Thursday, September 5, 2013

Week 5: Bear With Patience

My testimony is thus: Heavenly Father knows what He's doing.
Broad and obvious?  Yes.  Permit me to elaborate.
The longer I'm out here, the more I can see how my careful and intelligent Father in Heaven has prepared me for this mission, this place, these people.
In the MTC when my roommate was lying miserably ill in bed one night, she asked me to sing to her.  I immediately began to fill that dark room with the lines of "Be Still My Soul," a song that brought instant peace to our hearts and I was grateful to have had the thought, months ago, to memorize hymns.  There have been at least five other instances when I was able to make music part of my missionary work, whether it be starting a lesson with a hymn or singing in nursing homes as a service.  Never before have I been so grateful for the gifts my Father has given me and allowed me opportunity to develop.
Another moment was when a young man allowed us to talk to him because he'd had a dream about the Mormon church and wanted an interpretation.  I admitted I'm no certified interpreter, but from what I've learned in studies of art and literature, I was able to make sense of a dream about snakes, baptismal water, and loose pages (being that it was a sign that God wanted him to read the Book of Mormon and be baptized, in spite of Satan's efforts to deter him.  We didn't get a return appointment yet, but maybe somewhere down the road it will have done some good.)
At the farmer's market last Saturday (the first place that's felt even remotely familiar or close to home, since you can't find natural anything anywhere else), my companion and I struck up conversation with the guy selling gourmet popsicles.  He sold me a handmade mango popsicle and we sold him (figuratively speaking) on the Book of Mormon, which he hopefully will read.  As he expressed his beliefs, which were again that all encompassing "all people around the world strive for an ideal, religion is just a vehicle with multiple models, indoctrination causes you to lose your identity, etc." I felt totally able to speak with him because of others I've had relationships with that engaged me in similar conversations.
In a more general sense, I feel I was prepared for what the work would be like - few interested folks, and fruitless tracting - because that's what my experience was when I went out with the Sister Missionaries in Anaheim.  Knowing what to expect made the rejection much easier to swallow.  And don't even get me started on my experience as a counselor at Especially For Youth - I'd be twelve times more nervous about teaching if I'd never had that blessed opportunity.
These may seem small things.  But each is a testament to me that I was not put here at random.  All these things have pointed me back to one vital thing: hope.  It is easy enough to express faith, because I've had a lot of practice with it.  But we still haven't any investigators to teach, and it's disheartening at times when our potentials drop us, doors are closed, those we'd begun to teach change their minds, and I wonder if all I'm learning will ever come to fruition, if this will ever feel like true service.
But then "I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us." [Romans 8:18]  This because I have seen that every seemingly random or independent thing my Father in Heaven placed in my life has ultimately had a purpose in the longer run.
"For we are saved by hope; but hope that is seen is not hope; for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it... And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose."
Just because I don't have an investigator right now does not mean I am useless as a missionary.  Perhaps I am needed elsewhere.  Or perhaps a test of my commitment or of my faith is required first.
"Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us and said: Go amongst they brethren, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success." [Alma 26:27]
Work will be provided by His hand and according to His timing.  Every little thing contributes to whatever is to come.  And I may then be of good cheer, because I know who's really in charge.
May we all embrace a perspective that shows us our part in the beautiful bigger picture.  The Master who paints it truly knows what He's doing.
Sister Valdez 

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