Hello, hello! Lots of change has come this week! New area, new companion, and new friends! Spring Lake has been an adjustment for sure, but I am so happy to be here and to tell you all about it. Though we are in the Spring Lake area, we actually live in Muskegon and we are so close to the beach! Lake Michigan is beautiful out here and there’s so much around us! One of the biggest differences here, is the teaching pool. We have 11 friends we are meeting with right now, and I’d like to write about one of them in particular later. Two of our friends, we met this week, and they have such a desire to learn more about the gospel! I haven’t seen anyone as eager as they are to learn. I’m excited to be here along their path and to see them go through this journey.
Haha I’m kind of all over the place right now so I’ll start day by day if I can since there’s so much!
Tuesday morning was definitely one of the hardest days of my mission so far. We were late to meet all of the other missionaries at the Stake Center, and we failed to get in contact with several friends we had made there along with members. Most of our branch was absent this last Sunday, so we didn’t really get to say goodbye to several people. When we finally hit the road, I definitely started having an anxiety attack that was subdued by listening to Narnia play through the car ride there. However, it came back immediately after the movie ended and we parked at the Stake Center. Due to not expecting to be transferred along with Sister Harris, I had not prepared in any way and didn’t have time to decide what I was leaving behind. I had to pack it all up and move out. We had to take a couple trips moving my things into the Spring Lake vehicle. Even then, I still managed to forget things. I felt so overwhelmed by everything going on around me and I didn’t really know what to do. I stuck close to Sister Harris and when it was time for everyone to leave, I must’ve come back to give her a hug five different times before she finally stepped into the transfer van. She gave me a hug from my Mom (thank you Mom❤) and I waved until I couldn’t see her anymore. I definitely cried the last two hugs I gave her and until Sister Hafer and I made it to the freeway.
Once we were on the freeway, I think I was in shock a little and I did what I could to calm down and get to know Sister Hafer. When we got to the apartment, we got all of my stuff out of the car and took it in, and then she showed me around. Prior to her and her trainer pink washing the area, there were not two, but three sets of Elders living there. She told me I had my own bathroom and my own walk-in closet. What a blessing that has been to the hard adjustment. It’s made things that much easier to process.
I got settled in a bit and before long, we had a lesson to prepare for. She told me a little about our friend and the modified lesson plan and we hopped on to a video call. I let her take the lead and barely spoke throughout the lesson. I smiled and made a couple of comments, but Sister Hafer was on a roll and was clearly being led by the Spirit. Sister Hafer told me prior to our call that they hadn’t met with this friend for a while and she had been taught most of the lessons, but she didn’t want to overwhelm her on her first lesson in two weeks. However, throughout the lesson, our friend’s comments kept circling around the scripture Sister Hafer originally thought of sharing, so she shared it… and invited our friend to be baptized! She had written this date on a sticky note next to her right before she asked and I was thinking, “what’s that for?” When our friend accepted and we ended our lesson, Sister Hafer got up and put her hands up in the air and said, “what just happened?!” We both ran out to our calendar to see when September 4th was, terrified it would be on a Wednesday (I kid you not, she pulled this date randomly*). We found it was three weeks later on a Saturday!!! We immediately called President Heap and he didn’t pick up at first. He called us a couple minutes later and began saying, “You just got together a few hours ago! What is going on in Spring Lake?” 😆 We all laughed so hard. We told him about our friend and the experience we had, and how excited we were. He told is he has never had anyone call him the same day as transfers with news of a baptism! It was funny because he had expressed at the very end of the transfer (maybe a few days before transfer day) that he didn’t want us to take transfer week slow. We had just finished a “sprint week” (now our mission calls it “Building Momentum Week”) and he didn’t want us to lose that momentum just because of transfers. Sister Hafer hits the ground running!
