Okay, so we had zone conference on Thursday, and as usual, "it....was....AWESOME!" (Anyone ever seen that episode of Reba? No? Okay, well, moving on!) President Woods talked to us about becoming Preach My Gospel, not just using it as a manual. That's definitely something I can improve on; I know that Preach My Gospel was definitely inspired---it was written in heaven, and compiled here on earth. President also talked to us about how to be more bold in declaring the truths that have been restored here on earth today. We've been given some new pass-along cards that are REALLY cool; they have questions of the soul printed on one side, and as we ask people to read the question to themselves, we know it's making them think about these deep questions that will lead them to sincerely seek the truth. We know that this new way of contacting people is going to do SO much good, because Satan is already fighting hard against it. But we know that as we roleplay and have the faith to open our mouths to all we see, we'll be put the path of those who are ready to progress closer to Heavenly Father.
President was also pretty funny this zone conference. I was leading the music, and we'd made it weakly through two verses of "Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise" when he stopped Sister Thomas at the piano. He encouraged the elders to really sing, and had them stand up. Then he said, "You know, Sister Pedersen is doing such a good job up here, elders, and she's nice to look at too, so look up!" I'm pretty sure I turned beet red. I laughed. Hee hee...it still makes me laugh as I think about it.
President Woods made another funny comment a little later on---he said, "Sister Pedersen is what I like to call sophisticated country." Not entirely sure what that means, but again, it made me and everyone else laugh. Good old President.
The only part I did NOT enjoy about zone conference was giving my "go-home" testimony. As I stood at the pulpit, I told the other missionaries that this was the day I'd been dreading since the beginning of my mission. I love being a missionary so much, and I know I'm needed at home, but it's still going to be hard. Anyway, I bore my testimony of the vital importance of the work that we are doing. I shared an experience that I'd had earlier this week.
Sister Thomas and I were out tracting, and we were invited into a home. As we came in, the man on the couch seemed to ignore us, and there was a definite hostility in the air. He told us to "share the word," so we started slowly into teaching him about how we knew that God is our Father, and that He cares about us. As the lesson went on, the hostility was still there, and I thought for sure that he was about to start pulling out anti any second. But as Sister Thomas shared the First Vision, and as I bore my testimony after her, the Spirit came in, and the feeling in the room changed dramatically. I then got to teach about the Book of Mormon, and bore my testimony of it. The Spirit touched me so strongly; I told the man how much I loved the Book of Mormon, and how it has helped me know my Savior better. It has helped me draw closer to Him, closer than anything else ever has. By the end of our lesson, the man's countenance and attitude had completely changed. He told us that he was an apostolic pentacostal preacher (BIG surprise....NOT), and that he'd heard the story of Joseph Smith before, but that there was something about the way we told it that made it different than before. We told him that the difference was the Spirit, telling him that this was something he needed to pay attention to.
As I finished sharing this story, I bore my witness that I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I bore witness of the Prophet Joseph, and of President Monson. I told the other missionaries to cherish every day, because it goes by faster than you know, and that now is the ONLY time we'll ever have this chance to change peoples lives in this way.
It probably wasn't the most eloquent of testimonies, but I felt the Spirit as I testified, so I know that it was okay.
Um...oh yeah! I am officially 23. Weird. But fun. Fun, because I have some pretty incredible friends here in Louisiana. Two AMAZING gals from Baton Rouge drove up to Oakdale to bring me a birthday cake on Saturday night. I was SO surprised! I loved it! Seeing Brandie and Leesa was so much fun, and even though they didn't stay long, they made my day! Then, on Sunday, my AMAZING companions surprised me with little gifts---a red velvet cake mix, a box of macaroni and cheese (Yum!), two candy bars, and an INCREDIBLE poem and drawing of me! If only I looked as good as Sister English drew me. :) We ate TWO dinners too...oh so good! The Vances cooked, and made me a mandarin orange cake...HEAVENLY! And they got me presents too! They were too sweet! And THEN we went to the Neumeyers, and Christine made the MOST AMAZING BISQUE I'VE EVER HAD!!!! Corn and crawfish bisque...oh my heavens to Betsy, it was so good! And THEY made me a cake too!
Moral of the story----CELEBRATE YOUR BIRTHDAY WITH THE INCREDIBLE PEOPLE I DID. :) It was probably one of the best birthdays I've ever had. Oh yeah, and the other moral of the story is share your birthday cake, because when you have four, it's really way too much. ;)
I am so incredibly lucky. I love the people here SO much. They are truly incredible. They are such good examples to me of Christlike love. I am honored and humbled to call them my friends.
As for the OTHER exciting stuff...
We've had a good week this last week. We found a FAMILY to teach!!! YAY!!! I love families. We've got an appointment on Thursday with Mosatye and her four children. She's met with missionaries briefly before, so we're excited to find out what they remember. We met her tracting, and she invited us right in. We also met a cool guy named Josh. I gave him a pass-along card as he was standing outside his friend's house, and we got to talking about the importance of families. He told me that he'd lost both his parents growing up, and that the thing he wanted most in this world was to be with his mom again. We've got an appointment to teach him later this week; I'm really excited. He's got a lot of potential.
Well, I think that's about it! I love y'all! Keep on keepin' on! And I'll (gulp!) see y'all soon!
Your Friend in the Faith,
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