Monday, August 8, 2016

Sounds like a Stan, plan!

 Hey guys!

Hope your week was as great as mine was! I absolutely love the work. I am learning (not even a hard challenge for the most part) to love the people. My companion, the active members, the less active members, and the progressing, other, new, potential, and dropped investigators. Basically I just love everyone it's wonderful. Athens is great. This area is super...I don't know what to call it, diverse maybe? We have OU campus in our area that we get to go to sometimes. There are lots of super funny students there. We have the normal people that live in Athens or The Plains or other small towns. There's the people that have farms and are kind of red necks. There are some professors that teach at OU. There are old people, young people, and a little in between. It's fun!! I love the variety.

Even though we had a few pretty great investigators drop us this week, we still had a great time. I've learned what it feels like to be "devastated," as President Holland says in Preach My Gospel, when investigators don't read the Book of Mormon or follow through with commitments. As devastating as it is, it's not really disappointing. I know that we each have our agency. As long as I'm being exactly obedient and "being down" to follow the Spirit, we can do all things through Christ. Sister Blaser and I decided that we're more than just willing to follow the Spirit. We feel like being willing can sometimes be kind of grudgingly accepting the will of the Father, but being "down" is just absolutely going with the flow of the Spirit. Whenever a prompting tells us to do something, we don't doubt it. We know that the Lord knows WAY better than us, so we trust Him. In turn, I think He is beginning to trust us more on the daily. I love the Godhead, they're the coolest.

Okay something that stood out to me this week! We got an urgent call from President Daines. He gave us a referral that didn't have much time to sit around. When we got the referral, we were checking our plans to see when we would take the miles to get out to Shawnee (about 25 miles away. Miles are hard to deal with because we're suuuper tight. Most are used for meetings in Columbus to see her. We checked our plans for the next day and there, in our plans, was her street. In Shawnee! There is no way that wasn't inspired during weekly planning. We've already accounted for those miles which is a major blessing. We got a hold of her and found out she was baptized into the church a while ago but fell away soon after...but she is really interested in getting some help to come back. We rearranged our schedules a little bit to visit next week when she'll be home. Yay! I'm very thankful for the testimony building experience that makes me so thankful for weekly planning. I'm glad I got this testimony early on, because I've heard that there is a tendency for some missionaries in our mission to not love weekly planning as much as they should.

I am adjusting great! Sister Blaser has given me some wonderful suggestions that I'm applying and already seeing a difference. The hardest adjustment this far has been staying awake during personal study. Sister Blaser has been helping me find ways to do this. A goal to try for this week is making a schedule, with times and everything specific that I want to study, and having it ready for the hour of personal study. I'm confident that this will help a lot! I did it this morning and it made my studies way more meaningful.

This week we had a kind of emergency meeting. We were told on Tuesday and had to go super far on Friday. That stretched our miles a lot lot lot but the meeting was so cool, I learned so much. It was a safeguard training meeting. The whole mission was doing it. It's for the technology stuff we have and the "safeguards" we have to not abide it. It inspired me throughout the rest of my safeguard training (we work on during comp study) and getting my plans (I made a "if I get tempted to abuse my iPad" plan) created. I'm excited to have something ready to help me get away from temptation. Both Sister Blaser and I took some simple teachings from the conference and took the topics deeper and have been applying them to our missionary life and have been thinking about how we will apply them at home after our missions (long way for me, not thinking about that one too hard!!)

Anyway, it's been a great week. I've seen many tender mercies and miracles. I absolutely love the work so far. I can't believe I've been away from my family for over a month... Time flies when you're serving the Lord!

One of our (now former, he dropped us cause he doesn't like established religion) investigators is hilarious. I think I told you about him last week. Just a normal campus hippie at OU. He loves the connection he has with our church for 2 reasons: 1, he loves spiritual connection he can make. He loves to meditate (by picturing God, Jesus, Buddah, or whoever he feels like). He tried to tell us how to do it. So you have to sit down and relax and try to get rid of all your thoughts. You then say "infinite creator, move through me." Then he says he pictures any of those people (God, Buddah, etc) in gold lights. Soon all your thoughts are supposed to go away and you feel the 'infinite creator' move through you...but we tried and it didn't work lol. 2, he loves the idea of the priesthood. He says he has the same power... To heal people and bless them and stuff. Hahahahahaha he said he can take a bad thought and grab it and throw it away. Or take the sickness from someone's stomach and throw it
away. Hahaha he's so funny.... We tried to help him understand. Later in the lesson we gave him a picture of Christ. The one where he's coming out of the tomb and one hand is extended. He saw it, took a deep breath, and said "i love this picture. Because that's what I do!" Haha I guess he holds his hand open like that to get power to heal and bless others lol. But yeah, he says he believes in Joseph Smith (when I recited the first vision, he closed his eyes and put his hand on his stomach, afterwards he said he absolutely knew it was true. He says things like that can happen to him sometimes) and believes that the Book of Mormon is true. but he doesn't really like established religion. He thinks God is just in everything. We did all we could... Maybe if he meditates to God or something he'll feel the Holy Ghost prompting him to talk to us again. Hahaha but if nothing, we got some great memories and funny things to say all the time. Like the subject line! He sent that in a text once confirming a lesson haha.

K next investigator. He is cool, the other sisters contacted him a week before I came when they were on campus one day. We taught him the first lesson one day. I needed to extend hard baptism (the one with a date) by that day to complete the challenge president Daines gave us the first day. So I did! He accepted for September 3. Might be soon with some of his concerns.... He kind of has a boyfriend... And is living with him... Ha...But after the first lesson he came to church (nails freshly painted bright pink ah) and loved it! We realized he's in the elders area (Athens is split all funky) and referred him to them. Haha good luck elders, that's all.

We now have a super awesome progressing investigator. He's a junior in high school and knows lots of the young women in our ward. We brought one of them along and taught the restoration. He was so receptive and understanding and we really think he's excited to learn more.

That's about it... I love the weather! We try to bike everywhere we can to save on miles so we spend a lot of time outside. The ward is great. Our ward mission leader, Brother Baker, lives on a farm out pretty far in the country. They own over 100 acres of land and have goats, horses, ducks, chickens, roosters, dogs, and I don't even know just lots of animals. They had us over for dinner yesterday and it was so good, then we all sang some songs to his guitar after. Haha it was fun, people are talented out here (maybe just his family but idk). Everyone, seriously EVERYONE has either a cat or dog or both or quite a few of one or the other or both.. So many animals everywhere... I always pet the dogs while we talk to people
😀😀 I like dogs I decided. Maybe never want one (neighbors dog always poops right outside our place), but I'll pet other people's.

I love you all! Thanks for the encouraging emails.

Sister Barnes

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