Week 6 from The Colony, Texas

penguin pic because they are my mom's favorite! 

yep I rode a camel :)

                                                                          exhausted

                                our District Leader finally got a car.. but we had to spoil the                                   moment with our 12 investigators ;) 


Hey y'all! 

I have enjoyed getting my southern accent back. I'm one of the few missionaries who can say y'all correctly!;) Not going to lie, this week was the hardest, most incredible week so far. And the best news is that my companion and I are not getting transferred! We still have work to do.  We broke two records this week! This week we taught 60 lessons and found 40 new investigators. Our secret: hard work: we woke up at 5:15 every day, went either training with the triathlon runners or to the gym, packed food for the day so we wouldn't have to take lunch/dinner breaks, set up member exchanges every night (which meant my companion and I split up with members in the ward to get 2x as much done), and stayed out as late as we could, planned til 10:15 and went to bed. There was not a moment of down time. We told our mission president our goal to get 52 lessons again and 40 new investigators and he didn't think we could do it! It was so fun getting the ward excited about the work..and proving President Durrant wrong was great also..;) Our Zone and District leaders had to call us to confirm the numbers because they couldn't believe it. 

As great as numbers are, they don't mean a thing unless they are meaningful. I can honestly say I feel so good about most of the people we met this past week. We prayed a TON to find those who were prepared to hear our message, and God provided! We really tried to visualize the Holy Ghost as our third companion. I know several times in my life I have been told that Christ would be with me on my mission and in my favorite scripture Joshua 1:9 it says "Be strong and of a good courage. Be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed, for the Lord thy God is with thee withersoever thou goest." I know that is true! I have felt His support every step this week. Texas is relentless in the summer. No mercy. It gets so hot! It was over 100 every day this past week. The worst part is instead of hitting a peak and cooling down after 4, it just gets hotter and hotter. So the fact that people still talk to us when we are sweating a ridiculous amount is a miracle in itself! People even tell us how beautiful we are because of this light we carry. I'm so grateful the Spirit can hide the truth that we look downright exhausted and sweaty! 

Training with the triathlon runners has been quite the experience. We are a lot slower than they are of course, but it's been inspiring. They each have such a passion for life and such an incredible story of how they got to that point. They are all really encouraging when it comes to my progress in running. With asthma, it's a little difficult, but I have gone so much farther and faster than I've gone in my life! The owners are the nicest people. One of them- Martha- has been running with me and teaching me proper technique and tricks. We've also taught her quite a bit about the gospel of course! I'm excited to see what comes about. Jared, the part member I've been talking about has been awesome! I told him since I'm making goals and progress physically that it's time to make him some spiritual goals for him and his family. Being the goal-oriented person he is, of course he agreed! We challenged him to simply read the scriptures every day, even if it's just a verse. If that book is true, the entire church is true. The Book of Mormon testifies of Christ like nothing else and bring the Spirit into lives of those who read it. He's also starting to pray.

TJ has made miles of progress! He gave up coffee finally! We made sure not to pressure him, but to explain why God gives us commandments. God's commandments are simply there to help us have the best, happiest, most successful life possible. He told us he had one slip up day when he couldn't resist to go to Starbucks, but that the rest of the day he was so sick, literally throwing up from the coffee! He also shared a story with us titled "The Room". He sent it to me so I could share it. I really loved it, I feel it applies to all of us. 

In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in a room. There were no distinguishing features in this room save the one wall covered with small index card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endlessly in either direction, had very different headings. As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read "Girls I Have Liked". I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one.

And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was. This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life. Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn't match.

A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their content. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching.

A file named "Friends" was next to one marked "Friends I Have Betrayed".

The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird. "Books I Have Read", "Lies I Have Told", "Comfort I Have Given", "Jokes I Have Laughed At". Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: "Things I've Yelled at My Brothers." Others I couldn't laugh at: "Things I Have Done in My Anger", "Things I Have Muttered Under My Breath at My Parents". I never ceased to be surprised by the contents. Often there were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes fewer than I hoped.

I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had the time in my 20 years to write each of these thousands or even millions of cards? But each card confirmed this truth. Each was written in my own handwriting. Each signed with my signature.

