My dearest family,
Holy cannoli guacamole. This week's title doesn't even begin to describe how blessed I feel. I'll share some of the miracles I've seen this week, because man...God is SO good. My eyes are being opened to see even more of the good of God and how merciful He is to us as His children, and me, as one of His missionaries. Don't get me wrong, there have been discouraging and tear-filled moments too, but I look back, and I'm focused on the joy I've felt.
Transfer news came on Saturday.....and I am staying in Pitt 3rd with Sister Simpson. PHEW. Ha ha. I was pretty sure I was staying, but I'm glad to know for sure. I just love her so much and am really grateful to have another transfer with her. Our musical of a companionship continues. ;-)
Also. SISTER MORGAN IS TRAINING. Ahhh I'm so excited for her!!! And yinz know what that means. I AM GONNA HAVE A GRANDDAUGHTER. WOOHOO!! So so proud. Also, we are getting a second set of elders in our district! It will be good for the P3 elders because up until now they've been in a Relief Society district ha ha ;)
On Tuesday, President and Sister Johnson came to our district meeting to interview us. His focus this time around was spiritual gifts, and as I reflected on the ones God has given me, I realized throughout the course of my mission, He has brought clarity to me about the gifts He has given me. As I recognize them more, I am able to use them and develop them in greater abundance. It is amazing! They are gifts meant to be shared--I know that is true for each and every one of us. He asked me to share two of my gifts with him, and he came back with comforting words of affirmation. He has seen these gifts in me as I have used and developed them.
Tuesday evening we saw Donny and Rose Meuser. Yinz prolly remember me mentioning Donny before accepting baptism...well...he's not ready to be baptized yet, but he and his wife are making progress! His heart has definitely been softened from when the sisters tried to teach him before, so that is a huge blessing and miracle. We even read the Book of Mormon with them! It was awesome.
Kay, so do you remember Tom? So, he's super super awesome possum lemon blossom. We met him at Starbucks for another lesson, and found out he had read all of 1 Nephi! Wowzers. And he got so much out of it! He understood what was going on and describe 1 Nephi as "a journey of faith". As such, we talked a lot about faith. He talked about some of his life experiences, and we shared ours (I even shared the story about my tumor...he's in he medical field so that was especially profound to him). We asked him if he had prayed to know if the Book of Mormon is true, and he said he hadn't. He said he hadn't and he said he feels like he doesn't know enough. We testified that he could come to know the truth of it and our message if he keeps reading, studying, and praying. He asked, "What is the benefit of knowing that the Book of Mormon is true?" We led him to the introduction of the Book of Mormon and had him read the last two paragraphs. We asked him what it meant, and he sat there and reread it. He sat back, and said, "Oh, that means this is the next step." We watched it sink in as he thought about it more. A huge smile came on his face and said, "Okay. This is the next step for me to take to get closer to God." (This was one of the coolest moments!!) I knew we needed to invite him to be baptized, so I asked him. "Tom, once you come to know the Book of Mormon is true, will you follow Christ's example by being baptized by someone who holds the prophet priesthood authority of God?" His response was a resounding "Absolutely!" It was so amazing. He is so open and prepared, and it's amazing to see the Spirit work on him like that. I am so excited to see where he goes! And I am just amazed. I think back to how we meant Tom, on our way to visit a member of the ward in the hospital one afternoon. God truly is in every single detail.
Earlier this week I was in tears because a less-active member of the ward was less than kind. Our efforts to reach out in love and concern were in vain as she came back with hurtful words and belittling names. (She struggles a lot with many different challenges, but it still was painful to be on the receiving end.)
But this gives me comfort, peace, and hope:
"When you struggle, when you are rejected, when you are spit upon and cast out and made a hiss and a byword, you are standing with the best life this world has ever known, the only pure and perfect life ever lived. You have reason to stand tall and be grateful that the Living Son of the Living God knows all about your sorrows and afflictions." (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland)
He knows. He knows what this feels like. He knows what it feels like to be rejected, cussed out, and cast out. He knows the hurt that it brings as well as the tears. But I take comfort knowing that I am standing with the best life that has ever lived, the best life this world has ever known. And He knows. He knows it all. And He hasn't left me alone, nor will He ever leave me alone.
While we're on the topic of opposition, let me tell yinz about our lesson with Isabel. She is this sweet older lady (in her 80's) that we went to go see. We taught her the Restoration, and showed her the 5 minute First Vision video. I kid you not, right as the first vision was being depicted, a big truck is turned on across the street, and right as the words "Joseph, this is my Beloved Son. Hear Him!" are being uttered, a crazy-loud lawn mower started up next door. Are you kidding me?! But all is well in Zion--she felt the spirit...even though she said she wouldn't be baptized. I believe we played a part in helping prepare her for the spirit world. We did our part, and that's all we could do. But oh boy. Satan's influence is so real. But the work will move forward. "No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing."
So, real quick: the sisters serving in Wheeling, WV came up to blitz our area (when we split off and all four of us work in this area). It was so fun! And miracles happened. We ordered pizza for dinner and that night after our nightly planning, we watched the Studio C Face2Face event. IT WAS SOO GOOD. The tears. The laughs. The spiritual moments. TENDER MERCIES for Sister Bartlett to get a taste of Studio C on my mission. I'm so grateful!!
Man. So many things! The gem of all gems: Tonya. Wednesday night (I wasn't there), the elders brought an investigator to BOM class. They found her while tracting in their area (she was babysitting for someone there). She came, they read 3 Nephi 11, and had a church tour right afterwards. The spirit was really strong, and she even asked in the chapel, "So, how do you become a member?" They invited her to be baptized and she accepted!! She actually lives in our area, so they passed her off to us to start teaching her. We had our first official lesson yesterday and it was so good! She is so genuine and sincere and she even prayed for the first time out loud at the end of our lesson. It was beautiful.
Ahhhhh!!! Soooo many miracles, tender mercies, and just goodness. I hope you have a beautiful week and see all the goodness God is blessing you with. And always remember that He is on your side and always will be. He's fighting for you!! I LOVE YOU!!!!
"Keep loving. Keep trying. Keep trusting. Keep believing. Keep growing. Heaven is cheering you on today, tomorrow, and forever." (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland)
sending love and a huge hug from PA,
Sister Bartlett xoxo
The Pitt 3rd plus Greensburg District and President Johnson
Twinner Twinner Chicken Dinner!
A small glance of Fall in PA - Beautiful!
With Sister McDonald - softening hearts, one door at a time!
With Sisters Jacobson and McDonald