Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Week 43: Be Not Weary (easier said than done)

Sorry I'm late.  Libraries were closed for the holiday yesterday, and we didn't have enough miles to go to Clinton.  Instead, we used the time to join some of the members (Bishop and his wife, ward mission leader and his wife, and another young couple) at the church for a cookout and volleyball.  I was on a team with Bishop and the WML's wife, who's nine months pregnant.  We won both games.  I recorded some more of my songs (thanks for the recorder padre!) while the other three sisters napped/wrote letters, and then we went to the swinging bridge over Pearl river and did a mini photo shoot.  I was so in my zone. It was great.

Cool thing: while at the church, someone called the building asking for bishop.  It was a Protestant minister who wanted us missionaries to come teach him.  We called him back and set up an appt for last night, which the ward mission leader and his wife took us to.  It went real well, we taught in killer unity, he was super receptive, although we weren't sure what to make of his insistence that "dreams and visions" had got him there, what excited him most about the lesson was the First Vision.  A bright light like that, he said, is of biblical significance.  Apparently, he's had a similar vision.  He committed to baptism if he found out it was true, and in the closing prayer sounded most sincere in his plea to God to tell him if this was the true church.

Uncool thing:  Literally minutes after I arrived at the library today to tell ya'll all about it, he called us saying that these same dreams and visions have him convinced that he's got things God needs him to do that joining the church would keep him from, so he's going to hold off.  I had to restrain myself from shouting in the library bathroom where I took the call "BUT WHAT IF ITS TRUE?!?" and put on my best polite professional voice to say something like "Ok thank you for your time, call us again if you decide you want to learn more - and make sure you read the Book."  Now I want to crawl under a rock and give up.  But I won't do it.
Instead I'll pysch myself up again by telling you about the other things that happened this week.

We taught a couple young guys sitting outside some ghetto apartments (ghetto as in one of the guys, the tattooed one had just finished doin time) and were soon joined by two more who wanted to listen in.  Gave out three Books of Mormon in one shot.  One of them asked about Joseph Smith, "You said this guy found that book in the ground?"  Us: "Sure did."  Him: "That's wassup!"

Driving past a former investigator's home (the one we Bible bashed with), we saw a sheriff car outside and the guys teenage daughter being escorted out in handcuffs.  So sad.  He should've let us teach his family about the gospel.  And maybe this wouldn't have happened.

Our car got a super flat tire, courtesy of an enormous screw, but we discovered it before leaving the apartment lot, and the maintenance guy saw us and came over and put on the spare for us.  Nice guy.  We spent the next three hours stuck in Pearl while it got fixed at the Firestone, and a lady approached us at Kroger asking where our church was.  Then a guy who looked like George Clooney with a Persian accent approached us when we were studying outside of Church's Chicken, to commend us for reading the Bible in public.  He stayed to chat awhile and we got his number to pass on to the missionaries in his area.  Did I mention he's George Clooney with a Persian accent?  You're welcome, Madison sisters.

At a member's house, Brother C stood at the window watching the dog do something dumb and said "You are an absolute 300% idiot" to the dog and I laughed so hard because he sounded just like Dad.

In M-Hall, we visited two of our investigators who we haven't been able to see in awhile, and who we were pretty sure we would end up dropping because they hadn't kept commitments.  One of them told us she'd read 8 chapters in the Book of Mormon - and actually understood it all! She loved 1 Nephi 11, Nephi's vision of Christ's ministry that we read with her.  Always bring it back to Christ.  The second, a young adult, told us that he'd picked up the Book of Mormon quite a few times over the last few weeks because whenever he feels sad, reading it a little while makes him feel happy again!  He's one of our more childlike investigators.  Super meek, doesn't grasp everything we teach, but always feels the Spirit really strong.  We set him with a baptism date.

We were tracting on Sunday (always the hardest, especially when you need 2 more hours to make the weekly goal) and I was silently praying for someone who actually knew who we were, who'd had good Mormon friends, and who already had a positive opinion of the church.  With those, we don't have to worry about a bitter spouse or other nosy acquaintance raining on our parade with anti-Mormon rumors and literature.  That's the worst.  And it's happened a lot lately.  Anyway, one of the last houses we knock, an old guy answers and says "Ah yes the Mormons..." and we're like ooh boy here it comes, and he surprises us with "I had a roommate at LSU who was Mormon.  And a man I worked with was Mormon, who lives in Korea now.  And my wife and I were actually just about to turn on the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's program that we watch every week, would you like to join us?"  I near fell over.  We didn't stay, but we did set up to return.  Blessing of fasting.

Attached is the pop-punk version of the hymn Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy.  It was Elder Webb's idea, he's the one on guitar.  He used to be in rock band like me.  But his band actually went places, unlike me.  I think he and I should do a few more like this and call it "Punk Goes Gospel."  Maybe we'll get famous.  Ignore the part where I messed up the end.

Most significant things I learned from zone conference this week:
 - Our member relations will improve (and the work will hasten) when we focus on them and their missionary efforts when we're at dinner appointments (which means only one companionship can be at each meal appt, no more six-missionary parties at members homes) and when I get over myself and actually talk to them at church and ask if we can go visit teach with them.
 - Be industrious.  Do many good things of my own free will, and there will be no time wasted to regret later.
 - If I don't leave a strong, specific commitment with each investigator, less active, member, that we visit, my teaching was vain.  They won't change unless invited to do so.

This next one's prob more for me than anyone else.  
31 And behold, I, the Lord, declare unto you, and my words are sure and shall not fail, that they shall obtain it.
 32 But all things must come to pass in their time.
 33 Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.
 34 Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days.  [Doctrine and Covenants 64]
I know it's not on my time.  I know my heart and my willingness are what matters.  It's a hard fight, though.  If I come home shattered and tattered, you can safely assume it came from 18 straight months of foundation-laying.  And if it is, so be it.  Maybe someday I'll get to see what it was all for.  I love you all.  Fight the good fight.
Sister Valdez

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