like my sacrifice was enough. I felt like I'd given all I could to the Lord, but I was wrong. I had made the sacrifices but I needed to keep working hard. Sister McLaren and I work so hard everyday, but I was just expecting new investigators to just fall into our laps. Haha... if only it were that easy. And just because we were working hard didn't mean we could affect the agency of those we were talking to. We kept working so hard to contact as many people as we could in one day and to see how many people we could meet.
Like I said earlier, the Lord blesses us when we need it most and not a second sooner. Last week was such a miracle!:) Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday were slower. We'd had great lessons with Tonya, Eugene, and we'd been trying really hard to meet with a few members of the ward to teach them something and ask who they knew that we could stop in and see. Thursday, we taught 4 lessons in 2 1/2 hours just by contacting member referrals and trying other people in the area.
Thursday night we were trying to find the house of one of the member's friends and there were two men on the street. We started talking to them, but they were in the middle of a business conversation so one of them gave us the cold shoulder and told us to try his neighbor Steve. My first thought by his tone of voice was "this is a joke." But we tried it anyway. So we knock on Steve's door and start talking to him and after the first thing he said i thought "Yep.. this really is a joke." He kept talking about how corrupt organized religion is and how God doesn't want it to be like that! Something he said made me laugh on the inside! He said "Men can get closer to God by praying in the woods than in a church building!" haha in my head I said "little do you know your right. I know a boy who went out to a forest to pray when he was 14 years old and he was called to be the prophet of the restoration of the Lord's church." We kept testifying that we know that our message is true and talked to him a little about prophets and after a minute he gave us a funny look and told us to come in. So we went in and taught him the restoration and he REALLY liked the idea of prophets! He took a copy of the Book of Mormon and said he'd read it and we're meeting with him again tomorrow.
We met a lady named Alison. She and her husband are looking for a church for their family and she said we could come back because "who knows. Maybe this could be the one." We met Nicole whose mom just passed away and wants us to talk to her about the Plan of Salvation. She wants to know like we do that she can be with her mother forever. We met Melissa who is getting into family history.
My favorite miracle though! We were having dinner at one of the less actives in the ward. His name is Brother Candino. He's the sweetest, most Italian man I've ever met in my life, but he got pretty offended and hasn't been to church since. But he loves the missionaries. He calls himself the spoiler (that's a self given nickname haha). He invites us over for dinner every now and then. We were over for dinner and we've had to be really bold with him lately and basically told him through mormon messages that he needs to let go of his pride and come back to church. I can't count on 2 hands the amount of times he's told us no. He knows the church is true, he just can't let go of his hurt. Last week we had left him Alma 34 to read (all about not procrastinating the day of our repentance). As we were in the middle of talking about it, his neighbor comes over to bring back a pot. So Bro Candino invites him in and we got to teach him. Now we have a return appointment with Anthony and his girlfriend and her daughter.:) Brother Candino was able to bear his testimony, which was really powerful! And one of our recent converts was able to bear her testimony as well! That experience must have been really good for Brother Candino because yesterday at church we were talking to the bishop about people and families we wanted to take with us to visit him and all of a sudden we see brother Candino walk in. BROTHER CANDINO CAME TO CHURCH!!! He hasn't been in so long and it was such a miracle to see him there! I about had a heart attack when I saw him! That was the best surprise I've ever had!
Our sacrifices really do make a difference! The miracles that come from our sacrifices are like spoonfuls of sugar to help the medicine go down. The Lord is aware of everything that we do and He will bless us IN HIS OWN TIMING if we do His will! Sometimes we even have to come to terms with the fact that the blessings may not come the way we expect or want or in the timing we expect or want. But I know that our Heavenly Father knows better than we do, what we need and when we need it! All he asks of us is to obey Him! We definitely get the better end of the bargain.
Love you all! Hope you have a great week!