I don't know why I didn't mention this before, but THIS WEEK OUR STAKE WAS SPLIT! There are so many members now (6,500 in our Stake and 3/4 of NoDak and some of SoDak), that it was just too much for one stake presidency. I believe we had something like 18 units in our Stake. Splitting the Stake was a 2 day event and included 2 members of the Quorum of the Seventy, Elder Shayne Bowen (who talked in General Conference October 2012, Saturday Morn. Session) and Elder Brent Hillier. Both were rock solid. Our investigator, Ashley, was in attendance at both the Adult Session on Saturday night (Ages 12 and up were invited to attend) and the Sunday General Session. But I am getting ahead of myself. It was a big thing, this Stake Conference. President and Sister Anderson came up from Rapid City, as well as some of the office couples. For the Sunday Morning session, all the missionaries in the Stake were able to attend. (Which was so cool, because I got to see Sister Christiansen and Elder Melle, 2 of the missionaries that were in my MTC District! They both serve in Bismarck now.) The COnference was held in Minot, which was also super cool. Elder Bowen was the main speaker at both of the sessions I was in attendance to, and he did GREAT at inspiring the members to do missionary work! As part of a visual, in the Saturday evening session he asked all the full-time missionaries to stand up. There were about 6 companionships of us. He then asked all the "permanent full-time missionaries", or everyone, to stand. Once this happened, he explained that the missionaries can't do it on their own. He explained it by saying that the missionaries work for the members, not the other way around. The members are like on a spiritual high, it's great! We're going to take advantage of it for sure. Sunday morning was a historic occasion. There is now the Bismarck, ND Stake as well as the Minot, ND Stake! It is so cool because Both the Stake President (Brother Tyson WIlliams) and Brother Greg Tonini (2nd Counselor) for the new Minot Stake are from the Minot First ward! Woohoo! It was so cool! Such a great day! It was awesome to see the thousands of people there in attendance (probably around 2,500 members or so). Elder Bowen gave another solid talk to us on Sunday, and as part of it he asked everyone to think of a family who is struggling and could benefit from the blessings we have as members of Christ's Church. He asked all those with a name in their head to raise their hand. He then explained that we just received personal revelation from God, and it was now up to us to follow through with that person. It was sooo insightful! It was an amazing experience. I got to shake hands with both Elder Bowen and Elder Hillier, and though I vowed I would never wash my hand again, do not worry. I did. :) But by FAR, this was the best stake conference I've ever been to. The SPirit was so strong!
Because President Anderson was up this weekend for Stake COnference, we got to have interviews with him this weekend instead of while we are down at Zone Conference next Monday and Tuesday. It was great! He told me things that I really needed to hear. And SIster Anderson is such a doll! Such a sweetheart, I just love her to death. I can't wait to see her again in a week!
Ashley is doing really really well. This week we had planned to teach her the Word of Wisdom, but once we started teaching it, she asked some questions, so we taught her the Law of Chastity as well. It went great! Her dad was also very involved in the lesson, which was great because he doesn't always. Ashley's main struggle is going to be modesty, but she committed to live the Law of Chastity and the Word of Wisdom, and so far is keeping both! She went out and bought knee-length skirts for Church and has been wearing t-shirts and capris--she is literally glowing. She is coming along so well and is LOVING Church and Mutual. She will be going to Trek and Girl's Camp in June, which will be great for her. Because she had such a good experience at Stake Conference (Elder Bowen even thanked those who were not members that were there in attendance for coming and then he bore his simple testimony to them--he is solid.), we are going to start praying about a date for her. Hopefully it would be before I left, but not my will, but His is the one we will go with. :)
We have been trying REALLY hard to do more tracting this week, and the Lord has been blessing us. We haven't gotten anymore new investigators yet (but it's a matter of when), but we have some solid potentials who have invited us back. Mike, Misty, Kyle, A lady we don't even know her name, Bradley, Aaron, Jen, Martin...SO one of them (or another one we find!) is bound to become a new investigator! It's always awesome to see your potential investigator pool growing!
We did another MSU Booth this week and it was good. Sister Manning and I talked to 2 people about Gospel things. One was a student who may be interested. We talked to him about the Plan of Salvation and exchanged numbers. We also talked with a fun Bible Basher, who knew the Bible very well. It was a bit intimidating, and he was NOT interested, but it was a good experience nonetheless. Never a boring moment as a missionary!
It was SO cute, the youngest Maples' boy heard last week that missionaries were coming over for dinner, and he was SO excited! He spent the whole day talking about it and everything. SO when the doorbell ringed, he ran to the door to see the elders standing there. He promptly exclaimed, "Not THESE missionaries!!!" And burst into tears and was grumpy the rest of the night. It's a super sad account, but at least this little guy likes it when we come over. :) He's our little bud.
Karen and Brian are doing really well. We were able to teach them this week about prayer and they shared some awesome experiences with it. They weren't able to come to Stake Conference, but they were open with us! So we are moving forward. We're going to keep working with them, they'll get there. :)
Shirley also continues to progress! This last week we taught her again, and reviewed + finished the Plan of Salvation. We got talking about baptism and the Priesthood Authority needed to perform baptism, when she asked the perfect question: "How do you know that you are the ones with the real priesthood and it's not someone else?" Next time, we will be teaching her the Restoration to help her understand how we know we have God's priesthood authority on the earth today. :) She also came to another Relief Society activity this week, which was GREAT! She really likes coming. :)
I can't think of anything else awesome to write about, except I would like to invite you all to start reading in Preach My Gospel daily! Elder Ballard in General Conference invited us to, as well as Elder Bowen yesterday, so I know that it is important. You members are the actual missionaries; us missionaries are just here to help you. Next week I would love to get an email from you about what you studied in Preach My Gospel this week. So will you do that? "Of course, Sister Leslie!" Awesome. I'm excited to read your emails next week.
Shout out to all the mothers out there: Happy Mother's Day! Thank you for all you mothers do for all of us, everywhere!
Love you all!
Saying Goodbye to Elder Larsen! He is now in the Land of Eternal P-day
(otherwise known as he finished his mission and is now at home)
At the MSU Booth this week, I made a very impressive (or so I thought)
card tower out of Mormon.org cards.
A shot of part of the people in attendance at the Sunday morning session of Stake Conference (was held not in our Church building as our Church building is TINY) It's fuzzy, but you get the picture.
A tracting shot, YESTERDAY, in the SNOW. Yep. It has
snowed every month since I've been here. Yay...