Monday, April 5, 2010

St. Petersburg Week 25

Where to even start?! I think I say that about every time I sit down and think of all the amazing things that have happened in the last week, and feel overwhelmed as I try to convey them only through words. It really just doesn't do the experiences justice, but I will do my best...

First, CONFERENCE! Oh my, do you think that the family is important? I think we were blessed to hear something about families in about every address given. How amazing! We were blessed to be able to watch the first session of conference in the home of President and Sister Colton. Oh what a special blessing that was for us. There is such a tender warm feeling of the spirit there, like home. I wanted to share an experience that I had as I was there. At the close of the session, President Colton stood up and sang the last hymn. As I glanced over towards him, I noticed shiny worn spots on his suit pants right at the level of his knee. Then the spirit overcame me and testified to my heart of the mantle that this man holds, and the keys he holds over this mission. How many countless hours would he have to spend on his knees to have his pants to be worn in that manner? Truly we need to seek inspiration for our lives just as much as he needs to for this entire mission. We truly can be guided and directed, even in the little things. How wonderful it is. Let us magnify our callings. Whatever it may be. Let us be instruments in the hands of the lord to bring about this great work.

The 18th is the BIG DAY! WE'RE GOING TO BE A BRANCH!!!!! YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAY!!!!!! I jumped up and down and screamed, "HURRAH FOR ISREAL!!!" when I got off the phone with Bro. Ross. Oh, I can't begin to describe the joy it brings to my heart, To see our recent converts have callings. To serve and help others. To have organization and the direction of the priesthood to grow this little branch into a stake. We're going to try and bypass being a ward. ;-)

Without disclosing to much about some personal experiences this week, I would like to address the power of prayer. In times when we feel like we are completely alone, there the Lord stands with out stretched arms. He will come to us if beckon Him. We can do this through prayer. This has been a difficult week, but also one of the most blessed. In preparing my mind and heart to ponder the purpose of Easter, I have come closer to my Savior. This has been my favorite Easter, not because I had a big fancy dinner around a big table (we decided to teach instead of have a dinner appointment in a home, but the nice Relief Society sisters made us a plate and we ate it quick before the second session of Sunday conference) this was my favorite Easter because I really understood that the Savior Lives. That He died, but more than that, that He lives now for us.

My joy came this Easter as we frantically went around trying to get people to church to hear the voice of the prophet beckoning people to come unto Christ. We had three investigators at church this weekend. Sadly, short of our goal of 8, but what a miracle it was. Milea and her mother Susanna made it to conference for the Saturday evening session. We have been teaching them since my first transfer here in St. Petersburg. They are amazing! We have had special fasts and prayers as a zone, district and as a companionship for them. In particular we have prayed for them to be able to make it to church. Those prayers were answered in a magnificent way this weekend. It is all in the Lord's time. We could have given up on them a long time ago, but no way! The Savior never gives up on us, so I'm not giving up on them! We feel that strongly! They tasted of the wonderful fruit and spirit that conference brings and they are HOOKED! She is already asking her boss to have work off next Sunday, and for every Sunday thereafter. (I think I told their story in previous emails.) So amazing! Ahhhh, I love being a sister missionary!

To know the joy, we must feel the sorrow. That has never rung so true to my ears as it does now. I have had distinct personal experiences in my past that I have been able to draw from to help people here. Whether it be with my companion, investigators or dealing with my own challenges. :-) The Lord is in our lives. I thought I would never say this, but I am grateful for the mistakes that I have made and the trials I have faced. I say that with caution, but when we feel the atonement take those burdens from us, when the Savior starts to take it from off our shoulders, we truly can use them as a strength to lift and help. I know this to be true with all of my heart.

Till next week!

Hermana Vaughan-Schultz

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