Hello people that I love!
Wow is all I can say. This first week has definitely been the hardest of my life. BUT I love being a missionary :) I thought I knew how homesickness felt, I thought I knew how being in a completely new place with new people and a new culture felt but I didn't. It has been a long week but I can already see how the Lord is refining and I am growing stronger and faster than I ever have before. This gospel is so real and so amazing! Wow. Ok so Monday night at around 6 PM we flew into the Manchester, NH airport and man I had no idea what was in store for me. President and Sister Stoker picked us up, they are so kind. I'm excited to work with them. We had an amazing home-cooked dinner with all of the mission office staff as well. Then the next day we got our trainers, my trainer is Sister Jena Aeshbacher and she is from South Carolina. She has been out for about 13 months so I will be her last companion. Somehow she got stuck with me! haha. Anyways, she is so amazing! I have already learned so much from her and will continue to learn. She is so patient with me and when I cry she just lets me be. (Its happened a couple times this week :)) We are serving in Sanford, Maine. Its on the Coast of Maine but the farthest south in Maine you can really get. We our about an hour away from the mission home which is in Bedford, NH. It is so beautiful here!!! I think I have annoyed Sister Aeschbacher because I keep just saying hoe beautiful it is like every hour of every day. The green is so vibrant right now and the humidity is nowhere as bad as I thought it would be. Its perfect here! So after I got my trainer we drove to Sanford and then we went straight into planning for the day. (I will finally get to full unpack later today! ha) We taught the Hastings, a part-member family and had dinner with them. So the parents have been taught for about a year already but the kids are both baptized, Haley who actually just got home from a mission and then Tyler who has been baptized for a year. Haley brought one of her nonmember friends to dinner and then she stayed for the lesson. Her name is Rachel. I was really nervous when we taught the lesson but it ended up not going too bad. We gave Rachel a B of M and we were supposed to meet again with her tonight but she cancelled so hopefully we will got to see her soon. But we also knocked on a door that was supposed to be a less-active but it turns out they have moved but we got to teach their uncle, Ratha. He is from Cambodia and is awesome! We have taught him once since them and will see him again tomorrow. We have another investigator named Grace who is scheduled to be baptized on August 8th. The sister who was here before me and Sister Aeschbacher committed her to baptism on her first lesson before I got here. But we just committed her stop smoking, drinking coffee, and tea. Her faith and willingness to quit is amazing. It has been such a miracle to truly see how the gospel is working in her and changing her heart. She has been to church the past 2 sundays too. Pray for Grace and her commitment to obey the word of wisdom! We have also been able to work with some less-actives which has been really cool too. One of them has made a total turn around and has now been back to church for about a month now. We've met with her a couple times andon Saturday night she fed us mussels. Yes, I ate mussels!! Believe it. And they were actually pretty good. I think Heavenly Father may have helped me a little bit there ;) Anyways I am really growing to love the lady. We also taught another less-active lady my first night out and I had the prompting to sing "How Great Thou Art" to her during our lesson on repentance and she was brought to tears. The spirit was so strong. She hasn't been to church in a couple years and she met with the bishop the next day. Miracles I tell you! I have had many opportunities to sing to everyone we teach and can honestly say that I have sang to almost every person we taught this week. It is simply the best feeling in the whole world. I am so grateful for the talent Heavenly Father has given me and the opportunity I have to use it to bring others closer to him. I had my first door slam in my face on Thursday haha and I actually started crying. BIG SURPRISE! It was kind of just icing on the cake from a build up of everything. I told the man we were missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint and that we had a message about Christ and he said that he had already accepted Christ and slammed the face in my door. Rejection is humbling! I still love him though. And I also had my first tick on Wednesday, ticks are bad here this season and when they get on you you can't feel. They embed themselves into your skin and if you don't get them within 24 hours you can develop a thing called lime disease which can be very serious. So I have been a little paranoid about that but luckily I found him before he could start embedding himself. He was a tiny little thing! How was your 4th of July? It rained here all weekend due to a hurricane somewhere on the coast. But I LOVE THE RAIN here. It is so beautiful. Well our fourth of July was great. We got to go scoop poop at a cat shelter down the road :) and we had weekly planning for 4 hours and then we taught some people and then one of the members MADE US RIBS AND POTATOES. So good!! Oh, and homemade bread. I was so grateful! All in all, this week has been very hard but I actually thought to myself yesterday that I am truly happy. After a day packed with service, I am so happy. Being able to forget myself and focus on the needs of others is a humbling thing. I have been trying to work on patience, faith and charity. Patience with myself, my companion and those we work with and teach. Faith in myself and also faith that my Heavenly Father is going to help me and that its ok if I'm not a perfect missionary yet. And charity towards every one I meet. I had a great study on charity and wow it is so important! One thing that I got out of my studies today was the idea that if we have charity there are so many sins we will simply pass up if truly have the pure love of Christ. Seeing someone for who they can become. If we don't have charity when we stand to be judged than nothing else matters! This gospel is the most truthful thing I have ever come to know on this Earth. It is the only way to be happy and ultimately receive eternal life. Without the atonement we are nothing. I am so grateful for my decision to serve a mission and I know that this is exactly where I'm supposed to be. If you have any questions, just email me about things you want to know. I love you all so much! The church is true :)