Tuesday, December 2, 2008

"I'm beginning to think things happen for a reason"

19 months
3 missions
4 mission presidents
5 cities and 3 states
57 temple trips :)
13.5 companions
17 different beds
32 historic sites
5300 visitors
2876 strangers off the street
and 10,000 miracles later....I'm home.

So i'd been praying for a while that we would have awesome experiences sharing the gospel on the flights home and boy, oh boy, how the Lord answered my prayers! There were many cool things that happened but i'll just give you the 2 highlights:

the first flight i sat next to a kid. the quote this week is from him. he really hasn't had a belief in God at all or prayed on his own, but because of the things he's seen this last yr while living in the US, he's beginning to feel like there's something more and he really wants to find out what it is. as we shared beliefs about God in general, he mentioned something about the Mormon book. turns out his manager at work was LDS and before he left to fly home, his manager gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon with his testimony in it. Then he sits next to me on the way home. What the?! Coincidence? Of course not. He mentioned several times that he really is searching. I promised him that if he would read the Book of Mormon this week and pray to know if it's true that God would speak to him in a way that he will understand it and know that it is and that God's real. He was such a cool kid and we were both going home after a long time away and starting over so we bonded over that. Yeah, cool kid.

So i got all the internationals, I guess. :) Martin is probably 40 or so. He's never been big into religion. He has a very successful business and just bought a nice new home that he was excited to show off. His family came on "holiday" to the US for 3 weeks but the two days into it, his dad became VERY sick and had to go to the hospital for surgery. now they've been here a month and are hoping the dad will be well enough to go home for Christmas. He's in the hospital in La Jolla so i asked if they've seen that big white building by the freeway. He said they had and had wondered what it was. I told him it was the temple and that if he goes with his fmaily and walks around it he'll feel peace and find answers.THis was the beginning of the flight and we still had about 3 1/2 more hours so over the course of the flight we just talked about life and God. He said that before he would've have cared about any of this but with things that happened with his dad, he realized he doesn't really care about anything other than his family. He has a lot of questions and WANTS to have faith but feels like he's seen some things that make him doubt. Over the plane ride we talk about the Plan of Salvation, about Joseph Smith and having a prophet on the earth today. We talked about what makes strong and eternal families. We talked about where we were before this life. It was so interesting because everything he wants to believe or believes deep down is right. Now he just gets to have more tools to get questions answered! I gave him a Book of Mormon and he felt so honored. He was really excited to read it and even before I said much more he said "I promise i will start reading this tonight! I'm really searching. I have a lot of questions. Can I get your email address too?" What a champ! He's very sincere right now and is going to be a great strength to his family. We really had a good plane ride and i feel so blessed that the Lord gave me so many chances to be around people who were so prepared and ready--even thirsting for the message we had to share. because of this i was able to work and teach and testify to the very last minute! I'm so grateful to my Heavenly Father for that. Also a miracle--the 1st flight was delayed and I VERY nearly missed the 2nd one. I was sprinting down the corridor with 2 50-lb carry-ons and in a skirt. what a sight! But i made it!

I was greeted at the airport by Mom & Kirk, Dad & Joanie, Katie & James, Scott, Joni Lilly, Kathleen and Lynn Muir, my aunt Gail (randomly in town from AK. Fun surprise!) and her boyfriend Dave, and of course, Kenley and Parker! It was very fun. Then we went to Scott's apt for CPK pizza and smoothies. More friends there. :)

Wasn't as bad as I thought. The only part that got me was in the closing prayer when my brother referred to me as "Andrea" and i realized i don't get to be Sis. Cartwright anymore. But it was good to have my family there.

so honestly i thought things would be more different when i got home. it really wasn't. kenley and parker are completely different people and there's a litter of new babies running around, but other than that, everythign's pretty much the same. i stayed up way late and had a sleepover with my sis then stumbled out of bed into my flip flops and went to get jamba juice. so i guess i'm acclimating fairly well. i even mouthed a few words to a song that was playing. that's not to say i didn't still try to contact people here and there or that i was ready to walk off by myslef in the grocery store. but i think i'm a little normal. scott parker was excited to be the first boy to hug me cause he wanted to help normalize me. luckily it was a good baby step since he's more like my brother. Also, I've been so excited to snuggle with Kenley when i get home, forgetting she doesn't actually like to. So I just had to wait til she was asleep then she didn't have a choice. Anyway, all in all, I feel like everything's pretty under control. I've been blessed to feel really calm and peaceful with everything. We're having a big family dinner today. I have many people volunteering to be my running buddies. Wahoo!

Alright, love you all. Gospel is true and from God. He has a perfect plan and if we follow it, things will go right in the little and big things.

"For behold, all things are done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things." -2 Ne 2:24


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