Hello from rainy New Iberia!
We have been experiencing crazy amounts of rainfall down here in the bayou with flooding that is unlike anything I've ever seen, but everyone just acts like it's normal haha. I'm like, "People! Your street is an olympic swimming pool!" and they are like "Yeah, I have an SUV" lol. It's awesome.
Ok, so here are the experiences from the last week that have made life interesting as a missionary. Some involve rain and some not.
1.) Thursday we go over to Miss Pat's house for the first time. She is this investigator, and she reminds me of Queen Latifah on "Hairspray" - big, blonde, and beautiful. She was making sausage, so we had a lesson with her about weaknesses as her and her granddaughter pumped groundup turkey, pigs feet and who knows what else into tripe - pig intestines used for casing. It was awesome. She told us that she knows that the Mormon church is where she needs to be at but she has some "junk in the trunk" that she needs to take care of first. So I said, "Well guess what - I have the perfect junk in the trunk scripture. Can I share it with you?" and we read Ether 12:27 about weaknesses. It was awesome. We wrote down the verse so she could study it more on her own later and invited her to church and she said she would come. Unfortunately, she had a bad fall and hurt herself so she didn't come to church. Don't worry, we will be taking her muffins and re-inviting her. She is so close to baptism, it's so awesome. She will be a huge asset to the branch - she has a big loving heart and a way of being loving but honest with people. Perfect!
2.) We had a meeting with our zone on Friday and it was a super good meeting. But it was pouring rain the whole time so by the time the meeting was over the street that the church is on was totally flooded out and the office elders said we weren't allowed to drive the mission cars in more than 6 inches of water. Bummer. So there we were, 20 hungry missionaries trapped in the branch building with nothing to do except play games, watch church videos, and study (ok, my idea to study got shot down. Weird.) The Senior Couple, Elder and Sister Keller, drove to Wendy's once the rain kind of stopped (they were driving their own vehicle instead of a mission vehicle, so they could go wherever) and got a bunch of burgers and chicken sandwiches. People were much less grumpy after that. And then 30 minutes after we got food the rain had stopped enough/the street had drained enough that we cold leave. 3 hours in the church was interesting to say the least. One of our Zone Leaders who is just about the sweetest boy from Provo Utah that you could ever meet said, "I thought that being trapped here as a zone would be a good bonding experience, but it really felt more like the Hunger Games." Hahaha. It wasn't that bad, but let's just say I'm glad we weren't stuck for longer than we were.
3.) I went on exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders this week. I got to go up to Lafayette and it was pretty awesome. While I was there, I got to meet Brother Patrick Prejean, a legit Cajun man (he speaks cajun French and says "That's a fact, Jack!" like Uncle Si but for reals!) and recent convert who is amazing. He has some sort of wasting disease and He was given 4 months to live like 6 months ago. Because he was/is dying, he got special permission from the first presidency to go through the temple only 4 months after his baptism. He passes the sacrament in his wheelchair and his ordination to the Mechizedek priesthood certificate is proudly posted about his kitchen table. His body is slowly wasting away - he is almost skeletal - but his mind is amazing. He spends hours and hours studying the scriptures and anything else about ancient history and he sees how archeological findings fit in with the Book of Mormon/Bible. He is absolutely amazing - he found the church because his fiance is LDS and they are working toward getting sealed in the temple. It was a privilege to meet him and learn from him. His attitude is unfallingly postive - his body may be deteriorating but he has the true and restored gospel in his life, and that's all that matters. He does his best to pray with and teach the other people at the care center where he lives. I can only imagine what kind of spirit he was in the premortal life.
4.) I had a cool experience teaching this mom and daughter yesterday. The mom has a strong testimony, but she gets tired of doing so much some times - she has like 3 callings in the branch and a big family and she works. Her daughter is getting ready to go off to UVU, and so we went to say goodbye and also offer some spiritual boost. They love going on cruises, so we showed this Mormon Message and discussed it with them. To be honest, I've never totally understood this parable, but as we talked the Spirit opened our minds and Sister Maxfield said some things that those women really needed to hear and I was able to expound on the parable and in doing so learned something myself. I know that it was the Spirit teaching, not me. The Spirit taught me that being baptized and confirmed is like getting on the cruise ship. To fully receive all the blessings available to members of the Lord's church, we must open the door, go out, and partake - the man needed to go out and partake of the food and entertainment. We must "open the door" or keep the commandments in order to partake in the blessings. Reading the scriptures, praying, going to church and the temple, serving others, are all like opening the door. The very act of keeping the commandments is a blessing, and then the Lord sends even more blessings as we live faithfully. It was a really cool experience and I am motivated now more than ever to be like the steward that came and told the man what he was missing. This is the fundamental principle of less active work - to go out and say "Hey! You are on the boat! You are entitled to so much more than your receiving right now! Come and receive!" And finding new people to teach is inviting people to get on the boat so that they can be entitled to blessings as well. What a marvelous work this is!
I love you all and am so thankful that I have you in my life.
Here are some pictures from the torrential rain storm: