Dear Friends & Family,
This week was…difficult. We didn’t get a ton of work done, my companion faced some pretty difficult family problems, and J’s baptismal date dropped. I’m hoping this email won’t be too much of a downer though, there were still some really good, fun things that happened during the week.
So on Monday (P-day), we didn’t really do too much except we had lunch with both sets of Bartlett sisters at Fat Larry’s. It was really fun, I love all of them a lot, and I am so thankful to be friends with them! We also took a trip to the mall because Bath and Body Works had their winter preview for some of the new winter scents. I’ve become pretty addicted to B&BW. Their products work so well with mission life! It’s a struggle to keep my skin soft all the time with all the tracting and stuff, and it’s also a struggle to smell good all the time, but Bath and Body Works helps with both! Hahaha
Then Tuesday Sister M had to travel to Little Rock for an appointment, but rather than go with her this time, another sister whose companion was going to Little Rock came and stayed with me in Lakeland. This was my third exchange this transfer and I have one more coming up this week, and I’m not even a Sister Training Leader!! I find exchanges kind of stressful, but thankfully I haven’t had to leave my area, so it has been okay.
The sister I was with was interesting. She came out the transfer before me, and her name is Sister S. She is really nice, but we are really different people, and she kept doing this thing where she talked to me all the time about all these different things I would understand “when I had been out longer”. She’s only been out six more weeks than me!!!!!! Hahahah! It was weird, but I actually really liked her. We had a good time, and we got a lot of work done the two days we were together. She is a very diligent missionary and she feels the spirit super strongly. I really appreciated the chance that I had to get to know her better and to learn from her. I’m always thankful for the chance to make a new friend!
Book of Mormon class on Tuesday night was really fun, but kind of stressful. Tuesday was a super busy day, and I didn’t have time to make a homemade treat for class like I normally do, so I had to bring a store bought one. It was kind of embarrassing, but I don’t actually think anyone cared (but I did!!!). That night we had had dinner at the N’s and their family is going through some really stressful times right now. I have spent so much time with them at this point, that I kind of feel like just another member of the family when we go over there, so that night I hopped right into the kitchen and started making dinner because Sister M had so many other things going on. I think Sister S wasn’t quite sure how she should act around them, but she was a total sweetheart, and was just like another part of the family come the end of the evening!
Now for some of the not so good things that happened this week. Wednesday morning we got a text from J’s mom letting us know that she could come to church on Sunday, but that she was not allowed to do anything else, and we were not allowed to visit her during the rest of the week. We knew this meant trouble. On Sunday J had been confident in her being able to be baptized on the 31st, but that no longer looked like a possibility. When we did see her on Sunday she told us that a teacher had called J’s mom about J’s supposed bad behavior in class, and as soon as that happened her mom pulled the plug on the whole thing. I was really upset initially, especially because I feel like my time here in Lakeland is winding down and I probably won’t be here to see J get baptized, but I have been praying about it, and I have realized that maybe seeing J get baptized just isn’t my miracle, maybe it’s meant for someone else. I have already received an abundance of testimony building miracles, just from knowing this special girl, and it would almost be selfish of me to ask for more.
Wednesday afternoon Sister M came back to me and she was really struggling. She found out some really upsetting things from her family back home on Monday, and just hadn’t been able to shake her fears all week. It’s so hard for me to see her struggle like this, especially when I know how strong and special her testimony is, and how much she is needed in this work. Thursday morning we got her a blessing, and it helped, but much of the fear and sadness was still there. We spent a lot of time this week taking things slow, and allowing Sister M to try different things to feel better. Because of this we really didn’t accomplish a lot in terms of missionary work, but I think that Sister M needed it. It’s often frustrating for me to feel like I am not accomplishing as much as I could, or as much as I have in the past, but I have been getting better at keeping in mind that the Lord has all sorts of different tasks set out for us to do, and I NEVER know better than he does, so as long as I am praying and following the promptings I receive, I can have faith that what I am doing is right.
The true bright spot of this week was definitely stake conference. We had a visiting member of the 70, Elder Thompson, with us, and the whole weekend was totally edifying and uplifting. My ward was well represented, as five members from Lakeland spoke during either the adult or general session. The whole weekend focused on the Sabbath day, and how we can get better at it. I loved this so much, and I also loved the focus on the ward council during the adult session. I am so motivated to become better at utilizing the ward council as a tool in missionary work. They are so important!!
Over all, even though it was a difficult week, it was a good one. Not every week can be sunshine and rainbows. One of my favorite quotes is: “I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night”. I think of weeks like this as the night, but there are so many stars to be seen! So many miracles twinkling out in the twilight, and the truth is, the blacker the night, the brighter the stars. We all need weeks like this to see the hand of God in our lives better, to appreciate the miracles we have seen, and to become better miracle workers in the lives of others.
Sister Hannah Kathryn Thomas
Hannah in her Halloween sweater, sent by her best friend Madison!