This was probably the busiest and craziest week of my mission haha. I took a nap most days because when we got home for break I was just completely exhausted. We have been riding our bikes for the majority of everyday, since our miles this month are a lot lower than usual. So that adds to the already sweaty and stinkiness of being a missionary. And I do love my bike, I bought an extra tire this last week with my debit cad just in case something happens. But I have really had hardly any problems with it on my mission. It is really smooth on the road and it holds up well on rougher terrain as well.
So I know you asked about exchanges mom...Usually the district leader decides who is going with who and when. But they usually happen about twice a transfer, just so the district leader can get to know the members of the district better. And dad, yeah I haven' had quite as much anxiety around people as I previously had. I hadn't really noticed that until you pointed out, but I think it is that concept of how growth comes so incrementally that you hardly notice it. I still get nervous sometimes and still say stupid stuff haha but I don't know if I will ever grow out of that. Wow, I can't believe how well your garden is doing this year. Haha I remember going outside and looking over at that garden and wondering how it could grow so monstrous. Hey, I don't think I told you guys this, but I have kinda gotten a taste for tomatoes as of late and so now I will be able to enjoy those with you. Do you remember how I used to gag at the thought of eating them? Yup, I am really growing up haha. Oh man...I miss those peaches. I got your guys letter and dad told me about the peaches and I will say I was a little bit jealous. But we went over to the Pattens for dinner and for dessert we had a peach cake. It was really good and I told her, "This is really really good, especially because peaches are my favorite fruit." And she said,"You want some peaches?" And I couldn't deny, so she gave me about 6 and I have been eating them for breakfast everyday haha. Tender mercy.
Speaking of that, I think you guys would love the Pattens. They are super down to earth, humble, a little irreverent and fun. They are both Japanese, but he is from Louisiana and his wife is from Japan. Bro Patten went to his mission to Japan and so they have taught all of their kids to speak Japanese as well. Their kids are really smart and funny. John, there oldest boy loves Avatar the Last Air bender and everytime we go over there we have a couple bending battles...he usually wins. They also like the same food that we do. They both went to BYU and he went to Medical school at the U. We had a long conversation about Beto's breakfast burritos and Bombay House. They made this really good Egyptian grilled chicken for dinner and I think that you guys would really like it. I will have to get the recipe. And also sister Patten makes her own bread and it reminds me of Jordans. Holy cow it is good. They are a really fun family. We had the opportunity to go the hospital with Brother Patten on sunday before dinner because he had to pronounce a patient dead. We couldn't go into the room, but he told us something that stuck with me. He said one reason he loves being doctor is he gets to help ease them into the next life and he says it is always a spiritual experience. I think that is pretty cool.
That is cool about Emma's soccer team. It sounds like it has been a really good experience for her and I am glad that they are doing so well too. I bet that Emma loved being one of the ball girls at the BYU game, that would be such a cool experience. I can't believe that she is already going to be 13 years old. And I can't even imagine what it will be like when she is 14 when I get back haha. It still feels like everything should just pause while I am on my mission... I can't wait to see some pictures of Taylor at homecoming in their totes cool outfits. I am glad that he had so much fun. Thanks for sharing some of your traumatic experiences. It is funny because many times things like that can be traumatic, but as soon as you are able to joke about it, it is a lot easier to shrug off. I am glad that I have been able to have your guys example of doing that, because that is a skill that has become a necessity on my mission...I don't know if I would still be sane if I couldn't laugh at all the mistakes that I make. And I am looking forward to the time where Taylor, dad and I will be able to play on an intramural team at BYU. I doubt my skills will be as refined as dad and taylor, but you can count on me to have some muscular thighs (from biking). I don't how much help that will be haha, but maybe I can be the comic relief.
So I will tell you a little about this week. I mostly just want you guys to know so you know what is going on and I trust you guys a lot. We had a cool experience blessing the sisters apartment in Houma. It now feels like a safe haven from the world, full of the spirit. This experience has increased my testimony so much of the priesthood and the absolute power that God has. I had a very special experience this week as I was thinking about out it and I had the spirit testify to me of the strengthening, healing and loving power that our Savior has. I was wondering why I felt so calm for this, when I feel so nervous and on edge for something like public speaking haha. I realized it is because I had full confidence in Christ, I completely trusted the priesthood and the selfless power that it has. That gave me a lot of confidence because I know now that I may not be the strongest or best missionary, but like it says in the scriptures "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Our true confidence and power lies in our Savior.
Haha I told Elder Stratford earlier this week that we really don't have normal lives and that if we had a regular day where we taught a few lessons, maybe a few fell through, we had regular breaks etc. that I would be a little freaked out. It seems like everyday this week we have had to deal with some sort of emergency or interesting situation. I am glad that Heavenly Father is helping us, because otherwise I think I would be really stressed out and anxious. But we have been able to see a few people like Sis. T., Bro. P. and B. and they are doing really good. This last saturday we had a Stake Leadership training where they talked a lot about the Book of Mormon play that is coming to New Orleans soon. Hey dad, do you think you could send me a few excerpts of that article you were in about the play? I don't know too much about it, but I do know that the actually book is true and it will change your life if you honestly read it. The church buys adds in the play bill and some of them say "If you think the play is good, go read the book." or "The book is always better." I like how the Church and Heavenly Father is turning something unwholesome into something good and being lighthearted about it too.
After the training we went to Pres. Wall invited us and the Tabors to lunch at Pei Wei, a yummy asian restaraunt. That was a ton of fun just to be able to hang out with the Tabors and Pres wall. I really look up to them a lot. Later that night we had dinner with the Tabors and that was probably one of my favorite mission experiences and memories. All of the Tabors were there and Bro P. was there with his son and nephew. We had these really good honey bbq ribs and mash potatoes with crescent rolls. It was just a good dinner, with great company. I will always remember the feeling of love, friendship and the spirit that was present there that night. We then had a really cool lesson where we were able to share the two songs and have a lesson on the joy, peace and comfort that the spirit can bring into our lives. A couple people bore their testimonies and you could tell that the spirit touched all of our hearts. The cool thing was is that Bro. P's son and nephew came to church along with the Tabors girls friends who are non-members. That dinner is something that I will always remember. It was kind of a going away party for Elder Stratford as well, because he is getting transferred this week.
Your suspicions were correct dad, it is transfer week and we are getting split up. I am staying here in Thibodaux and I got a call from President Wall this morning letting me know that I will be training. I am kinda nervous and a little scared, but I know that Heavenly Father will help me help him. Wish me luck. So sorry if this letter is a little scattered and weird, I am a little on edge this morning haha.
I do want to end with my testimony though. I know that this Church is true and I think I always have. I used to be worried because I have never had one of those experiences where I was overwhelmed with the spirit, but I do know that I have had a ton of small comforting experiences that have testified to me that I do have a loving Heavenly Father and older brother who died for me. I love the scripture in Alma 37 where he talks about how through small and simple things great things are brought to pass. I know that is true. I know that as I have followed your guys humble examples and tried to live the gospel day by day my testimony has grown little by little, the seed has taken root and I am learning to love this gospel more and more everyday. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that he truly was inspired of God. I know that Thomas S Monson is a Prophet of the Lord and that if we follow his guidance, we will be blessed. I know that is true because I have tried it! I know that the Book of Mormon is true and that if we read it everyday, even a little bit we will be happy. I know our Savoir lives and that he loves us. And I know that I love you guys and you are an amazing blessing in my life. Thank you so much and I love you!
Prayers and thoughts always
PS Emma you should be getting a gift sometime this week