First Week in New Jersey: The Companion's View
I am the proud mother of SISTER WILLIAMS! *insert cheering and dancing*
Needless to say, I already love her to death. Seriously, I think I might suffocate her with my love. I had to rein it in a little bit when we first met so that I wouldn't overwhelm her.
Sister Williams is from Boise, Idaho. She's 19 years old, attended BYUI for a year, wants to be a social worker, loves art and music, and her spirit animal is a fox. We had tons of fun on the night of mischief and on Halloween (mission rules - we had to stay inside). We carved pumpkins, made caramel apples, watched Legacy, finger painted, and made popsicle stick temples. It was a blast. We are having so much fun and working hard out here! I absolutely adore her. The full story of our companionship is actually really neat, so I'll tell you more about it.
I have been more than a little worried about training a new missionary. I'm still ridiculously new and inexperienced, and I don't feel qualified to be a trainer! I've been praying A LOT for comfort and counsel as to how I should train her and what we need to do to be successful in our area.
The Lord told me so much about my new companion before she got here - her name, what her emotions would be like when she came to New Jersey, her personality, and even her coping mechanisms for stress. I have been able to love her and serve her from the second she got here, because the Lord prepared me for her.
Last week, I managed to get Sister Gilchrest (a very nice, cookie baking senior sister) to share two things with me: her peanut butter cookie recipe and the list of incoming missionaries. Well, the second I glanced at the list of new missionaries, the name "Williams, Rachel Yvonne" literally leapt off the page at me. It was amazing. I just knew that Sister Williams was going to be my trainee, even before I discovered that she was an English speaking sister!
Here's how President decides on the trainer/trainee companionships: On Tuesday, before transfer conference, all of us go into a huge room and eat lunch. He goes into another room and prays with the assistants to know how he should pair the companionships. He receives that revelation, comes back out, and then announces the companionships. On Tuesday, we drove up to Morristown for the "Meet Your Trainers" meeting with all of the trainees! As soon as we got into the room with all of the scared-looking trainees, I scoured the place for Sister Williams. I marched right up to her, gave her a huge hug (it took her WAY off guard, ha), and pulled her into lunch with me. Of course, I didn't tell her I was her trainer. That would just ruin the surprise. When President Taggart announced my name and called Sister Williams to be my trainee, I wasn't surprised at all! Knowing that Sister Williams really was supposed to be my companion was very comforting. I know that the Lord does bless and inspire the priesthood holders who lead this church.
Our first night in Eatontown was really fun. I am pretty sure Sister Williams was scared to death (I'm not sure if it was of me or of being on a mission...) and wondering what in the world she got herself into. We didn't even unpack before we went out to go and meet the good people of Eatontown! It was quite the adventure. The next day, we went out contacting on the boardwalk at Bradley Beach (which was super fun, by the way... we met all of these really cool people), had dinner at our recent convert's house, and met with the Bishop.
Sis. Williams' first contact
Proudest moment of my entire life: Sister Williams' first contact! It was her first full day in the mission field, and she went for it all by herself! She was SO brave and started talking to this man named Howard while we were grocery shopping. He about talked her ear off (people in Jersey LOVE to talk), and she listened patiently and wove the gospel into the conversation. She was a pro. The look on her face after the contact was over was absolutely priceless: it was a mixture of shock, joy, pride, and adrenaline. We did a little happy dance in the juice isle of Shop-rite to celebrate.
First baptism invitation and acceptance
On Saturday, we had interviews with President and Sister Taggart. President Taggart gave me some really inspired advice for our area and for Sister Williams. He challenged us to use the power of faith to find the prepared people in our area. Right after interviews, we went to our favorite trailer park in Eatontown to meet with some old investigators. They weren't home, but I felt strongly that we needed to go and visit another former investigator, Amanda. It's a miracle we even know about Amanda. She was meeting with the missionaries two years ago and even had a baptism date, but disappeared right before it. Last transfer, while Sister Fjerstad and I were teaching George and Debbie, Amanda walked into their trailer! As soon as she saw us, she said, "Wait! I used to meet with you! I think I still have my Book of Mormon. I finally feel ready to come closer to God, and I want to meet with you again!" Amazing, right? Well, we never got to see her again before we got doubled out.
Anyways, while Sister Williams and I were driving to see Amanda, I told her that she was going to invite Amanda to be baptized. She had a terrified look on her face. We stopped outside of Amanda's, and I asked Sister Williams, "Do you have faith?" She replied, "Yes?". "No, Sister Williams. Do you have faith?" She paused. After a minute of thinking, she looked at me again, this time with confidence, and said, "YES". I nodded. We prayed in our car, and then walked through the rain to knock on Amanda's door.
A man answered (we later learned that it was her boyfriend, Angel). He invited us in immediately and called for Amanda. She came out of a back room, saw us, and gave us enormous hugs. She was so excited we'd come back to see her! It was amazing. We sang, "I am a Child of God" with her and Angel, and by the end of it, she was in tears. Amanda told us that she could feel the Spirit and that she wanted to feel this way all the time. Sister Williams bravely charged forward and promised Amanda that she could feel that way all the time. She testified of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost and invited Amanda to be baptized... and Amanda said yes! I don't know who was more excited - Amanda or Sister Williams! Angel wants to start meeting with us too, so we're hoping to have a wedding and two baptisms this month. Miracles miracles miracles!
Diligent and obedient
It's been amazing to see how the Lord blesses us as we work as diligently and obediently as we can. We're already seeing miracles, and it is not a result of our talents or abilities. It is the Lord's power and goodness that is making this work possible.
To quote Sister Williams (the best trainee in the whole world): "I like being a missionary! This is fun." It took her until Friday to say that (another one of the proudest moments of my life), but she's right! Being a missionary makes me so happy.