Monday, May 9, 2016

Sometimes a Cat Will Make Your Day

Hey there family!

This week, we were very sad when four of our investigators who were going to come to church didn't come. Thankfully, it rained! Sister Tait and I both enjoy the rain.

Almaz and Addis are two women from Ethiopia who we started discussing the Gospel with on Monday. The Winchester Sisters started teaching Almaz at her son's house when she was there for the Apple Blossom festival, and they referred her to us because she lives in Woodstock ward boundaries! Yay! When we went to teach Almaz on Monday, we discovered that there's a bit of a language barrier. They speak Amharic, which looks super cool in its written form!  
This is what Amharic looks like
Thankfully, Addis was also there. Addis has been in the states longer from what I understand, and her English is a little bit better. We had a great discussion which was complemented by some very interesting and spicy ethnic food! It was sooo goooood!!! Bet you never thought you'd hear me saying that about something spicy! Due to work schedules, they were going to be able to meet the soonest on Sunday after church... and then they didn't come to church, which is where they wanted to meet us to discuss the Gospel of Jesus Christ more. It was sad.

This week we found a girl named Ashley! We met her on the porch. Ashley is best described as a sweet girl with a sad heart. At 17, she's an anorexic, self-harming, smoker with a very unstable home situation. We have heard several stories from her where she casually mentions that she was hit upside the head by her mom or dad. 
Abuse is a really ugly thing. For the love of Pete, don't take part in abuse! Don't fail to do something about it when you see abuse. Almost everyone who is in a terrible situation that I've met on my mission can trace there trail of tears back to abuse, whether it be physical, verbal, emotional, sexual, or spiritual. The people we meet are children of God, they're worth so much more than to be put down every day. Nothing has been more difficult for me on my mission than to see humans being treated no better than a pair of shoes. If anyone reading this has faced any type or degree of abuse in their own lives, please know that you are not alone in your sorrow, and you can find peace. I've found healing for my pain and peace for my broken heart in my Savior, Jesus Christ. I've watched others do the same. You are loved more than you know, and you can be the cycle breaker. You are loved.
Anyway, Ashley wants change. She doesn't know whether she believes in God yet, but she feels that Christianity can do good things for her. She was so happy and thankful when we gave her her own copy of the Book of Mormon. I wonder how often it has been that someone has given her a gift in complete goodwill. I think not very often. She wants us to teach her whole family, her mom, stepdad, and brother. I pray so hard for her. I want to do so much more to alleviate her pain, but I can't. It's a really good thing that we have a Savior, and I am so looking forward to seeing the changes happen in her life.

Miracles! We had a return appointment with DJ but when we got to the house, he wasn't there. We knocked several times then went across the street and tried to contact some of the neighbors over there. No answer, not interested. As we were walking back across the street back to the car, the friendly cat that had been following us for the entire time caught up with me in the middle of the road and wound around my ankles. 
Imagining DJ
I crouched down to pet him for a minute while Sister Tait climbed into the car to see what we could salvage of our plans for the day, which had all fallen through. Suddenly, a motor scooter putted dramatically over the horizon (the hill at the top of the street). Lo and behold, the passenger astride this valiant motorized steed was none other than DJ! 
 As I straightened up to move out of the street, DJ saw me and said, "Hang on, I'll be right back." Sister Tait and I sat on the porch and read Alma 32 with him. He has a desire to believe! Sister Tait extended an invitation to be baptized, he blinked, and asked her to repeat the question. She did, he said I don't know, she asked what about when you believe, he made an indistinct noncommittal noise which sounded promising to me. It was the coolest! So basically, {failed plans}+{friendly cat}={successful appointment}. Who knew, right?!

We attended an interfaith prayer meeting on Thursday (National Prayer Day) with the large family on the hill who we found when Harry shouted at us. It was a new experience. It reminded me of that scripture in the Book of Mormon that talks about men saying, I have a precept, listen to my precept. Some of the preachers seemed to be closer to God than others, but even they couldn't pass up the opportunity to glean some publicity from the event. Other preachers were more along the lines of building up churches unto themselves. It was strange and very sad to see. We asked the organizing lady if we could speak and add our testimony of Jesus Christ (there was no representative of our faith present). She said no, but later felt really guilty if her body language had anything to tell us. We're pretty sure she'll invite us next year.

At th end of the prayer meeting, we were invited by a pastor to sing at his church. We asked what time and politely declined when we discovered that it would be in the middle of our services. He goaded us, come on, you can miss church just this once. We replied that as representatives of Jesus Christ, it is our responsibility to be at church each week to guide those who attend so that they can learn of Jesus Christ. He stopped trying to get us to leave church. He also invited us to an afternoon luncheon being held next week by his congregation. That should be interesting!

Love y'all always,

Sister Naomi Rapier
[On Mother's Day, we got to Skype with Naomi - ahhh! What a delight! 
You can see how eagerly we are gathered 'round <3 ]

Loved seeing her happy smile :)

Claire is holding the cat in her lap and making him dance the Macarena!

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