Here we are on the Gold Coast in the lovely are of Ballina! Yes Dad we are in the farthest south of the mission, were actually on a different time than everyone else, one hour later so its kindof awkward if the STLs call us at 11 at night, because its 10 their time...and were sleeping. Oh, did i mention, Sister Cocker is my STL!! my beloved trainer. I have her pocket badge on my Book of Mormon.
Family sounds like you had a splendid week! That art exhibit sounds amazing!! And i wish i could have seen McKenna's concert! Im sure she smashed it!! She's a beast :) Glad you got to see Grandma and Grandpa and also Scott and Bonnie. They are great!!
So this week...hmm. We were in Tweed Heads for the beginning of the week and I traded off with Sister Smith for a day and we went tracting. Then that night Sister Stanton and I went GQing and boy, it was bad! Rejection after rejection. Then my companion was GQing a couple and i felt like i should go and support and i stood next to her and immediately felt sick inside. They said some terrible stuff in soft and gentle voices...so i told them we didnt want to argue, trying to make us a way to escape and both of them turned on me and started attacking me (verbally) it was scarey! It was wierd because usually i am cool as a cucumber when people get up in my grill about being a missionary or the message we share...but these two, man they knew what to say to make me feel so small. I just stood there and held by tounge, (i think the spirit stopped me from speaking) and waited til they were done. Then we walked away and i just cried! i love the scripture in Acts chapter 5, when Peter and John are beaten for preaching the word of God, and tried in court, and they leave court, "rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name." I have chills writing that! I know its true. "If the world hate you, blessed are ye, for they hated me before thy hated you....because they know not him that sent me." Thats in John 15 i think. Maybe all this rejection helps me feel just a teeny tiny bit what Christ felt when even his friends betrayed him. But just a tiny bit, because no one can ever feel all that He felt!!
Sooo the next day we got the phone call for the green light on our flat!! We loaded the car up with a TON of stuff!! and we headed off on our adventure to open Ballina. I drove us down the Gold Coast and we picked up the keys to our flat. There are also elders here, Elder Johnston (our district leader) and Elder Kreth, and they met us at our flat and helped us carry things up. They took us around to meet the Bishop and some members! It was good, that was on Thursday. On Friday we worked on getting a map set up of our area and all the members and less actives and part member families up on our whiteboard. There are SOOOOO many less actives in the Lismore ward! Wow we have our work cut out for us!!
Ballina is a beautiful place, with big shade trees and water in sight sometimes. We live in a cute little flat near the beach actually. Its lovely here, and there has been some rain the past few days just for me :) haha. I love it. The ward is small, probably 50 attending, but the list is soooo long....this ward reminds me of Sparta ward in New Jersey...pages and pages of members, many empty pews at church. Its a bit sad, but we are here for a reason!! We need to strenghten the inner vessel...the members. There is no point filling up a bath tub if we dont plug it as my last branch president told me. We attended ward council which is always exciting and the ward mission plan was discussed, our input was given, things are gonna happen!! I used to be so bored by planning meetings let me tell ya. Now they are empowering! When we plan, we show our faith and respect, and good use of our agency. The Lord will help us fulfil our plans when they are aligned with His plan!
Sister Stanton is pretty much amazing. Sometimes i cant understand her Yorkshire accent haha. We are so excited for Ballina! She is such a good missionary and so obedient and a wonderful teacher! I have learned the importance of obedience on my mission. Justifying is always wrong. Obedience is even better than sacrifice. And its the small and simple things that matter...if we want to have full access to the Saviors grace, and fly on the wings of eagles and be endowed with power, then we must be totally aligned with His will..."and deny yourselves of all ungodliness... THEN is his grace sufficient...that ye may be perfect in Christ." (Moroni 10:32) The grace of God!
I also studied the importance of fasting this week...wow theres some verses in Isaiah 58 that i didnt even know were there about fasting! And the promised blessings, "Thy health shall spring forth speedily, thy righteousness shall go before thee....the Lord shall guide thee continually.,.when thou,.call the Lord, he will answer, when thou cry, he shall say. "Here I am." And thats not even all of them. Yup im never complaining about fasting again!!
Family and friends i love you all so much. I love this work and my Savior Jesus Christ. I love the Book of Mormon...how true it is. Even being rejected helps me feel the truth of this work, because how could this work be easy for us if it was never, ever, easy for Him? (Elder Holland)