Monday, September 30, 2013

August 26: My Firstborn in the Wilderness

Hey there, cuties! 

So... pretty sure I've mentioned, but missions have this creepy culture of using your mission connections as a family tree. So when you train, you have a son or a daughter. So... I'm a mom? Congratulations? Kind of disappointed because I never got a baby shower or anything, just more responsibility? What? Hahaha. Just kidding. It's awesome.

This week was NUTS. Seriously. Monday, I was really overwhelmed to take this area over from Sister M, and also to train. I'm only three-months old! I still introduce myself as elder sometimes. (It's cool. It's a crowd favorite and not even that embarrassing. So.) I was panic-praying all day. Yeah. Panic-praying. (A man just lost his kid in the library, and found him again. This guy knows what I'm talking about.) That afternoon, we got a call from a man named R saying he'd found a Restoration pamphlet in the park with our number on the back. He said he was going through an incredibly tough time and finding the pamphlet, he knew it was God's message to him. He was SO eager to meet. So... if that doesn't show you God hears each of us and knows His children where they are, I don't know what will. :) 

Sending Sister M off was actually incredible for both of us. We were able to go around and visit each of her recent converts. Serving in this area for nine months, she has done great, great good. She's a pretty level-headed, non-emotional person, but we visited one Liberian sister who hasn't seen her children for like twelve years, and she just lost it. We were mid-chapter in the Book of Mormon and she just started praying and crying. We all lost it. She told us, for what felt like the twelfth time, that each time she is lonely or missing her children, we knock on her door. And then, she pulled out a package and insisted Sister M take a dress that she had saved up to buy for her daughter back in Africa. She kept trying to refuse, but Sister B sent her into the bathroom and insisted with all that African sass. These people are priceless. We sat there waiting for her to come back out, just looking at each other, smiling and crying. , "You're a good mom," I finally said. 

She patted my hand and wiped one of my tears, while letting her own fall. "You look a mess. I gon' get you a real pretty African dress when you leave me, too." Every single person we visited, at some point in the visit, expressed love and gratitude for my staying. 

DANG these people. Tugging at ALL my heartstrings. They show so much consistent and continual faith in Christ. Every time, when they have every logical reason to turn away, to feel He has done them wrong, they turn TO Him. They thank Him for hurting them. They trust in Him with a solidity that inspires me. I am so, so lucky to be in this area.

I picked up my trainee, (my ... daughter?) Sister C, on Wednesday. She was a bundle of nerves and a straight-up cutie. She is from South Jordan, and was a Bingham High Cheerleader. She loves to talk to EVERYONE and never hesitates to approach people. I LOVE it. I was so nervous about how to teach someone to do that... cause I just like it! I don't know. Why not approach them? Anyway. She learns SO fast, she's super hard-working, and we have seen miracles.

Our second lesson was with R, the man who had called on Monday. Our joint-teacher fell through, so we set up chairs under a tree. We were a little lost trying to find his building, and he called at 1:32 to make sure we hadn't forgotten. TWO MINUTES. He was so eager. Like a fat kid in the cafeteria line. That's what I like. He practically ran across the lawn, and was talking a mile a minute when he sat down. He shared how he'd gone to the park to clear his head after his fiance/girlfriend of 16 years and 5 kids had left him. Going in, he glanced at the picnic table, and thought about sitting down. Instead, he kept walking. When he went to go, he kept feeling like he should look again. There on the table sat the pamphlet, with our number on the back. He said he didn't see anyone come in the park, and he's positive it wasn't there when he walked in. The park is away from where we usually work, but the Lord knew R was in our area and knew exactly where, when, and how to reach him. It's honestly like, mind-boggling to me how well Heavenly Father knows each and everyone one of us, where we are, how we feel, what we need.

R poured over the pamphlet every night for four days, and before we could even say the opening prayer, asked to be baptized, told us he had given up drinking and weed a couple weeks before cold-turkey, and begged for a Book of Mormon. I kept looking at Sister C when he looked down to read scriptures and I was like, "OH MY GASH." It was incredible. Something that was also amazing was the feeling I had during that whole lesson - the feelings all of us had. As he shared his story, and this gangster of a man just cried and cried, I cried with him. And I felt, in waves with as constant crash as an ocean shore, "This is why you stayed, this is why you stayed, this is why you stayed." I honestly couldn't tell you a thing I said in that lesson. It was a completely out of body experience and my favorite lesson on the mission, because I know with all my heart, what happened there had nothing to do with me. This truly is the Lord's work and it's so humbling that He lets us be a part of it.

We met with R again on Saturday, and he had read the whole Plan of Salvation pamphlet, filled out the back page with notes on the reading, and practically taught us. He was also sitting with his two daughters, who are eight and ten, who want to learn and be baptized with him because they already see this making his life better. 

................Ummmmmmm, what? I grabbed Sister C after and I was like, I KNOW YOU DON'T KNOW ANYTHING DIFFERENT BUT THIS IS A STRAIGHT-UP MIRACLE LET US CELEBRATE

Hahaha. It hasn't been without bumps, though. In church on Sunday, R had the worst migraine he's ever had, and came anyway. And it was the loudest our congregation had ever been. Babies SCREAMING. He stood up after and was practically shouting, "I'on't DO no babies, man. Mah hayyyeed is ACHIN'. My kids don't cry like that. My kids didn't cry. I'm never comin' back. I'on't DO NO BABIES MAN." The whole congregation was looking. Hahahaha. My trainee was flipping out. I just smiled at her and raised my eyebrows. I leaned over and whispered, "Welcome." Luckily, our ward is full of champs and he stayed for gospel principles and heard testimonies and people prayed with him and alllllll was well. My gash. Hahaha. What a rodeo yesterday was. Luckily, his daughters LOVED primary and they will be back next week. We were able to touch base Sunday evening and do an FHE with them in a members home. All is well. 

But let it be known. To the entire, family-filled congregation, R don't DO no babies, man!

Honestly, I have no idea how we got so lucky to learn with these people. I know that opposition will come, especially when his illumination has been so clear. (Joseph Smith story, anyone?) But I also know that the Lord knows each and every one of us. He knows exactly what we need to humble us, to hurt us, so that He can step in and help us understand where we need to go and what we need to do. 

This video has been on my mind a lot this week, and has helped a lot of our investigators. God gives us trials to correct our course, to open us to something greater, to a joy we can't language or fully understand, but we can always cherish. I love seeing the way God has cut these people down, redirected them, because He loves us enough to hurt us. And every time, if we let them, they help us be who we need and what we need. I know it's true. I love it. 

Have the happiest week eeeeeeeeeeever. :)

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