This week, has been absolutely hilarious. There is nothing more fun than being a missionary. (I know people at home are cringing reading this. Like, all right. She's lost it. She's one of THOSE now.)
But listen to THIS. It's true. This week, we:
-Became regulars at a diner that serves breakfast all day. (It's in North Minne by all our unemployed less-actives. Breakfast for lunch? Don't mind if I always do.)
-Celebrated Mexico's Independence Day. (Have you ever taught a lesson in broken Spanish to a room where you can hear a pin drop, while flies buzz, tortillas steam, and dogs bark and bump the table? 1 out of 2 English speaking missionaries HIGHLY recommend.)
-Got the devil cast out of me. Nope, this is all real. We were in North Minne, and as we're driving away from our less-active stop-by, Sister C says, "WAIT! Look at that blue house! It's so stinking cute!" And by rights, it was. Pinterest.com status, straight-up. I didn't really feel prompted, but I respect her wisdom, so I was like, "Let's do it!"
Cue the meanest old man who ever lived. (But really, he wasn't that old. But he was really mean.) He looked at my name-tag, saw the name of our church, and started spewing HATE at 100 miles an hour. I kept smiling and let him go on for a minute before asking him some questions, but Sister C's jaw hit the FLOOR. Bless her soul. She's been talking to friendly, humble, hilarious Africans for the past four weeks. The white, middle-class Lutheran is a whole other breed of cat. We talk a little, and I keep smiling and bearing my testimony, and correcting his assumptions/clarifying his concerns. He's gettin' NOwhere with me, so he turns to Sister C, and is like, "Sister C, I can tell you're doubting your faith... you can still get out."
Awwww, HECK no! The mama-bear within came out fighting! Get up off my trainee! I said a quick prayer, kept smiling, and I'm like, "Actually, Sister C has an amazing knowledge and personal testimony of God and Jesus Christ. She's just pretty new on her mission, and I don't think she's ever encountered anyone so angry." He started waving his hands wildly about "ERRANT BELIEFSSSS" and I just kept smiling, lowered my voice so he'd have to stop the angerrrr to listen. I'm like, "You sound like you have a great knowledge of the Bible." He loved that. I go on, "Jesus Christ encountered many who didn't share his beliefs. How did He treat them?" ...He gets all quiet and awkward. Then he's like, "I guess you're right. I guess if I want to follow my Lord Jesus, I need to know that I'm not angry at your flesh, I'm angry at your SPIRIT." Proceeds to place the palm of his hand on both our foreheads and say a prayer so mean I'm surprised he didn't get struck by lightning. Tried to cast the devil RIGHT outta me. Prayed I'd be released from Hell's grip. All of that good stuff.
I just kept smiling and when he was done, I asked if we could leave him with a prayer. I prayed about all the good things we had noticed about him, and prayed that he would have his heart softened and feel peace, truth, and God's love for him. He was real, reallll awkward after. Probably felt like he needed to exorcise me AGAIN. Thanks a heap, angry sir. We met people like that alllll week! It's been great. But really. It just makes me wanna love on them (in an appropriate way) and pray for them. I'm sad for them. That's got to be an exhausting, unhappy way to live. But also, it says everything that he had a problem with about our church... in the Bible. Poor guy. I know God loves him a lot, and I felt that. I hope he finds a way to feel less angry and find happiness.
-Got stuck in a pouring rainstorm at 8 p.m. (which is like bewitching hour in Minnesota. Pitch-black. Dead. No moon. No warmth. Are dementors in town? Nope. Just fall in Minnesota.) I'd say we were in the ghetto, but that's kind of our whole area, so... :) Cute Shingle Creek. I love this place. People trash on it all the time, but these people are HUMBLE. Anyway. We knocked doors absolutely soaked to the bone. And I nearly ended the life of the world's biggest horny-toad while we were at it. First, by accident... second, on purpose. QUIT GETTIN' UNDER MY TOES, YA SICKO.
-This week, I was blessed with the opportunity of going on exchange with Sister D. She is a rock-solid disciple of Jesus Christ. We were Facebook friends before the mission, so we had creepy frames of reference for each other, which is everything I like. She's a convert of three years, and has absolutely no family support. She broke off an engagement to be here, and for the entire time, she has had crazy health problems. She is INCREDIBLE. I love her.
She is so humble and patient, absolutely accepting of all those we teach and talk with. She has every reason to complain and also, so many dazzling talents, and instead, she simply and quietly goes about, making herself invisible in God's work. She magnifies her calling without worrying about magnifying herself. I loved how simple and real her testimony was. She is extremely good at relating to others and being lovingly bold. And I kept thinking, as we talked about things like social conversions, the need for fellowship, revelation through the Book of Mormon in between contacts and doors, "I wish EVERY missionary was a convert to the church." And then, it was just like, DUH! We all SHOULD be. And those have been my favorite moments in lessons. When we are bearing personal testimony of the invitation we are extending to repent and to change, using the doctrine from Preach My Gospel and from the scriptures, and testifying of its reality in our lives.
Whether we are raised in this church, whether we are hearing the gospel for the first time, whether we have known it and strayed. We all have a responsibility and hit a point where we have to ask for ourselves and make the steps for ourselves. Testimony turns into conversion when we act. Consistently and in a Christlike way. I am so thoroughly convinced that so many people that we teach have testimonies, but only the truly converted commit, and stay active. And the coolest thing is, conversion isn't a destination. It's a daily pattern of living. You can't blame it on anyone around you, even when circumstances are incredibly difficult. It's between you and the Lord.
I LOVED working with her. We were completely on the same page. I don't know what her situation will be with health and the various challenges she does have, but I do know that she is fulfilling her purpose daily. She invites everyone closer to Christ by being who she is, saying what she does, using silence when silence is needed, and testifying constantly. She helped me further my conversion, for sure. She is amazing! And however the length of her mission does pan out, I know it will be the Lord's will, and she will accept it whole-heartedly and with great faith. She wants to be here. And her mission has already had great depth and impact, if not great length yet. Also, we both think poop is so, so funny. It was great times left and right.
Sister D and I were able to teach the second half of Gospel of Jesus Christ to the brother whom I mentioned in my last email. We went through the baptismal questions, and his only concern was that he was still "studying out" about Joseph Smith. "Do you believe the Book of Mormon is the word of God?" popped out of my mouth before I knew what was happening. Sister D was already racing to read the last two paragraphs of the introduction. Needless to say, pretty soon, he realized he had a testimony of Joseph Smith. He will be baptized September 28!!! :) There could not be a better thing for that family. I felt the Spirit so strongly, and both of their children ended up just filing in, and sat in silence - for once not in resentment or annoyance, but just in the peaceful feeling. The Savior's peace and God's love were so strongly in their home.
This gospel is so true. Even, or especially, when those around you don't agree. When the circumstances aren't easy. When life feels like too much, when we think we can't juggle one more thing in our lives, we need to turn to God. To our Savior Jesus Christ. It's my testimony that this gospel is not the "one more thing to juggle." It is the arm with which we DO.
I love you all. I'm so thankful for your examples and I hope you have a happy week! :)