Okay, so I just read Goodes's email and saw that he has 10 people getting baptized. That's wild! I was just about to write and say how many miracles we have had this week, but I guess 10 baptisms kinda trumps it! It was still a great week though! Ahh so many things have happened! Mom, I love my mission. If my mission was a guy I would marry it. Granted, it's hard. It's the hardest thing I've ever loved, but I wouldn't change it.
We taught more lessons this week than has ever been taught in this area since its been opened. We have seriously been working harder than I've ever worked in my life trying to find. What's frustrating is that in previous areas you can go walking down the street and talk to people everywhere! People in most parts of Oregon love to walk or ride their bikes and a lot of people literally just hang out on the streets. Even in the pouring rain. In previous areas we could tract an apartment complex and find a whole slew of new people to teach. West Linn is not like that. There are few apartments here, no one is on the street, no one is even home during the day, and many of them are wealthy and don't feel the need for change. It has been such a strange area for me and I have stretched and grown in different ways. It's a completely different kind of missionary work, that's for sure. But just because results aren't immediate, doesn't mean you can just stop trying or stop tracting. You gotta do them both more! We went tracting this week and got slam after slam. I finally had a knock one more door experience on my mission! We were getting discouraged and a little frustrated and we were about to turn around and find a better use of our time since knocking was obviously getting us nowhere, but we felt impress to knock one more door. We did and a sweet young woman and three little kids came to the door and let us in! We taught the restoration and had an amazing lesson with Annie and her little family. It was a tender mercy from the Lord that we really needed.
So for some odd reason, Portland is the church's pilot mission for literally everything. They test everything on us and soon I'll tell you about some more new stuff that we are testing. At first this really frustrated me. We constantly have to have people come out and observe us, call us, make us take surveys, and report any suggestions or problems we are having with the new program they've instituted. This week we saw a few miracles concerning the new programs instituted by the church. First, we taught our first ever skype lesson! Remember Cameron rich from high school? So I've been talking with him on facebook and he accepted to have sister Jensen and I skype him and teach him. So we did and we taught the restoration. It was amazing! We taught a guy in California! It was just really cool and now we are sending him the scriptures and continuing to teach him. How cool is that? Okay, so I'm not sure if I told you, but sister Jensen and I are the leading Just Serve Missionaries in our mission. We do 20 hours of service each week and then report on our miracles and success to our Mission Presidency and to Salt Lake so they can track the effectiveness of Just Serve. We got a call this week from a guy in the Just Serve Leadership for the church this week and he told us that our emails and reports have touched him really deeply and he wants to come out here to Oregon and come to service with us next week and witness these miracles in real life. Then he told us he might end up having a camera crew follow us around and record our work. Not sure how I feel about that but I guess if the Lord wills it then I'm in.
Okay, so one last thing. Elder Ballard wrote a follow up letter to our mission this week and president asked us to study it in preparation for MLC. In it he talked about how hard our mission is. Statistically, we are not the best mission in the States. He talked about how that is not because we don't work and hard or don't teach as well, but it is because we live in Portland: the least religious city in the United States. People live to disprove our message. For many, they don't even want to try to listen to us because Christianity is too main stream. Dang hipsters. He told us that every mission has its hardships but we shouldn't feel that we are worse because there is no other place in the world that is quite like Portland. It brought me so much comfort. One thing I love about my mission and that I will miss a lot is the refiners fire. I have spent 13 months cookin in the refiners fire. You never get out. You're always being pushed and stretched and yanked out of your comfort zone and being molded into something better. Someone better. The second you think you have it down, you'll get a new area, new companion, new bishop, new concerns from an investigator that will challenge you in a new way and make you learn in ways you wouldn't have otherwise. I have a love hate relationship with the fire, but it's so cool to watch God literally mold me into a new creature. A better disciple. I think the key to life is becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable. We have to realize that we will forever be in the refiners fire. We can either embrace change and be humble enough for God to mold us to what he wants us to be, or we can resist and never reach our full potential. So, if you are currently engulfed in the flames of the fire, remember whose fire it is. Remember that He knows better, and His ways are always higher than ours. I know that to be true. Mom, I love you. I don't know what I would do without you. I hope you know how many people are praying for you! Each of my companions do. And in our nightly prayers, the couple I live with always do too. And go read 3 Nephi. Christ prays for you too. By name for specific blessings. Love you all!