*Steilacoom is the little city inside Lakewood kind of like Holladay is in Salt Lake, but Steilacoom is much much smaller than Holladay :) *
I feel like I have so much to tell you that I'll never be able to write it all down. We'll start with the most important things first. The days all blend together so its hard to remember. The week started out well, becuase neither Sis. Jang or I know the area we've been visiting a lot of less active and part member families this week. We are always tracting between five and seven pm everyday, thats a rule for the mission, but I don't mind it. Tracting isn't as scary as I thought it would be and for the most part people are very kind. We often skip lunch or dinner because we are out visiting people. I had the opportunity to bear my testimony in church yesterday which was a great experience. I just testified a lot about love. One of the biggest things I've learned in the last week is that the Lord is aware of me and loves me. And he's allowed me to share that love with so many other people. The ward is AMAZING! They've never had sisters here before so they are so excited to have us and we are getting a lot of refferls which is wonderful because the Elders before us left us no teaching pool... and I mean no one. Its basically been like opening up a new area.
So far we've eaten at several members homes and they've all been very nice and the food has been great... until last night, a sweet Samoan family fed me raw fish in coconut milk.... I almost gaged there at the table. RAW FISH! I can barely eat cooked fish if I don't breathe when I chew. Thankfully they also had beef stirfry which was pretty good.
Are area is a pretty decent size and the church is right smack in the middle of our area, (only about a mile away from our appartment) which is convenient so we can offer investigators tours of the church, which we do OFTEN. On Wednesday we tracted into a middle aged man named Jesse Cantu, he was very kind and seemed really interested in learning more about the church. He and his wife are coming on a church tour on Wed and then we teach the first lesson there in the Relief Society room. My Companion and I are excited.
Then we found an old investigator who worked with the Elders about 6 months ago, her name is Kristen and she is 19. She is really shy but very sweet. She lives with her dad and I guess her dad didn't like 19 year old boys spending time with his daughters so he told her she couldn't take the lessons anymore, but now we're here and I think the dad is warming up to us. We gave her a church tour three days ago and commited her for baptism on the 21st after we taught her the first lesson. She was hessitent but she commited and said she would be at church yesterday. Unfortunately she texted us about 30 min. before church and told us she wasn't feeling well. That was hard, we were so excited for her. I think she's just scared, but hopefully she can overcome her fear. Keep her in your prayers.
Saturday was really rought. We spent the day in Dupont, which is about 8 miles away from Lakewood, but its still in our ward, you have to travel through the Fort Lewis Military base to get there, so its basically 8 miles of straight up forst. It reminds me of twilight. Dupont is this little picturesque? military neighborhood. It literally reminds me of the stepford wives neighborhood, its very very cute. There are several members there, but tracting there is rough because the people are fairly well off. We had a lot of doors slammed, but it really wasn't that bad. But saturday was rough because we stopped by a lot of less active families and NO ONE was home, it made us feel really unproductive which is always hard.
Yesterday (Sunday) was a day of miracles. I get a lot of anxiety in the mornings which always puts me on edge but it wears off by afternoon. Our investigator fell through on coming to church, we went to ward council, and PEC (priesthood exective commitee) where we talked a lot about what we needed to do, which was overwhelming, and I'm trying to remember names which is a struggle for some reason. I had a rough morning to say the least and then the Bishop asked us to bear our testimony in SM so I was feeling like a nervous reck, I ended up going to the bathroom and crying a little bit and then praying harder than I can ever remember. The Lord definitely heard my prayer because the rest of the day was amazing. (other than the raw fish ;)
So after dinner last night we wanted to swing by a few less active families and part member families that we didn't know. As we were looking for a girl named Ashley Barker we found her app. but we realized it was an appartment we tracked just a day earlier and the girl that answered the door literally slammed it shut in like 2 seconds, so we were nervous to knock on it a second time, but my companion being bold knocked before I could decide to run. The same girl opened the door, but this time we quickly asked if this was the Barker residents and she told us that Ashley had moved out back in October and that her name was McKayla (21 years old) we talked to her for a few minutes before she invited us in. We got to talking and she just unloaded on us. She had a child last year out of wedlock and then gave it up for adoption, she's been struggling but is strong in the presbyterian faith. She talked a long time, she needed someone to listen. After I pulled out the Book of Mormon and just knew what she needed. I shared Moroni 7:? not really sure of the number ( I don't know how I found it the Spirit definitely found it for me) It says "Perfect love casteth out all fear" We left her with a BOM and she was excited! She is reading 3 Nephi 11 and Moroni 10. She commited to pray and ask if it was true and is coming on a church tour tonight! She was definitely elect. I'm so excited to commit her for baptism for the 28th of this month! Please keep her in your prayers as well.
