It certainly does not feel like Christmas time here. By now in SLC there are typically lights up, and snow, and ice, and lots of wreaths and bows and trees and MUSIC but here I have not seen hardly any of it! But boy am I excited for Christmas! Our Mission President was inspired to have "Noche Blanca," or white night. Did I already mention this? I am just so excited about it! We are to invite every single person we teach to be baptized on the 24th, Christmas Eve. We have been receiving text after text from our AP of miracle messages from our state-wide mission and so many people have already been put on date for baptism! The mission goal is 40, so pray for us if you have time, to be led to those the Lord has prepared for this amazing White Night!!
This week was wonderful. Absolutely wonderful. It was the hardest and most overwhelming and most humbling and rewarding week. Just about every person Sister Smartt and I were working with has dissipated! Every person we had on date for baptism, every potential, every other investigator was no longer responding or progressing. Nancy even has gone under the radar and is neither home nor responsive to phone calls. Needless to say, on top of difficulties with my companionship, I was discouraged. It's funny how when discouragement starts to set in, we begin to doubt our understanding and our capabilities. We lose faith in the miracles the Lord can do. We lose hope and can no longer see a silver lining. It truly is so sad, and such a slippery slope, and I remember feeling this way almost all of the time when life was not going as awesomely as desired back at home. And then there was a miraculous chain of events on Saturday. We had the privelege of attending two baptisms, one for a young family in my ward, another for my companions old ward (of whom she primarily helped convert). The spirit was POWERFUL and the speakers, I mean I'm sure they were helping out Ivan and Hannah and Ellie and Brayden, all of the baptismees, but they were speaking for ME! Stake President Napp simply bore a powerful testimony of the truth of the gospel. He said with teary eyes that he knows Christ is our Savior. He knows God is our loving Heavenly Father. He knows Joseph Smith saw God and translated the Book of Mormon and restored the fullness of the gospel. ...and after I had heard person after person deny truths and challenge righteous behaviors and question my sanity and beliefs, it was glorious to hear such powerful conviction, backed by such pure love and humility.
Later that evening Sister Walker and I totaled up our statistics. We had one of the best weeks thus far on my entire mission. How had I not noticed our accomplishments? Sure, there was no progression, but it was evidence we were working hard. And the third and final and most important gift from God happened when we received a text from sweet less-active Tonya. She is a return missionary and after the death of her righteous fiance she plumeted into a decade of discouraging behavior. We have had the honor of visiting her and expressing the Saviors love for her and desire for her to repent and come unto him. She is such a hard worker and has steadily solidified celestial habits in daily prayer and scripture study. She cancelled one of her weekly appointments with us recently and I soon became concerned that she had become re-offended and overwhelmed and was straying from her strait and narrow path. She texted a response to our first inquiry in a LONG time for her to come to church with us Sunday, and it was "I will try." Excitedly and awe-struck we looped her in craftily by asking her to give us a ride to church, leading on that we did not have our car this week (which we did, hehe...). She came and the ward welcomed her warmly and she stated she was looking forward to coming back the following week.
Words cannot express the gratitude I feel. I have been grounded, and officially stand by the scripture I chose at the beginning of my mission to represent where I stand with the Lord, and it is Alma 26 "I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God. Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise HIS name forever."
This is the best happiness. I am so brim with joy, just as this scripture, just as Ammon states. I want to stay like this forever, I hope I can. I want it all for you. I really do. We as missionaries are encouraged to invite our friends and family to help us in hastening the Lords work. If any of you lack wisdom... haha.. my memorizations are taking over.. If any of you are struggling with this, with any fear or reluctancy, I promise it will become much more important to you and much easier as you strive to become broken hearted and deeply converted to the gospel of our Savior. Sister Bonnie Oscarson in her Conference talk "Be Ye Converted" talked all about this and it is amazing! So, I invite you all to form daily habits and act on your faith so that you might be able to obtain as I have, if you haven't already, a deep love and conviction of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I will be praying for you all!
I love you! I hope to hear from you! I hope you have a great first week of Christmas!
Sister Murphy Senior