I have so much to tell you all....now where to start?? Ha well first off I'll tell you about Saturday! I was so excited about Sarah and Maddison (9 and 8 yr old sisters) getting baptized that I completely forgot that transfer calls were that day. Well at about 7:45 our phone goes off and I see that it's from President. Still I don't remember that it's transfers, but rather I think that he's calling to congratulate us on the two baptisms we have planned for that day. He asks to be put on speaker phone and wants Elder Johnson in the room as well. Ha and still I have no idea why he's calling...I'm not exactly the brightest kid in the world. Well, once he starts talking about how we've been doing so well as a companionship I realize what today is...and I know that President doesn't personally call all the missionaries. First, he tells Elder Johnson that he's done a great job with me and is going to have him train again in Palm Harbor. I was really bummed about that because I was positive that we'd be staying together for another transfer. Then he starts giving me my assignment...I'll be going to Venice, which is in the Bradenton South Zone, to be a co-senior companion with a kid named Elder Nielson. I didn't even know what to say. We both thanked President and hung up the phone, and then the reality started to set in. Co-senior after 6 weeks? I immediately became apprehensive about the situation and figured that either my new comp is a disobedient missionary or he hasn't been out much longer then me. Well after some detective work I found out that Elder Nielson has been out for over a year. Haha but I've decided that it's not something I need to worry about. The assignment has been inspired, and it's not up to me to question the decision, but it is up to me to make the best of it and work hard. So that's what I'll be doing this next transfer.
The rest of Saturday was a lot of fun though! Elder Johnson baptized Sarah, and I was able to baptize her younger sister Maddison. It was an awesome experience to be able to perform that ordinance for someone. Madd was so excited to get to do it, and told everyone at the service that I was baptizing her because we both have brown hair and Elder Johnson is baptizing Sarah because they have blond hair. Whatever works, right? I could really feel the Spirit and felt so small thinking that I was being used to help this girl start a life on the right path. Well, Derek didn't end up getting baptized, but we're hoping that he takes care of it this coming week. Last Tuesday he asked if he could do it in the Gulf, and so I'm sad that I won't get to be there for that. I've been with him since lesson one, and now it's like I'm missing out on the finishing touches. He'll be an awesome addition to any ward that he ends up in though. It was crazy saying good-bye to my Palm Harbor ward! Even though I've only been here for 6 weeks I already feel like they're close friends. They were all really surprised that I was being transferred and kept telling me that I'll be back before the end of my mission. Hopefully I am, because I'd love to be back here.
We had an awesome spiritual experience this week. Elder Johnson and I were up tracting in the ghetto-ish part of our area, when we came across two guys working on a car in the driveway. While we were talking to them this lady came busting out of the house, and you could just see the attitude that she was bringing with her. "Just give us the book and leave" is what she kept telling us. Ha well we decided to be persistent and kept trying to talk to this lady. Honestly, she let us have it. "You wanna pray with me?? How about you pray that my car will start working so that I can go to work and have money to feed my little kids! How bout you pray that people like me, who do good things for others get some blessings. It's my turn to be blessed!" And it basically went like that for about fifteen minutes, while she was sobbing. I was wide eyed and speechless. She told us to go home and figure out why she has to suffer while people that wrong others live successful lives, and then come back and talk with her the next day. Well we went home that night and decided to put something together for Ms. Lashonda Johnson. Elder Johnson had the idea that we needed to sing to her...I looked at him like he'd lost his mind. Can you imagine two white kids standing in this lady's front yard of dirt and weeds, in the ghetto, in the middle of the afternoon just singing I Know That My Redeemer Lives to a lady? Well I hope you can, because we actually did it. And it worked. Immediately she started to cry, and we were able to use some versus that applied directly to her. While we were looking up hymns I decided to use the scripture reference to Be Still My Soul. It was Psalms 37:3-9 (I think), and it was honestly a scripture that looked like it had been written for her. She absolutely loved it, and we've been back almost every day now reading her a scripture. It's so evident that the Lord is able to guide us to people who need to hear what we have to say. I love knowing that it's not just me out here trying to decide what to do, but the Spirit is directing us.
Well I love you all so much!! I got Braydn's package, and the letters you all sent. Thanks for everything, and know that I'm praying for you all. Oh, and I got the picture book from Wal-Mart that you sent...is that the one from Lyndsey that you were talking about?
Love you all,
The first 2 pictures are at Clearwater Beach...Don't the empty nets look lonely?This is all the missionaries in the zone...This is all the Elder's from Idaho
These are the Ellison sisters that we baptised (it was so cool, Ma.)
This is the Comini family. I'm pretty sure the Mom is going to be baptised soon. I hope to be able to go back and see it.And these are just from the last couple days. Ha, the license plate was at a gift shop and then there's a lots of little things for the tourists in the area. Tell Braydy I''ll try and get some more bands to send home. Ha she mentioned it a bunch of times in her letter. But thanks for the little package! I was really excited to get it.
Elder Kade Bartschi