Last week, on the 24th of July, we had a Branch Pioneer Day celebration. Nobody here knows that Pioneer day is an existing holiday, so thank goodness for a companion from Utah! My companion and I are in charge of all Branch Socials (we try to have one every month) so we planned pioneer games and activities, organized a potluck meal, and prepared a fireside about Pioneer day. It was great! The Branch members were very supportive. We had almost 50 people there, which is more than we have at sacrament meeting regularly!
We had butter churning contests, stick pull and tug of war, wheelbarrow and 3 legged races, and plenty of food! Sister Larkin and I explained what Pioneer day celebrates, and we shared part of President Monson's Pioneer Day message. I told the story of Charles Shumway; his spiritual pioneer journey as a convert to the church, and also his physical pioneer trek as he traveled with Brigham Young across the plains. Sister Larkin and I sang "Come, Come Ye Saints" for the Branch to conclude the fireside and emphasize pioneers in all aspects of life. It was a wonderful event and we love our Branch!
I came to the realization that we have witnessed the gift of tongues. Frequently, as we talk with people here in Pikeville, someone will speak to me, and I will understand exactly what they are saying and respond appropriately.... However, in the back of my mind I am aware of a little voice screaming, "What the heck was that?!?! I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU JUST SAID!" However, I have always been able to respond correctly. Haha, the gift of tongues absolutely applies to the Pikeville Kentucky missionaries! It is a blessing that I would be crippled without! (They definitely do not teach "Kentuck-ian" in the MTC.)
Sister Larkin and I are having so much fun together! We love the work, we love the area, and we love each other! We laugh all the time with our investigators, Branch members, and with each other. I often think of the story of President Hinckley when his secretary heard him laughing in his office, but she knew that he was the only one in there. When she asked him about it later, he said, "I told Heavenly Father a joke." Sister Larkin and I often have moments of quiet, remarkable reverence, but I think that Heavenly Father laughs with us in our more boisterous moments as well. We love it!
The work is hastening in Pikeville, our investigators are progressing wonderfully, and we have 4 people on date for baptism. We are blessed to be part of this marvelous responsibility! We are finding, teaching, and baptizing as we honor and obey with exactness the standards and responsibilities the Lord blesses us with. He is aware of all of our concerns and struggles as missionaries, and He is aware of the concerns and struggles of all of His children that we are here to serve. Therefore, he leads us to those we can help, and He directs us to know exactly how to resolve their concerns and assist them in their struggles as we share with them the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.
It is a blessing to feel the Lord working through us to help His children. I love this work! I am feeling great changes in how the Holy Ghost influences my life, and I pray that I am becoming the missionary that the Lord wants me to be. Thank you for your love and your prayers and your faith! I love you!