Let's start this letter off with some humor :) This was a funny week!
The laughs started on Monday (Elder Goates rocks, we are both sarcastic and laugh about the same things). There is a priest in one of our wards who is awesome because he gives us rides when we need them and also comes to teaching appointments sometimes. Well on Monday night he reserved the evening to go out with us. Not only did we have a lot of success making contact with part member families that we normally don't make contact with, but he said the funniest things! Quote #1: "If I don't marry a girl who drives aggressively, I'll go nuts!!" (Andy is an aggressive drive. I've rebuked him for it and he's settled down when he drives us.)
Quote #2: We were looking for somewhere to park and he avoided parking in front of a fire hydrant because he said, "weird things happen when you're doing things for the Lord." I wonder what he thought might happen if we parked in front of the fire hydrant..
Quote #3: "I like female country singers. You can hear the estrogen in their voice." HAHA
This Saturday we had the blessing of baptizing a 9 year old boy. He is the one who told me that being baptized was a dream come true. After he was baptized and he was sitting in his chair again, He told everyone present, "After I was baptized I was so wet and I didn't have a towel so I used paper towels." Later he raised his hand during the bishops closing remarks, took the front of the room and said pointing to some gifts members had brought him, "My mom told me I wasn't going to get any presents. Well I did." Profound. What a great guy :)
The highlight of my week was something that not many missionaries ever have the opportunity of having. I was blessed to see my sweet, beautiful mother, my Dad, my brothers Damon and Spencer, my little sister Emily, and Damon's girlfriend Haley. My parents have been in Scottsdale receiving cancer treatment for my mom. My mission President was made aware and I was given permission to see them. It worked out great that they were able to come down for the baptism on Saturday. I have such an incredible family. Seeing them motivated me to accomplish as much as I can while I have the opportunity to be a missionary. A kind sister in the ward took our family picture which was hysterical (Dad being told to do poses he didn't want to). After the baptism and pictures, my Mom, Dad, and myself had the opportunity to spend some time together while my companion went on splits with our Zone Leaders. We were able to see the newly built Gilbert Temple and then I was able to give them both priesthood blessings. I am so grateful I was able to give them those blessings. I can testify that they were completely directed by the spirit. I felt true power and authority as I spoke the words God wanted me to speak. Giving your parents a blessing while serving as a missionary is an experience I can't adequately capture.
Earlier this morning we taught the first lesson to a man from main land China. He's been here for a month and a half and struggles speaking and understanding english but enough that we are able to communicate. He has a background of going to church but in China it was more for fellowship than learning any sort of doctrine. He's heard of God and Jesus Christ but isn't very familiar with who they are or what our relationship is to them. We taught him about God and Jesus Christ and the atonement and how to pray. At the end of the lesson he uttered the first prayer he's ever offered. It was beautiful. Two weeks ago we gave him a Book of Mormon in Chinese and he's 100 pages into it. He is incredible! He has a strong desire to be baptized and an even stronger desire to be a missionary. In 1 year he will be going back to China and he is already preparing himself to share what he's learning with his older brother, mom, dad, friends, neighbors, and anyone else who will listen to him. He has been coming to church for the last 3 weeks with a few other friends he's living with and one of his other friends has also agreed to take the lessons so I will have a report of that lesson by next week. What a great example he is of prizing a testimony by wanting to share it with others! He couldn't stop talking about how good he felt and how comfortable he felt. He is feeling and recognizing the spirit and it is changing his life.
I would briefly like to bear my testimony on the subject of how important YOU are. There is a point in each of our lives where we wonder if we really matter. We wonder if the decisions we make are important and if anyone is affected besides ourself. We could easily rationalize sin by telling ourselves that it will only affect our own life and no one else's. That is such a lie. You matter more than you think you do. There are people who need YOU. You are SO important!!! Your choices affect the history of this world and of eternity! I bear testimony that you are important.
Love Elder Janis