It is weird that yesterday, all I could think of was "Woody" saying "It's your last game!" at the end of the Toy Story Mania ride in California Adventure. That's pretty much what it feels like now in Serbia.
So it has still been blazing hot. No one is outside, and air conditioning makes us happy...So we were thinking of productive, indoor finding activities. We decided to look through the old potential investigators lists in our area book and calling them -- all of them, regardless of the notes or dates. (but if they said "please don't contact me again," we wouldn't call.) Wow. Everyone loved that? I guess everyone else was also at home, trying to figure out reasons to not go outside. Basically, every 10 numbers we called either told us they were interested and asked us to call them back the next day to schedule a time, or they scheduled lessons with us right then. What? It was so weird and SO SUCCESSFUL.
My favorite phone call, was when we called a number for a young man named Dragan. His father answered the phone and had no ideas what we were talking about, so he gave the phone to his wife. His wife began talking to us, and I asked if her son was home. She paused for a moment and said, "My son passed away a couple of years ago." And my heart stopped... I felt SO TERRIBLE. My first instinct was to be a nice person and to say "SO SORRY FOR BOTHERING YOU." and hang up the phone. But the Spirit of the Holy Ghost very directly prompted me, and reminded me, that I am here to help families be together forever, and that they need the knowledge of the plan of salvation. I said, "I am so sorry for your loss. I apologize. My name is Sister Chauncey, I am here as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints. We have a list of names and numbers here of people who were previously interested in our faith, and we were calling them to see if they were still interested in learning more." I believe, with help from our friend Dragan on the other side of the veil, she said "If Dragan accepted you, so will we. Call me tomorrow and we can set up a time for you to come over and talk."
Mind. Blown. Miracle right there. We are going to visit her tonight. I am very very excited to meet her.
Sundays here are absolutely the BEST. We had a family visit us from America. The father served a mission here in the early 90s (yep, during the war), and the mother is from Cacak, which is a city about 3 hours from Belgrade. They both stood up and shared their testimonies That was so incredible. Two of our members in the branch also served mini missions in Rijeka for the past month, and they got up and spoke as well. What an incredible spirit there. The father asked us afterwards where we have served and he said "I cant even believe that there are branches and missionaries in places like Tuzla and Osijek. Those cities were both destroyed during the war... and now the gospel is growing there." It reminded me of my love for Osijek, and how a blessing it was for me to serve there.
I am really excited to come home? But I have also never done anything for such a long consecutive period of time... and so I actually don't believe that its going to happen.
Well... I don' t even know that to tell you. I am picturing people asking me "How was the mission?!" and I can't even think of a word to describe it. Saying "It was great!" doesn't even began to explain it, or accurately depict it. It has been an emotional and a spiritual roller coaster. I can't even tell in words what this mission has been for me. It has literally changed my life. My faith has grown, as well as my testimony of the Savior and His love for His children. He is real. He is here. The promise is true then--- when ye seek, ye shall find, and when ye seek for Christ, ye will find him. I also learned that we cannot live the gospel without real intent. When we go to church, when we read, when we pray without the real intent of learning more about Christ, and learning to apply his teachings in your life, it isn't worth anything. Most importantly, as it says in Moroni's promise we must do it with real intent, having faith in Christ. If we don't have the faith that Christ is going to help us, the real intent won't do any good either.
I have also tried to learn to let go of my self imposed demands to be perfect. My mission has been kind of crazy, and not at all what I expected it to be like. It was certainly a lot more challenging, and there were many expectations I had set that didn't happen. For a while, I hated myself for that. I want so much for things to go perfectly, but, occasionally because of others and most often because of myself, things dont go the way as planned. But I have also learned that nothing is going to be perfect. Nothing will go exactly the way as planned. First of all, I learned to let that go and love myself, my friends, my family, and my mission more... but I also let go of the expectation I set that I had to make things perfect. I was trying for most of my mission to do everything on my own. When it was time to go contact, I would go out there and talk to as many people as I could, and half the time fail, or get too scared, or feel like I didn't say the right thing at the right time. When we had lessons, I would try and logically find the perfect verse for that person, which I KNEW would convert them immediately. I worked hard. But I worked alone. And when you try and make everything perfect by yourself, you run out of steam - quickly. It is impossible to make things perfect on your own. BUT... we were never asked to do that. We were asked to lean on Christ, the only ever perfect being, and to reach our perfection through him. Our efforts and work and sacrifice will never be enough without Christ. Mosiah 2:21 reminds us of that! "I say unto you that if ye shoudl serve him who has created you from the beinning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another--I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole soulds yet ye would be unprofitable servants." Rather, we must come unto Christ, and be perfected in Him. He makes our efforts and sacrifices worthwhile. It really is all because of Him.
I know that this gospel is true. The only way for happiness and success in this life is by applying the principles of the gospel in your life. The Church of Jesus Christ is Gods church on the earth today. I "can feel so" every time I read the scriptures or the words of modern day prophets. God lives. Christ lives. And because He lives, so will we - as a family, forever. That is the greatest blessing of all, as I have learned more than ever the meaning of my family because of my mission.
I can't tell you enough how much I love you. Thank you so much for your support during this time.
I can't wait to hug you all next week.