Well, we finished our first full week in the mission. The office was busy almost every day - some days it was so busy, we were like, "Let's make a run for it before the phone rings again!!!" We get an hour for lunch, and other than that, it's 9 to 5 (or later).
We start the day with a devotional - a spiritual thought/scripture and a prayer. We have each been assigned a day to do the devotional. The Fentons shared an experience with us on Thursday that was so touching to me. They said that when they first came to the mission - they were sent to Georgetown - down on the coast. Elder Fenton said his first thought was, "Oh Great! We're going to the beach!" But after they arrived, they were, among other things, assigned to visit a young man in prison. He said he had been waiting for 13 years for them! He met them with his scriptures in hand, and tears streaming down his face. Elder Fenton said he was the epitome of "a broken heart and a contrite spirit." They visited him each week until they were sent to the office. The Stake President in Georgetown, and President Holm promised the Fentons that their friend at the prison would be taken care of. He only has two more years of incarceration - and I hope and pray that when he's out, he will be given a chance to further turn his life around and become successful. Part of the Fentons' thought that day was about gratitude. They said that the young man at the prison told them that a few months ago, he was allowed to go outside in the evening, to help pick up a load of cans or something that had been spilled. As he was outside, he looked upward, into the sky, and saw the moon and the stars and the milky way - the first time he had seen the heavens in over thirteen years! How often do we express gratitude for the beauties of the earth and skies? I know I don't - nearly enough!
We had a weird thing happen on Friday. Our regular mail carrier, Rose, is a very large woman. She never gets out of the truck to deliver the mail to the office. She honks the horn and someone from the office goes outside to bring the mail in. She give us her key to the back, and we get our letters and packages - and put the outgoing mail into her truck. She usually comes between 2 and 3 o'clock. Friday, Elder Arrington and I got back from lunch at 2:15. I noticed that there was a phone message while we were gone. It was from Rose. She said she had stopped two times at the office and nobody was there - so she took everything back to the post office and had scanned it all as "closed for business." Well, both our offices are in front. There were others in the office, but they didn't hear her honk, I guess, so rather than coming inside (the lights were all on), she just drove away. Weird! I was glad that she, at least, left the message. I called her back and she told us that if we wanted to drive down to the Post Office, she'd wait by the truck till we got there to get our mail. Elder Arrington took the outgoing mail with him, met her there, and brought the new mail back in our car.
Friday night we drove up to the temple in Hopkins, which is about 25 minutes away. We got there at dusk. They only do endowment sessions every two hours, and we had missed the 5 PM session, so we went and did family sealings while we waited for the 7 PM session to begin. The Columbia, SC temple is very small, but very beautiful. We hope to get up there a couple of times a month, anyway.
Yesterday was the Okra Strut, shopping and the Women's Conference (for me). I always love the Women's Conference. I especially enjoyed Sister Stephens' talk and President Monson's. Heavenly Father's message to the women of the church is that He loves us, unconditionally. He loves ALL HIS CHILDREN unconditionally, whether we think we deserve it or not. Being at that conference last night really has me looking forward to next weekend! I LOVE General Conference!
Today was Fast and Testimony Mtg. I jotted down some notes so I could remember some of the testimonies. One young girl told about a letter she got from her brother who's on a mission. He wanted to thank her for always making food for him and his friends when he was home - even though he didn't always thank her. She compared that to the way the Lord continues to bless us - even when we don't always show gratitude to Him. She said that she was glad to have been given the chance to serve her little brother.
Another sister told of an experience she had following a recent surgery. She had her finger wrapped and was told by her surgeon to keep it absolutely dry, or it wouldn't heal. She said she was always VERY careful not to get it wet. One the way home from work Wednesday, the Spirit told her to remove her dressing. She was driving, and didn't obey at first, but again she was told, "Unwrap your finger." This time, she pulled over into a parking lot and removed the brown bandage from her finger. Everything was dry, and she thought, "What?" Then she was told to take the rest of the bandage off, so she did - and as she got further in, the white bandaging was damp. When she took it completely off her wound was damp, white and open. She realized that a little corner of the gauze was hanging out, underneath all the brown bandaging, and every time she got her hand wet, the gauze acted like a wick - pulling moisture up and into the wound. So...she was able to get it cleaned, dried and medicated - and now it has started to heal. (Kind of long story - but I thought it was pretty cool.)
There was a lot more, and the meeting was very good. Those are just two of the testimonies that stood out to me.
In the combined Relief Society/Priesthood Meeting (which is held, church-wide, on the 5th Sunday of the month), Elder and Sister Mihlberger, from the office, spoke to us about the addiction recovery program of the church. They meet with addicts, of one kind or another, every Thursday night. They talked about the different kids of addictions - substances and behaviors. There are so many of them nowadays! They testified that it is an inspired program given by inspired leaders for our day! The church's program is a lot like AA, but it is based on the Atonement of Jesus Christ. They showed some video clips that include former addicts' testimonies and they are very touching and inspirational. The Mihlbergers are the perfect couple to work in this program! I'd like to learn more about it.
Sunday afternoon, we got to feed the sisters! At 5:00, four of the cutest young sisters, including Sister Rogers, from Farr West, came to dinner along with Sister, Barlow - a single Senior Sister who's over travel at the office. We had salad (which Sister Barlow brought), beef stew, and home-made (Rhoades) bread. After dinner, Sister Rogers, and he companion, Sister Davis, gave us a spiritual thought. Sister Rogers sang a verse of "I Stand All Amazed," while her companion read Alma 7:11 - " And he shall go forth, suffering pains and aafflictions andbtemptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will ctake upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people." They then bore their testimonies of Christ and His atonement in our behalf. We had prayer together, and they left - just a few minutes after 6:00. We feed two of the elders next Sunday, but I am looking forward to having the sisters come again. It was a sweet experience!