Hello wonderful family!!
This area is amazing. It is a BIG area, and we had limited kilometers to use due to the end of the month so we had to be tricky with where we went and how we used our time. There was a lot of walking and a lot of running haha. And I only have one pair of working shoes now, and they aren't boots, and Sister Chelson doesn't have boots or a winter coat so this early spring season is pretty chilly for the both of us. We are loving it :) This area is amazing. The people are wonderful. Our Bishop is from South Africa - as always we have people in our ward from all around the world. They are very welcoming and friendly, and they LOVE missionaries. We have dinner appointments almost every night and some lunches. While the people are wonderful, the work has the reputation of being very slow. Everyone works and is away during the day, and everyone has cars so no one is outside walking. It is a place of tracting. The stake just had a fast for the members to have a missionary opportunity and the members are gung-ho (spelling haha) about it and we are SO EXCITED to help them out. We got into our area and there is very little action right now. And with us being new, not knowing the members, the area, and having no investigators, there is a lot of work to be done. And boy oh boy have we been praying a lot. My testimony of prayers of faith increased so much this week. I will tell you a couple experiences we had in a little bit.
Sister Emily Chelson is from Saint Anthony, Idaho. She is AMAZING. That word really doesn't cut it, but it's the best that I can do. She is just on fire with the work. She loves every minute of it. Haha the second day, we were walking around our area and needed to get back to the car in time for our dinner appointment. We started to run and after a little while Sister Chelson says to me, "Sister Bodine, I don't know if you already know this, but we have the best mission in the world." We get along really well. We have been making an emphasis on being proactive with everything. We walk quickly, we talk to everyone, we pray A LOT.. we are just so happy. She is a GREAT teacher. She loves everyone around her. She isn't afraid of making a mistake, she just does the work and learns. I am blessed with such an amazing companion. It makes me so excited to see what her mission has in store. She is a natural-born leader.
Sister Chelson and I had the marvelous opportunity to surprise Brother Newall and be at the temple with him when he went for his first time! Usually we aren't able to go when we are not serving in that area, but President gave us special permission to go with Brother Newall. Turns out that Brother Newall had been praying and praying that I would be able to join him. He didn't know that we were coming - it was SO MUCH FUN to see his eyes light up when he saw us walk into the waiting room at the temple. He was able to be baptized for his father, and Marcella (she was baptized a week before Brother Newall) was able to be baptized for his mother and grandmother. Such a sacred sight. I am so grateful we were able to go. But I think the thing that made me the most excited was being able to go with Sister Chelson. I was so happy for her that her first experience on her mission was seeing a recently baptized member go through the temple for the first time. Hopefully it set the goal for her to help those she teaches to get to the temple. :)
On Thursday, we had an amazing day, but it wasn't very successful despite our efforts. We got to our dinner appointment on time and were about to pray in the car before going in. That whole day we had been praying for the Lord to guide us to where He needed us to be because we did not know the area. As we parked the car, we saw a man walking his dog, and before praying we felt that we should get out and talk to him. We got out of the car, crossed the street, and he yelled "Mormon missionaries! I have never seen Mormon missionaries in all my years of living on this street!" We greeted him and he told us that he was a Mormon! He and his wife hadn't been to church for the past 10 years due to historical things about the church that they didn't agree with. He said he was talking to his wife just a few days previous and they were remarking that they hadn't seen Mormon missionaries in a very long time, and they couldn't remember a single time that missionaries had come near their area. He continued to talk and we listened without putting a single word in. Haha he gave us his address and told us to come over and visit him and his wife any time. Wow. We could probably say that the Lord answered our prayer :) and he answered our new friend's inquiry without him even planning on it! All in the Lord's timing. But what's even cooler is that while we were talking another girl approached us in our conversation and asked us who we were. We were able to talk to her about our purpose as missionaries. By this time we were a few minutes late for our dinner appointment so we just waved at a man and his dog while we hurried to the Sim's door. As we knocked, that man walked up to us and asked us what we were doing, and what our purpose was as missionaries, etc. Haha the Sims saw that we were having a conversation so they waited to open the door until we were done talking. But in those 10 minutes, 3 people approached US and asked US about who we are. It was such a testimony builder to me that if we work by the spirit, and we strive to be led by the Lord, people will see that we are different and will be interested in finding out more.
And then GET THIS!!!! We felt good in that area where the Sims lived so we decided to go back the next day and tract the area. We knocked on every door, only a few people answered and the ones who did were very quick to reject our invitations. The next day, the Sims got a knock on their door, it was one of their neighbors. He asked Brother Sim if he was a Mormon. Brother Sim said yes, and his neighbor told him that some missionaries had knocked on his door very recently and he was interested in learning more about the church. He wanted to know what life was like for a Mormon family. Sister Sim saw us at church yesterday, and very excitedly ran over to tell us the story. She told us that they exchanged numbers and got his address and plan to invite them over for dinner sometime to answer his questions and spend some time together. Sister Sim is a returned missionary and she is so excited to have an opportunity again to be a missionary for this neighbor and his family. And the thing that made us the most happy was what she said at the end, "The spirit you sisters brought into our family's home and our neighborhood was very special and very unique. And because of who you are, our neighbors were able to see that light that you have. We are very grateful to have you in our ward."
On Saturday, we had the goal to find a new investigator. It was going to happen, and we felt SO GOOD about the area that we were working in. As we were walking a little later in the day, we were feeling a little slower and not much was happening so we decided to stop and pray. But it was a weird spot to pray because we were on a very busy street so we decided to turn off onto a smaller road and pray there. But when we got to the smaller road we decided to cross the street and walk a little further and pray there. But then we saw a mailbox a little ways away and decided to walk to that mailbox and pray behind there. Then we saw a man walking his dog so before we prayed, we went to talk to him. Our new firefighting friend, Grant, is curious and willing to learn more about our message. We were guided every step to him through our unsaid prayer :)
And those were just a FEW of our miracles last week. I know that this is God's work. We are the Savior's hands. It is the spirit teaching. There is no greater and more satisfying work than this. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else right now. And there is nothing greater that I want to think about. I COMMIT to serving the rest of the Savior's mission here with no regrets. These next several weeks will be the greatest weeks of my mission and for my life. Sister Chelson and I have committed to do it together and we are so excited :)
Thank you for everything! Have a great week!