Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Faith as a Grain of Mustard Seed

Why, hello there friends and family!!

The good news is, we got a new dvd player. 
The bad news is, we lost our pool of investigators. 

As you might have guessed, I'm about as *delighted* to relive this week as a firefly that's been sucked up into a fan (*drum *drum *cymbals). 


Ok, let me clarify. Work wise, this week was less than fun. But there were a ton of good things this week that I'm actually really excited to share with all y'all!! 

Credit for the firefly pun goes to my grandpa. As some of you have probably guessed already. ;)


But do you know what's great about  hard weeks? If you have companions like mine, you come out of hard weeks with a lot of funny quotes. Here are some from this week: 

"You based your salvation . . . off the Library of Congress?" - Me


"Hi Stacy!!! . . . Wait, is this Stacy?" - Me (Really awkward phone call with potential investigator)

"What's that thing that blows? It's not a ferris wheel . . ." -Sister Paxton


"What about our companionship?!?! I LIKED it until it DIED!" -Sister Paxton

"WHAT?? WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?? CHOCOLATE???" -Sister Paxton


And my personal favorite. It took place after a long, hard day, and we were all abnormally hyper: 

Me: I worry about Sister walker, she's losing it. 
Sister Paxton: At least we're breaking down this way.

Me: Yeah, at least we're not crying. That's never fun. 
Sister Paxton: Yeah. I'd much rather break down this way. 
Sister Walker: (down the hall) "AND A PARTRIDGE IN A PEAR TREE!!!!!!"

Sister Paxton: . . . Maybe not. 

Well, quick update. I'd like to keep this email generally positive, so I'm not going to spend too long on investigators. 

We handed Lucas over to the Assistants, so we won't be teaching him anymore. Sadly he didn't make it to church yesterday. We hope and pray he progresses!

We didn't get to see Genny at all this week. I guess he's really busy. In fact, we didn't really get to see anyone this week, everyone was out of town or really busy. 
Chris came to church again yesterday!! He's our only investigator keeping commitments. And . . .he moved. So we have to hand him over to the set of missionaries in his new ward. Ah well. At least we found him and planted that seed. Hopefully he'll be baptized soon!

We kind of lost Glenda. We literally cannot find her. It has been kind of frustrating. She moved out of her daughter's house unexpectedly and she has no phone. We have called every phone that she has used to contact us and there's no answer. We asked her daughter where she went, and she gave us an address that didn't exist. Recently we found out through her daughter that she has been in the hospital. Oh heavens. She's in our prayers! We hope to find her and teach her soon!! 

All our appointments fell through this week too. It happens. 

Well, on that cheery note, I do have some good stories from this week. Friday night we were driving home for dinner because we had no dinner appointments. We saw a teenage girl in her car in the middle of our neighborhood. Her car was stalled and she had her emergency lights on. I'll be honest, I had a prompting to help her, but I was so hungry we drove right past her. But I felt a really strong prompting to turn around and help her. So we turned around and asked her what happened. Her car had run out of gas and she had to be at work in 20 minutes. She was frantically on the phone with her ex-boyfriend, who refused to come and pick her up. So, we ran to the nearest gas station, filled up a little tank with gas, and brought it back to fill her car. She was so grateful, she said she really needed us. She was so stressed about getting to work on time, and was so distraught that no one would help her. She was running late, so we told her who we were and gave her a pass-along card with our number on it. I don't know if she will encounter any more missionaries anytime soon, but at least she knows by experience now that we are good people! Seed planted. :) I felt really good after that. Never ignore a generous thought or a spiritual prompting!! 


We had interviews with President Irion this week! I love President Irion. He and his wife are so inspirational, and so fun and easy to talk with. President and I discussed D&C 121 for our interview, and it was really enlightening. We talked about what characteristics make for a good leader, and I learned a lot from him. I had an interview with Sister Irion too. She is fantastic. She asked me what my favorite verse was in the Book of Mormon, and I got to sign my name next to it in her copy. I have a lot of favorite verses, but I chose Alma 7:11-12. Those verses have carried me through my mission thus far. I told her how it has been hard to not get discouraged when our area is so slow and we're constantly being thrown back to square one after weeks of hard work, planning, and preparation. What helps me through it all is the Atonement. I know that Christ knows exactly what I'm going through. He understands me personally. And I'm doing this all for Him. Sister Irion then shared a little parable with me that I've never heard before. She compared missionary work to a young man who was told by God to push against a huge boulder with all of his might. Day after day, week after week, and month after month, he pushed against that boulder with all the energy he could muster. As the months dragged on, the adversary came to him and started feeding him discouraging thoughts. "What are you doing? You have pushed against that huge boulder for nothing. You've worked with all your might and it hasn't even budged. You are making no progress whatsoever. You might as well give up now, that thing is never going to move." The young man grew more and more discouraged. But God came to him and said, "I never asked you to move the boulder. I asked you to push against it. Look at you. Look at how much stronger you are. Look at how much endurance you have. You have done my will, and you have grown because of it." 