After we left McKayla's house it was 8:30 but we didn't have an appointment and we didn't want to go home early so we decided to swing by a part member family (a young family) Again, it was a home that we had tried to stop by earlier that week but they didn't answer the door (we heard someone home though) When we stopped by last night a woman (about 25) opened the door and almost immediately let us in. Her and her husband of 3 months have been looking for a church to go to. Her name is Abby Carmen and her husband Kellin Carmen. Kellin grew up LDS, but hasn't been since he was 15. Abby grew up as a Jehovas Witness but feels there has been something missing. They have a 6 year old daughter and one on the way. They let us share a scripture and were very open to learn more, Kellin already knows quite a bit, but Abby has lots of questions. We are going on a church tour with them tonight as well (after Mckayla) and we are having our Ward Mission Leader and his family come along. He is in his 30's and has a young family and a 5 year old daughter so were hoping they will be good fellowship. They've been looking for a new church! I couldn't believe how ready they were to receive us. I'm so excited! The work is just on high speed here! I love the area and I'm so grateful to be here. The ward is a huge support system and has been willing to help so much. The youth are wonderful and the laurels even want to go on splits with us! A little boy named Jared even came up to me yesterday and said he had a friend he wanted us to teach. The ward is definitly getting the spirit of missionary work! We're so excited to work with them. I love this work. Some days are hard and some days are amazing, but everyone was right when they said there is nothing more rewarding than seeing a light turn on in someones eyes. I love you all and am so grateful for your prayers. I mean it when I say they make all the difference in my life here.
Tomorrow we are going to Tacoma for new missionary training and I'll get to see all my MTC friends! I'm SOOOOO excited. We are eating lunch at the Mission Presidents home, so that will be fun as well! Oh and fun fact, one of Pres. Bowens couselors is actually in our ward, Pres. Criddlebaugh, so its nice to have him so close, but also slightly intimidating. But we're working hard so I don't have anything to worry about. Dad would be so proud. I'm still getting up at 6:30 am and going to bed at 10:30 pm without any problems, the Lord has definitly blessed me in that area.
I haven't gotten any of your written letters yet because I haven't seen anyone from the office but my District leader called us yesterday and said he has one for me, so I'll get that today :) I do have my new address for you though, I should be here for at least 12 weeks and I'm hoping for much much longer,
Sister Sara Hope Bradley
135 View Rd Apt. A
Steilacoom, WA 98388
Now my companion and I have to go back and spend 2 hours cleaning the appartment. The elders that lived there previously left the bathroom pretty gross and there is dust everywhere! We went to Wal-Mart this morning (theres one just 3 miles away!) and picked up some cleaning supplies and food etc. I actually bought a dress. The black one Cheryl made me ripped right along the hem on the top of the dress, like big time. I'll have to ask Sis. Stevens (Relief Society Pres) if there is someone in the ward that is good with a sewing machine. But I got a really cute black dress at wal mart for $18 dollars so that was a definite blessing. If I have time today I'll write a letter home and put it in the mail. I hope I will. I love you all so much! Thank you for all your support and love, its been invaluable out here. I'll write you next Monday with more news. Love you!