Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Week 46: Time in the Furnace

So you know how one of the big things that kept me from getting married (which I see now was so I would be unmarried at 21 and able to serve a mission) was that few of my suitors were of a suitable age?
Yeah, well, yesterday a fifteen year old boy with shaggy hair asked for my number and last Tuesday the investigator that had come to church twice but still hasn't read the Book of Mormon told us we were brainwashed and then when he heard we get transferred asked how he was supposed to find a wife if we leave.  Both sufficiently insulted and sufficiently grossed out because he's like my dad's age, we got outta there real quick and will not be going back.  Fun stuff, huh?

Bike week proved to be another major test of our faith, as we somehow got way fewer lessons that usual and only one new investigator, despite the total of 25+ miles that we ended up biking this week.  15 of those miles were all in one day.  Sister Dailey is such a trooper.  I don't really know how we did it, except that Healthy habits + Enabling power of the Atonement = Strength and endurance like I've never seen in myself.  When we tracted, only two people accepted Books of Mormon and guess what.  Both had friends that were members of the church.  People with member connections are literally THE ONLY ONES who will speak to us/be nice to us 80% of the time.  YOU DON'T REALIZE HOW MUCH INFLUENCE YOU HAVE.  Speaking of which, do ya'll recall that Elder Ballard in his last talk committed us all to invite one person every quarter to take the missionary lessons?  That's only one per season.  Only four per year.  Easy.  So ah, who do ya'll have lined up for summer?  Can't wait to hear.  Cause I know ya'll are just dying to jump on this, ahem, commandment from a prophet of God.

A tracting miracle, we went back to recontact a man we'd found two days previous who was elderly and probably didn't even know who we were or what we're about, and when we get there, he's not available.  However, we began talking with the woman who answered the door, as we've been counseled to do when a potential is not available, and we eventually discover that she was baptized several years ago, removed herself from church records when she married a man who wanted her to study his faith, has since separated from him, and wants to come back to the church that she knows is true.  i.e. the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  That's us!  Holla!  It hasn't been easy, but we're determined to help.

In M-Hall, we finally made contact with the woman that had a baptism date for May 24 (obviously didn't make it, and then we didn't see her for three weeks) and I breathed an enormous inner sigh of relief when I saw her.  She looked different.  She was busy so we couldn't stay, but she spoke with us a minute and we learned why creased scowl was gone from her eyes, why the dark circles were gone, replaced by a glow of health and color in her cheeks.  She'd been reading the scriptures, she told us.  And then pondering them.  Sitting outside and meditating and allowing Heavenly Father to reach her understanding and fill her with good thoughts - and take away the stress and worry.  Incredible what such a thing can do to your physical appearance.  I've waited my whole life to be able to discern that "light in your countenance" that people talk about and now I've been able to witness it twice.  Let's all pray her progression continues.

Fun fact: Mormons and Pentecostals are the world's last advocates for the dignity of women.  A Pentecostal minister, one of the nicest people we've ever encountered tracting, thanked us for being modestly dressed, and he was like super sincere about it.  And while we as Latter Day Saint girls don't wear long sleeves and skirts in public 24/7 or refuse to cut our hair, that's still one value we have in common.  So someone go tell the ward's Young Women, Aaronic priesthood and your parents aren't the only ones grateful for your virtuous dress and appearance!  The Pentecostals' teenage sons dig it too!

Father's day yesterday was a strange mix of great and terrible.  It being Fathers day, both sister companionships got Father's day cards for our district leader Elder Webb.  He's also training, which makes him undeniably a dad now.  Church was great, two powerful talks about member missionary work (do you yet grasp the importance of this?) and the elders' investigator (on and off for the last ten years) asked in sunday school if we could talk about forgiveness.  It being a small gathering of six missionaries and him, we said yeah of course!  and jumped into charity and forgiveness in the manual and scriptures.  By the end, he had a peaceful look about him and told us he resolved to call a family member that day to tell her he's forgiven her.  In the priesthood meeting following, the visiting stake president committed him to a date to be baptized.  Woohoo!  I mean, after that the day went downhill.  Worst was we were texting a recent convert who got mad at us for telling him shopping on the Sabbath isn't keeping it holy and doesn't connect that when prophets speak it's the same as God speaking and thinks we put our trust in men because we heed the prophets.  He got really indignant and I got super depressed because this happens a lot with this guy and Sister Dailey ate away her pain with a large bag of M&Ms while I laid on the carpet and gave up on life.  We eventually got up, the day went on, and we taught no one, and both the investigator and returning member who'd asked for priesthood blessings either were not home or didn't answer the door, I felt like a failure and apologized to the priesthood holders we'd pulled away from their families on Father's day for nothing, our most reliable investigator waved at us as she walked by the door but did not return to answer it and we spent fifteen awkward minutes standing at the door and occasionally knocking until we gave up and left in confusion and defeat.  I had to rattle off every encouraging scripture I could think of as we drove to keep myself from throwing myself into a ditch.

"Peace be unto thy soul, for thine afflictions will be but a small moment.  And if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high.  He shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.  I have refined thee - I have chosen thee out of the furnace of affliction.  I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed.  Let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail.  Look unto me in every thought, doubt not, fear not.  Thou hast with unwearyingness declared repentance unto this people.  I will bless thee forever." <-- or something along those lines.

Finally found a less active at home, an elderly friend who was happy to see us.  Her husband with Alzheimers/dementia called Sister Dailey a boy, asked what time we clock out, and if the man over there was a foreman.  He thinks we're construction workers, it's cool.  At the end of our emotionally rough day, we said to heck with fruit and salad dinners, and made pancakes and chicken strips, no regrets.

Miracle moment: We got a call one morning from a man who sounded like someone who'd hit rock bottom.  After further explanation, he revealed he really had.  Started telling me, a perfect stranger, how everyone close to him was deceased or disappeared, how he'd lost the use of his legs and felt as if he'd lost everything at once.  I asked how he got our contact information.  You left a card at my door, he said.  I've been praying with that card next to me every day and I knew that if I called the number, there would be someone who would listen.  Well, I about fell over.  He was right.  I assured him that His Savior would get him through this, and that the message we missionaries share would show him exactly what he needed to do to find peace and joy again.  The bummer part is, he'd since moved to Ridgeland so the assistants to the mission president get to teach and baptize him now.  But still.  A card we left at a door.  What are the chances?  The gospel finds the penitent.

 12 Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.
 13 Behold, how many thousands of our brethren has he loosed from the pains of hell; and they are brought to sing redeeming love, and this because of the power of his word which is in us, therefore have we not great reason to rejoice? [Alma 26]
Yeah.  So maybe the AP's will get to finished what we started with this guy.  And maybe none of my investigators will ever show up to church even when we have four or five of them committed to come the same day.  But our elders may get to baptize the gentlemen that came this week!  And we're helping two formerly active members of the church remember what that redeeming love feels like.  So we'll take both as our reason to rejoice.  Eternal life, here we come.
Don't forget to be a missionary this week!  Did I mention your exaltation depends on it? :]
Sister Valdez


No comments:

Post a Comment