This is the second time I have celebrated a birthday in the mission field. The first time was when I turned 22. I was serving in Berlin and our zone had organized a missionary choir to sing Christmas Carols as a way to get people introduced to the church. On my birthday we were in front of Gedåchnis Kirche (Memorial Church) and the entire choir sang Happy Birthday to me.
Today was just as wonderful. Around 12:00 the Muskigo Lakes District (10 missionaries) showed up at my doorstep and sang Happy Birthday to me! Fun Day!
Saturday, November 19, 2016
Here it was November 19 and I had not seen any inkling of snow. As a matter of fact, we have been having cool but beautiful weather. Well, this morning as I was doing my exercises and looking out the picture window of our den, I saw white flurries floating down! It was so great to see our first snow.
I had told the missionaries yesterday that I thought it was all a big hoax about these bad winters and they said, "Just you wait!"
We had amazing zone conferences this week. Each one was better than the last, but I think we just got better each time sharing our thoughts. We have been to the north-west in Wausau, then Green Bay, then Oshkosh, and yesterday Madison. The best experience of all just snuck up on us. During one zone conference the Sister Training Leaders had asked a missionary to share how a senior companion had changed his life. He was so humble and sincere. He talked about how tough and proud he had been but how this companion had shown true Christ-like love and had humbled him to his knees. After each zone conference President Williams has a meeting with the zone leaders, district leaders and STLs. He asks one question. "What did the Holy Ghost teach you that we didn't teach you?" One elder said his favorite part of the zone conference was this elder's comments. Then President Williams shared how this missionary was so close to going home because no one could get along with him, he was so abusive verbally and sometimes physically. In a last attempt to save him he assigned a past zone leader to be his senior companion. That senior companion called the president almost daily telling him he couldn't take it anymore. He shared how this elder would put him down and just get up during a discussion and wander around. There was little teaching going on. The president kept telling him to see him through the eyes of the savior. Keep showing him love no matter what he said or did. It was so hard to watch this great missionary spend the last weeks of his mission going through such a tough situation. Then very gradually his comments about this trouble elder started to soften. Then one day President Williams got his weekly email from this junior companion. He said he and his companion were at a doorstep sharing their message with a woman who had no interest in their message. A thought just came to his mind. He asked her, "Is there something in you life that is missing?" Her whole countenance changed. Tears started to stream down her face. She said there was. They listened. He said this was the first time in a very long time that he felt the spirit. It was the turning point in that young elder's life. There was a total change. After President Williams shared this experience other missionaries opened up about challenges they had or were having with their companions and how they would try to be like that senior companion that changed this elder's life. I think that meeting was the best experience of my mission so far. The atonement of Jesus Christ truly changes lives, especially that of the missionaries.