Tuesday, December 3, 2013

It's officially Christmas season :)

Hi everyone, 

It's been such a great week!  We had our Mission Leadership Council meeting on Monday that Sister Campbell and I attended and the month of December is PACKED!  So much going on, but it's going to be great. We're all dreaming of a white Christmas (full of baptisms)...unfortunately, the temperature just keeps climbing. On the brighter side, we bought a Christmas tree for our apartment, only 15 bucks! I know, right!? What a deal. We'll be sending out our Christmas cards next week, so if you'd like one please send me your addresses! Temple lights have officially begun at the temple, Sister Campbell and I will be giving tours in a couple weeks as well as on Christmas Eve! We are so excited! A few of us missionaries are planning to go caroling at the opera house during the next few weeks, I'll do my best to send some pictures. 

Like I said, it's been a great week. I can't remember if I mentioned last week a girl I briefly met on the street. I just complimented her cool shoes - she told me she got in Taiwan and we exchanged numbers. Well, she came in to have a first lesson with us on Tuesday and we committed her to be baptized on December 21st. Amazing miracle, she is so prepared and loves learning.  She's also a good challenge for me because it's the first time in a long time where I've needed to teach in Chinese, she's very patient with me :) We've also been teaching a guy named ________ for a few months, and finally his schedule is worked out to where we can meet with him more often. He's been coming to church and he's also scheduled to be baptized on December 21st. He also doesn't speak English so I'm getting a lot of practice lately. They're both awesome, we're so excited. 

The newer senior couple here in our ward has been starting up the institute program here in the city. It's going really well with around 5 different classes to choose from. On Wednesday, we attended "Power in the Word" class with another one of our investigators. The lesson was on adversity. Sister Dick (our teacher) shared a few quotes with us, talking about adversity and there are two types of adversity that we face in life. There is adversity or trials that come as consequence to our actions. When we are going against Heavenly Father he will give us trials to humble us and invite us to repent And there are also trials that come when Heavenly Father knows we are ready for growth, growth that is necessary in order to become more like Him, to become stronger. She then shared a story of a woman named Amanda Smith who was one of the saints who survived the Haun's Mill Massacre in 1838. I've included the story below:

On 30 October 1838, three days after the extermination order was issued, some 200 men mounted a surprise attack against the small community of Saints at Haun’s Mill on Shoal Creek, Caldwell County. The assailants, in an act of treachery, called for those men who wished to save themselves to run into the blacksmith shop. They then took up positions around the building and fired into it until they thought all inside were dead. Others were shot as they tried to make their escape. In all, 17 men and boys were killed and 15 wounded. Amanda Smith, along with many other women and children, ran into the woods and she knelt down and said a prayer to Heavenly Father while cradling her newborn baby, asking for protection, she heard a clear voice from heaven say "Amanda, you will be okay". She stayed there for a few hours until she couldn't hear any noise around her.

After the massacre, Amanda Smith went to the blacksmith shop, where she found her husband, Warren, and a son, Sardius, dead. Among the carnage she was overjoyed to find another son, little Alma, still alive though severely wounded. His hip had been blown away by a musket blast. With most of the men dead or wounded, Amanda knelt down and pleaded with the Lord for help:
“Oh my Heavenly Father, I cried, what shall I do? Thou seest my poor wounded boy and knowest my inexperience. Oh Heavenly Father direct me what to do!” She said that she “was directed as by a voice,” instructing her to make a lye from the ashes and cleanse the wound. She then prepared a slippery elm poultice and filled the wound with it. The next day she poured the contents of a bottle of balsam into the wound.
Amanda said to her son, “‘Alma, my child, … you believe that the Lord made your hip?’
“‘Yes, mother.’
“‘Well, the Lord can make something there in the place of your hip, don’t you believe he can, Alma?’
“‘Do you think that the Lord can, mother?’ inquired the child, in his simplicity.
“‘Yes, my son,’ I replied, ‘he has shown it all to me in a vision.’
“Then I laid him comfortably on his face, and said: ‘Now you lay like that, and don’t move, and the Lord will make you another hip.’
“So Alma laid on his face for five weeks, until he was entirely recovered—a flexible gristle having grown in place of the missing joint and socket.”20    
When I heard this story I couldn't help but cry, how amazing this woman was. I can't imagine what the saints could have been doing SO wrong that men felt obliged to come and shoot innocent men, women and children. But Amanda Smith kept her faith in Heavenly Father and her son was then healed. Sister Dick went on to share with us that Amanda Smith and her children made it to Salt Lake City and she testified the Church was true until the day she went to heaven. So inspiring. I've been reading the Church History Manual from front to back and it's amazing and so interesting to me. Hundreds of stories, just like Amanda's. 

We had a missionary fireside on Sunday night. Will Hopoatte, a professional rugby league player just returned from his mission and he shared his testimony and a few experiences with us. You can go on www.mormon.org and watch his Mormon message, pretty neat. We've been teaching more and more, now that final exams are about finished for the students, they have more time to meet. 

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and have a great week this week, I love you all. 

Sister Raitt
Christmas Tree in World Square

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