Monday, June 30, 2014

Week 47: Guide Me Momently

10 Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God;
 11 For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him.
 12 And he hath risen again from the dead, that he might bring all men unto him, on conditions of repentance.
 13 And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth! [Doctrine and Covenants 18]
How great indeed.  Yes, after weeks through the mill and in the furnace, yesterday came great cause to rejoice.  We caught a break.  And it was the best Sunday ever.  Daresay, the best day of my mission, and Sister Dailey would say the same.  We spotted a rainbow driving between appointments (both of which went amazing) and knew there was Someone out there reminding us how well He keeps promises.
Mall Day!
It was much needed too, because last Monday we went to the mall and I was in Trunk City.  I tried on tons of Maurice, Wet Seal, and Rue 21 clothes (found out I went down a pants size heck yeah) to see what I would look like as a normal person, was pleased with the outcome, took maybe two hundred selfies in fitting room mirrors and secretly yearned for the day I'd get to wear this stuff in public.  Snapping back to missionary mode was difficult,  esp. with the luck we've been having so far, i.e. not much of it.  Our teaching pool has gone down significantly as we've shelfed everyone that's not progressing and not finding all that many, since we ran out of apartments to tract, all's left is richie neighborhoods now.  We were tracting one and Sister Dailey flipped open the Book of Mormon at random, twice, and read these aloud to the great and spacious homes before us.
11And it came to pass that he went out and bowed himself down upon the earth, and cried mightily to his God in behalf of his people, yea, those who were about to be destroyed because of their faith in the tradition of their fathers.  [3 Nephi 1]
and then
17And it came to pass that Moroni commanded that his army should go against those king-men, to pull down their pride and their nobility and level them with the earth, or they should take up arms and support the cause of liberty.  [Alma 51]
I mean, we're not like, condemning the opulent or anything.  But these verses gave us little hope for their receptiveness to restored truth.  Don't worry, we knocked anyway.
But then Tuesday came and we were blessed with a member referral.  Sister N's dad was in town, had come to church last Sunday, and Tuesday they texted us asking if we could come over for dinner and a lesson with him in their home.  In case you weren't sure, that's EXACTLY how missionary work is supposed to go.  Members doing the finding and scheduling - not because we missionaries don't want to, but because it's 100% more effective when members do.  This was also the FIRST time in my 11 months and Sister Dailey's 9 months that this has happened to either of us.  But the N family is just that stellar.  So we teach Bro J the Restoration, and it was clear that his life experiences had prepared him for this.  His mind's wide open and he said "I've seen how happy this church has made my daughter's family.  And I'm jealous.  I want that too."  He started reading the Book of Mormon, and I gave him my copy of Our Search for Happiness, which if you've never read it, is a sum up of our beliefs as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, very clearly explained to help nonmembers understand, and written by an apostle, Elder M. Russel Ballard.  If everyone read this book, they'd be converted. No question.  So good.  Bro J came to church again yesterday and the N fam invited us to teach another lesson;  he says something like "God's saved my life more than once, I feel like He has a purpose for me.  I just haven't figured it out yet."  Sister Dailey and I had to bite our tongues from screaming "WE HAVE IT" and instead calmly explained the Plan of Salvation (also known as, the purpose of life.)  He liked it.  He said the eternal family thing stood out to him and even asked about the sealing ordinance.  We explained that that comes after the first covenant: baptism.  He's now on date for August 2nd.  Just as soon as he moves from Virginia to here in Florence.  I am hoping so hard I get to stay here long enough to see it.
We have one other investigator on date for July 26, she's the one with the infant with myriad health problems.  I mean, the constant challenge keeps her helpful, but it also makes it super hard to catch her at home.  We tried a second time to bring priesthood over there for a scheduled blessing, but she was at the hospital with the baby, little guy got sick again.  Such a bummer when people don't have working cell phones so we can find out these things in advance.  Speaking of babies.  The daughter in law of one investigator, the one who was distraught over not having anything for the baby she was expecting, has since delivered and relocated.  Her mother in law had custody of the baby, because apparently taking adderall while pregnant makes your baby an addict and when people find out you also smoke and the baby's father drinks like a fish, they don't let you keep the child until you've cleaned up.  I know, right?  People out here face some heavy-duty problems that I've only read about in books, and even then thought were a dramatization.  But the poor woman gratefully accepted a Book of Mormon, and before we'd even asked, promised to come to church with her older kids as soon as she healed up.  Thing about the Book of Mormon: if she really does read from it every day as we've challenged her, the strength to overcome is a definite guarantee.  No matter how real your problem, that's a promise.  And I'm never happy about anyone having it so hard, but I can't help but recognize that these afflictions prepare people to receive the gospel.  And how great is my joy in the soul that repenteth.
