Then later in the week we revisited our youth and went to Girl's Camp! We drove up with a Bishop and his wife for the fireside and testimony meeting. It was so strange to be at camp not as a camper, and not knowing many people. It made me miss the days of pranks, singing camp songs until they are dead, smelling like a campfire, and bonding with my sisters. Those were magical days. We had the opportunity to speak for the girls. I talked about how my mission has been such a blessing, and how we should share this gospel with everyone we love. If it has blessed us so much, why would we keep it from others? They were so sweet, and so surprised to see us in pants and not our normal skirts.
The other day we were honored to have brunch with our neighbor, the less active widower who had not been to church in over 30 years. He has since come twice, and we always speak with him whenever we walk by. He has told us about his famous sourdough pancakes, and he invited us over to have some. We ate in his backyard. It was delicious! He said "I haven't cooked for someone in two years, and here I am feeding two sister missionaries!" It was so kind and thoughtful. He is such a sweet man. We invited him to attend church regularly. Although it seems like a simple commitment, it can make such an incredible difference in your life, if you let it. We have been so lucky to get to know him.
We have started teaching a little girl who is 10, and her father is less active. Each time we meet with them, her understanding grows, and his understanding is strengthened and renewed. He said this last time "Who knows, with these girls coming around, I just might be the one taking my grandma to church." He told us how some of his fondest memories are of his grandmother taking him to church on Sundays. I LOVE meeting people who are prepared for us. The Lord has his hand in their lives far before we ever get there. It is always so miraculous to see how ready some people are to accept the gospel.
Last night we spoke to a woman who was baptized when she was 18, was a member of the church for about 20 years, and then left the church. Things started going downhill when she moved to Utah. She experienced many different things- racism, people not welcoming her, and a lot of other things that really shook her testimony. This is the most frustrating part of my mission. She said "people should feel love, there should be no sadness, no hurt, but that's not how it is". Because there is such a large concentration of members here, the church becomes cultural, and it becomes difficult to distinguish from the gospel of Jesus Christ. It isn't fair that there are people misrepresenting the church and what it stands for. We can not pretend to be members of this church. If we are going to make that commitment, we need to take it seriously. We are disciples of Jesus Christ, and we need to be the beacon to which others can look to for guidance and help.
There are so many things in this world that promise happiness, that seem so desirable. But when we do the things of the world, we are left empty. The gospel of Jesus Christ offers us so much more. It offers us peace, lasting happiness, and true joy. This is why I am a missionary. I have seen the difference that this gospel can make in our lives. I am so grateful to see the miracle of the Savior's love and forgiveness. We can do all things through Jesus Christ!
I love you all and hope you are smiling!