Incredible things are happen in the mission field all the time and most go unidentified. But our Father in Heaven was nice enough to give us a play-by-play this week.
The story of the week has to come from last Tuesday night, just a few hours after I wrote last week’s e-mail. Once P-day ended at 6, we had planned to go out and contact some potential investigators living on MoHawk street. (By the street name, you already know it’s going to be a success, right?) We couldn’t find parking, so we had to walk a ways in order to get to our destination. On the way, we saw two women…one that we had already talked to the day before. She told us that “prophesy has ceased” and the whole conversation felt like a scene straight out of The Restoration. I knew she would be so excited to see us again, so we gave her the pleasure one more time! However, we hadn’t talked yet to her cousin, Shawntia. We presented her with a mormon.org card and gave her a snippet of the Plan of Happiness. She looked at the card, looked back at us, and invited us on her porch to talk. We spent about 45 minutes telling her that Christ had come to America, that she can feel “this feeling she’s feeling right now” constantly, and that she’ll be able to be with her family forever. I’ve never seen any one’s face like hers; I don’t think she blinked while she looked back and forth to Sister Steel and I, and her mouth was wide enough open that we could almost see her tonsils. Once she consciously closed her mouth, she said, “Are there members of your church that live across the street right there?” There weren’t–as far as we knew. “Because I saw two boys just fifteen minutes ago. They were driving a red car…oh, and they have this tag that you’re wearing,” she said, pointing to my name tag. “I couldn’t really hear them, but I felt something when they drove up. I tried to get closer to hear what they were saying, but my step-daughter called me in, and once I came out…they were gone. But then, you show up just a few minutes later. You must be EVERYWHERE!” By the end of the conversation, she had accepted baptism, and we have another appointment set. Unfortunately, her grandfather just passed away a couple of days after we met her, so her progress has been hindered a bit. She’s one of the most humble women I’ve met in the past year, and I can’t wait to tell her all that her Heavenly Father wants her to know. More details coming soon!
Because of our new calling being STL’s, we get to go on exchanges with eight different companionships of sisters per transfer. Since we got late notice this transfer, we’ve been doubling up the past couple of weeks. I went to Webster with Sister Noble, and we taught a man named Jeff. We taught him the first lesson–The Restoration–and when we opened up the first few pages of the Book of Mormon to show him what Moroni looked like, he said, “Yeah, he looks like he’s from Rochester.” Love it. We also have a lot more exchanges coming up, which means our investigators will be really confused when a different set of sisters come every time we teach them. Oh well, we’ve got the same message, right? 🙂 I learn so much on exchanges…I realize more and more why Christ assigned this to me. It’s because I need to learn a lot more than I already do now. (Well, duh.) These sister missionaries are geniuses. I obviously need to get something from each of them. The exchanges go 24 hours, so it’s like we’re having sleepovers once a week. It even makes it better that we have four beds in a row in one room, and the other room is our study room! And oh yeah, this is funny. Last night, we were woken up at two in the morning by Sister Noble saying, “Would you like to go on a tour?” Don’t worry, two of us were dreaming that we were giving tours already. I dreamt that I gave a tour to the General Primary Presidency. Give us a break–at least our eyes are single to the glory!
We’ve just had so many things happen this week that I had to write down before we went anywhere else–definitely not out of the ordinary for a missionary. I also now know exactly what Nephi feels when he said, “For I pray continually [for my people] by day, and mine eyes water my pillow by night, because of them; and I cry unto my God in faith, and I know that he will hear my cry.” -2 Nephi 33:3. For the past couple weeks, it’s been beating me up that so many people are here on earth, living and breathing, but only a small amount of us truly know the way to our Heavenly Father. Thankfully, He has heard many prayers from me, begging on my knees, to soften the hearts of the people. When I ask, He listens…and it happens. I am a sure witness of that.
I was born to be a missionary. It’s so hard, but let’s be honest, I wouldn’t be anywhere else. We all say that if we could just see our family for a day, we could go another year and a half no problem. Thanks for all of your support. I really can feel your prayers…I wish I could say, “You have no idea,” but I’m sure some of you do. When other people pray for you, it’s like you have a back-up army that gives you a water break just in the nick of time. I love you all!
I have many examples of love in my life, including my own two parents, who have stuck it out through everything. I realize very few people in this world grew up the way I did, but know this: everyone is available to the blessings of an eternal, temple marriage like this one. It just takes some work.
How do they do it?
Have you ever heard that phrase before? Have you ever felt like it?
