Is it just me, or did this week feel like two months? If it's just me, that's fine. It was still a good week, it just felt like it lasted forever. Maybe part of it was because at the beginning of the week, it was 80 degrees! We shed our tights and cardigans, but by the end of the week, it was back to the freezing, core-chilling temperatures. So it felt like several seasons.
But there were a few experiences that really defined the week. We did a lot of driving. We had a surplus of allotted miles at the end of the month that we could use, so Sister Chandler and I decided to drive out to the other cities that are technically part of our area but that we seldom make it out to. The first day, we tried to drive to Glencoe, but wound up overshooting it by several miles and wound up in a city called Pawnee. (Parks and Rec, anyone?) So by the time we made it to Glencoe, we realized we had forgotten our map and couldn't even navigate the town. So that was interesting. I'm not sure why I mentioned that. Maybe for the Parks and Rec. reference?
But the next day we drove out to Perry, which is a town we frequent a bit more often, and we were able to see a man who is the son of one of the members in our ward. He has had several strokes in his life and a past of drug and alcohol abuse so he is mostly brain dead and bed-ridden, but his mother has requested that we teach him the lessons anyway. He has chosen to allow Christ more fully into his life. Last time we were in Perry, 3 weeks ago, I slipped a bracelet that Dane sent to me on his wrist. It's red and says "Jesus" on it. This week, he tried to get his mom to help him move his arms out from underneath him so he could show us that he hadn't taken the bracelet off. It was really sweet. Every time we talk to him we have the remarkable opportunity to stoop by his bedside and speak to him in simple terms, while his eyes gleam and a smile overtakes his face. He can't do much by way of responding, but every now and then he does, and it's miraculous to see just how close to God he really is. It's touching. And the spirit always testifies to us that he is receiving the words which we are speaking.
This week we also visited a young, 9-year-old girl we've been teaching. Most of her family has stopped coming to church, but her grandmother is adamant that she be taught the lessons so she can see if she wants to be baptized anyway. I've been praying to help me see her the way God sees her, and to develop more of a desire to teach her lessons. Usually she's unfocused and distracted and kind of cold about us being there, so we try to bring visual aids, videos, and other objects to engage her. We were talking about the importance of following the prophet, and we showed her this video. She got a little sad and defensive and we asked her what was wrong. She admitted that she had been bullied at school. She told us about the problems she was facing and the names they were calling her. Many of them were normal, immature names, but some of them were incredibly harsh. Then she started to cry and her grandma came back into the room. She ran to her granddaughter and held her in her arms, and said, "you may not feel special to them, but you're special to me." My heart ached for her, and I started to get tears in my eyes. I saw the love this grandmother had for her granddaughter, and in turn I saw a portion of the love that her Heavenly Father had for her. And since then, it has been easy to be motivated to help her understand, in terms she understands, just how much her Heavenly Father loves her.
This is one of my favorite portions of missionary work. Very rarely do we meet somebody that we don't love, or can't love. We truly can learn to love anybody if we try hard enough. And sometimes it's work. Sometimes we have to "pray with all energy of heart" to be filled with charity. But it is infinitely worth it. We feel so much better about ourselves when we are filled with the spirit and filled with love for others, and we feel better about all of our dealings when we try to help others becomes better; instead of solely concerning ourselves with our own potential.
This weekend my companion and I also found a place called "Insect Adventures" which is deemed as "Oklahoma's First and Only Bug Petting Zoo". So that's pretty exciting. That's what we're planning on doing today. It's $2 to pet a tarantula...Porque no?
We also have the opportunity to go to the Temple this week, which should be amazing.
Life's good in Oklahoma! Oh, speaking of which. While we were in Perry, Brother Hogg gave me an old Oklahoma license plate, like the kind they made in the prisons, that just says "Oklahoma is OK", and the registration sticker is '93, the year I was born! It's probably one of my newest prized possessions.
I love you folks! Keep it classy! Take an account of the blessings you have and what you can do to repay the Lord for them.
Sorry for the lack of photos. Here's one of the only photos I took this week. Probably somewhere between Stillwater and Pawnee. Sister Chandler refused to smile, so her punishment will be this photo of her looking contemplative floating in cyber space forever.