Tuesday, December 3, 2013

November 4: Have I Done Any Good?

This week, I gained the biggest testimony of the littlest things. Those thoughts, walks, and moments that are so human, but more eternal and lasting than we know. Let's bust it out, shall we?

This week, I had MLC. Mission Leadership Conference. (To be honest, I go for the food. Bloomington Relief Society.... Slow clap. Psych! It's pretty magical on all counts. But really. Sub sandwiches. Don't mind if I'll always do.) But I mostly look forward to seeing Sister Q. They'll probably never put us together again because we love each other too much... but I mean. If you want to throw it in your prayers. :) That woman is amazing. I have no idea how I lucked out with her my first transfer... but yep. We should never sit together in reverent meetings, though. We made President Clements laugh at the pulpit. (If you knew him, you'd know how wild that statement was. It's like saying Dumbledore is a muggle, or Sauron was misunderstood. You just.. don't.)

I got to exchange with my sisters in Andover finally! I love those women. I wish they were still in our zone. Their Zone Leaders and District Leaders have been talking to me a lot, so I anticipated struggling missionaries. Nooooo, SIR! They are doing such amazing things. Sister H, who came out with Sister C, is amazing. She never said a negative thing the entire exchange. Every time someone was unkind to us, she put herself in their shoes. I so loved working with her. She was such a hard-worker and her teaching was straight-up celestial. Can't say enough about it. Their area is essentially miles and miles of woods with like three houses, and we exchanged at the end of the month, so they were mostly out of miles in the car. So we walked for like hours to get to our appointments. And there I am, in 30-something degrees, bundled to high-heaven, walking with this girl who should by rights be a stranger, and I feel so incredibly happy. It's all misty, not-quite-raining but soaking wet, and everywhere I look, it's little hills and green fields and fall leaves and pine trees. Ah, man. Nature is like scripture itself. Mmm.

Something I love about exchanging with my sisters is the opportunity I have to realize and re-realize how little I have to do with the work I am able to perform. As we walked, questions came to mind to ask, that helped me to understand the root of Sister H's concerns and struggles - questions I know came from the Holy Ghost and not from me. Likewise, experiences came to mind that I would not have thought to share on an exchange, and certainly not that I'd freely throw out. But they were what she needed to hear. And as I listened to this sister, the things close to her heart, and shared the things close to mine, I felt the love of my Savior so strongly. 

My friend T wrote me an email last week that I found so beautiful. He basically said being on a mission is like looking at the sky. And these are stars you've been seeing your whole life, but somehow on a mission, you can finally connect the dots and see the constellations. The pictures start to align. And every single point in your life, big or small, starts to connect and before your eyes, you have a little hint of the big plan and potential that the Lord has for you. This exchange was that, for both of us. That's another great thing about the mission. When the Holy Ghost is there, there really isn't a difference - missionary or investigator, training leader or trainee. Everyone is learning together. 

We've had little thoughts and promptings all week that led us to go help someone connect the dots, to understand their experiences and rely on the Lord's knowledge of the picture or plan He is putting together. This week, we went and taught our investigator J, and we kept focusing on her roommate B, a recent convert. I could not look away. Her countenance was just different. Finally, I went over while Sister C showed J her reading assignment, and I asked what was wrong. She said, "Oh nut-ing, nut-ing." She calls me daughter, or "baby Ballih," so I mischevious-eyebrow-ed the heck out of that and said, "I know my mom." She broke down and showed me a text from her children in Africa, saying they were out of food and wondering why she didn't have a job and more money to send to them. It broke my heart. But I know the Lord has a plan and is aware of her. He'll help her connect the dots. (Also, to cheer them up in our small, human way, we let them braid our hair African-style and feed us fried plantains. Generally just fried-anything is what they love. I love these people SO much.)

Sister A is another who needed that extra attention. We go and read with her. She's in her 80s, with glasses that magnify her eyes times a billion. She loves, loves, loves words. She took a shorthand class like 40 years ago, and ever since, writes down and types up - on her typewriter - everyone's blessings. She's such a living legacy. I adore her. Anyway. The family that takes care of her the most is moving, so we promised to go read with her once a week to help her stay in activity. It's the highlight every week. She always wants to read about womanizers. It's the best. This week? 
Sister A: "You have a real aptitude for teaching. Maybe you'll marry a General Authority."
Me: "Maaaaaaaaaybe!"
Sister A: "Or never get married. And sell books in an LDS bookstore. Like Sheri Dew. I have her on tape. Maybe I'll have you on tape someday." (Cue the sweetest grin in the world and like four minutes of smile-silence. Bless her soul.)

We temple-d it this week with our District. TEMPLE. I loved most of all sitting in the celestial room with my sisters, who are struggling, just listening to them. Right before we left, one sister just started crying. I gathered her hands in mine and we bowed our heads together and just said a little prayer, for a little extra love and understanding for the experiences she was having. This week? They had two baptisms come out of nowhere. It's exactly what they need. I love it, and I love them. I was so happy when I heard. Their success is as good as ours. It is all the same work, and I just want to see them happy. :) I hope with all my heart this helps them connect the dots between the struggles, and the miracles.

We stopped by a former investigator yesterday. She kept coming to mind. She had a tragedy in the family this week, and was devastated. She was also really disturbed about something she'd heard at church that day. We went in thinking we would talk restoration, but all the sudden Plan of Salvation was coming out of our mouths. It answered her exact question before we even knew it. We talked with her, and she said she felt so much relief. The Lord was mindful of her and ready to help her connect the dots.

We knocked into a lady, R, this week. She opened the door, and all the sudden out of my mouth was, "This is the answer to your question." She got teary-eyed and invited us in immediately. In my head, I was panicking like an 8-year-old with A.D.H.D. on Pixie-stix at bedtime. But it ended up being such a great lesson. Not because of me or anything I can do, but because the Holy Ghost and the inspiration that come guide us to help others connect the dots. SO cool. 

We taught A, one of our recent converts yesterday. We stopped by and she was having an incredibly lonely day, missing her two deceased children. We just happened to have planned on reading about resurrection. I loved listening to her connect the dots. 

T is still progressing towards November 30, and it's all because of the Young Women. They love her, they show it, and it helps her to see the pictures in these stars. :) And helping her, is helping all of the Young Women to see the constellations in their skies, too.

I have loved this week, and the past (almost) 6 months. There is not one experience in my life to this point that I regret right now, because they have all helped me to help someone else. Not that I've been perfect at it. But as I follow those little thoughts, and sacrifice my comfort zone so others feel understood, empathized with, and loved, I feel there is a point or a picture in everything in my life. Which leads me to believe that everyone could feel that way, too. Everyone could feel that peace and that purpose if they could get out of their own way, and get out there and make use of those experiences to do good for someone else.

The more we serve and love others, the more closely we walk with our Savior. The more we know our Savior, the more we understand our experiences - how to love them, live them, and share them with joy, no matter how they look or feel or looked or felt. That kind of calm, happy living is available to all of us through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

I love, love, love it. :) And youuuuuuuuuuu. BYE CUTIES. Theeya on Trissmuss.

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