Ooooooh Boy. This is the most awful email I will ever write in my life!!!!!! I feel like I just got hit by a tractor!! Did I just say tractor? I’ve been in Iowa too long…;) I am so sad to say goodbye to weekly “Missionary Miracles” by Sister Tobias. But that’s ok! I am planning on keeping the missionary moments rolling along with “MEMBER Missionary Miracles by Stephanie Tobias! ok? That gives me a little bit of hope for the future. ;)
I know that Heavenly Father hands out miracles as we pray in Faith. That’s sooo understated. But this week was filled with tender mercies from Heaven! We worked in -17 degree weather! Definitely a record for me, but because we acted in those conditions, we were able to meet all of our lesson goals we set for the week! The Lord led us to an amazing Chinese lady named Hui who is in major need of Spiritual Healing. Her husband took off with her 3 year- old daughter (named Stephanie) and so we got to help her move into a smaller apartment with the help of the Elders and a member (ON CHRISTMAS EVE!!). Members here are so generous! We taught her and her mother a lesson. Her mom didn’t speak English, but we taught her by showing her pictures of Jesus for about 20 minutes and doing sign language acting things out. She LOVED it! Hui even had a Book of Mormon and her Roomate, “Cookie”, had pictures of the SLC Temple on her phone! Okay, if that’s not “golden”, what is??!! Hahaha ;) We’ve taught her twice already and she came to church! I really wish I could continue teaching her. I just LOVE Asians. :) It was awesome because I had a blanket that I wanted to get rid of before I started packing up that said “Stephanie” on it. So I gave it to her daughter! It was a tender mercy for both of us!!!!!!!!!!! :)
On Christmas Eve we had “shepherd’s night” at a members house! We all dressed up like shepherds and ate hummus, falaffel, dried fruits, olives, pita bread, nuts, and other shepherd stuff! It was so creative and up my alley! ;)
We were busy all day running around places for Christmas, but I will truly never forget this special Christmas as a missionary! I am SO LUCKY!! Wow! we served at the Food Pantry in town, Saw the Bennetts open up their Christmas presents we found for them, ate a huge feast at Bishop’s house, SKYPED MA & PA!!! (THAT WAS SO FUN! I HAVE THE BEST PARENTS!!!!!!!!) Ate supper at Fern & Jesse’s, and watched “Ephraim’s Rescue” With all of the Elders at our Ward Mission Leader’s house. Oh my! That was a set-up for disaster! We are all like family, so it was just constant talking and making fun of me for leaving! I will miss the Elders and Sisters SOOO MUCH!!! They are all my little brothers and Sisters I will forever look up to! ah!
Exchanges were incredible! We had two in two days! Which normally is exhausting, but I was on fire! I just kept saying, “Work me till I die!!” ;) We had heavenly cool experience I can express in writing. But one that definitely was worth mentioning was getting to go to a wedding on the 28th for Guillermo and Maria in preparation for Guillermo’s baptism in January! The spirit was INCREDIBLE! The Bishop didn’t speak Spanish at all, and at the end instead of saying, “You may kiss the bride!” He said, “Can I kiss the Bride!” We all laughed so hard. :)
Yesterday the Bishop got up during sacrament meeting and announced that I would be speaking for my last Sunday here. I was not told this before!! Hahaha! That’s O.K., a missionary is always prepared if the spirit is going to talk! ;) Right as I stood up to speak, the Bennett Family walked in. They looked BEAUTIFULLY dressed in white and I about LOST IT!! ;) We bought Brother Bennett a White Shirt and gave him a nice tie to wear to church because he hasn’t had one since he was probably 12 years old (He’s 40)! And Becky always just wears baggy sweatshirts but she wore a beautiful white sweater! AND HUI YU came to church!!! Aww! It was the most amazing present for my last Sunday as a missionary. To make it even more memorable….Brother Pope (the Stake Secretary who’s a millionaire and hilarious) gave me a SNEAK ATTACK HUG!!!!!! AND THE BISHOP WALKED BY AT THE SAME TIME!! I was like, “Bishop! I promise I didn’t start this!!” And he said, “Oh Sister Tobias, I’m already calling the Mission President on you!!” ;) And then another member of the ward said, “Well in that case, I’ll give her a hug too!!” Hahaha oh my goodness. I got two man hugs yesterday and it was WEIRD!!! It’ll take some adjusting for the condescension into the real world! Handshakes are just great for me! ;)
I went up there and spoke about a lady I met this week (named Jan) who has been in a coma three times and wakes up every morning wondering why she was sent back to Earth again. We told her we were SURE the reason why we showed up at her door was because of the message of healing and direction of Jesus Christ’s restored Church. She told us that every person has a hole in their soul that needs to be filled. Some people fill it with working, spending money, drugs, alcohol, eating, constant exercise, etc. But the only thing that can fill it is the Love of Jesus Christ. Well I’d like to add to that! Because that is true! But actually FOLLOWING the Doctrine of Jesus Christ is what will fill that spot. Having the Spirit with you at all times and the knowledge that the Restored Gospel fills a hole to people’s souls. As missionaries, we get the sacred opportunity to see people’s souls get filled little by little or LOTS and LOTS everyday! It’s INCREDIBLE to witness. There really are NO words to describe the beautiful changes we get to see everyday!
I wish I had words to more adequately express my extreme gratitude for the Savior and for His permission to represent Him in the Iowa Des Moines Mission. Sadly I am out of time to write, but I will never be out of time to praise His name! And that’s what I’m planning on doing forever and ever and ever! So don’t worry okay?! :) I’m not ending my mission. I’m just getting transferred to the Utah, Provo mission. They have weird rules there! Like, you can date and stuff!! Sounds kind of apostate, but I’ll go where the Lord wants me to go!! ;)
And to my supporters, I am forever grateful for you. Your words, letters, cards, packages, prayers, and thoughts have helped sustain me in these amazing 18 months of growth! :) :) :) Thank you thank you thank you!
Love you for eternity!
Sister Stephanie Tobias