Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Week 31: Marching On

viva Florence!
It's March!  And if all goes according to plan, that means winter is over.  Considering we almost turned into froze-nose sistersicles on our fast-walk to the grocery store this morning, this may not be an accurate conjecture.  Also, we're on our bikes.  Please pray for the preservation of our lives.
I must say, though, Heavenly Father has been doing a great job keeping us alive this week.  Last night, we had a half hour bike ride home in the dark.  One particular street had a long stretch of no houses, no streetlights, just trees and swamp on either side of the road, and no moon, not even starlight could reach us.  For ten minutes, we were riding into a pitch black abyss, only thing visible was the few feet in front of our that our bike lights could reach.  It was like a fever dream nightmare, or a creepy movie or something, like biking into outer darkness itself.  I had the thought, maybe this is what death is like.  I started singing Lead Kindly Light to distract myself from thoughts of things that could be hiding in the woods, and it was oddly fitting.  "Lead kindly light amid the encircling gloom... The night is dark and I am far from home... Lead thou me on... I do not ask to see, the distant scene, one step enough for me."  And for some odd reason, not a single car appeared those whole ten minutes.  If one had, we could have easily been knocked into a ditch and left to perish.  But we didn't.  Conclusion: more angels.

The District kickin it at Chinese buffet
It didn't got build, guys.
There was another time our lives were saved, and this was in M-hall, the smaller town we work in once a week since it's so far.  We tracted into this guy last week, and he seemed interested in reading the Book of Mormon and learning more about what we believe, so we returned this week.  When we first met him, scruffy with long dark hair in a ponytail, I thought he reminded me a lot of the crazy guy in Billy Madison and the psychopath in The Changeling.  This second time, he came out, said "My dad's in there takin a bath, let's go out to my studio!" so we follow him like two naive little girls, from the crumbling house through his backyard wilderness to a rink dink shack.  He wrenches the door open and we're like "cool, we're about to get murdered" and then we peer inside and.... it really was a studio.  Drums, guitars, amps and all.  He's in a band, I guess.  We got to teach him a little bit and answer his questions, though his eventual forcing the door shut to "keep out the cold" and then warning us about unsafe neighborhoods and recommending we take an armed body guard everywhere we go didn't do much to calm our nerves.  But he had read what we left him, and we made it out of there not in a body bag, so we have to go back at least once more to see if his interest in the gospel continues.  I'll keep ya'll updated on the M-Hall serial killer.

The G family is still stellar, and we took a member over there who happened to know the dad!  He and her son had been good friends.  It worked out so perfectly, and he'd actually done research (on lds.org not wikipedia! :D) and had questions about the Plan of Salvation.  I love talking about the Plan, because I feel like most people go their whole lives looking for the purpose of everything, the meaning of life, and we have it summed up in one lil pamphlet.  We stopped by the S family to buy girl scout cookies from their several daughters and they insisted we stay for dinner, so (with the slandering father not present), we got to share a message with them, about God's love and how the gospel blesses families - basic stuff.  Next time we go over, we'll go deeper into the Restoration.  Baby steps.

one of our investigators is a professional clown. tru story.
The Jaco drama continues:  First, we had this super poetic moment with him, when we were having a porch lesson and it got cold so I told him to build us a fire and he did it.  Straight up picked up an axe, chopped some wood, poured gasoline on it, and lit us a bonfire right in the front yard.  (I don't know if I told ya'll about this, but Mississippi is so wet, like it rains once and the whole state turns to mud, and stays wet all the time, so when people rake their leaves here they can just drop a match and FROOSH burn it up then and there.  Smoke everywhere.)  So we spent the evening watching sparks float and throwing dry leaves into the flames until Jaco opened up, and gave us another good question, one that he would ask God if He were sitting there with us, "Do you really want me in your kingdom?"  Heartbreaking, huh?  It would take pages to go into the details of our subsequent lessons with Jaco, but in short, we had another lesson with him assuring him that ALL are invited to partake of salvation (2 Nephi 26) and then answered his question of "how do you attain salvation?" (Alma 7, Acts 2) and he said he'd be baptized, then met us the next night saying he couldn't do it, because he'd be separating himself from his family, but then he doesn't actually care what his family thinks, then later said he can't fit himself to a type of lifestyle because then he'd lose who he is, at least I think that's what he was getting at.  He says a lot of things and I get confused.  And our lessons, which are now nighttime chats at a picnic table outside our apartments, have gotten increasingly informal as we've already taught all the lessons and just answer his questions now, like yesterday it was something like "What do you got?  Do you really think you're here to save souls? You need to give me something more" and we were like "JACO!  We don't say things to you because we read them out of a manual, we don't say anything that isn't from experience and from our hearts and souls, we MEAN IT ALL!! Of course we believe this is God's work, we've given up way too much for it not to be; we get laughed at, scoffed at, and rejected EVERY DAY for what we do, there is NO ROOM for pretense and the only reason we haven't dropped you like a hot rock is because you asked us to meet your here and we care about your soul because you're a child of God and if we think there's even a chance we can help in the littlest bit we show up!!  For goodness sake!!"  For some reason, he enjoys it when we get excited and yelling pulling our hair out because we seem like real people to him and he feels like he can trust us cause we're not robots.  Me and Sister Creager may or may not have each eaten half a box of girl scout cookies last night over frustration with Jaco and out of emotional/physical/spiritual exhaustion.  This is a very demanding and very strange work we do.
roads to goodness-knows-where

None the less.

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;
 14 Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus...
16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.  [2 Corinthians 4]

bookmark I made for a recent convert
Sister Creager and I (who are very likely to stay together this next transfer as well) are, against all odds, pumped for our companionship goals for the month of March - Five progressing with baptism dates by the end of the month.  Here's to working like mad for the cause of truth.  "Glory, hallelujah....His truth is marching on."

Sister Valdez

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