Serving in West Hills North is like pushing up against a giant boulder. I give this area everything I have and it just won't budge. Nothing seems to be happening. Our pool of investigators is gone. We are back at square one for the third time. And yet I feel so much peace and satisfaction. And that's an honest statement. I am so grateful for how much I have grown. I have learned so much. There has never been a time in my life when I have had to rely more on the Savior. And because of that, I have had the opportunity to grow in ways I never thought were possible. And I am doing the will of God. I have grown closer to Him because of it. And that is why I love my mission. 


The highlight of the week was a conference held by Elder Kopischke. Our week began relatively poorly starting Monday evening, and from then it seemed to go down hill each day. By the time we went to the conference I was at a pretty low point. But that made this conference one of the most profound experiences of my mission. I feel so blessed to have been able to go; only about half the mission was invited. He did the same thing as Elder Oaks; he made the whole conference a question-answer format. He had all of us write down a question about what we wanted to get out of the meeting. It was amazing! He only answered about 3 different questions, but he addressed the concerns of every missionary in the room. That is the power of the spirit. It was about 3.5 hours long, but it went by way too fast. He taught us so much about Preach My Gospel, the power of faith, and the importance of following spiritual promptings. The best was the last hour though. One of the missionaries stood up and asked him the same question I wrote down, verbatim. "I know our mission is supposed to be a growing experience. I know it's supposed to be hard. But still I don't understand. I do all I can. I'm giving this area everything I have, and I don't see promised success. Why? Is it lack of faith? Is there something I need to change? What am I missing?" I think this is a question that every missionary struggles with at some point in their mission. This doctrine is something I believe every prospective missionary should master before he/she leaves. 


I loved Elder Kopischke's answer: We know faith is a principle of power. But too often we draw a straight line between the two. Faith --> Power. Consequently, we tend to draw lack of success back to faith. We look at the result and figure there's something missing. If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you are supposed to be able to move mountains, right? So if that mountain isn't moving, you must not have the faith. No! Faith is a principle of action. If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, and God tells you that you can move that mountain, than you will move it. Grab a pick, grab a shovel, and start moving it rock by rock. Faith doesn't show in our result. It shows in what we are willing to do, or what we are willing to sacrifice. Missionaries will have weeks when they have to report some pretty sad looking numbers. That result is not a sign of their faith. It's a sign that others are not using their agency the way they should. 


I loved what happened next. Elder Kopischke had us open up to Alma chapter 8 verses 14-15 and insert our name into the scripture. Alma had been laboring in the Spirit. He had been studying, planning, and going through all the motions of missionary work. He had given that city his all. And yet the people hardened their hearts and cast him out. He was sorrowing. He had failed. Was it because he was missing something? Or because he had no faith? No. It was because the people would not receive him. Verse 15 says, "for thou hast great cause to rejoice . . ." why? He had failed. His mission isn't yielding any results. Why did he have cause to rejoice? . . . "for thou hast been faithful in keeping the commandments of God from the time which thou receivedst they first message from him. . ." He had kept the commandments. He had done the will of God. God doesn't care about our numbers. He doesn't care if we're the most successful missionary, or bishop, or relief society present, or person in general. It is not the end result. It is the result in you. Everything we do is about learning and progressing. God cares about what we sacrifice and what we're willing to do as the result of our faith. He wants us to do what He asks. We may see no results, but at least we are doing the mind and will of God. And as long as we give it our best effort, that's all that matters. He is so patient with us. He understands our weaknesses. And as we keep pressing forward, we will see the fruits of our labors. They just may be different from what we originally expected.

Well friends and family, I'm out of time. Rest assured, I feel perfectly fantastic. This is so hard, but if it wasn't hard, what would I be learning? I love this Gospel with all of my heart. I love my Savior, and I am so grateful for this opportunity to sacrifice all I have to serve Him for 18 months. I love all of you and am grateful for your prayers, letters, and support. Until next week!

-Sister Fox

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