All the snow has melted and we saw buds on a tree the other day! It’s been raining and NOT snowing! I am very very happy about that. Spring is coming!
I’m doing okay. I’ve realized just in the past couple days how true Grandpa Gary’s statement was to me the night before I entered the MTC, “There are ups and downs of missionary work. But the ups outweigh the downs.” Grandpa Gary never lies. We all know that. Ha ha. I remember being a little worried after he said that because he is the most honest of all honest people. But I came out anyways, and I am happy I did because the ups do outweigh the downs. But you can’t have one without the other. I wouldn’t know the pure joy of this work without feeling the discouragement it often brings too.
Tyesha’s father, the Baptist pastor will not leave her alone. In hopes that he’d be proud of her (bad idea) she decided she’d show him the pictures of her baptism that we printed off for her along with the her journal entry she wrote after receiving the Holy Ghost. She was really disappointed because his reaction was not what she wanted. (We could’ve told her that but we didn’t know she was going to do this). Everyone wants parent’s approval and support. It’s natural. We found out about this over the phone on Thursday. We met with her as we do weekly (Friday afternoon). We came prepared with a conference talk “Hold On” and read Nephi 8 with her. She loved it and was all happy about how she knows she’s on the path back to the sweetest of all fruit. We compared the fruit to the sweet taste of the gospel, and of eternal life and she has to keep holding on to the iron rod. All her children were there too with their children’s books of mormon open and faught over who got to say the closing prayer. Then Tyesha told us her Dad is making her tell him if she’s going to betray the family (Baptists) and commit to come to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or if she’s going to go to her Father’s church. I was like, “Tyesha, do you even have to tell him? You’re 26.” And she’s like, “Yeah, he’s waiting for my answer.” She is awesome though and said, “I keep praying for the spirit to soften his heart and for the Lord to speak through me when I tell him I’ve found the true church.” Friday we fasted for her to have the strength to do it and for her Dad to respect it, but the turnout wasn’t what we planned. On Saturday he was coming to pick her and the children up to take them to his Baptist church and she was going to tell him then... I guess it didn't work. On Sunday we were waiting at church for her and the woman who picks her and her children up said, "Tyesha told me not to come and that in order to please her Father she has to go to his church from here on out." She wants to be here, active in church, but her father is shaking her testimony. I feel so bad for her. I know she wants to please him, but she wants to please God too. I know she's torn and doesn't know what to do. We've tried calling her and she's out of minutes. We're going to try to make it over to her home tonight. I know the ward members are showing their love and concern too which is important. This morning we got a referral saying, "Tyesha Warren requests a Bible." She told us her Dad doesn't believe that we believe in the Bible and that we're trying to "create our own bible" by the Book of Mormon. The spirit is telling me she went on the website with her Dad to show him we do believe in the Bible, and then requested a free copy, in hopes that we'd come by and visit. We need to go and see her and let her know we love and care about her and to get down on her knees and pray for strength. I don't want her to feel like we're competing with her Dad. Elder Wood showed me a scripture in Matthew about not putting mortal parents before God. I don't have the courage to show her that. I know she's in the Lord's hands, but it hurts a lot to see someone we've worked so hard with, who is so strong, be swayed by her Dad. If he wasn't tugging her away she would have been at church.
I'm going to continue this email in a letter. But I know Tyesha's story isn't over. Out of any one of the recent converts to have this happening to, Tyesha is the strongest. She has an incredibly strong testimony that this is where God wants her to be. I just hope she will have the ability to stand up to her Dad. I love her so much. I've really been able to feel God's love for his children through this work. I feel it, and it's heartwrenching at times, but I know that's where I'm growing. I imagine it being like motherhood, just caring so much for your kids and hoping that nothing happens to them. That's how I feel about the people here. I just want them to be strong in their faith and testimony of this gospel. I love 3 Nephi 28:9. I read it this morning and I feel that way. I have to go. I love you!