Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Slow start, fast finish.

Hello Everyone!
This week started soooooooooo slow. We had a pretty rough start to the week. Most of our appointments fell through, and I think I spoke too soon about it cooling off, because it was really hot again. Luckily by the time we hit Thursday things picked up and the end of the week was both successful and speedy. That was nice. Our most exciting news is that Leonila is being baptized this Saturday! We are so excited for her, and she is so thrilled. I've spent six months working with her, and it's been an incredible experience. So, after the afternoon session of General Conference on Saturday, we'll be having a baptismal service. What a way to start October! I'm pretty thrilled.

Thursday we had interviews. Last time we had interviews it was the first time we got to meet the Taylors. It was a little weird to realize that they have been here for 3 months now. As I was thinking about it, I realized how grateful I am that I have been able to work with 2 different presidents. It is so cool to see how personalities may be different, and styles may be different, but this work goes on irregardless. Interviews went well, with the most exciting news being that I now have permission to get my hands on a flute. I'm pretty excited. I'm excited to be able to play flute for the holidays. Playing flute at Christmas is one of my favorite things, and so I'm excited to have that chance this year. I really missed that last year.

We've had some cool experiences this week where the Lord has really blessed us. Multiple times we've felt prompted to stop by people we wouldn't have normally visited and found people to teach through them. We've been focusing a lot on not only getting to know the Spanish speaking members in this area, but also some of the English speakers. That is quite the task, because there are a lot of English speaking members of the church in this area. Hna Alvarez and I decided that we have an advantage because we are sister missionaries. We're such a rare novelty that the members are just excited to meet us and see that we exist, so it's pretty easy to meet them and share a short message. We had one visit this week where we stopped by a family, and their five year old girl came up and asked us if we were really sister missionaries, we told her yes and she said something to the effect of, "Oh, I've never seen real live sister missionaries before". We got a good laugh from that one.

The other really memorable event from this week was going to the Relief Society session from General Conference. I'll admit, I've never been much for this session. I'd always looked at it and thought it was for the "old women" and that it was boring. I worked really hard before this Saturday to come with an open heart and be ready to learn. The talk that really stood out to me was by President Utchdorf. In part of his talk he made a comparison to the book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a book I loved as a kid. I think that was God's way of telling me to listen up. :) In his comparison he talked about how at the beginning of the book Mr. Wonka announced to the world that 5 chocolate bars would have a Golden Ticket- a ticket to a lifetime supply of chocolate and all sorts of wonderful things. The world then began to buy tons and tons of chocolate, only to open each on and throw the chocolate away when no Golden Ticket was found. President Utchdorf then talked about how often we spend too much time looking for a Golden Ticket, and forget to savor the chocolate along the way. That really stood out to me. As a missionary we work at a pretty fast pace, and the time really flies by. We spend a lot of time looking for "golden investigators" and "golden contacts" and "golden referrals" and golden this and golden that... and after listening to the talk I realized that in all this search for the "goldens" sometimes we forget to savor the chocolate along the way. A mission is really, really, really hard. You face a lot of challenges and discouragement on a daily and sometimes hourly level. Some days you come home and only have the energy to crawl into bed and pray that you can get up the next day and do it all again. That said, a mission is also the best experience of my life. Between all the hard events you get these amazing moments that make everything worth it. President Utchdorf reminded me that I need to work harder to savor these moments, because they are passing, oh so very quickly. The numbers, and the hours, and the miles traveled will all melt into the past, but the memories of the people served and met will be things I can keep forever. That's pretty cool. So, with 6 months left to serve, I want to savor more. I know the routine, I've done this for a year now. But I don't want to get caught in the routine and miss seeing and savoring the "chocolate" along the way.

This next week is going to be pretty busy. Wednesday we have exchanges. I'll be here in Agua Fria, and Hna Alvarez is headed out to Wickenburg. Saturday we have Leonila's baptism, and then Sunday we will be going down to Mesa to see the visitors center with another family we've been working with. It will be a very full, and exciting week.

I love you all, thanks for your prayers, and letters, and support!
Hermana Okeson

Now for some pictures from Nicole. With nice weather, the two Hermanas decided to sleep out side. :)
I am sure that you all have wondered what Hermana does on her p-day. Wonder no longer. :)
Finally a trip to a sandwich joint. Hna Alvarez's dad runs some sandwich shops down in Florida. We found one in our area. This was my first visit. (Think Subway and your about on the right line. . . they're called Fire House Subs. It was pretty good.)

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