Monday, September 16, 2013


They say a point comes for every missionary when you suddenly realize the gravity of the choice you've made and the things you're doing and you compare your life to what it was just a few months ago and snap.  None of my roommates thought it at all odd last week when they found me both sitting in my chair and doing a headstand at the same time (picture it long enough, you'll understand how that worked) and laughing uncontrollably while my skirted legs tried to walk on the ceiling.  My trainer just pointed and said, "She hit the breaking point."

That one might have been extreme, but it was not the only one of its kind.  Once in awhile I think about where I would be if I hadn't gone on a mission, or worse yet if I wasn't a member of the church.  That makes for one chilling discussion between missionaries, let me tell you.  And then I think about all those who don't know what this is like, to have the answers to life that men and philosophers have speculated for centuries and centuries, or to know who you really are and what simple things one must do to find true happiness.  So many are kept from the truth "because they know not where to find it," and when I think on their state as compared to mine, my purpose become all that more urgent.  So yeah, I know I'm doing a crazy thing, making a weighty sacrifice, and trying to do a work that I would never have considered myself qualified for, but - I know that the knowledge I have is most valuable and precious above anything else and someone out there wants it so, so bad, they'd go so far as to let two complete strangers into their home, inexperienced and barely adults at that, to teach what they know.
I also know that I am not doing this alone and that I of myself am nowhere near qualified.  I just do the studying, go out, and open my mouth, and God's got it from there.  Indeed, I don't so much as pick up the phone to make a call without this my most commonly used four-word prayer, "Father, be with me."  And once in awhile, He throws us a bone, as my district leader promised.
Last Tuesday, we stopped by the apartment of a woman who'd seemed promising, but to no answer.  So we decided to tract more of the same apartments.  No joke, the first door we knocked on, the man behind it invited us in.  That never happens.  His name was Jerry, and he was an older guy, old enough to have worn his share of chapel pews and been jaded to the idea of high-profit superchurches.  We shared a bit about the restoration of Jesus Christ's church, and about the Book of Mormon.  He then told us he'd read a bit of it before, met missionaries before, and even been to our church before, back when he was dating a girl who was LDS.  Any of you that know my personal history will understand why in my heart I promptly exclaimed "Prepare to enter the waters, Mr. Jerry, for I WILL finish what that young woman started!  Her heartbreak over your non-conversion will NOT be in vain!"  And though we haven't gotten our second appointment yet, it will happen.  I am determined.
The Sister Training Leaders came to our area this week, which meant splits and a sleepover.  I went out with Sister Mongie who had been in Shreveport before and thus knew a bunch of members already who she wanted to see.  Here's the thing - not only does she know these members, she's basically best friends with them.  We chatted for half an hour with one sister who happened to be home (and she's never home, let alone with time to chat) just about life and family and things.  Then another sister drove all the way over to where we were to pick us up and take us back to her home to teach her family.  I am nowhere near a point where I can ask for favors like that;  "Oh hey, we want to come teach your fam tonight on zero notice, and also can you drive out here and pick us up first? Cool."  It was amazing how much they adored Sister Mongie, and I realize how vital not only trust is between members and missionaries, but friendship.
I'm working on that, I really am, but my thing is that I find it so much easier to be friends with members that are half my size, i.e. the children.  I don't worry about saying the wrong thing or about impressing when I'm talking to five or six or twelve year olds.  On a visiting teaching tag-along (part of our initiative to get to know members) I spent the whole appointment throwing paper airplanes with three-year-old Autumn and her brother.  Max, who just turned eight and got baptized on Sunday, became my bud the day we played charades in the car from here to Bossier.  I have a drawing on my wall from my fave little artist Ivy, who made me two more when I told her how much I like her depiction of an orange bird of an obscure species.  Taylor, Cabri, and Cameron, however, abused our friendship when I was sitting in the car the other night at the Sonic and they snuck up behind me and banged on my windows, just so they could laugh when I hollered and jumped a mile.  But they're adorable girls, so I'll find it in my heart to forgive them.
I've wondered if it's doing me any good as a missionary to form such tight bonds within the confines of the local Primary, but then I think that if my love for the little ones eventually translates to a positive impression of missionaries, then someday they'll want to serve missions too, or at least introduce their friends to them.  And if this positive impression occurs for their parents as well, all the better.  In the meantime, me and five-year-old Ashling have found that drawing pictures in sacrament meeting can be a most uplifting activity at any age.  I draw scenes from Christ's life and ministry while she draws stick men and bubbles.
In closing, I have to tell you this story because it was such a bizzare moment in my life.  So, it's a Friday, like any other.  Study, weekly planning sesh, and then go out.  We met with a returning member at the church, gave her Nephi's pep talk (2 Nephi 4) because her life sucks right now, and were delighted to see that her faith was still strong and she's been reading in the Book of Mormon, even though she hasn't made it to church yet.  We toured the building with her too, and I showed her the photos of the all the children in Primary, because let's face it, kids are awesome.  But then Sister Haviland and I went out to do some contacting and things started to get... off.  We contacted a list of potentials, who either weren't home or weren't interested, all the while feeling strangely tired and sluggish.  Then we decided to tract in our own apartment complex, stay local and whatev, and the first building we entered smelled strongly of weed.  More than one door was all but impossible to approach with all the fake potted plants in the way, and others had dead roaches in place of a placemat.  Not a single door approach was not freakishly awkward or with a normal-looking person.  I honestly don't know how to describe it, but after that first building, Sister H took the words right out of my mouth - "I feel like I'm on drugs."  Neither of us have ever been high, but we're fairly sure that tracting experience came pretty close.  We both felt sluggish and confused and couldn't stop laughing at the fact that neither of us knew what was going on or if this was even real.  Our last attempt was a member referral close to home, and again it was horrendously awkward because the couple was eating dinner and said "yeah, you can come back another time, bye" so we handed them their escaped dog and went back to the car.  She was hit by a fit of laughter, and I by unstoppable, unexplainable tears.  The other sisters took one look at us, a giggling and weeping mess, and said "I don't know what happened, but you two are not okay" and forbid us from trying to proselyte any further.  They dropped us at the apartment where we crashed. Hard. The worst feeling was realizing that I could barely muster the energy to pray - what I did muster was something like this "Father, whatever evil this is... please deliver us."  Two hours of heavy sleep and fever dreams later, we felt a little more normal.  Nothing a milkshake and ice cream flurry couldn't relieve.  Thank goodness, 'cause it was getting scary.
My companion and I came to four theories on this incident:
1. Multiple rejections are psychologically damaging.
2. Heat exhaustion.
3. Something Sister Harker calls "hotboxing" and I call "secondhand stonage."
4. Heavenly Father decided we need to experience what its like to be high, so when we get an investigator that's a drug addict, we can empathize and promise that the Spirit feels so much better than this.
Just as in those moments where we merely speculated what a God-less life would be like, I can tell you that the nothing the world has to offer even begins to compare with having a member of the Godhead as your constant companion.
"If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you...
But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning."
[John 15:19, 26-27]
It's amazing what a few words sent heavenward can do in times of panic.  Whether it be "Father, deliver us," or "Father, be with me," I know that "whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you" according to His will and timing.  So "be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed, for the Lord thy God is with thee, withersoever thou goest." [Joshua 1:9]  I keep that scripture on my mirror and I refer to it daily as needed.  There is no better medicine for conquering our constant battle with the world.
Sister Valdez

No comments:

Post a Comment