Holy cow. Missionary work is the best.
I'm not quite sure where to begin.... umm... I'll start with Ciara.
Two weeks ago, I wrote home with the most incredible experience about a girl named Ciara. She wrote on the Ward Facebook page and we tracted her house, etc. Well, we have been meeting with her consistently ever since we first came in contact with her and she is phenomenal. Our first time meeting with her was such a special experience because we automatically felt this amazing love for her and she felt the same for us. She told us that she felt like we were, "kindred spirits" and that she just knew that, "we are going to be best friends forever." It literally melted our hearts.
So anyway, last week on Monday (yes we met with her in the middle of our Preparation Day - we love her THAT much) we talked about baptism. She said she knew that she felt it was right but she was nervous about what her parents would think. We bore testimony that if she knew this is the path that God wanted her to take, then he will help her get through any obstacle that came in her way- including angry parents. So, she committed to talking to them about her decision to be baptized. On Tuesday we got the chance to meet with her again - I was with Sister Berry because we were on exchanges - and she had not talked to her parents yet, and also seemed a little downhearted. We had felt impressed in our preparations to teach about the Holy Ghost specifically as a comforter and it was incredible to see how her countenance changed as she learned about this special blessing available to her. She renewed her promise to speak to her parents and we left with an abundance of care and concern for her. Wednesday night we received a text from Ciara right before "lights out time" (10:30pm) saying that she was so overwhelmed because she talked to her parents and they were totally supportive of her being baptized!!! We screamed with joy and quickly called her - all three of us squealing with joy together - to let her know how happy and proud we were of her. :)
Thursday comes along and we had zone training, in which President Topham came and spoke to us. It was such a wonderful lesson, we studied from 1 Nephi 3, and Jacob 5-7 and discussed the lessons that could be learned and applied in our missionary work. The greatest lesson I learned is how important it is to have a non-murmuring attitude, but always be positive no matter what hard things come our way. This was specifically important immediately after the training was completed because President Topham told us that Ciara is not allowed to be baptized with us in the Elizabethtown ward... He said it is more important for her to move (oh I forgot to mention she is moving this coming Saturday back to Pittsburgh for school - she attends Penn State-Altoona) back to her other ward, make friends, and be baptized where she will be planted. This was really heartbreaking because we have developed such a deep connection with her that we wanted to be with her through this wonderful step in her life. But, applying the non-murmuring attitude I had just learned the importance of, I thanked Heavenly Father for allowing me to have whatever time I have been given with her.
We got to meet with her again on Friday (the day after the zone training) and told her the sad news.... She said that even though it was disappointing, she knows that our friendship will last way beyond our missions so it will all be okay. She is so flipping awesome. :) Being with her, ever since our first meeting with her, I have felt that Heavenly Father has a very special purpose for her. She is so in tune with the Spirit and open to the guidance that Heavenly Father sends her (that ultimately sent her to us) and I could easily see the tremendous potential that she has as a daughter of God. One of her biggest goals in life is to be a mother and she said she has always been confused why she has never had a steady boyfriend, but that she just has never found one that she could see herself settling down with. AH! I know it is because Heavenly Father needs her to find a boy who will take her to the temple, so they can raise a righteous family in the ways of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Ciara came to church with us yesterday and everyone in the ward thought that we had become a trio because she fit right in with us. :) I love her so dearly and I feel so blessed to be in this area, at this time, with the opportunity to meet her and be a part of her journey towards eternal life.
I love you all so much!
p.s. Pictures this week: Sister Berry and I in the car before tracting... she is SO HILARIOUS!! haha Sister Thomas and I outside of a really popular restaurant in our area that was recommended by a member of our Stake Presidency - which we thought was funny because of the name of the restaurant. And a picture of us yesterday at the church with Ciara :) (sorry it's a little blurry) LOVE YOU!