I had the best week ever. Really. Y'all are the best.
Monday after emails, I found out that we were going to go to the temple!
So Tuesday, I woke up, opened presents from my family (stickers, magnets, TX to-do list, pictures, pumpkin mix, cream cheese frosting, candles, and a book by Thomas S. Monson) as well as cards! Thanks to everyone! The thoughts really meant a lot! We studied a little bit, then left for the temple. Okay, IT'S HUGE. Like Gigantic. It was incredible. As I was sitting waiting, I was filled with SO MUCH love and gratitude to Heavenly Father for so many things. We ate at the temple cafeteria (which was awesome) and then drove home on the PCH. This area is so beautiful! It still amazes me! I love the ocean and all the different trees everywhere and the hills/mountains. Incredible! We got back just in time to head to dinner with a member of the ward. She put a candle in my piece of pie and they sang happy birthday. After that, we taught a Book of Mormon class at the church. We took an hour discussing 11 verses. After each verse, we stopped and made an application. I love that exercise because it really helps you to realize that each verse is in the Book of Mormon for a reason and you really can learn something from each detail! After that, I hurried and packed up my stuff! We did a 24 hour exchange with the Sister Training Leaders, so I got to sleep over at their apartment while Sister Bennett slept in my bed. It was fun :)
So all of Wednesday, I was with Sister Stoker. She is incredible. She is from Idaho. My goal for that day was to work on door approaches. The goal was to ask people 3 questions to get to know them. It was hard. We started off near the beach. Rejection. After rejection. After rejection. We stayed there until it was time for lunch. Before leaving, we walked down the rest of the street to look at the beach. We're not allowed to be on the sand, so we stood on a cement square and took a picture. It was so fun to be so close to the ocean though! We went to Chick-fil-A for lunch with Sister Bennett and Sister Xayadeth. Sister Bennett bought my ice cream for my birthday. The rest of the day was just knocking. I completely froze a couple times. The thing about knocking on people's doors are, once they open it, your mind has to go really fast. We practiced in the car to help me get going again. Sister Stoker acted like a person who had just opened the door. It really helped actually! I did a lot better practicing than in real life, but I could tell it helped later in the day. That night was the Trunk or Treat! We had a good turn out and had some good food as well. I was so grateful for the day I spent with Sister Stoker. I learned so much. She is an amazing example. She is so loving and so willing to help. She was able to answer lots of questions and give me ways to become even better.
Thursday was Halloween! We had District Meeting. My District found out I'm a visa waiter and also that it had been my birthday. Luckily, my District Leader had made a cake for Halloween and got everyone to sing to me as well. It was really sweet :) I have a really great district. We did more tracting afterwards. I am so much more confident talking to people now! I even pointed a guy out that we should talk to. He was raking leaves. We offered to help, but we ended up just talking. He has had a lot of interaction with the church! We had a really great conversation and invited him to read from the Book of Mormon and to pray. He didn't want to set up a return appointment, but that's okay! Planting seeds. We'll probably go see him in a couple weeks. We had to be in by 7, so while I was doing language study, Sister Xayadeth made the pumpkin bars that my family had sent me. It was awesome! I got to blow out candles as well.
Friday was weekly planning and it took most of the day. It was kind of a rough day for some reason. After a few hours of planning, the doorbell rang. It was a package. From Elder Valentine. He had led me to believe that the card and letter I received a couple days prior was all he was sending for my birthday. Wrong! What a surprise. I opened the package to find about 15 wrapped (interestingly wrapped ;) ) presents. The first one I opened was a tape recorder with instructions on what to do and a sweet birthday message. The rest of the presents included postcards, candy, a kid toy story ring, a scripture marking pen, pictures, a picture frame, a super-hero shirt, Brazil shirts from the MTC (which are impossible to find), one of his Cali shirts, a DC hoodie, and a compilation of notes and journal entries from the past couple months. Amazing. It completely turned my day around!
Saturday, we visited Brenda, a less active. She opened up to us and told us about problems her sister is having. Throughout the visit, I kept thinking of James 1:5 for some reason. I shared that scripture with her and related it back to her life. I have no idea why I needed to share that with her. Hopefully one day, I'll know!
Sunday was a good day! Maybe because of the extra hour of sleep. We ended up having an extra hour before church we hadn't planned for. It was tempting to stay at the church and just wait, but I felt like we really needed to be tracting, so we went. It didn't yield any new investigators, but my confidence really increase. We had some good conversations and I'm getting so much better at talking to people! I had really hit a road block before, it seemed. Church was good. One of our investigators came to church! Yay! First time that has happened! We also saw our investigator, Jessie. She is in a nursing home. She had open heart surgery not too long ago and lost a leg as well. She is so sweet. We taught the Plan of Salvation. She has a baptismal date for December 14. She offered the closing prayer. She prayed for us, that people would be drawn to us so we could teach them. She thanked Heavenly Father many many times for us and the messages we bring to her. She also prayed that she would be able to make her baptismal date. She's incredible.
Thanks for all the thoughts and birthday wishes! Y'all really made the week so special.