I just want you all to know that you never have to worry about me going hungry. On the contrary, people won't stop cooking us food and sending the leftovers home with us. Two days last week we somehow had two dinner appointments on the same day and I want to die. No jk. Don't want to die. Sister Creager and I are full-time on bikes this week AND we're starting a new diet that nixes dairy, gluten, and desserts (which is in effect as soon as we finish the second "crack pie" an investigator sent home with us.)
I am focused on the work, trust, but once in awhile I think about what it'll be like when I get home (quick trip to Trunk City) and I think about the music I used to blast in the car, and hear at dances (and PLAY at dances, for goodness sake) and I wonder what will have to change if I don't want to slip back into bad habits/dangerous ways of thinking. You know how people talk about alcohol, and how when you partake, you "give up your agency to a bottle"? I was thinking on this and it hit me like a train: I used to give up my agency to a beat. Loud, intense, and numbing, to the point where you might as well have been drunk because it makes you want to act in a way that you never would in front of your parents (or the Savior, for that matter). I've decided I'm going to have to be very particular about the lyrical content of the music I listen to, because of it's sly and profound influence on the mind and spirit, and so as not to lose the progress I've made on my mission. I've been out of the world for seven months, and I'll never be this happy again unless I make some of these changes permanent. It might sound crazy, but I've also decided not to go back to DJ-ing when I get home. The only reason I would, is for the money. And we all know what happens when you choose money over virtue - you walk away from the Savior with hands full of riches and heart full of sorrow. Eternal life is out of the picture. (See: Mark chapter 10)
On a similar note, Manson*, the M-Hall killer, expressed his concerns when we invited him to baptism after our lesson this week. He saw on LDS.org pictures of our leadership in suits. See, Manson lives dollar-to-dollar out of a trailer and doesn't have a job, save for the few gigs he plays with his band here and there. So in his mind, middle-class is the "other" and the enemy, and denotes wealth, power, greed, pride, and unrighteous dominion. He's afraid of organized religion, because he doesn't want to be robbed by tithes, feeding corruption, or mind-controlled by a prophet. I know. He's yet to actually listen to anything our prophets or apostles have said. That's the commitment we left him with, was to look up General Conference. Like it says in Matthew, "by their fruits ye shall know them." No one in this church wants your money or power over you. We just want you to have ultimate happiness, which is found here in God's kingdom on earth. (See Pres. Uchtdorf, "Come, Join With Us.")
Inviting everyone to baptism this week was wildly effective. I'm pretty sure that since God saw how serious we were taking this, and that we have the faith to ask, He decided this week to put people in our path that would say yes. And even if not, most of the rest were hopeful maybes. I did a tally yesterday and out of 13 people invited to baptism in the last 12 days, we got 3 no's, 4 yes's, and 6 maybe-I'll-have-to-think-
about-it's. Nothing to lose.
After last week's depressing breakups, new doors have opened (ha, literally) and even more prepared and open people have allowed us in to teach them. One was a former investigator who we've been trying forever to get back in touch with (she was initially found in 2009), and when we taught the Restoration lesson and invited her to baptism she said yes! And she set a date and everything! Just like with fiances, you know it's for real when they set a date. Another woman, in spite of her young adult daughter's comment that we sound like Children of the Corn with all our talk of Joseph Smith, said that she wanted to read the Book of Mormon and find out for herself. She was one of the maybes. On that same street (which was a gold mine), we knocked into a young man with long fluffy hair and missing teeth who classifies himself as agnostic, and allowed us to share our message on his porch out of sheer curiosity. He was raised Christian but it never stuck, and all he knew of our religion he'd seen on an episode of South Park (typical) so as we began to teach he began to ask questions and then more questions and then MORE questions. To answer them, we ended up teaching the full Restoration lesson, and the entirety of the Plan of Salvation over the next hour and half until he finally said "I have no more questions." Guys, the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Saints is the true church. It literally has ALL the answers. This was prob one of the greatest teaching moments I've had on my mission so far, answering the questions of someone who actually GOT it. His understanding of free will and continuous progression is the finest I've ever seen in a nonmember. All he has to do is find out that God is for real, and the rest is a piece of baptism - I mean... cake. Another young man took very openly to the Restoration and asked where he could get a Book of Mormon. Forgetful me forgot to re-stock, so we said "come to church on Sunday and we'll have one for you." Would you believe he actually did it? Yeah! And not only that, a member of our ward is good friends with him so he has an automatic fellowshipper! Gold is falling from the sky, you guys, and I am in no wise responsible and every wise grateful.
The final story, taking place on the golden street, I am actually hesitant to tell because it might be too good to be true and I feel like Aaron with a new girlfriend - do not want to tell until the deal is sealed because maybe I might jinx it with collective excitement. So.... just know this. I walked away from one new investigator's house feeling ten feet tall, so incredibly grateful that we had committed to the full seven hours of tracting, because otherwise we wouldn't have found this person who was as happy to see us as we were to see them, who was placed in our path only because of our long-suffering and obedience and of course, God's unfailing mercy. Only in His light am I able to walk this tall, this confidently. Only as a representative of Jesus Christ have I ever found this much joy in hard work, or felt so empowered with His support.