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June 3, 2013

Why do bad things happen to good people?

Yesterday my neighbor's porch caught on fire. So I had to knock on their door and say, "um hi, your porch is on fire."
 So yeah, its definitely been an interesting week! I'll tell you a little about it.

For our service project this week we went to Sister Hanna's house to help her move some furniture. She was the sweetest old lady! After we had moved 2 little filing cabinets, she just showed us around her house and around her yard and showed us her beautiful garden and told us all about her family and about her life. It was a lovely afternoon. And afterwards I realized that sometimes the best service you can give is simply to be someone's friend.

The sister training leaders (equivalent to APs) came this week to go on exchanges with us. Since there were 5 of us that night, we made sure to call our dinner appointment to make sure they'd be ok feeding all of us. They said of course they didn't mind and that they'd be happy to have us all. I wasn't worried about it at all, because every home we'd been to has been big and beautiful in all these super nice neighborhoods. But when we located the address of that night's dinner appointment, we found ourselves knocking on the door of a tiny little trailer home. There weren't even enough chairs for everyone to sit down and eat. But they were the happiest, most loving and giving family that I've met. And the spirit was so strong in their little home. Everything took on a whole new meaning for me that night, and I truly believe that "The most important things in life aren't things."

So let me tell you about our neighbor, I'll change his name to Sam. (His was the porch who caught on fire.) Sam is such a great person! He has 6 kids, but only 2 of them are actually his. He's just so selfless. Like if he notices that our car is still parked outside at dinner time, he'll always stop by to make sure we have something to eat. And whenever he's at the store he'll text us to see if we need anything. One day he overheard me saying that I missed baking and I wished I could bake something. 5 minutes later he sent one of his boys down with a muffin tin and a mixing bowl full of all the ingredients to make muffins. HE IS SO NICE. Oh and did I mention he's a rocket scientist?? Yeah, Sam rocks. So a couple days ago he knocked on our door, and after we chatted for a minute we told him that we want to teach him a lesson. And he said "Ok I need the 4th lesson and I need to learn all the specifics and details of baptism." Man were we excited! He's been taught by all the different elders that have lived here before us, but he's just never been ready to be baptized. And he told us that whenever he takes a step forward and starts feeling good about the gospel, something really bad happens. Like one time he was driving home from church and he was thinking to himself, "Wow, things are really starting to go good!" And right then, BAM. Car crash. He doesn't understand why bad things happen to good people.

Well anyways, we were really excited to meet with him and teach him about baptism, and we felt like he might finally be ready. So on Friday night we set some chairs up out on the deck between our apartments and started our lesson. It was going really well and we were about 10 minutes in, when suddenly the city's TORNADO sirens blared through the night. We picked up all of our stuff and ran across the parking lot to the club house/office building as thick black clouds swallowed the sky above us. We crowded into the safety of the basement with all the other apartment tenants and listened as the news reporter said that 3 different tornadoes had touched down, and that we were right in the pathway of danger. But what I heard the reporter say was "Welcome to Missouri Sister Rogers! Now here's a big tornado to help you feel all settled in!" Yeah. It was pretty scary. But when I looked down and saw the black name tag on my shirt and the Book of Mormon still clutched in my hands, I felt a lot of peace, and even when I looked out the window and saw the water of the swimming pool rippling in 12 different directions as the rain pelted down sideways, I knew we'd be ok. Of course Sam took the tornado interrupting our lesson to be another bad sign. But I was just so thankful that we had been with him when the storm hit! We would have had no idea what to do or where to go if it weren't for him. So that was a huge blessing.
We rescheduled our lesson with him for the next day, but when we woke up that morning we were all super sick. There's been a bug going around our ward, and since we eat dinner at different member's houses every night and shake hands with everybody we ever meet, it wasn't a big surprise that we caught it. So.... we had to cancel our lesson with Sam. Again. Like could anything else go wrong?! That's when I found myself asking the same question that Sam struggles with. Why do bad things happen to good people?

We all find ourselves asking that question sometimes. Why. Bad things happen every single day, and sometimes it just seems like life refuses to go the way we've planned. Like why did that car crash have to happen. Or why did that tornado hit the elementary school in Oklahoma. Why have there been so many shootings. Why do people get sick. Why am I in Missouri when I was supposed to go to Denmark........
No matter how big or how small, bad things happen. My companion Sister Dutson just found out that her older sister has leukemia. In the letter that her sister wrote her, she said "I don't ask why. I ask what I'm supposed to learn." I thought that was incredible and so inspiring! When bad things happen, don't ask God why. Ask God what He wants you to learn from it. Because that's why we have trials- to help us learn and grow and become better. And because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we have somewhere to turn. We always have someone who understands and someone who will help bear us up. God has given us the same promise that He gave to Joseph Smith when he was a prisoner at Liberty Jail in Missouri in 1839.
"My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment. And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high... If thou art called to pass tribulations... know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he? Therefore, hold on thy way. Thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever."
I'm so thankful for the gospel, and for the comfort and strength it gives me in times of trial.
My prayers are with all of you back home! I love you all so much!
Sister Rogers