When I pulled out the file marked "Songs I Have Listened To", I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn't found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so much by the quality of music, but more by the vast amount of time I knew that file represented.

When I came to a file marked "Lustful Thoughts", I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size, and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed content. I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded.

An almost animal rage broke on me. One thought dominated my mind: "No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy them!" In an insane frenzy I yanked the file out. Its size didn't matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards. But as I took it at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it.

Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying sigh. And then I saw it. The title --- "People I Have Shared the Gospel With". The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than three inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one hand.

And then the tears came. I began to weep. Sobs so deep that the hurt started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key.

But then as I pushed away the tears, I saw Him. No, please not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus. I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn't bear to watch His response. And in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own. He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes. Why did He have to read every one?

Finally He turned and looked at me from across the room. He looked at me with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn't anger me. I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands and began to cry again. He walked over and put His arm around me. He could have said so many things. But He didn't say a word. He just cried with me.

Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card.

"No!" I shouted rushing to Him. All I could find to say was "No, no," as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn't be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine.

It was written with His blood.

He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and began to sign the cards. I don't think I'll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side. He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, "It is finished."

I stood up, and He led me out of the room. There was no lock on its door. There were still cards to be written.

How grateful I am for my Savior. I don't know what I would do without the healing power of The Atonement. I cannot express how much I love seeing people feel that power in their lives. It is my favorite experience when people realize how much Christ loves them and how much He has done for us. I was reading the June Ensign, and found some really great quotes from our amazing church leaders I'd like to share. Robert D. Hales an apostle of the Lord said, "There is nothing that we are enduring that Jesus does not understand and He waits for us to go to our Heavenly Father in prayer. I testify that if we will be obedient and if we are diligent, our prayers will be answered, our problems will diminish, our fears will dissipate  light will come upon us, the darkness of despair will be disposed and we will be close to the Lord and feel of His love and of the comfort of the Holy Ghost." And also our wonderful prophet, Thomas S. Monson said, "Our Heavenly Father did not launch us on our eternal voyage without providing the means whereby we could receive from Him guidance to ensure our safe return. I speak of prayer. I speak too of the whisperings from that still, small voice." I know that is true! I've seen it work through people I barely know because of the missionary work I am doing. People recognize the Spirit. They know something is different about me and they want it too! Of course it is a challenge since there are so many Christian churches around here in the bible belt. It's true, lots of people don't listen sadly because they feel they don't need anything else, but it's also true that lots of people DO listen. They are prepared and want that same spirit they can feel through my companion and I. It's such a comfort to hear people recognize it. We taught a lady this week named Kim. Her daughter was baptized last week in another area, but their relationship is completely broken so she didn't attend. She wants to fix it though, so she was willing to listen to us. She kept saying how usually her house had such a chaotic feeling in the air, but she noticed as soon as we came in, that feeling was taken over by this overwhelming sense of peace and comfort. Sometimes I forget how powerful The Spirit is, especially because He has to be my constant companion since as missionaries we follow every rule exactly. It's easy to get used to it, but when people say things like that, it reaffirms my testimony of The Holy Ghost. 

One last thing, I promise.;) My sisters birthday is coming up and she asked for beautiful pictures of Texas which I am working on. BUT Texas is not very pretty at all, especially in the summer, so I'm having a difficult time accomplishing this. However I have grown very fond of the sunflower fields. These flowers thrive in the harshest conditions. It is unbearably hot and it hardly ever rains, but for whatever reason they are just everywhere! I love the sunflowers because even though they are placed in the least desirable conditions, and literally in the refiner's fire, they never cease to face the sun. I would challenge us all to be like the sunflowers and no matter what is going on in our lives, look to The Son (Christ) always. 

I love my family! I miss them terribly. I'm so grateful for the support I've had from so many. I'm so thankful for this chance to touch so many lives, but more so to bring myself closer to my Savior. I love doing the Lord's work! Also Josh McDonald wanted me to mention him somehow in my email so I miss you! I'm happy to announce he will be attending church this Sunday and probably taking the missionary lessons very shortly ;) Hope your happy Joshy haha. I love all y'all and each y'all! 

 Until next week.. 
 Sister Dalling