Fun facts of the week:
1) There is a RIDICULOUS amount of squirrels in Tennessee. Those things scamper all over the place, and freak me out when they go all suicidal on me and run in front of our car. And our feet. And dogs. And run backwards. They're strange creatures.
2) I can't remember if I've mentioned this already or not, but there is an unknown group of people in Tennessee who are all from Guarrero Mexico, and who all speak this different language called Mixteco (pronounced Mys-techo). If you want to know more than that, ask Carissa - I'm sure she's already Googling it :) Anyway, it's a struggle sometimes, because we'll actually run into people here in Tennessee who speak only Mixteco - not even Spanish or English as well. You can imagine that fun language barrier, especially since there is literally no overlap between Spanish and Mixteco - it sounds completely different. Makes me wonder where this language came from... Book of Mormon!! (Hm. This is starting to ring a bell. I think I did write about this last week. Hopefully I didn't make the same joke then, as well :)
3) "You might be in Tennessee if" moment of the week - was we went through a trailer park, where Hispanics predominately lived, and 95% of the houses still had their Christmas decorations up, and they were all duct taped to their doors, windows, etc. Sister Smith made some remark about how "stereotypically Tennessean" that is, which made me laugh, since I seem to remember my family's Christmas lights being up for quite a while last year... :)
4) I have recently developed a serious love for pistachios! I never really tried them before I entered the MTC, and then the Barnes Family sent me some yummy spoils (thanks again :), including a bag of pistachios! That's the first time I tried them (well, that I remember at least - I'm sure someone is thinking "wait a minute, you tried them with me once!" Sorry :) and LOVED THEM! So, on that note, if anyone has an unloved bag of pistachios laying around, feel free to send that goodness my way. They'll definitely be appreciated :)
Miracles of the week:
1) Bonnie New was able to come to church! She is an AMAZING convert who hasn't been able to go to church much, because she cares for her sick Mom, her autistic grandson, and Carl (a renter who is slightly mentally handicap). That's a full load for ANYONE, let alone a 70 yr old woman. However, she has an amazing testimony, and dearly misses going to church. So, last week, we talked to her about prayer, and promised her that if she prayed out loud and with faith, God will perform miracles to get her to church. Sure enough, a few days later, she showed up to Sacrament meeting, BEAMING, with news that her daughter's work schedule had been changed, so she could stay home and watch the motley crew. Blessing indeed :)
2) We were teaching Chris the first lesson, concerning the doctrine of Christ - Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End. While we were talking about Baptism, Chris pipes up and asks "Actually, I wanted to ask you about that. Do you guys do that? The baptism thing?" We said yes, and asked why. He said "Well, I just really want to get baptized. I feel like something is missing in my life, and I think this is it. Would I be allowed to do that?" I was fairly blown away, and looked at his Mom Sarah, who is an inactive member of the church, and was probably just starting to realize what she has been holding from her kids for their whole life. She said yes, and we set a date for Chris to get baptized on May 11th - it's going to take a lot of work to get there, but with the Lord, all is possible!
After that lesson, we had to walk home in the pouring rain, and loved every moment of it. When you have that joy of missionary work, it takes a lot more than rain to put a dent in it :) We were practically skipping the whole way home!
3) We were teaching a Hispanic family this last week- Joel and Adelina. As we were wrapping up and getting ready to go, Joel mentioned "Oh, we actually have a Mormon movie". We were confused, he jabbered in Spanish for a while, and then finally got out a DVD - it was the Restoration movie of the Prophet Joseph Smith! Turns out, one of their neighbors was looting an abandoned trailer and found this movie among all the junk (which in itself, is a miracle, since there haven't been missionaries in this area for years, and we have no idea how they got it in the first place). He decided he didn't want it, and thought to give it to Joel and Adelina - they said they watched the movie, and loved the story. They want to know more :)
4) We took Imelda to the Nashville Tribute Band concert this last week, and were talking as we were driving up there. We have been teaching her almost every day for the past week, and have come to LOVE this humble girl. She shyly told us as we were driving up "you know, my sister and I were talking, and we both feel like since you have been coming to our house every day, whenever you are here, I feel like I've known you my whole life. Someone asked me the other day how many sisters I had, and I accidentally said 2 more - it feels like you belong in my life". Then, once we got to the concert, I pulled out my scriptures, and showed her the picture of my family in the front. She stared really intently at my family, and finally asked - "who is that?" Pointing to my younger brother, Eli. I told her it was my brother, who is actually her same age. She asked if he had ever come to visit TN before, and I told her no, and that he was actually all the way back in WA. She shook her head and said "I have seen this boy before. I don't know where, but I know him". I then taught her about the pre-mortal existence, and how we all lived with God before coming to earth, and are all Brothers and Sisters. She nodded her head and said "that is how I know him. I know it." So Eli, I've got someone to re-introduce you to someday :)
Phew. That was quite a list. Sorry for the numbers - for some reason, organizing things into lists like that helps me remember it all, and get it on an email. Anyway, it's been a wonderful week. I LOVE being a missionary! There is so much to life that I never realized or saw before I truly lost myself serving others.
I'll close with a powerful lesson the spirit taught me this last week. For background, I have been praying, studying and working on trying to become a powerful missionary. On trying to be bold, and say just the right thing to cut to the core of those whom I teach. I have seen wonderful examples of this in the lives of ancient missionaries - Alma, Ammon, etc. - and our modern missionaries as well - Elder Holland, etc. - and in my own family! As I have been striving to become this, and to purify myself enough to become that tool in the Lord's hand, the spirit taught me a lesson. I was reading with Chris in 1 Ne 7, specifically in vs. 17 and 18 - 17 But it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, according to my faith which is in thee, wilt thou deliver me from the hands of my brethren; yea, even give me astrength that I may bburst these bands with which I am bound. 18 And it came to pass that when I had said these words, behold, the bands were loosed from off my hands and feet, and I stood before my brethren, and I spake unto them again.After I read that, I realized what had happened here - Nephi was stuck in a spot, and prayed in faith for the power of God to burst his bounds. God heard his prayer, and blessed him according to his faith to overcome the situation - but He didn't bless him with what he asked for. He blessed him with power to "loose the bindings". I was struck in this moment, and the Spirit taught me what I really needed to strive for - the power of God is not the power to chasten or rebuke to repentance. The power of God is the power to love, and this love results in a desire to change. Since then, I have reworded my prayers and studies, and found myself already receiving an added measure of power to testify. How grateful I am for a Heavenly Father who teaches us patiently, and helps us progress :) I know He wishes the same for you! Learn from this experience, and pray yourself - perhaps pray to understand deeper something you yourself have been pleading for, and to recognize the blessing that He is giving you - for it is often different than what you ask for. The blessings sent may be different than what was requested, but they always come from Him. Always.
I love you all! Sorry for the lack of pictures - I'll get that going sometime soon!!
Love, Hna Lake
P.S. Shout out to ELI! I totally forgot to wish you happy birthday last week - sorry little man :) I hope you had an AWESOME day, and I'm super jealous I didn't get the yummy Thai food and Huckleberry cheesecake :) However, I'm also sure you ate my share (and then some :) Love you!