Alright so this week was pretty great! We taught lots of lessons this week and were able to achieve all of our weekly goals (which is super important). At the beginning of the transfer Sister Asi asked me if I felt like I was a successful missionary. And to be honest I could not confidently say I felt like I was a successful missionary. Which absolutely crushed me to say. Reason being I had come out here and automatically measured my success as a missionary by how many baptisms you were a part of. And within my first three months of training i didn't have any of my investigators get baptized like some other missionaries have had. But Sister Asi helped me to quickly realize that that is not what defines you as a successful missionary. She asked me to look around at all the other people I've taught. And I realized that I had too soon forgotten the miracle of two of our most progressing investigators that I'm not sure I have even mentioned before.
Their names are Tony and Laura. Now if you remember back in February, the first week I got out here to Pennsylvania we had a baptism. Her name is Angel and she is 13 years old. Although I didn't have anything to do with teaching her and helping her prepare for baptism I did have the opportunity to re teach her all of the lessons. And to help her go to the temple to do Baptisms for the Dead. And since, I have also had the opportunity to teach Angels mom, Laura and Laura's fiancé, Tony. Laura and Tony would be baptized sooner but they are just waiting to get married in August. And once they are married they will be baptized just two weeks after. And they are amazing! I love them both so much! Tony will admit that at time he may not have made some of the best choices throughout his life and the last thing he thought he would ever be doing would be to start coming to church, and especially the Mormon church of all churches. He reads The Book of Mormon, they pray as a family every night and they both pay their tithing. They are just patiently waiting for day that they can both be baptized. Tony is also in the process of quitting smoking and at the beginning it was really rough for him but I can honestly say that I have seen the power of the Atonement working through him and it is incredible. Seeing people change is one of my absolute favorite things about being a missionary!
Also a few weeks ago I had been having a rough day and we had a lesson with Tony. Somehow we had gotten on the subject of sometimes feeling like you're not making a difference. And like the work that you do may seem insignificant to others. The members that were with us were talking about it, and at one point during the lesson Tony looked at me and simply said "Sister Callaway I hope you know that you're helping to make a difference in our lives." I think he could tell I was having a rough day and that was all I needed to hear at that moment. I love this family that we are teaching!! I'm honored that Heavenly Father has blessed me with the opportunity to teach them. I have to say I completely underestimated how much I was going to love people when I got out on my mission. Seriously, it's crazy I just love everyone! Haha but it is the greatest feeling ever to know that Heavenly Father is sharing with you a portion of the love He has for His other children.
Another lesson we had this week was with a woman named Ty. She was a referral given to us by some Elders, and we weren't actually planning on having a lesson with her this week but we were in the area and decided to stop by. She was home and welcomed us in and we taught her The Restoration right then and there and then invited her to be baptized!!! She is so going to be baptized on June 28! She is so prepared! She loved it and she said that it all made sense! We love her and are so excited to keep working with her! Oh and apparently her brother is in the NFL but I forgot to ask what team...But anyway!
We also had a lesson with what were two of our most progressing investigators. I've mentioned them before their names are Ben and Levi. This was our last lesson with them because they have since moved and we had to refer them to some other missionaries. But a little background, Ben calls himself an atheist but yet he reads The Book of Mormon and prays. And he prays so much that he sounds like you or I would when we pray it's awesome! and Levi is Bens best friend who is a Buddhist. They are both 18 and initially started meeting with the missionaries for a school assignment about religion. But since have become genuinely interest for themselves. They have talked about being baptized and I can totally see these two on missions! They are awesome! I was so sad we had to refer them though, but it's not about what I want it's about what's best for them, and we prayed and felt it was best to refer them to the elders in their area.
We also taught our first lesson to an Albanian Muslim woman yesterday! Haha let me explain. On Saturday night we had just pulled into the parking lot of our apartment when usually we would have taken a few minutes to stop and record our miles for the day before we went inside. But when I parked the car I without even realizing it I just started to get out of the car not knowing exactly what I was going to be doing I just felt the need to get out of the car at that moment. When Sister Asi and I saw this older woman walking passed us. I started talking to her and noticed she had a very thick accent. I asked her what her native language was and she said Albanian and I got SO excited!! Because our Ward Mission Leader, Brother Krenicky served his mission in Albania and spoke the same language! As we were talking with her we asked her if she believed in God, she said she does and that she thanks Him everyday for everything but she doesn't exactly know how to pray. We told her we could teach and we taught her right then and there simply how to pray. When we opened our eyes she was crying and thanked us so much for teaching her how to pray. We set up an appointment with her the next day and asked Brother Krenicky of he could come with us. And it was a tough lesson to teach haha we would not have been able to do it had we not had Brother Krenicky there to translate. She spoke in broken English and so Brother Krenicky had to translate. We taught her The Restoration and she believed it but at the end of the lesson she told us that she was old and it was too late for her to remember anything that we were teaching her, she believed in God and that was enough for her. She also mentioned how she was Muslim more by heritage than by practice. But she said we could come back! So we're not giving up on her!
Another cool experience we had last night, was after a really good lesson with a less active we had to run back to our apartment but as we were leaving the apartment we said a quick prayer and in the middle of the prayer I just knew and felt that there was someone waiting outside who we needed to talk to. And sure enough once we walked out of the apartment there was a man standing outside and we began talking with him, he spoke more Spanish than English but as we were talking with him we asked if he would like to here more about our message but in Spanish and he accepted and so we got some Spanish elders to go and teach him! It was amazing!
Something else I wanted to share is something that was talked a lot about in church yesterday and something I have been studying and learning more and more about...and that is Conversion. There is far too much I have learned but if there is one thing I want to emphasize about it, it is this...there is a difference between having a Testimony of the Gospel and being Converted to the Gospel. I have seen SO many people out here who have testimonies, because they KNOW the gospel is true but they simply don't want to live their lives according to that knowledge. David A. Bednar gave a talk on the topic that explains it better than I ever could. Another apostle said that "having a testimony is to know and feel, but being converted is to do and become." And I loved that because it is so true. Because you don't have to be baptized into the church to be a convert to gospel. Now something else that I have come to understand is that everyone is at a different pace in learning how to use the atonement as well. And that is okay, the important thing is that we learn how to use The Atonement EVERYDAY. No matter how long it will take to learn, because honestly I am just starting to learn how to use the Atonement more fully in my life. I pray, and invite each and every one of us to strive to become converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. No, living the gospel is not easy, and it will never be easy but through the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Saviors Atoning sacrifice we will become converted and become who the Lord has intended us to be. I love this Gospel and my Savior with all of my heart and soul and bear firm witness that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only true way to receive eternal joy.
I love you all more than you could ever know ever!! Please oh please strive to find any and every way to come unto Christ!
Until next week,
~Sister Amy Callaway~