I don’t really know how to describe the last few days. They’ve just been so incredibly amazing it’s hard to put into words. Pageant is winding down and I’m just loving every moment. Seriously so so blessed. The biggest event of the week happened on Tuesday. There is a family from Orchard Park who we would do service for and share Mormon messages with and they just love missionaries, they were our second family. We told them they had to come to pageant and we were in contact for a while planning it out. A few weeks ago they said they would come the 18th, but then I didn’t hear from them for the longest time, no reply to my emails, texts or calls. I figured they weren’t able to make it and so we weren’t planning on going that night because our shift was til 9. Then that morning I got an email saying they were coming! I was so excited, but so nervous with how to leave our shift and get over there without a car. So I prayed and prayed and prayed, and everyone else prayed and prayed for us as well. Midday I got a message to call a number of some people who were looking for me. It turned out to be the Ocasios from Irondequoit! If you don’t remember them, Ashley, the 12 year old was baptized right after I left that area a year ago and I got to attend her baptism. They said that they were also coming that night to pageant and wanted to meet up with me. It finally slowed down enough that the senior couple said we could leave early, bless their souls, and the other set of sisters offered to drop us off. All of the most wonderful things that could happen did! We got there and I was so giddy I was laughing/screaming/hyperventilating, my companion definitely knows I’m nutso now. As I’m finding the family from OP I hear “SISTER SMITH” and there are all my favorite ward members from OP, the Bagleys and the Fehers and the Gordhamers. (Sister Gordhamer pictured below.)There was much screaming, hugging and rejoicing. Then I got to see the Ocasios and watch the pageant with our friends the Denies family. My heart was so happy I could hardly contain it. Pageant was incredible, I love it more and more every time I watch it and I am 100% going to be in it one day in the future. After the show was over we said goodbye to all our friends and still had to find a ride home. We asked some elders if they knew of anyone and they found us a ride with the Boyer family. He was the bishop of the Rochester 1st Ward while I was there. It was so good to see and talk to all of them again, and even more incredible that they still remember me. All in all the whole night was just a gift from God. I got to see so many people from my past areas and know that the friendships I’ve made out here are going to last forever. A lot of times I feel like I haven’t made much of an impact in my areas, but on Tuesday night God showed me that I’ve done some good in the lives of the people here in New York. It reminds me of my mission scripture Alma 29:9 “I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy.” That’s all I want. To bring some soul to repentance. To share this incredible message that’s brought me so much happiness. This is my joy. And I’ve felt it over and over these past few days.
I ran into a scout troop with some familiar faces. I asked one of the leaders where they were from and they said, “half of us are from Vernal, the other half are from Ephraim.” “Ephraim?! Where are the Ephraimites??” It was good to reunite with my people, even though I don’t know who half of these boys are, but they gave me one of their monkey fist necklaces, so now we are friends.
This guy flew out to propose to his girlfriend, who is in the pageant cast, on top of the Hill Cumorah. He was a celebrity because we all knew about this last week when he called the Hill for some info. Then we met the man himself. She said “yes!” It’s little things like this that just make my day.
Pageant cast shirts! Perks of being a site missionary.
The only downside to pageant is I rarely see Sister Greenwood. When I come back for a tour, she has just left. We might cross paths a couple of times and every time we do it’s a happy reunion. She is such a champ. Seriously blessed with the best. I can’t keep track of the tours I’ve taken each day. I finish one and start another. Teaching, testifying and inviting and I never want it to end.
Alright, addressing the elephant in this post. Yes, today (July 20th) is my 18 month mark. 18 months ago today I entered the MTC. One of the sisters in my MTC district who went to the Portland Visitor’s Center got back last Wednesday. She’s from Virginia and she came up to see the pageant. I was just teaching away at the Smith Farm and up walks the former Sister Ball! It was so weird to see her, the MTC feels like yesterday and here she is now – a returned missionary. I’m so grateful I have these last few weeks of pageant. I can’t imagine going home at 18 months and missing out on these last few days. I could type forever about how much I’ve loved the past year and a half, but I also have to go because it’s 9 p.m. and I really wanted cream puffs to celebrate 18 months, so I’m going to go eat those now.