Apparently yesterday was a holiday??! So sorry that this email isn't coming until Tuesday! This last week was so busy and so crazy and SO much happened that I don't even know where to start. I'll do my best to explain everything that happened.
First off is JoseLuis who will be getting baptized on FRIDAY! He's another story like Ines Alvarez back in Gilroy. He had met with the missionaries off and on for years both here in the United States and in Mexico. We started teaching him when I first got to Redwood City and he told us that he wanted to join the church and be baptized in our second lesson. What a surprise!! Sometimes it really does take years and years. I realize that the missionaries who have worked with him in the past are probably never going to know that he has decided to be baptized but they played a HUGE part in his conversion. Even bigger than the part we're playing right now in being the missionaries that actually get to see him be baptized. He has such a strong testimony from what he's learned over the years. He finally decided and recognized that God's church needs to be a church of organization that doesn't change. And he found it! Please pray for everything to go smoothly this Friday :) His wife and daughter will soon follow his example we hope!
Another investigator that we've been working with is Enrique. He is really humble and wants more than anything to do God's will. He works on Sundays usually but is trying to get somethign worked out with his boss. Unlike a lot of people we teach and visit, he is sincerely trying to find a way to come to church on Sunday's. We've been teaching him at a member's house and at one of our visits we wanted to show the Joseph Smith movie. As always when we try to share the story of Jospeh Smith, somethign goes wrong to try and prevent us from sharing this message. This time it was the DVD player. The member didn't know how to use it so she had us call her son who had just left for work. I tried to listen to instructions being given over the phone in Spanish and somehow we finally got it to come to the main menu of the movie. We were really short on time and we had already wasted a good 10 minutes trying to get the dvd to play and THEN we couldn't figure out how to change the language to spanish. We tried EVERYTHING (except the right thing) and I started to get really frustrated so I stopped trying every button on every remote, bowed my head, closed my eyes and said a quick silent prayer. As SOON as I said amen, the son walked in and said "Oh do you need help changing this to spanish?" I told him yes so he changed it to Spanish and then left again. I thought he was at work?!?! It was as if he came home JUST to help us. He literally walked in, changed the language, and then walked right back out. I barely even had time to say thank you. Anyway, long story short is that there will always be opposition. Especially when we're trying to share a message as special as the restauracion. But God answers prayers and he will always provide a way!
Another neat experience this week happened when I was on exchanges with the Stanford YSA sisters. I was with a sister who was new to the area so she didn't really know her way around. At about 5 she expressed how much she wished they had a map so I (who was driving at the time) decided that we'd go get one at the local firestation. There were 3 fireman at the station and they were really nice in providing us a map and then they couldn't stop asking questions about our misionary service. We started talking with just one of them and then eventually all of them were involved in the conversation. One of them told us that we should wait 10 minutes until the captain got back because they told us that he's a member. So we waited until the captain and his crew got back and had another missionary service conversation but this time with 8 firemen. In the firestation I might add....I never would have imagined!
Long story short, one of the firemen (non-member) ended up inviting us to dinner at the firestation. Apparently they have a kitchen and theater room and everything for the firmen who have to stay overnight.We had to leave the door open because there wasn't another woman present and apparently every fireman knew this rule except one. He got up to close the door because he was cold and the other 7 firemen all said "No no no!" in a panic. I felt very respected and relieved that we didn't have to be the ones to explain the rules. We had a really nice, home-cooked meal, prepared by 8 firemen! I'm still trying to figure out how it all even happened. We found out that one of them is married to an active member in our stake and actually had the other sister missionaries over for dinner the other night, another of them has been less active since he was twelve and the captain is very active and has been trying to share his beliefs with his crew for years. All 8 of them are very family oriented and have large families. So naturally we shared the family proclamation pamphlets with each one of them and bore our testimonies about how the gospel blesses famillies. The captain also bore a strong and powerful testimony. It was probably the most random and unexpected dinner that I've ever been invited to but the spirit was there and I have no doubt that we were supposed to be there for at least one, if not all of those firemen.
A couple more stories from contacting experiences this week. One guy tried to tell us that our church doesn't do missionary work the way the savior would because we don't go tracting (door to door) and we're implementing social media. He said jesus would visit people in their homes. Which is what we do, obviously! We tried to explain to him how much of an advantage it is to have technology but all he could say was that Jesus didn't use techonolgoy. Anyway, I tried to give another man a picture of Jesus but he declined. As he walked a way I heard his son ask him why he didn't take it. The dad said to his son, "she just wants money". It made me so sad to hear because it was completely opposite of my intentions. But that's why we have to keep trying because people don't realize what they're saying no to. But I do! And I know it's something extremely important! And that's why I keep trying day after day.
We had an amazing leadership council this week with the zone leaders and the other sister training leaders. I felt such an urgecy for the work. I also realized even more that great things really depend on my individual exertion. Sometimes I wonder if I can exert any more! But this work really is urgent and I know that I'm responsible for helping others find the truth...so I keep exerting :)
Last thing. I realized this week that the secret to avoiding bad is to fill your life with good. If you're so busy donig good things then you won't have time for the bad. Easy right? No wonder the church gives us callings to fill our time serving others. We complain about "not having time" for things such as visiting teaching without realizing taht they're such a blessing in filling our life with something good.
In additiong to missionary work, we also had a lot of fun this week! Yesterday we went on a tour of the Stanford campus. It is BEAUTIFUL! If only I could go to school there. Being on a college campus actually really did make me miss school. I'll send pictures the next time I have time.
Sorry for such a long email but I hope everyone is doing well. Love you all!
Love, Sister Billings