Monday, April 13, 2015

First Sunburn of the Year!

Disclaimer: I am fantastic at using sunscreen. Even so, I have a dark complexion these days (at least compared to my usual skin tone). I think the Arizona sun just has incredible penetrating powers and cancels out any sunscreen. Or something like that. :)
But the fact of the matter is, we had a service project on Saturday. We were helping out at the Special Olympics! :D And we had to be there at 6:00 AM! D: And because we left our house so early, I forgot to put on my sunscreen! Thusly, I was out in the sun for five hours that day, with no barrier to protect me from the sun. -.- But you know what? God really does protect His missionaries, even against silly little things like carelessly forgetting sunscreen. I got home from that project expecting to be fried, but the only burn I got was a little triangle on my neck. And it wasn't even bad. Cue jaw dropping moment. :O
Miracles. They come in many forms. :)
Lots happened on Saturday, actually. The Special Olympics was so much fun. And we had just enough time to eat lunch and recoup for a moment before going out to another service project. The city of Gilbert had a festival going on, celebrating the diversity of culture that lives there. Sister Croft and I sat at a table and stamped people's "passports" for them. (if they collected the stamps from each station they could turn it in for a prize.) It was way fun. We got to talk to everyone and make friends. Usually people aren't that thrilled to talk to us, so it was a nice change! :)
But funny story: We were stationed near the "Religions Around the World" tent (fitting, right?) and we both got so excited when we saw a banner that said "I Love Jesus!" We asked the people there if we could get a picture with it. They seemed surprised, but they humored us. It was only later when we were looking at the pictures we'd taken that we saw that the banner said "Because I'm Muslim" underneath in smaller print. AWKWARD. It's not every day you see missionaries taking their picture with a sign like that! xD
Okay, so I've failed to explain to you the funny situation in our new apartment. We moved in last week and discovered that all four beds are in one room and all four desks are in one room. This is quite different from the typical two-beds two-desks setup you find in a missionaries apartment. But since we're pretty close with our roommates, Sister Junod and Russell, we decided to leave it as it was. Well, that and the beds are too heavy for us to move by ourselves. :) So the four of us sleep in the same room. It's like a big sleepover every night. And guess who sleeps on the top bunk of the only bunk bed there? That's right. It's me. :] And on Saturday, the top bunk just fell down! Fortunately, I was not in it and Sister Junod was not in her bed below! :) That was another little evidence of the Lord's protecting hand in our lives. Had that happened when we were sleeping, it wouldn't have been so funny. As it was, the four of us laughed pretty hard. I'll send pictures. :) I am currently sleeping on a mattress on the floor. It adds to the sleepover-every-night feel. xD
The work is moving along at a steady pace here in our area. Sister Croft and I are picking up new investigators while our current ones are fast approaching baptism. It is the most amazing thing I've ever seen. :) We started teaching this man this past week named Michael. He used to play in worship bands in his past churches. He's very Christian, and vehemently questions the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. But he's meeting with us because he's tired of resenting the "mormons" anymore, and he wants peace in his heart. So he's meeting with us in a sincere attempt just to understand why we belive the way we do. It's a testimony to me that everyone, at the end of the day, wants peace in their heart. And the only way we can find it is through the teachings to Jesus Christ! I'm so impressed with him and his determination to apply the teachings he holds so dear, and to make friends with people he used to perceive as enemies. Lessons with him have been rocky, just because of the many misconceptions he has, but I cannot even believe how much I love this man. Even though we disagree on many things, I feel that there is a mutual respect between us and I sincerely love our meetings.

Hey, guess what? I'm hitting my year mark this week, and it's weird. O_O It feels like not that long ago that I was writing my mission president as a greenie and saying "I finally feel like I'm getting my feet under me!" every single week. Now I'm not really a greenie anymore, but I still feel like I'm finally getting my feet under me. :) Maybe we never really know what we're doing, maybe we never become perfect missionaries. But I have learned and grown so much more than I ever imagined possible. I've changed in the past year. The course of my life is permanently altered because of the choices I've made here, and I am so incredibly grateful. This has been the best choice I've made in my life, and I'm pleased I still have six months ahead of me to continue to learn. I'll be sad the day I have to leave, even while being happy to return to my family. I'm glad the time hasn't arrived yet, because there will be a lot of mixed emotions involved! I might even cry, which is kind of a big deal. My tears ducts don't always function. It takes a lot to make me cry. ;)
Mission life truly is the best. I miss you all, but it's been worth every broken moment out here on the field. Thank you for your prayers and love. They mean the world to me. If you could, please say a special prayer for Sister Croft and her friend Kelsey. She's gotten some rough news from home. She's amazing though, and is determined to see her mission out to the end. I love her lots. :)
I love you all. Have the best week ever!
-- Sister Bethany Ball

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