My new companion is named Sister O'Banion. She is from Billings, Montana and has been out for 5 months. She served in up north by Cleveland for the first part of her mission. She is a little nervous about being in the middle of nowhere so far away from the mission office, other missionaries, and pretty much everything else. She is right. We are isolated out here. I told her my opinion on it... President would only send missionaries here if he trusted them to be so far away. I think she will warm up to it all soon. She was shocked at our little branch. She said in a pretty worried voice, "Was today a slow day for church?" Little did she know that 47 was a good number for us... It will take some getting used to, but I am really excited to serve with her. She has a lot of energy and is majoring in Musical Theatre up at BYUI. She is 23, and converted to the church when she was 17. She has a strong testimony, and a real desire to be here, which I love.
Sister Chapman had a hard time leaving here. It was pretty sad to have final lessons with people we have been working with for so long. The F’s especially. Heather is almost done with all the lessons, and is still way excited to be baptized. We have been teaching Heather the PMG lessons, but using a primary manual to help her understand it more on her level. She seems to be understanding the material and retaining it a lot better since we started doing that, and our lessons are way more fun.
We had a great day at church yesterday. Josh came for the second time, and hopefully will make this a permanent change. The Jensons also invited Karen (one of the newer investigators we have been working with) to church. Karen's husband didn't come, but Karen had a lot of courage. She went to a completely new church for the first time and brought her three daughters with her (the youngest is not old enough for nursery yet). She came to all three hours, and really felt the spirit. We were able to give her a tour of the building before church started, and we were able to talk about the baptismal font a lot. She really wants to be baptized. So cool!!!!
Sister O'Banion and I have been stopping by people that Sister Chapman and I didn't get a chance to go see, and have been having really cool experiences! One was with Ron, who we have yet to meet still... Sister O'Banion has a family connection with Ron back in Montana, and decided that we had to go see him. So we got in the car and drove down to Celina, and knocked on the first door... Nothing. Well street addresses here are sometimes confusing with where the North and South boundary for the street, so we tried the South address. We knocked and waited. Knocked again. Nothing. So we started to walk away and go to our next plan, but then a woman answered the door. There stood a really cute Marshallese woman named Robinda. She was holding a baby, and a bunch of other kids were running around. She didn't hesitate and invited us to come on in. So we did (you don't often get such happy invitations as a missionary, so we take what we can get). We told them who we were looking for. They looked at each other and said there was no Ron there. So we told them who we were, and that we were missionaries from the church. She looked closer at our name tags and said, "Oh my brother is a member of your church!" So she sent another kid up to go get him. It took us a while to figure out that they refer to each other as family, like all the kids running around were her "grandkids" even though they aren't technically related. So the man coming down wasn't really her brother, if that makes any sense. So there is a bunch of Marshallese living together in that house who were all in and out of that main room and they were all talking to us while we waited. Finally, her "brother" came down. He shook our hands and was so excited, you could just see it in his face. He said, "I am Isaac, and I knew someone from the church would find me." He just came here from the Marshall Islands about a month ago with one of his daughters. He was a member of the church there, and another one of his daughters just completed a mission to the Philippines. Long story short, Heavenly Father knows each of us perfectly. He knows what we need, and how to help us. He often sends others to be His instruments. I have never felt so aware of how much He truly does know me. He knew Isaac. He knew that Isaac did not speak very good English, and had a hard time finding the church without specific guidance. So Heavenly Father sent us. That was so incredible!
St. Marys is a branch full of miracles and is just pushing to become a ward. I know it will get there soon. I feel so lucky to serve here. I love my mission, and am so grateful for all that I have learned, and will continue to learn. I know that the atonement is real. That no matter what we do wrong, as long as we are willing to repent and become better, we can be forgiven.
I love you all, and am so excited to talk to you on Mother's Day!