The rest if this week has also been so incredible. I haven’t had time to stop and do anything other than find, teach, and eat! We had a day this week (Friday) when we had 5 lessons! By 4pm, we realized we hadn’t eaten lunch, so we stopped by a Chick-Fil-A for some food. Sister Hafer kept hearing phones ringing and I heard someone at the counter say, “are you ready for your lesson?” When that is definitely NOT what they said. 😆 Oh we were exhausted after that.
On Wednesday evening, we has a lesson with a friend who attends Young Women’s, so we were invited to attend a lip sync battle with the Young Women and have our lessons afterwards. We accepted the invite and had a BLAST with the young women! Both of the YW leaders there performed as well and the entire time I was thinking, “my mom would love these ladies!” (I’ll tell you about it later Mom) I did my best to completely embarrass myself because everyone else was, and they were having a blast! I’ve missed the young women, and I wanted to get close to them. So Sister Hafer and I got up and performed “You’re Welcome” from Moana and it was SO FUN. I’m excited to be in a ward, though I do miss the small branch in Big Rapids. I made a lot of good friends there.
After completely embarrassing myself and my companion, we got to know our friend a little and we sat down for a lesson. We showed a short clip and read a quick scripture and honestly, we could’ve asked her to be baptized right then and there. We have some technical issues to work out first with our friend’s family first since she isn’t an adult. We’re so excited for her progress though and she has such a wonderful spirit and a strong testimony. She’s excited to continue learning.
On Thursday, we met with some traveling members on their docked boat. They’re from Utah and visit Michigan frequently. We had a lesson with them after getting to know them, and had an amazing discussion about how to keep/ prepare our families at a young age to have a foundation in Christ. We talked a lot about having a gospel centered home and being consistent. I shared experiences growing up where I feel like my parents didn’t force anything onto us, but we did have rules in our home. My parents never forced their beliefs on us, but they taught us what they believed and experienced, but left the decision to us. I appreciate everything they taught me through that example. We had an amazing discussion about bringing people in no matter where they are and I think that’s especially important for thus day and age. So many people are pushed away because of differing beliefs, looks, and actions. And that action of pushing them away has pushed them further away. We talked about how instead of pushing them away, we need to have open arms, acceptance, and a helping hand stretched out, as our Savior’s hand is always stretched out, but never forced. Focusing on love rather than difference can be a turning point for some who have lost their way.
I can’t begin to write about everything I have learned this week. My Grandma Cook wrote me a wonderful email this week about change and I loved what she said at the end of her email:
“we need to be prepared at all times to trust in the Savior and keep doing what we’re asked to do.”
The only constant in this life is change. There are two ways to go about change that I have found in my life. We can hold on with two hands gripped on our past and try our best to hold on, only to eventually be ripped away anyway. Trying to hold on and keep everything about my past the same, has made me miserable. I’m not good at change, but I’m trying to be better.
The second way I’ve found we can face change, is to embrace that Heavenly Father has a plan for every decision we make and that it includes change. We don’t have to forget about our past and we can learn from it. Sometimes all we can do is take the next step (I love Frozen II) and keep moving forward (also Meet The Robinsons). There’s an amazing talk given by Becky Craven in General Conference titled Keep the Change. I love the last part of her talk (though I strongly recommend giving it a read all the way through- again if you’ve already listened to it).
Maintaining change takes effort. I cannot imagine stopping along the trail only to put back in my shoe the annoying and painful pebble I just removed. I would not want to do that any more than a beautiful butterfly would choose to return to her cocoon.
I testify that because of Jesus Christ, we can change. We can adjust our habits, alter our thoughts, and refine our character to become more like Him. And with His help, we can keep the change.
My post is getting lengthy, but I’m so grateful for this experience I’ve had this week to trust in the change Heavenly Father is trying to make in me. I’m grateful for my current companion, as well as my previous companion. They have taught me so much. Though I’m going to miss several things I used to be able to do, I want to do what I can to embrace the change.
I live you guys so much! Sorry for being all over the place lol.
Sister (Katie) Malan