Thursday, November 13, 2014

Week 37

Oh my goodness HELLO!!!! I'm so excited to talk to you all today!! I'm in Pittsburgh now!! I thought I was going to get called to the Pittsburgh mission and never actually get to serve in Pittsburgh! It's so different than State College! I'm so used to approaching college age students about the Gospel, so this has definitely thrown me for a bit of a loop, but the Lord is helping me :) 
My companion is Sister Williams. She is literally THE sweetest person in the world!! She actually goes home in 5 weeks, so I'm so sad!! She is hardest worker I have EVER met, and I am learning so much from you! GUESS WHAT!??? We thought we looked familiar to each other, and we figured out why....WE TOOK BEGINNING CLOGGING TOGETHER AT BYUI!!! How crazy is that!?? crazy. I'm addicted to clogging wherever I go, so that's how we figured it out hahaa. This week on Wednesday I will hit my 9 month mark!! I have mixed feelings about it. It's cool to think I've been a missionary for 9 months, but it also makes me sad because these 18 months are so special. I want to be a set apart servant of Christ my whole life! Alas, my time will come to return home, but we don't have to think of that right now :)

I've been reflecting on my past 9 months, and I've decided that I've like a TON. I'm also trying to stop saying "like," so I will be doing 10 pushups for that later. My understanding of the Gospel has increased so much. Because I know more about the Gospel, I've been able to apply it in my life better. As I exercise faith in Christ, repent of my mistakes, renew baptismal covenants by taking the sacrament each week, I seriously feel so good. I used to think happiness was something else, but I've just never felt more joyful. I can actually sleep at night now WHOOHOO! I've adopted the practice of putting wax in my ears when I sleep, so when I lose the wax or forget it somewhere, I go nuts. Sorry that was random. 

So I'm an STL (Sister Training Leader) now. I think I mentioned this in my last weekly letter, but it basically means that I get to learn like crazy from other missionaries! I'm so excited!!! We had our first MLC (missionary leadership counsel) where we talked about how we can improve the mission. We talked a lot about keeping an eye single to the glory of God. Sister Williams literally lives that statement. Right when I arrived, we got to work. We walked the streets and knocked on doors talking to everyone we could. We try to always keep our minds focused on the work. Sister Williams has greatly blessed my life already. In D&C 4 it says, "Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of god, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day. And faith, hope, charity, and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work." I'm learning much about what it means to be a servant of the Lord. being a dedicated servant means we constantly strive to develop Christ-like attributes. This transfer I've decided to work on patience--patience with myself and others. I have a tendency to require perfection. I set these crazy standards for myself that I can never reach. I often think with a "black and white" mentality-- you're either perfect or hopelessly flawed. I never leave room for improvement! Because I hold myself to this standard, I hold others to this standard. I've seen this make companionship relationships struggle. 
The Lord is so loving. He's not a harsh, God, but he's not a "comfortable God"either as Elder Holland says. He expects us to work hard and follow Him. He's merciful too. Always remember His love for you and His love for everyone else on this earth. I've come to know we cannot be perfect as Him, but we sure can be perfect in trying! We fall short, but His Atoning sacrifice allows us to be forgiven and try try again. His grace is sufficient for all those who have faith unto repentance (Ether 12:27). He gives us the strength to become better. 

This week has been a week of miracles!! We decided to tract a certain road one day. We thought of some people we thought we would meet. Sister Williams pictured a guy in a red shirt, and I pictured a guy with a beard in a blue shirt. As we knocked on doors, a guy in a red shirt answered the door, and we taught him about the Restored Gospel. We invited him to read the Book of Mormon, and he accepted a return appointment. SO COOL, HUH!?? The Lord is preparing people! We also talked to a guy in a blue jacket! We saw a girl walking down the street as we were about to knock on a door. Sister Williams thought she recognized her, so she waved. It turned out not to be the person she thought it was, but that wave gave us an opportunity to approach her. It turns out her and her boyfriend have been looking for a church! We're so excited to meet with them!!

Guess who is in my district...the Assistants to the President!!! I WAS FREAKING OUT WHEN I FOUND OUT! I was soooo nervous to roleplay with them and junk. The Lord gave me courage though, and we get along with them well. I realize now they're also just young adults wanting to serve the Lord. We all went out to dinner after MLC, and the dinner was taking longer than an hour. To show Heavenly Father we cared about using His time wisely, we went into the bathroom and prayed for help to find people who were prepared. We sat down next to a couple who was waiting to be seated and talked to them for a long time about their families. It turned out they lived in our area. We weren't able to exchange phone numbers to meet, but I know they'll be put in our paths again :) Now here's the cool part: our waitress was super nice, and she was wearing a cross around her neck, so we assumed she was Christian. SHE actually approached us about the Church, and we talked to her a little bit about what we do. She would walk way to take care of other guests, but the Spirit prompted her to come back and ask more questions. We ended up inviting her to church and are going to meet with her this week! Seriously.....????? Heavenly Father is SO awesome. When we show Him we want to help His children, He gives us opportunities :)

Okay, I must go, but I'm so very excited for this week! I've made some awesome goals to work toward, and I'm excited to learn! I hope everyone is having a great Monday!! 

Sister Sparks

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