Sister Creager and I have heard many an inspiring conversion story from members who were golden and saw miracles throughout the process. A book Sister Sellers gave me called "Finding the Elect of God" says that no matter where your area is, there are "five people ready to be baptized right now, today." People already prepared and waiting for us. We just have to find them. Even after meeting our recommended tracting quota, and having found no one promising, we continued in our search yesterday singing a song from our district leader. "Looking for the one! Looking for the one! Looking for the one who's looking for usss who's looking for truuuuuth!" Helps us get our smiles back just in time for another doorslam-to-the-face.
Unrelated thought: We listened to the Prince of Egypt soundtrack maybe 39 times this week while driving and during this time, something fascinating occurred to me: this story really happened. Moses was a real person. The Red Sea actually parted at the touch of a staff and legions of believers really were delivered out of bondage and out of the hands of a terrible totalitarian economy. Isn't that awesome!?!?!? There's something about hearing it in music that makes it all the more incredible. Poor Moses with his stutter who had could have been a prince except he was adopted (also he killed someone) and then has to go back to this court of haters and tell the monarch, "Um, all those people you're working to death are my family please find someone else to build your pyramids and let them go maybe?" and then yeah. You know the rest. He was so noble, that Moses. And he certainly didn't think himself so, but God saw something in him that no one else did. So it is with us. Heavenly Father asks us to do crazy things sometimes and were like "um wut?" and He's like "I wouldn't ask you if there wasn't a way." And then boom - the enemy army drowns.
You know the song from that movie that goes "Look at your life through heaven's eyes" and has this line "a lake of gold in the desert sand is worth less than a cool fresh spring; and to one lost sheep, a shepherd boy is greater than the richest king." Well something hit me this week, like "duh. Why you always so worried about stuff like anonymous internet fans and national acclaim? You're going to meet someone in this mission who's been waiting for you, who'll think you're the bees knees, who will never forget your name as long as they live because YOU helped them receive the restored gospel." And I'm like whoa you're right. And even if it doesn't happen on the mission, my children will hopefully be those grateful sheep that I get to mean a lot to. My view of my personal worth, of my future was like WHOOSH changed in a minute. I just need to not forget it now.
Florence is a great place for deep thinking. The walks between houses, particularly in backwoods neighborhoods, are longer than I'm used to, and there's no shortage of poetic surroundings. Crumbling wooden shacks, gravel roads, marshy woods, floral wallpaper, ancient cars with fading paint, myriads of wind chimes, and more stars than I can count on two hands when the sun goes down (and sometimes giant bear-dogs that barrel into you and chew on your arm). But the best are the lessons we've been having nearly every evening in a little trailer with Jaco*. They're what keep me going.
Teaching him feels like I'm just testifying to my friend. He's around our age, he's Mexican (I've been waiting my whole mission to teach someone Hispanic!) and when we talk, we're all on one level, like college colleagues or something. In fact, he talks and thinks and reasons almost exactly like a friend I had in college, the conversations with whom I now realize were a prequel to these lessons with Jaco. He's a very critical thinker, has a good understanding of both logic and faith and when the two come together in the questions he asks, it's got my mind running on full-speed in high performance mode and my spirit repeating my most frequently used six word prayer "Father help Father help Father help!" when I'm so close to being confounded. But since being in Florence, I've been continuously surprised by how articulate my answers to obscure questions sound and I've backed myself up with way more scripture references than I realized I knew. Pretty crazy what the Holy Ghost can do when you just do your part to study and then let him take over.
After a long discussion on what truth is and how one finds truth according to our own understanding and experiences (meaning without just repeating what the scriptures say - Jaco really pushes me to my limits sometimes) he basically asked for our testimonies: "Well what do you personally believe?" Sister Creager and I then shared the few simple truths we hold most precious in our hearts of the personality of God, the divinity of the Savior, and the reality of the Restoration, and whoosh, there was the Spirit. It's rough to get an intellectual to understand feelings and the way that the Spirit speaks, especially with worldly man-made philosophies in the way. But at the end of the day, all we can do is teach, testify, and trust.
No matter what happens next, (i.e. whether Jaco keeps his baptismal date or not), it's a wonderful and redeeming feeling indeed to know that heaven is using little insignificant you to do quiet and significant things.