I love when I get to see miracles happen out here!!!! So I know that I have mentioned Sister Looney before, but I don't remember everything that I said so I will give a little back story this time too. She is a less active that the missionaries have been working with for a really long time. She lives with 5 cats and her name is fitting. When I first got to the area Sister Stringham said that she wasn't even going to take me there because she is so crazy, ridiculous, and frustrating. I was up for the challenge though. When I met her I could see what Sister Stringham was talking about. She believes that God has told her that it is okay to smoke, she is the epitome of a crazy cat lady, and some of her views on the gospel are a bit ....interesting. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE SISTER LOONEY!! She is hands down my favorite person I have met on my mission so far! After a couple visits with her, I suggested to Sister Stringham that we should take a different approach with her than what all of the other missionaries have done so far. We don't need to focus on how we need to change her and what she is doing wrong, but simply focus on loving and serving her. It has been amazing to see the change!! Sister Looney loves our visits so much more now and miracles truly have come about because of it. Since I got here we have been trying everything we can think of to get her to read just one verse from the Book of Mormon a day. Nothing has worked until this week. Last Monday I got an email from Richard Olds and in it he told me of an experience he had where he put the Lord first in his life and he was able to have time to accomplish the other things that he was worrying about finishing in time. He saw the blessings in his life come from putting the Lord FIRST. I shared that story with Sister Looney and promised her that if she put the Lord first in her life and read God's words that He would bless her with time to find everything else that she needs to do in her day and that her life would be less chaotic. (Her excuse was always that she didn't have time cause her life is so crazy) We told her that we would call her every night to check up on her reading. When we called her the next night we about fell out of our chairs when she told us that not only had she read one verse, but she wanted to read more! She is so cute. She said that she wanted to read more but remembered that we told her to read one verse and so "she was good and did what we said and only read one". She is so precious! We told her that she can always read more and that we just want her to read at least one verse. She has been reading every day since! Thennight when we called her, we felt prompted to invite her to church. Sister Looney hasn't come to church in YEARS! She told us that she would have to see if she could and then call us back in the morning.
We had to pick our jaws up off the floor when she told us that she could come to church in the morning!!! I was doing the biggest happy dance ever!!!! We got the Taylors to give her a ride. Honestly that was one of the happiest moments of my mission so far seeing her walk into the chapel that day and sitting next to her for all three hours of church! They got there late and so they came in half way through sacrament meeting. It was ward conference and so the Bishop was giving a talk. He was talking about the ward goals for 2014. One of the goals he was talking on was our goal for 25 less actives to return to activity. Just then he looked up to see Sister Looney sitting in the back and immediately he started to cry. The ward was so incredibly welcoming and loving to her!! So many people came up to say hi and that they missed her and were happy to see her back at church. She was so surprised that so many people remembered her since it had been so very long since she had come. She felt so love and said that she had a wonderful experience! She even raised her hand and shared a few comments in Relief Society! She told us that she hopes that she can come next week because she enjoyed herself so much! I am so grateful that you have been such a wonderful example to me Momma on how to love and serve others. It truly is what helps people the most.
So I completely forgot to write about this last week! But I still want to share it with you. When we were on exchanges a couple weeks ago I went to a nursing home to visit a couple less actives with Sister Foust. We met with Sister Blackmor who is hard of hearing and just the sweetest old lady ever! As we were getting ready to leave I asked her if there was anything we could help her with. She sat there pondering deeply for a moment and then all excited goes, "Oh yes!! In that top drawer right behind you!" So I get up and open it and she says, "There are some chocolates in there to the right side. Can you please bring me a couple of them?" Immediately a huge smile spread across my face and tears came to my eyes. Of course my first thought was of my sweet dear Gran. Apparently she wasn't the only old lady that had a huge sweet tooth! It reminded me so much of when Gran used to always ask me to sneak her a couple chocolates so that Aunt Glenda wouldn't find out. (I'm pretty sure Aunt Glenda always knew though) It made me miss my Gran so much, but am so grateful that she is with Kent now and they are watching over me while I am out here.
I love you all so much and miss you tons!! There is no place that I would rather be than doing the Lord's work here in Ohio!!
Happy Valentine's Day everyone!!