Fortunately, I’ve caught up on my sleep (I think) so lessons are a lot more entertaining to me now. Not that they weren’t before, but you know. But lately, I’ve been humbled many times, over and over again. Wait…why did I say lately? It’s been happening my whole mission. I think I just finally pegged how I’m feeling. I’m not being humbled by people slapping me in the face and telling me that I think I’m prideful, but it’s Heavenly Father reminding me that I can’t do anything without Him. For example:
I never understood why people said, “I’m humbled to accept this call.” Wouldn’t it just be more work? Wouldn’t you just go to more meetings? I definitely found out the meaning of that this week. Sister Steel and I are now the STL’s of the Rochester zones (Sister Trainer Leaders) and to explain what that means to everyone that’s been on a mission–it’s pretty much the Sister Zone Leaders. It’s a new thing since the age change has more than half of the missionaries as sisters. No one really knows what we’re doing since this is the first time President has put them in this mission, so we’ll figure it out at Mission Leadership Council on Friday. But the first thing that popped into my mind when President called us (at 11 p.m. on Sunday night) is that Heavenly Father wants me to learn a lot more than I already have. This will teach me to rely on Him more than I ever have before. It’s not like we don’t have any time in our area…oh wait, we don’t! Sister Steel and I have to be even more creative on how to use our time wisely in the time we do have. We’ve got exchanges and more meetings that we now have to fit in. It will all work out though, I’m not even worried about it. Just humbled, that’s all.
Speaking of being creative, we tried a new finding tool this week. When talking to people, all we could do is listen and ask questions. That’s it. It was so effective! We had to think really hard of inspired questions, and I felt that the people we talked with really thought about why we were there, instead of just thinking we’re some “Jesus girls” and ignoring us. In fact, that day, we were coming into our apartment for the night, and we saw our downstairs neighbor sitting on his porch with his head in his hands. As we were getting out of the car, there was a loose mormon.org card on the seat, so I grabbed it and had it in my hand. We said hello to Joe, and I offered him the card. He just started spilling what was going on in his head–his wife of 18 years just divorced him. To make things worse, she had said goodbye just minutes earlier. He felt lost and alone, and didn’t really know where to go to make things better. Once we testified of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and offered to teach him about the Plan of Happiness, he said, “In my religion, we call you two angels sent from heaven.” Well, Joe, that’s because we are.
In my personal study this week, I picked up an old Ensign from a huge stack in our apartment. It was from 2007 that had an article entitled, The Power of Laughter by K.S. Peterson. I’ve been trying to figure out what I can do to ease the situation in everything, because the work that I’m doing out here is pretty darn serious. Many people are stressed in this type of situation. This really answered my question. “When a person laughs, blood pressure decreases, heart rate and respiration increase, the body releases endorphins, and depression declines.” And then my favorite, “Play brings families together. It is a subtle tool for interaction and talk. It builds confidence because you can modify the rules to bring about success or any outcome you desire. Through play we develop relationships naturally…Children are more receptive when they are having fun. Laughter helps us remember. And we remember what we feel.” Maybe that’s why I’m a huge sports advocate…I’d rather go play catch on a date than go paint pottery! And I’ve finally figured out why.
To wrap things up, the more humility exercises Heavenly Father gives me, the more happy I seem to be. “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness, I give unto men weakness that they may be humble…then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” -Ether 12:27 Let’s be honest, I am the dust of the earth…without Him. But with Him, I can become like Him.
p.s. my Spanish nametag is in the mail as we speak. 🙂
Something that defines us as the Mormon Missionaries are these name tags. We wear them everywhere so others will recognizes us as representatives of Jesus Christ. Hands down, the best part about wearing it is because it reminds me of the promises I made when I signed up for this whole thing, and by doing that I will get my family forever. I promised to stand as His witness and testify boldly of the truth, and to testify of what I know to be true. It’s not what my mom or dad knows, not what my mission president knows–it’s what I know.
If you notice, the name “Jesus Christ” is printed just as big as my own name. He called me with my own personality, but expected me to become a better version of myself by walking in His footsteps. In a recent devotional, Elder Bednar encouraged us to “be our own first converts,” but if that’s what we’re trying to do, we have completely failed. Our missions are all about other people. But in turn, we will grow closer to Him through the process of striving to walk, talk, and act just like Jesus Christ did. Wearing this 24/7 is easily the most humbling experience I could have asked for. Who else (literally) wears their heart this large on their sleeve?