Monday, February 24, 2014

Week 29: Let Your Heart

Happy Valentines day!
I hope ya'll had a lovely and non-depressing Valentine's day.  Mine was pretty wonderful, as far as mission holidays go.  We four sisters had a sleepover and woke to find giant glitter-glued poster cards, triple chocolate cakes, and extra teaching records on our doorstep - a gift from our Byram elders.  They're sweet guys.  And don't worry, the cards covered in scripture references about love included this appreciated sentiment:  "We love you sisters!...but not in a creepy way, in a love of Christ way."  And the three of you that sent me packages, they all arrived that afternoon.  The timing was perfect and I felt very loved, thank you so much for your delicious gifts :]  A member of the ward took all six of us missionaries out to sushi Friday night and it was the best I've had since being home.  Thank goodness there are Japanese people everywhere, even random tiny towns like Florence, MS.
To complete the Valentine weekend, we had an truly sitcom-worthy case of "He loves me, he loves me not" with our investigator Jaco.  Object of his fickle affection: the baptismal date.  I'll try to sum up the drama for you, detective-log style:

Wednesday night: Lesson with Jaco.  Commits to live commandments.  Lessons are technically complete.  Confirm baptismal interview date/time.
Thursday morning: Receive text that Jaco will not make it to today's interview.  Missionaries drop everything, rush to his house in panic.  Teach lesson addressing common anti-Mormon remarks he came across.  Heavily testify of the joy of the restored gospel.  Jaco prays for an answer, agrees to be baptized.
Thursday night: Receive text that Jaco is actually still undecided.  Answer accepted.
Friday afternoon: Lesson with Jaco.  Discuss the plan of salvation and make no mention of baptism.  Jaco asks when he can have his interview.  Because he's decided to be baptized.  Missionaries freak out.
Friday night: Receive apology text.  Jaco cannot make a decision.  Missionaries want to cry.
Saturday morning: Receive text saying Jaco will be at his scheduled interview.  Missionaries are confused.
Saturday afternoon:  Jaco goes to his interview.  Fervent prayer.  Both Jaco and interviewer conclude that he needs more time.  Missionaries relieved that a decision has been made.
Sunday: Scheduled baptism does not occur.  Missionaries try not to think about it.
Current status: Cool with it.  Still teaching Jaco.  This time, from the ground up.

By the end of all this, poor bishop, who's barely been bishop for six days, was probably tired of my calls.  "Baptism Sunday!...actually, it's being postponed...no wait it's back on!...ooh just kidding it's not. Our bad."  I thought Heavenly Father was done testing me for patience, but apparently I've more to learn.  By this time next year, I will be the most patient person you ever met.  Fo realz.

I thank goodness we had something to distract us this week apart from routine work, i.e. we moved!  Sister Creager and I now have our own apartment in Florence, so we don't have to waste miles traveling to our area and can walk/bike when we don't have the car (we share with the Richland missionaries).  We're two days into bike week now and it's killin.  We're gonna get so fit.  I've been in a foursome apartment since the start of my mission, so it being just us two is quite different, but I like it.  Lots of space to stretch out and scatter possessions, and lots of quiet in which to ponder.  The mission gave us new furniture and I learned how to build a table!  Also, chairs.  But those took a few tries.  Only downers were our toilet wouldn't stop running, but Sis Creager fixed it like a boss with a rubber band and a rock, and today our power was out, so I'm praying the apartment peeps figure that out before all our perishables perish or I have to try to shower in the dark.
Workin Jackson with Sis McGrath!

Cool fact: I got to work J-town!  Tuesday was exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders and I went tracting in Jackson with Sister McGrath, and awesome bubbly sister I knew in Shreve.  It was so fun to be with her again.  She bought me a donut because she's awesome.  We found a couple of friendly, humble families in one neighborhood, both with little babies.  Cool thing about babies: they're super close to the veil and most of them recognize us missionaries as representatives of Christ, I'm 97% sure of it.  Before we left, one of the families' little ones was staring at me intently through the window and I whispered to him "I know you know who we are - tell your parents to let us come back!"

Sunday, in order to get our weekly 7 hours in, we knocked doors for three straight hours.  It was fruitful, but Saturday's tracting was probably the best.  Key: we'd set out with a vision.  "Okay, we're going to find a family today, mom is Hispanic-American, dad is white, two kids, boy and a girl, not necessarily belonging to both, and they've recently moved from up north somewhere."  Five houses in, we found them.  Except, the dad was the Hispanic one and they only moved within the state I think.  Not even kidding.  And what's more, they have a relative a few towns away who just joined the church a year ago!  A built-in fellowshipper!  Envisioning success really works, on a spiritual level because when you tell Heavenly Father what you're looking for, He can put it in your path.  He's extremely reliable, even when nothing else in the world seems like it may be, He is constant.

 52 Behold, my beloved brethren, remember the words of your God; pray unto him continually by day, and give athanks unto his holy name by night. Let your hearts brejoice. [2 Nephi 9]

I found this scripture when we were waiting for Jaco to come out of his interview.  The thought had occurred to me: Find a reason to rejoice.  Find a scripture on the commandment to be happy.  And I found this one.  If you remember the mercy and promises of God, if you remember to counsel with Him throughout the day and thank Him for the numerous things you received by His hand when it's over, then I think you'll find you have much to be happy about.  So don't keep yourself from the joy of knowing that your Eternal Father has got your back.  Don't keep your heart confined to the passing sorrows of the moment.  Let it rejoice.  You have every reason to.

Sister Valdez

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