A Golden Investigator!
Which brings us to our dear newlywed less active.  He didn't come to church like he said he would.  Said he'd woken up just not wanting to go.  "I'll be ready in a week," he said.  "You said that two weeks ago," we pointed out.  "I know, I know..."  Really, it's like dealing with a teenager, an unmotivated, hardheaded adolescent.  But ever since I met him five months ago, I've felt a personal responsibility for him, so we've kept going back and going back.  And last night something changed.  First of all, we were bold.  We called him to repentance with a handful of scripture verses and zero shame.  "If ye love me keep my commandments."  "Do not procrastinate the day of your repentance."  With a strong testimony already, he admitted that he knew what was right and that he had to do it now, for himself, for Christ, and for his family.  But then he spilled out his fears.  That the adversary will make him a personal target again.  That the trials will just keep coming and he'll never be able to rest or see the part where the blessings come.  That repentance will hurt and the battle will never end.  So we told him about Liberty Jail.  "My son, peace be unto thy soul.  Thine afflictions shall be but a small moment, and if thou endure it well, God will exalt thee on high."  And in Romans, "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed."  And Alma, "My soul was filled with joy, as exceeding as were my pains!"  There is peace in and only in righteous living.  The Atonement of Jesus Christ will heal you, if you let it.  No, the challenges will never cease til we're safely dead, and yes the adversary works on us constantly especially the strong ones that he knows had great capacity to do good, but "cheer up your heart and remember that you are free to act for yourself" as Nephi said, because though either route comes with pain, you either serve God all your life and get an unimaginable reward at the end, or serve Satan, get pleasure in the beginning, and end up with nothing at all but torturous guilt.  With Satan, you're falling in holes, with Christ you're climbing mountains.  Both are hard.  But get you to very different places.  Furthermore, an apostle once said that if you could see the legions of angels surrounding and supporting you, you'd never be scared again.  Those include your ancestors, Sister Dailey pointed out.  He smiled at that.  And at one point said, "You feel that?  The Spirit is here.  After all this time, he's still pushing me."  It was there, and it was so strong and so tender, we just sat in silence a minute and reveled in that unearthly peaceful moment.  Then he told us that it had been long enough, that he had to come back now, but that he needed us to see him every day if we could, and call him when we can't, basically to carry him back to the path, moment by moment, until he's found the iron rod again, is reading every day again.  Challenge accepted.  When you get him feeling the Spirit, he's the most penitent person you've ever met.  And how great was our joy in this soul that repenteth.  It's true what they say about missions being both super hard and super worth it because of the immense love you come to have for the people you were sent here for.  He thanked us for caring so much, for putting up with him, and we told him the truth of it, "It's because we love your family and we want it to be eternal."  "So do I," he said.
Our Mission Leader
Sunday morning had me so stressed out, which is normal for Sundays, but while at church, I got this revelation:  "Be present.  Pray constantly, for the Spirit to guide me momently.  The morrow shall take thought for itself."  Whoosh.  What a relief.  Missionary service, and life in general, is overwhelming if you think too far ahead.  You have your goals of course, and you have your desired outcomes, and your plans that include all you have to do, but if you aren't here and now, just the thought is enough to make you want to crawl under a rock and sleep until the second coming.  However, if you take it one day at a time, like President McDonough always says, and think about what you can do now, pray about what you can do now, and then do it, then everything's fine!  Like that one time Friday night when we had 30 minutes left in the day and no one to see, and prayed for someone to minister to, drove into a trailer park, saw a lank youth walk by with a cig in his mouth, said "ok Heavenly Father, if this family isn't home, we'll go talk to him."  Guess what.  The family wasn't there.  So we pulled up next to him, apologized for how awkward this was, and asked if he'd met missionaries before.  He had.  We parked and got out to talk to him, found out he'd been turned off to religion when a girl dumped him for his lack of spirituality and he went institution-worthy near-suicidal over it, but he's since become agnostic of sorts and trusts God, just not religion, and by the way that happened when he was in 8th grade, he's currently sixteen and looks just like Duffin when he smiles.  We taught him about the Book of Mormon and he promised to read it, then said he'd actually recently been considering looking into our religion because his bro told him there was something different about it.  I am always skeptical about promptings I get.  But I have never yet regretted following one.  It's doubly reassuring when Sister Dailey tells me afterward, that she got a prompting at the same time about this kid.  Lesson learned, put off the "what ifs" and when a nudge from the Spirit comes, boldly follow.  Moment by moment, we're guided where we're needed.
Sister Valdez

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