Let me start out by saying Happy New Year! I cannot believe that it is 2014 already. The crazy thing that I can't wrap my mind around is the fact that I will be home in 2014. Like my mission ends in 2014 and then I am coming home. Oh my goodness that thought makes me sick. I am trying so hard to hold onto the time but it is just slipping away so fast that I can't help it. I will be out 8 months next week. Can you believe that 8 months? That's almost 9 months which is my halfway mark and everyone says that after you hit 9 months there is not stopping the time. I guess it just slips away. I don't my time here to end. I love being a missionary and I love being in New Zealand. I honestly ask myself everyday how I got so lucky.
Well we had a great week this week! We have an investigator getting baptized this Saturday and we are so excited! Her name is Janet and if you remember Dominique, the seventeen year-old girl that we baptized a while ago, well it is her Grandma. Teaching her has been the coolest journey because she is just so prepared and it's crazy to say that because when I first met her she was so against the church. Her journey started 3 years ago when her son was baptized and married an LDS girl. She was against it at first but then she learned to accept the choice that he had made. Well when I first got into the area and was teaching Dominique, Janet was living with her son and Dom and so I would see her all the time and although she was friendly she really didn't want anything to do with what we were teaching. Now they all lived in the elder's area and we got special permission to teach Dom because she felt more comfortable with sisters. Anyways the elders tried so hard to teach Janet. They were constantly talking to her and asking her questions to get her thinking but she still didn't want anything to do with it. Well Janet's son and his family recently moved into a new house in our area and when we were helping to move her in Elder Krull said "Maybe you will have better luck with Janet" and I thought "Ya right. She is one that will never come around." Now knowing all of this you can imagine my surprise when I got a text from our Ward Mission Leader telling us that Janet wanted us to teach her the lessons so that she can be baptized. So that was a few weeks ago and ever since we have been working with Janet and she has done a complete 360. She reads the Book of Mormon constantly and she says that she knows it's the word of God. She gave up smoking and coffee all on her own and she told us she was coming to church before we could ask. She even came to the baptism we had last weekend. Oh my goodness we have just seen so many miracles with this woman! One of them happened last Monday actually. On Saturday the three of us got down on our knees and petitioned our Heavenly Father for a date that Janet would be ready to be baptized. After the prayer I said "Well I have a date but it's kinda crazy." Sister Doole said the same thing and so I said"alright everyone write down the date that came to your mind and then we'll share it." and so we did and as it turns out we had all chosen the same date that was just a few weeks away. This date seemed crazy because at the time she was still struggling with smoking. We had planned that day to visit Janet and present this date to her and see how she felt about it. Now I don't know if you remember from last week how I shared the story about going into the lesson wanting to teach word of wisdom and then I felt to switch it to Plan of Salvation? Well that was this lesson and so because of all the family there it didn't feel right to talk about a baptismal date. I guess we could tell that it wasn't the right time. Ok so fast forward to last Monday and we were sitting in the car and we got a call from our W.M.L. saying that he had just talked to Janet's son and that Janet had decided that she was ready to be baptized and that she had chosen the 11th of January which was the same date that the three of us had chosen. I cannot tell you how happy we were and just how excited we are. Another cool story from teaching Janet is the other morning I was praying to open up my personal study and I was asking that I would know what to teach the people that I would be coming in contact with throughout the day and the thought popped into my head "Teach Janet tithing" and i thought that was odd because we had talked about teaching something else but I decided to go with it and I told my companions that we would be teaching tithing instead. Then we went to the lesson with Janet and Sister Pongi started to introduce the lesson and what we would be teaching and Janet interrupted and said "Wait I read about this today! I was reading Malachi chapter 3 this morning and it talked about tithes and I didn't know what that meant. I wondered why we didn't pay tithes today but I guess we do." We then had an awesome lesson and it just reaffirmed to her that this is the true and restored church on the earth and that we as missionaries are inspired to teach what God wanted her to learn. It is just so flippen cool! So Janet is getting baptized this Saturday at 6 pm but I know that she would appreciate of you would please pray for her too. She, like everyone else, is facing some pretty tough opposition and temptations.
Now for our New Years celebration. First of all we were surprised by a trip to Hamilton on Tuesday for a Mission Conference. The whole mission got together and we had a devotional and a Christmas/New Years Celebration and it was the best! I had so much fun. I got to see all of my friends and the McLachlans and the Rudds. It was just so much fun. I seriously have the best mission President ever. At the start we met in this forest reserve owned by the church and we had a devotional sitting under these trees. The devotional was focused on the Prophet Joseph Smith and all that he did in his life. The spirit was so strong because although I am in New Zealand I looked around at the trees and tried to imagine that I was in the grove of trees in New York when the prophet saw God the Father and Jesus Christ. Again, as it has numerous times in the past, the spirit re-assured me that it was true. It really happened. They appeared to that fourteen year old boy and as a result the Gospel of Jesus Christ has once again been restored to the earth. I was just overcome with peace and joy as I pondered my testimony. We then listed to an address given by M. Russell Ballard on how Joseph and Hyrum were the best missionary companions and we need to love our companions like they loved each other. That talk too made me want to cry because it was just so powerful. After that Presidnet Rudd got up and talked about the miracles that have take place over the years in New Zealand and I was overwhelmed with a love for this country and the people here. There is a magic that resides here in this beautiful country and it is like nothing else. The people are just so full of faith and its no surprise that so many amazing things have happened over the years. Again I am so blessed to be serving here. I couldn't imagine a better way to spend the last day in 2013.
At the conference President Rudd said that he didn't want the sisters out working because it was unsafe and he told the elders that they didn't have to go out and work too if they didn't want to because he was just worried about or safety. Alcohol is a huge problem here and he was worried about all of us being out and about. He also gave us permission to stay up until midnight to see the new year come in. We were so excited because we had planned to party with the three of us in our flat. Unfortunately that isn't exactly what happened. After the drive to and from Hamilton and everything that had happened that day we got back to the flat and crashed. We thought we'd just take a short nap and then wake up at 11:30 and party. We even had sparkling cider. So we set an alarm and went to sleep. When the alarm went off unconsciously turned it off so we didn't wake up. The next thing I know I woke up because I could hear these really loud fireworks and I looked at the clock and it said 12:01. I turned over to Sister Doole and said "It's 12:01. Happy New Year" and Sister Doole looked up and barely said "happy new year' and then she turned over and went back to sleep. Sister Pongi never even budged. I had this mini inner conflict wondering if it would be worth it to wake up and celebrate but then I was so so tired that I decided it wasn't worth it so I too turned over and went back to sleep. Talk about the lamest New Years ever but we were so tired that we couldn't help it. This mission has made me more tired then I have ever been in my life and I guess that New Years wasn't even an exception.
Well I guess that is all for this week. I hope that everyone had a great New Years and that you are all looking forward to an awesome 2014. I know I am excited. This is going to be one of the best years of my life I can feel it! I love and miss all of you!