Saturday, April 19, 2014

Dear Family!

  Well it's official I am no longer a teenager anymore! I don't feel any different but it is still weird to me that I am in my 20's. I had a really great birthday and I will write about that later but first I have to talk about the rest of my week. 

  We got to go to the temple on Wednesday and like always it was incredible. We went with a third of the mission but I only got to see one of my old companions and that was Sister Doole. All of the others were assigned to go on a different day. I was a bit disappointed but I got over it. We drove to Tauranga on Tuesday night and then Wednesday morning we caught a bus to Hamilton. The temple is so beautiful, peaceful, and wonderful on the inside and I was just so happy to be there. As I was sitting there waiting for the session to start I couldn't help but think back to just about a year earlier when I entered the Salt Lake Temple for the first time to receive my own endowment. I was overwhelmed with happiness and gratitude for that experience and for the incredible year I have had since then. I got to sit by Sister Doole in the temple and Sister Vasi was on my other side and the other missionaries filled the session. I was surrounded by people I love that I wouldn't have met had I not embarked on this crazy adventure and all at once I was just so grateful to my Heavenly Father for sending me here and allowing me to have this wonderful experience. Being in the temple I was able to receive the revelation I needed. Well sort of. Out of no where again my mind has been troubled with what career and schooling I should pursue at the end of my mission. I guess I just don't want to come home without a plan and be depressed and not have a focus for my life so I have been trying to figure things out again. Anyway I went to the temple seeking some direction for what to do. As I was pondering my options I got the impression that I need to quit wasting time and energy on these things and leave it to the Lord to work things out. I need to focus more on my life right now and leave everything else in the Lord's hands. He hasn't failed me so far so I know that no matter what happens after my mission I will be okay. I didn't get the plan I was looking for but I got the promise that if I continue to give everything I have for the remainder of my mission, I will be guided what to do afterwards. Now when I think of the future or after my mission I feel peace and I am no longer trying to figure things out. I will just take it as it comes and trust that the Lord is in control. 

  Well after the temple we had to catch the bus back to Tauranga and then drive home to Whakatane. Now if the roads between Tauranga and Whakatane aren't bad enough, a massive storm moved in while we were gone and the rain was ridiculous. I have never seen rain pour like it was as I was trying to drive home. I had two other sisters in the car with Sister Vasi and I as we drove and all we did was pray to make it home safely. The rain was so heavy that the wipers couldn't keep up and I could barely see the taillights of the car in front of me. It took us two hours to get home. Had we been in America where the roads are normal we probably would have pulled over and tried to wait it out but here the roads are so narrow between us and the mountainside that we had to just push forward and keep praying. We finally made it and we dropped the other sisters off to get their car, filled up the car with petrol, and then we headed off for Tokoroa which is another two hours away for exchanges. All in all we spent three hours on a bus and four hours in a car that day and by the time we got to Tokoroa I never wanted to drive again. 

   Now for Saturday! So we woke up at 6:30 like normal and Sister Vasi screamed HAPPY BIRTHDAY and it scared me really bad. I love her. She then made me this really delicious breakfast and we did out studies. After that we went to the chapel where we had General Conference. At the chapel the elders gave me some pancakes they had made for my birthday and I was touched that they had thought of me. I don't like pancakes so I didn't eat them but it meant a lot to me that they would do that. We then spent the majority of the day watching prophets, seers, and revelators, give us the guidance and help that our Heavenly Father knows we need. I took so many notes and all I could think after every talk was "Wow that was amazing. I needed that." It was the best way I could think of to spend my birthday on my mission. For lunch the elders bought us pizza and for dinner Jesse made this beautiful meal of roast chicken. She is an amazing cook so dinner was wonderful. I felt like I was with my "other family" because I love them so much and I know they love me too. On one hand it was really hard to be away from everyone that day but then I kept telling myself that I will never have a birthday in New Zealand again with these people that I love and it made things easier. During the priesthood session on Saturday night our ward showed the general women's meeting and let's just say I cried the whole way through it. It was so beautiful and it made me so proud to be a daughter of God. I spent the rest of the night on a conference call with the other Sister Training Leaders and Sister Rudd trying to sort out some of the issues in the mission. All in all it was a wonderful birthday and I am so blessed! 

   I absolutely loved the Sunday sessions of conference as well. I feel like each talk told me something that I need to hear. I have one remarkable story though from the week that I have to tell you! So back a few weeks ago when I was a the seventh day adventist baptism an older woman in the congregation approached me. After talking for a minute she said that a year ago she had been in Hawaii and she had visited the Polynesian Cultural Center and she said she loved it. She said that there was a remarkable feeling there and then she said "I met a sister like you and you remind me of her. She was lovely and you could see that she really believed everything she was saying to us. If there is anyone out there that would cause me to step back and maybe change I think it was her. There was something about her and I thought it was just her but now I see it in you too." Now because I was in a Seventh Day Adventist Church I couldn't really say much but we talked briefly about it and then she had to go. Since then I have been praying for her because I know the spirit was working on her. Well last night Sister Vasi and I pulled over to talk with this man walking his dog and I made Sister Vasi go talk to him and while she was doing that I felt like I needed to walk down the opposite side of the street so I did and I saw this old couple walking towards me. I was working up the courage to talk to them when I recognized the woman as the one I talked with a few weeks ago. When she recognized me she said "It's so good to see you again. Believe it or not that I was just thinking about you and here you are. That is remarkable." I then talked to her and her husband for sometime but every time I went to share a gospel principle the spirit stopped me. It never felt right to preach to them or to invite them to let us come by. In my head I kept hearing words saying "Let the spirit work. she already knows our message. Let the spirit work." At the end of the conversation the lady said "So when is your Sunday services?" and I said "It's at 10 am on Hinemoa st." and She said "Well we might just pop by sometime. I'm intrigued by you girls." The rest of this story is still unwritten but I am hoping and praying that the spirit keeps softening her heart and working with her and her husband so that when the time is right they are ready to accept our message. I knew I needed to go to that baptism a few weeks ago and I think this is part of the reason. Isn't Heavenly Father amazing? 

   Well that's all I have for this week. I love and miss all of you! Have a good week! 

Sister Simkins

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