Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Miracles, Cheesy Clichés, and Peacing Out‏

Sometimes miracles are barely noticeable, and really can only be appreciated in the aftermath. These kind of miracles happen to me everyday.

But sometimes, miracles are ... really noticeable. Like the miracle that happened in this mission during the month of November. Let me fill you in ...

So, background knowledge: The 5 states that make up our mission are all on the "Top Ten Least Religious States" list. Also, New England has the lowest number of Mormons per capita in the country. But the members who are here are so strong and faithful, and when President and Sister Packard got to the mission, about 20 - 30 people were baptized every month.

Now, we are not a numbers oriented mission. Never once the entire 18 months that I have been here has anyone ever told me my numbers were too low, or for that matter, ever praised me for high numbers. We just care about working hard and giving our all and relying on the Lord. But since the Packards have come, baptisms have pretty much doubled, with between 40 - 50 baptisms a month, our all time high being 59.

But, the Lord's work is hastening, and President felt like we weren't reaching our full potential. So this month, after a series of events including an apostolic blessing from Elder Holland, a visit from Elder Lawrence, and some serious spirit and drive going on in the missionaries, we set the goal for 70 baptisms in our mission in the month of November. I don't know how to describe what's been happening here the past month ... it's like every one is on fire. Everyday we would hear stories about miracles happening somewhere, in addition to seeing it ourselves.  People all over the mission who had been meeting with the missionaries but were too scared to commit suddenly had a change of heart. People were literally committing to be baptized and then 2 hours later the baptism would happen. Every single prayer that each missionary has offered this month included a plea for the Lord to bless and watch over these people preparing for baptism. Each of us sacrificed something specific for this month in an effort to show the Lord we were serious about this.

And guess what? Yesterday we found out the total number of people who were baptized this month. 

100. 100 people. 

So. Here I am. Homeward bound in 3 days.
What to say? It was a beautiful ending to a beautiful 18 months. Although "ending" doesn't really seem fitting - more like a beautiful way to start everything else. As my mission has been winding up, it's been a real hoot to hear the other missionaries tell me what I've been known for over the course of my mission: the Sister who doesn't kill bugs, the one that knits, the one with the bun, the one that hates showering, the one that sleeps with her name-tag on ... looks like none of those will be changing! (Except for the sleeping in my name-tag part ... maybe.)
And how would I define myself? The Sister who learned how to pray, the one who fell in love with the Book of Mormon, the one who learned that putting the Lord's work first really does bring life-changing joy.

Wow, that was cheesy. What has my mission done to me?! Cheesy clichés all over the place ... But alas, the cheesy clichés are true. I have loved every moment of this experience. Even when in the moment I didn't love it, I loved it. Does that make sense? No. It's a mission paradox. A true mission paradox.
Okay, this is just going to get more rambley and nonsensical and nostalgic. Peace out New England. You'll always have my heart.
And thank YOU. All of you who have supported this in any way. Sorry I've been terrible at letter writing and thank you note-ing (looks like some things haven't changed), but I really do appreciate it. Like ... a lot. A lot, a lot.

See you soon!
Sister Gledhill