Monday, September 23, 2013

23 September 2013

Dear people,

Anyone who is friends with me on Facebook saw me post about the experience in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU). That was an unexpected experience.

I guess all the good ones are.

We got a phone call from the sister missionaries asking us to give a blessing to someone they were teaching. They didn't warn us about anything (maybe that's the wrong word) so we headed over to the hospital, walked the 50 miles to find the room, and then realized we were in the NICU. 

A nurse brought us over to the incubator that the baby was in. She was born 2-3 months early, I'm not too sure. Tiny. The first thing I noticed was the nurse rubbing its arms, trying to get blood flow or something. As we got closer I realized it was even smaller than I initially thought. We had no idea how to give a blessing to a baby whose head is the size of a tennis ball. So we excused ourselves to make a few phone calls.

And naturally no one answered. We called the mission president, his wife, the counselors, their wives, the mission office...We stood in the hallway looking like a bunch of amateurs haha. Then a small miracle happened and a woman walked around the hallway, actually a nurse, and said, "you look lost!" We were. Turns out she was LDS and specialized in NICU care. Woo! So we talked to her, she went and looked at the baby, and then told us what we should do. Haha I felt like a child. So we each put a finger on the baby's head and gave it a blessing. 

It was a really powerful experience. There was a really sweet spirit in that hospital room. It was one of the more powerful experiences on my mission and one I hope I'll never forget.

The day before we had had the unique opportunity to counsel with President Toone on some mission topics. We had driven to the mission home for something and he had invited us in to talk. We sat down and talked about some of the needs of the zone and of the mission. For 1.5 hours we talked about refocusing and future trainings. It was really awesome to be able to talk about the whole robotic thing - which has been my focus for the past transfer. President said, "SLC doesn't want robotic missionaries, I don't want robotic missionaries, you don't want robotic missionaries, and the Lord doesn't want robotic missionaries." 

We realized what makes a robotic missionary:
1) the MTC
2) Nerves
3) Laziness 

So at President's request and approval we are going to be refocusing and doing a lot more exchanges and doing a lot more hands on activities to teach how to be...normal. 

For instance last night we had a really cool OYM. We walked up to them, three women outside, started laughing with them, asking about work, and the I asked, "What was the highlite of your past week?" "Work," one said, "school," said another, and the last said, "my husband coming home." We asked, "Oh yeah? Where was he?" "At a family funeral."

And BAM! A smooth transition into the doctrine of eternal families and the plan of salvation. We have a return appointment tonight.

I also was able to go on exchanges with someone in his first two weeks last week as well. He is an amazing missionary but was worried about OYMs. We talked for a while about really loving and really serving and really caring and how you can relate that to OYMs. Next I told him that in an OYM we need to be looking "for clues:" cars, posters, you name it. There's always something that can help you have a nice conversation with someone. We walked up to a man grilling some hotdogs and hit it off with him about hobbies and talents. His wife came outside next and started speaking in a pretty loud voice about how she had just been offended by two mormons. 

I was pretty sure she was going to start anti-ing us but we asked her more about where she was from and how she met them. She eventually started to cry as we learned these "two mormons" were their close friends and she was scared of losing them. She was stressed and tired. We bore testimony and I shared DC 24 with her about being patient in afflictions. Those Elders have a return appointment with her tomorrow.

It just works. There is so much of a difference between a rote approach and a genuine question. It just works!!! The next question is how to get that out to the mission...

We had the really great experience this past week to have a small lesson and take President and Sister Toone out with us. We have a woman on date to get baptized next weekend and she had some concerns we couldn't address. We took P and S Toone and told them the stage was theirs and by the end of it the woman was ready. She sent us a text message that night saying, 
"I did read and will continue. Thank you for the opportunity to be there tonight. My fears and doubts are all alleviated; a huge step for me. I am ready to be baptized. The meeting was outstanding. Thank you."

The six words, "I am ready to be baptized" were touching and inspiring to hear. President and Sister Toone are good missionaries! 

I fall asleep ridiculously fast. I can lay down, head on pillow as Elder Friley started his nightly personal prayers and be asleep before he finishes. His prayers aren't long. That's a blessing! 

We've been visiting some people in the zone this past week in the mornings at around 8am. We show up at their door, a surprise, with donuts in hand and take personal and companionship study with them. It has been fun to be with them as they've prepared for the day, learn from them, and offer them advice as well. We've been asked to let our area slow down a bit and focus on others' for a bit. 

Why? 71 missionaries are in their first 12 weeks. 71 of 191. 100 of those are in their first 18 weeks.

Yeah. The mission is insanely young right now.

This past week for personal study I have been rereading the last conference talks in preparation for the upcoming conference! What has stuck out to me is how almost all of the talks focused on 1) the family, 2) personal peace, and 3) being close to God. I'm really excited for this upcoming conference, for announcements, and for taking investigators. I'm sure this extra preparation will help more than just me. And the great thing is that because I'm taking the notes on the gospel library app they all sync up with my account so I'll have them forever! 

The lowlight of this past week was losing my camera and all the pictures I've taken for 15 months! I was stressed out of it and sat down and thought about every step I had taken in the past 4 days. That was a lot of steps. I worked out that it was in the house but I couldn't find it anywhere.

I found it yesterday morning! It was at the bottom of my backpack that I don't use anymore. Que milagro! 

We've been getting anti'd a lot over Facebook. That's the downside of the online aspect - people have access to false information and share things they shouldn't. 

Someone I'm teaching on Facebook was in the same building that the suicide attacks that happened yesterday in a Pakistani Christian church! How ridiculous is that? He has been messaging me and sending me pictures of it and it is absolutely insane. Pray for them!

We found a family this week through amazing circumstances. The Relief Society was given charge to hand out invitations to the General Relief Society broadcast this week to every sister. Well, for one reason or another they got it late and the presidency had to hand deliver everything. Most of them ended up taped on doors. The Presidency wasn't too excited about the prospect of delivering 200 invitations but did it regardless.

One of those invitations ended up on a families door who hadn't been to church in a while and whose father was investigating but moved and lost contact with the missionaries. They hadn't sent their records over and had no idea how the church knew their address. That touched them. And then the next night we ran into them and they took it as a sign! He's on date now for the 19th of October! We told the Relief Society President and she was visibly happy to see the fruits of her labors.

Yesterday I reached the highest point I've been to on my mission. The seventh floor of the hospital! Everything here is flat.

IT'S COLD...ish!!! Yesterday couldn';t have been over 85 degrees with a nice cool breeze all day! Today it's 81 and it feels like HEAVEN! I forgot what it felt like to not be melting.

Anyway, thanks for the letters Mark, Eric, Will, and Mom! 

Hope everyone has a great week this week!
Con amor,

(Sorry, I forgot my sunglasses were on in that picture)

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