Happy late Fourth of July! I am so ashamed of myself because I am losing my American side. I literally forgot about it was the 4thof july last Friday until someone else said it at the VC. I didn't even wear red, white and blue! To make it worse all of the other american sisters in the VC remembered and they showed up all decked out in American pride and I felt so ashamed. I love my country and the 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays so I was sad that I forgot to celebrate it. I guess I could blame part of it on the fact that I have an aussie companion but is was mostly my fault. I have just been so consumed by the culture and way of life over here that sometimes I forget to recognize my own culture and heritage. I am grateful to have been born in a country that was founded on the principles of God and that honors religious freedom. I am also grateful to be serving a mission in another country that also honors religious freedom.
This week was a really great week for Sister Clarke and I. We taught some really great lessons together and last night as we were reflecting on the work we did we both felt like it was a really productive and powerful week. We were able to accomplish some of the big goals that we set and we have also been able to help people progress in the gospel. Sister Clarke is a really powerful teacher so I enjoy working with her. I think we make a good team which makes the work really fun and exciting.
In our ward there is this old lady and we had dinner with her a few weeks ago and she reminded me of someone but I couldn't figure out who it was. Though the course of our conversation she said that she had a sister in Rotorua and I asked her who it was and it turned out to be one of my favorite members down there and that was who she reminded me of. Luckily for me it was Rotorua stake temple week this week and so I got to see a lot of people including this woman's sister. The remarkable part about it though was that these two women came to visit us in the VC they brought a niece of theirs who isn't a member. I was so excited to see this member from Rotorua that I ran over and gave her a big hug and then Sister Clarke gave the member from our ward here a big hug and then we gave them all a brief tour and talked about Jesus Christ. At this point the non-member neice admitted that she is really interested in learning more. She lives in Auckland but we set up a time to teach her the following day at her aunt's house. We went around the next day and had a beautiful lesson with her and the spirit was so strong that I was on the edge of tears the whole time. It has been a while since I cried during a lesson but I couldn't help it at this one point where our investigator was
explaining her experience at the VC the previous day and she said "When I walked into the center yesterday I was completely overwhelmed with this amazing feeling. We were only standing in the doorway but I felt like I was surrounded by light and warmth. Then I watched you sisters hug my aunties. Some people can pretend or fake things, but I could see in your eyes that you truly loved these women and then for you to hug them and show them love like that I knew that I wanted whatever it was that you had. I could see the love of my Lord Jesus Christ in your eyes and I want that." I started to cry as she said this because the spirit was so strong and I knew that what she was saying was true. It was a remarkable experience. The next day was Sunday and so they all came to church before the niece had to return to Auckland and she even got up in Sacrament and bore her newly developed testimony and it was so powerful. Sister Clarke and I will continue to teach her over the phone at the VC and then pass her off to the local missionaries when she is able to be baptized! She already said she wants to be baptized so things are looking very bright for her future.
Sad news of the week is that Sister Doole was transferred out of the VC. There was a sister that went home so since she was in a trio she was chosen to take that sisters place. She is now in South Auckland which is at the top of out mission and it is highly unlikely that I will get to see her again before I finish my mission and that makes me so sad because she still has a year left on her mission so it will be forever until I see her again. It was hard for her to leave and everyone here really misses her. But all is well because I know that we will be friends forever.
That is all from me this week. I am so happy here and I am having the time of my life here. I just wish I could help you all understand how happy I am here and how much fun I am having. I really never want this to end and I never want to leave. I hold to what I said a while ago,all of you need to just move to New Zealand so that I can live here forever. I do love and miss all of you though and I hope that things are going well for you! Have a great week!