Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Week 14 & 15: Open Your Eyes

Because of time, I'll just point out the highlights of my life from here.  You've heard enough of the discouraging tales of tears and trials.  So we'll leave it thus summarized:  the "progressing investigators" slot in the weekly report continues to be graced with a zero.  But I've finally learned to not slump into a weepy depression every Sunday when 9:05 hits and not a single investigator/less-active has shown up to sacrament.  Now to the good stuff!
First door we knocked last night, a kid named Robert answered and we talked to him about the Book of Mormon, and I mentally shoved myself into a state of boldness sufficient to get me asking questions I normally wouldn't for fear of rejection.  For some reason, I can talk to teenagers freely and no one else.  So I read from 3 Nephi 11, where Christ speaks and declares his Messiahship and mission, and asked Robert if that sounded like the Christ he knew.  "Yes," he said.  So we asked, "Will you read this book?" and "Would your parents be interested in this message too?" and the answer to both was another "Yes." and a "hold on, let me get my Dad."  We have an appointment with their family for Saturday, because he wants to make sure the mom is there too.  Um, holla fo a dolla, best news I've heard all week.
And that's the state of the work right now - meet a hundred people, teach fifty Restoration lessons on the doorstep, hand out a dozen Books of Mormon.... and never get return appointments.  Or they call the day of asking to reschedule and then never call back.  Or we go and no one answers the door, or answer and say they haven't read or don't have time.  It's enough to make you want to pull your own teeth out.  But!  I'm sticking to the positive, remember?
Last week on P-day, we walked into Krispy Kreme, each picked out two, went up to the register to pay up, and the lady hands us the donuts and wishes us a good day.  Um lady, did you forget this is the part where we give you money?  I guess not - we concluded she had to be an angel disguised as a donut maker.  When free Krispy Kremes happen, you know God is on your side.
Since I've already explained why Sundays are great and awful at the same time, I was feeling particularly low when a brother in the ward, old rascal Charlie, shook my hand after Sunday school and said "You look beautiful today." I think I cried.  That same week, an old lady we sang to at the assisted living home gave me a hug and kiss and called me "her beautiful child," and a gentleman in the library remarked about my "coloring" (you'd think these Southerners never saw a Hispanic/Filipino ethnic mix before, I'm like a bengal tiger or something) and also told me I was beautiful and I had to laugh (after he left) because it's really dumb how much girls want to be called beautiful because it matters very little especially in my current line of work, i.e. being a missionary, and yet Heavenly Father knows what a difference it makes to me because guess what - I'm still a girl.  And if anything silly little comments like these remind me that He's looking out for me.
Other miracles you kind of have to open your eyes to, and I don't really know if I had anything to do with this at all, but it's a miracle nonetheless.  My first Sunday in Shreveport, the chapel was less than half occupied.  There were so many open pews I couldn't decide where to sit.  Last Sunday, there wasn't a single empty row.  The chapel was packed and, because it was fast and testimony meeting, the Spirit was strong.  The ward went from scarce to brimming in twelve weeks.  Maybe our active member visits, calling them for splits, and visiting less-actives has paid off.  Maybe Heavenly Father knows we're about to get hecka baptisms and they'll need a strong ward to welcome them in.  Whatever it is, I've never seen anything like it.
Last Saturday was something special.  I had the opportunity to address all the youth in the stake that showed up to a special activity, the Missionary Training Academy - a day-long activity at the stake center that cycles them through classes that teach them how to teach their friends, what to expect on fulltime missions and how to be missionaries now.  Me and three other missionaries got to teach one class, each of us taking ten minutes to tell a bit of our "conversion stories," or when the gospel took on new meaning in our lives and how that influenced us to be missionaries.  I taught the principle of obedience, and how when I became "converted" I started living the commandments not out of fear of consequence but because I love Jesus Christ and how that has made all the difference.  It always will, so long as I remember whom it is I am serving.
58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye asteadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
[1 Corinthians 15:58]
We never know what difference is being made, whether externally or in ourselves.  And who knows?  Maybe one of those precious youth I had the privilege of addressing will choose to change their mind, like I did, and serve a mission.  And serve for the right reason.  For the love of their Savior.  Anything done for that reason brings immeasurable fulfillment like nothing else can.
Sister Valdez

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