Monday, November 3, 2014

Week 66: Operation Eternalize

All is well in Slidell.  All is super magnificent.  Sister Creager and I had a blast going on exchanges in Diamondhead (she's my sister training leader now, which is still kinda weird but cool).  She seems to look older, more mature every time I see her.  I got to help her drop an investigator, find and teach a new one, and set a current investigator with a baptism date!  I guess that's more success than usual for her are, kind of an opulent one and filled with old people, but that's exchanges for ya.  Expect miracles.  And my only question for Sister Creager after our post-exchange evaluations was, "If I'm not stressed out, does that mean I'm doing something wrong?" Her answer was no. She affirmed my conjecture that perhaps after a major challenge, and we've adapted to a particular kind of stress, the Lord betimes gives us a little break to glory in the accomplishment of feeling like we're on top of things... before he throws another one on us. So I'm fully expecting more hard things to come.  Like that maybe I'll train a greenie next transfer. But for the moment, all is super well.

K-dog, the member's son, came to church again yesterday. And so did a new investigator!  Lonny*, who's only been taught once, showed up right on time, and dressed to the nines.  I just wanted to hug him, I was so happy.  This one brother in the ward is the best ever - he immediately put his arm around Lonny, complimented his hip, classy suit, and got to know him and invited him to priesthood after sunday school.  i.e. what should happen to EVERY investigator/less-active that shows up to church, because if it did, we'd have significantly more baptisms, new members retained, and less actives reactivated.  Lonny is a super meek and humble soul, and seemed to really enjoy church.  He smiled the whole time.  I have this secret hope that he is the friend I knew in the pre-mortal life who I promised to find, and that we'll be friends for eternity.  K-Dog set his own baptism date, for November 15th!  His mom's so funny, she's like "I think he might be nervous about baptism still, I haven't told too many people, I don't wanna him to feel pushed"  and we were like, "Um, well, he actually announced his baptism to everyone in gospel principles class today."  In that same class, a brother asked him if we sisters had been visiting and teaching him, and said "They're just too hard to resist, aren't they?" and K-dog responded, "Yeah, they really are pretty wonderful" and I pretended not to hear but was screaming on the inside with glee.

The C family, that part member family, is also doing really well.  Sister C told us she feels that something's been guiding her to this church, and said she'd considered a baptism date and asked if November 22 was too soon, and of course we're like "UM NOPE NOT AT ALL."  Like come on, don't be ridiculous, you live the word of wisdom, you live all the standards of the church, you want to strengthen your relationship with God and have an eternal family, let's just make this official!  So we're going to do our best to make sure she's ready by that date. She really wants this for her family's sake, but I still feel that she needs confirming revelation, like that one apostle talked about last conference.  Her husband responded well when we mentioned that his getting active in the church now means he could possibly baptize his wife, and eventually his kids.  He liked that idea.  He just needs to be ordained a priest and boom! - commence operation: eternalize.  They made it to church last week for the primary program and they plan on coming from now on. We're overjoyed. Their member relatives in the ward are going to flip.
Halloween was pretty bomb.  Well, the ward trunk or treat was.  We had a mini zone conf that day, and got to eat cookies and watch Meet the Mormons.  It was so good.  I'm 100% that I'm going to be a boxer/MMA fighter when I get home and also that I'm going to marry David Archuleta.  Then we had our progressing investigator and her son at the ward party, as well as the C family's little boy.  Sister Schulthies and I came up with one of the best team costumes I've ever done.  We put on pressed white shirts, black skirts, borrowed ties, pulled our hair back, covered the SIST with ELD on our names tags using tape and white out, and went as Elder Valdez and Elder Schulthies.  The ward loved it.  Our mission president did too.  I mean, I think we're kinda clever.

Sister Schulthies is a most excellent companion and is trying really hard to stay focused, to make the most of The Last Days. She's doing really well. We resist the urge to talk about boys and home while tracting and try to talk about favorite investigators or mission experiences - you know, keep up the blissful illusion that there's no such thing as life outside the mission.  I'm super nervous for when I have to take over, but I try not to think about how stressful that will be and just focus on preparing for it.  Every night when I pray for help learning the area, the Lord keeps yellin back, "GET A MAP" and I just keep forgetting so hopefully I locate one of those today so I can follow our routes on paper while Sister S drives and get the area memorized, instead of daydreaming/resting my eyes between appointments.  Aint no rest for the righteous.  The next big thing for us will be getting members involved.  Like, really really involved.  We read the general handbook for members regarding missionary work, retention, and activation this morning, and guess what?  90% of it is actually NOT the job of the missionaries, contrary to popular belief.  The members are advised to occasionally request our help teaching the new member lessons, but it's ultimately the job of priesthood and auxiliary leaders to be the first to fellowship newbies and then to assign other members to fellowship and visit/home teach.  I wanted to scream as we were reading this, but then I remembered most members probably don't read this manual and therefore don't know that missionary work is actually their responsibility, not missionaries, and that is absolutely will not succeed - no matter how hard we missionaries work - without their help.  Our mission pres pounded this at our last meeting.  This work will not work without the members.  We can work ourselves to death and still no progress will me made without the members.  So now you know!  And hopefully more will catch on as we teach them, boldly and lovingly, that building the kingdom is a team effort.  An introduction, an arm around a shoulder, an invitation, do infinitely more good that you realize.  We actually called the bishop and asked if we can speak in sacrament this month.  Is that backwards or what!  I mean, I've never heard of such a thing.  But this is serious business.  This is eternity.

Behold and hearken, ye elders [and sisters] of my church, who have assembled yourselves together, whose prayers I have heard, and whose hearts Iknow, and whose desires have come up before me.
 Behold and lo, mine eyes are upon you, and the heavens and the earth are in mine handsand the riches of eternity are mine to give.  [D&C 67]

Sister Valdez
3 hours straight - all the doors we knocked on

hipster kittens sleeping in a vintage suitcase

me holding a tiny kitten and being sniffed by a dog

tracting door

giant dictionary

hanging moss

rolling like a big shot

our Halloween costumes - dressed up as Elders

carving pumpkins!

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