The trees are turning beautiful colors here and we really enjoy our morning walk about every other day. We have seen some beautiful homes and yards. We live in a nice neighborhood and the people are very friendly. Today we discovered that we live only a fifteen-minutes drive from a nice shopping center with a "Sam's Club," Safeway, Big Lots, Ross, etc. Speaking of neighborhoods ... The branch building is in Brooklyn Park, and you could say that it's a little scary on the streets nearby. One Sunday morning a "lady" of the street walked right into the lobby asking for money. We also see homeless people in many places. It always makes me feel so sad and hopeless but it's impossible to help everyone.
Tonight we are having our second Family Home Evening here in our apartment and are expecting about six to eight to attend. Last week we were very happy to have four members of the branch come. We had a good time visiting and Elder Lewis taught a short lesson about "Can you sleep when the wind blows?". We all then participated in a get-to-know you activity.
On Wednesday I attended an all day Sisters' Conference in Frederick, MD. About 60 young sister missionaries were there and it was a very spiritual and uplifting day. President and Sister Richards spoke and some of the young sisters gave presentations. I was, as always, very impressed with the maturity and dedication of these young 19 - 20 year old women. One of the highlights was when we were asked to give up or sacrifice something personal - one thing that may be keeping us from feeling closer to the Lord and depending completely on Him. We were asked to write it down on a small piece of paper and give it to them. We then all knelt down by our chairs to ask God to help us give up that one thing. It was a very moving and spiritual experience and I noticed that many sisters were crying.
When Sister Richards talked about how to better get along with your companion, she shared the following thought which made a significant impression me:
It doesn't matter if you are right;
It doesn't matter if you are justified;
If you have contention in your heart, you are wrong.
We continue loving going into peoples homes to teach them about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So far we have only taught members who needed a little encouragement and/or refreshing about a gospel principal, but that is really what we are here for: to be of support and to help where needed. We love the people here and feel more and more at home. I have promised God that I will never again complain about our little house in Gainesville. When I see the small places people live in here and are content, I know I need to count my blessings more often. Content is a word I love.
I started teaching the youth in Sunday School yesterday, ages ranging from 12 to 18. Oh boy, I need to be better prepared for this one. :)
This coming Monday we and all the other senior missionary couples will attend a special dinner and fireside with Elder Carlson of the Seventy. The next day there will be all training with the young missionaries. We look forward to it.
Thank you for all your love, support, and prayers for us. We still look at each other at times and wonder how we got to be here on a mission for the Church. We recognize small miracles in our lives all the time and are so grateful. We love this experience and can highly recommend it.