First off, thank you so much for all of the birthday wishes! I'm so very thankful for each of you. You all made my whole day!!!
This week was such an amazing week. We saw many miracles, and they came right in the time that we needed them the most. It seemed like all of our lessons cancelled this week at the last minute, which meant lots more time to find our brothers and sister that are prepared and searching for the joy, hope, and peace the Restored Gospel brings!
* We did a District Tract Wednesday night in our area. It was 8 PM and so dark. The temperature was in the teens (with the wind chill, it was in the negatives), AND part of our district didn't show up. I will be honest, I was not in a good mood, and I had no clue why! It was one of those days when nothing seemed to work out, and it was bitter cold! We had prayed and felt like we needed to visit these roads, so we started knocking on doors, and, to say the least, we didn't have the nicest experiences. After about the third door we knocked on, I just had a little vent session to Heavenly Father as we walked up to the fourth door. I said a little prayer to give me the strength to keep going and just pleaded with Him to help me know why we are doing this. We knocked on that door and the NICEST guy opened the door. We talked for a little, shared the Book of Mormon, gave him a copy, and he said that he wanted to learn more and to come back next week when his kids weren't all asleep. In that moment, I was just overwhelmed with gratitude for a loving Heavenly Father who is so aware of us. It is times like this, which may seem like such a small thing, but in that moment that was exactly what I needed. That experience gave me a daily reminder that I need sometimes that we are all children of a loving Heavenly Father.
We continued down that road and met some of the most amazing people I have ever met--kindest people, who have such an incredible love for our Savior and welcomed us right in. How grateful I am for a loving Heavenly Father who so kindly and patiently listens and answers my silent prayers/vent sessions over and over again, and continues as I strive each and every day to let my faith override my fears. And, for the many moments like that night, that my fears become so much more apparent, loving me through it, and helping me learn once again that as we exercise faith and trust in him, all will work together for the good.
* Yesterday, church was cancelled because of icy road conditions, but we were able to still go out all day. It was another day full of finding potentials, part-members, tracting, and everything in between. I woke up with the worst head cold, and my voice was like five octaves lower, haha! Luckily, I had been preparing a talk for Sacrament meeting yesterday on strength, and the strength we can receive as we rely on our Savior, Jesus Christ, and His atonement. I said a prayer and pleaded for strength that I needed to work my very hardest that day. As the morning went on, my head cold, cough, and throat got better and better.
We had such an amazing day. We were out trying to contact the people we had in our records when Sister Spencer turned to me and said, "We should try formers," so we immediately started trying formers. We went to the closest former we had in our records, and the address took us to a street I had never seen before. We knocked on their doors, and then as we were walking away, I turned to Sister Spencer and said that we should tract this road. So, we did and met some awesome people. On the very last home on the road, we walked in, knocked on the first door in the 4-plex, and we started talking to a guy. Long story short, he is a member but hasn't been active since he moved a couple of years ago. None of his family are members. He gave us his number and said to come by this week when everyone's awake!
We knocked on the next door and Ben opened the door. He said he would love to hear our message. We shared the message about the Restored Gospel and the Book of Mormon, gave him a copy, and set up another appointment with him next week. He loved it! He also said he is looking for a church!
We knocked on the next door and Davo answered. He wanted to hear our message as well. He shared with us how his friend just recently returned home from his mission, and Davo has been wanting to learn a little more. We are meeting with him again next week, too.
Sadly, no one was home at the fourth door, but Sister Spencer and I called it the MIRACLE APARTMENTS! So cool to witness so many people that are really searching for something more in their lives and to have a message that will fill their lives with that peace and happiness they are looking for.
I was talking with Sister Spencer last night, looking back on the day, and realized how happy this work makes me, how happy the Gospel makes me feel, and how happy I am being a missionary. Even though I was sick, and we were knocking on doors all day, I was just SO HAPPY all day. This is a gospel of happiness!!
This email is already a novel, so I'll spare you having to read a ton more, but the day was truly incredible! I wrote just a few of the many, many miracles we saw. They may seem so small, but each time they reminded me of how important this work is, how much I truly love being a missionary, how aware the Lord is of everyone, how thankful I am for the spirit that will lead and guide us to those that are searching for something more, and how incredibly thankful I am for the Restored Gospel, and the happiness, hope, and eternal perspective it has brought me in my life.
A little update on Gerard--he is doing amazing! We finalized his baptism program this week. I think he is more excited than we are, and that's saying something cause we are SO excited for him. We finished teaching the commandments this week, and I am truly amazed at how much faith he has. Each commandment we have taught him he just listens and then immediately makes the necessary changes, or begins to live them right away. Truly incredible. He is living testimony of Mosiah 2:41, and every time in the scriptures where it says, "As we live the commandments, we are blessed/filled with happiness." He told us yesterday that if he didn't receive an answer that this church was true, he would know either way because of how happy he has been since he started living the commandments and going to church.
Okay, and last thing--Like I said, I was preparing a talk for Sacrament meeting but then church was cancelled, so giving my talk never ended up happening. Haha! But, I want to share a couple of thoughts as I studied and pondered the word "strength" this week. All throughout the Book of Mormon, it talks about how many different people prayed in times of trouble and affliction for the strength to overcome, or continue to push through, and they received the strength they needed. Just like Nephi when his brothers bound him with cords (1 Nephi 7:17), or when Alma was praying for the strength to bear these afflictions which came because of the iniquity of his people (Alma 31:30-31), and so many more examples. Just like these amazing prophets and examples, as we exercise faith, turn to prayer, and plead for strength to face the trials or things we are facing, we will receive the strength we need through Jesus Christ and His atonement. I have felt that strength through Jesus Christ and His atonement. I have felt that strength every single day of my mission, and I know without it I would not have been able to do the things that have been required.
I love this Gospel and I love my Savior, Jesus Christ, so much. He lives and loves us, and as we rely on His atonement, we will find the strength we need to do all that is asked.
Love you all! Have such a good week.
Sister McKenna Lake