Do you know what makes me a really happy missionary? Seeing a nice full inbox on a morning after an incredibly frustrating week. Y'all are the best. I just. Love you all lots. You have no idea how much your letters, emails, thoughts, and prayers make a difference. I got a letter this week from someone I barely even knew and I read it over twice because I just love letters so much. A million thank yous to everybody!!! You make this missionary happy!! =D
So. I'm really going to try to keep this positive. But I'm gonna start out with all the not so good stuff so I can end on a happy note. Plus the not so good stuff fits in with my spiritual thought, so these things must be shared.
It all started with . One of the elders wasn't watching where he was going as we were playing sports and ran his elbow into my forehead. Luckily I only escaped with a bruise. But that was the note my week started out on.
One of our investigators has been ignoring us. She wants to attend the ward that's 90 minutes away so she only talks to those sisters and refuses to talk to us. It's good that she and her son want to be baptized, but it's frustrating that she's refusing our help. We went over there for an appointment, and when she found out we were at her house she refused to come home. We sat inside and talked to her daughters for over and hour before we finally decided to leave.
Right before we saw that investigator we were looking for less-actives and came across a very cranky lady. I have never been screamed at like that before. After screaming at us to get off her porch, she practically spat at us, "YOU FOLKS NEVER KNOW WHEN TO QUIT!"
We lost Betty. We texted her to confirm our appointment and she got mad at us for knowing her phone number. I'm pretty sure she gave it to us. She angrily told us never to use it again. What happened I will never know. That lesson was absolutely incredible and now she's barking at us.
We apparently offended Betty's sister as well. She told a member in her apartment complex that she would like a visit from us. We had visited her once before so we went back. We knocked on the door and she basically shut it in our face after explaining to us that she didn't want to see us because apparently we had offended her somehow.
We've been texting one of our less-actives a scripture every night, but she disappeared off the face of the planet and gave her phone to her roommate. Her roommate angrily told us to stop sending her scriptures and accused us of not being Christian.
We went on exchanges this week with someone who was in my first zone. I asked her about some recent-converts in that area. She told me one of my recent converts went off the deep end and left the church. That led to all kinds of personal questions, wondering if we let this person be baptized too early, whether or not this person was ready, what we could have done to make this person want to keep baptismal commitments, etc. Oh heavens.
And that, family and friends, was why this week was frustrating.
Missionary work remains to be the best thing in the world. Because the world is still spinning. And the work is still going forward. All these people above don't want to listen. They got annoyed. They got offended. They are refusing help. But that is no reason to believe that the work won't keep moving forward. Missionary work has taught me to let go, but to never quit. Sometimes we offend people. We offend them sometimes because we're human and we make mistakes. Sometimes we offend them by doing something right. But the way they respond is completely up to them. It is so hard watching people you love turn on you and embrace their anger. So you let go. Let go and let God. These people aren't ready to hear the Gospel from us yet. Their hearts aren't ready to be touched yet. Doesn't mean that it will be that way forever. Letting go is a conscious decision. You make the choice in your head, and your heart follows. We are choosing to put their lives into God's hands. All we can do is love them, pray for them, and do what God would have us do. The rest is between them and the Lord. There are some hearts that we just can't touch. There are some wounds we just can't heal. We let go and realize only the Lord can do that. The Lord loves them and desires the best for them. Through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved through obedience. All hatred and bitter feelings can be lifted. It can be so discouraging to be in the midst of so much hatred, bitterness, and hurt feelings. But in the end, everything is going to turn out right. We already know this. We're in act 2 of a three-act play. In the end, righteousness will win. God will keep working with these people. So we persevere and endure to the end. We let go, but we never quit. We don't lose hope with these people. We never give up. We keep trying. We never quit. In response to the cranky lady, it's not that we don't know when to quit. It's that we know that we should never quit.
Enduring to the end is more than just having a "grin and bear it" attitude though. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured. There are tender mercies along the way. And now I'm excited to tell y'all about all the tender mercies I saw this week that strengthened my testimony of the divinity of this great and marvelous work.
We finally met Debbie's husband! He is one of the kindest people I've ever met. He is so open and friendly. He is so supportive of Debbie. We didn't make too much headway, but Debbie is going to start inviting him to church every week. I know he will start progressing soon!
We saw Pam this week again. She has been going through a really rough time. Through the Spirit, I gave her the idea of going into a quiet place once a day and pouring her heart out to God. Lay all her burdens at His feet. Then listen and learn what He would have her do. When we went back she had taken my advice and had a really powerful experience with the Spirit. She said it really changed her. She wants to start coming back to Church again!
We saw another Debbie (We're probably working with about 6) this week. We'll call her Debbie H. She hasn't been to church in years. We took our recent convert Debbie (we'll call her RC Debbie) and had an incredible lesson. We shared the story of Peter and how he had the faith to leave the boat in the midst of the winds and the waves to walk toward the Savior. That really struck a chord with her, and she started breaking down and told us why she was afraid to come back to church. RC Debbie really clicked with Debbie H. She has been an answer to so many prayers already! I just love her so much!!
We also finally met an investigator we've been trying to get a hold of since the day we got here. Her name is Kim, and she has seen several sets of missionaries. We were able to hit it off and become friends. She wants to start learning again, but she's not quite ready to be baptized. We'll get her there, though. I know it!
We had a fantastic Relief Society activity that was a perfect break from a hard week. We had hot chocolate and sat together on a huge couch and studied our scriptures. That was the best activity ever. I loved learning from everyone's insights and it was good spiritual rejuvenation. Loved it.
District Meeting was fantastic. We learned about patience. Perfect timing! Plus I love my district to pieces. Our zone leaders have a voice recorder too, and every time they get in the car they make a voice recording. When they play it back, they distort the voices so they sound really high-pitched and squeaky. They shared a few of them, and I laughed until I cried. It was the funniest thing ever. There were two other occasions this week when I laughed with my companions until we cried. This week was rough, but we pulled through it together. I love having amazing companions. I learn so much from them and I love how much I can laugh and be silly with them. They make the work that much more fun!
Sydney!!! Sydney Sydney Sydney!! Sydney was our recent convert who texted us about a month ago and said she didn't want to be a Mormon anymore. We had an amazing visit with her . It was as if she never left. We had her tell her conversion story and her eyes just filled with light again. She said she missed the Church and that it's the only Church that has ever felt like home. We invited her back and she came!! She showed up yesterday and I almost cried tears of joy. I love her so much! She's about my age. We even got her excited about reading the Book of Mormon! She hasn't really had much desire to yet. She committed to 2 verses a day! It's a start. :)
GLORIA! We've been trying to get a hold of Gloria for weeks and weeks. She is the one we saw the first week I came up to Kingsport who said she wanted to be baptized and quit smoking. She fell off the face of the earth, but we finally caught her at her work yesterday. We were afraid she had turned her heart from the Church. Not so! Her life has just been crazy. But she has been reading the Book of Mormon faithfully every single day, and has been reading the works of Joseph Smith. She looked at us in the eye and said, "It's true; it has to be true." I cried on my way out the door. That moment made the entire week worth it. It's moments like that that fill me with hope. Not every heart is ready to be touched by the gospel, but a lot of hearts are! We just need to find these people. And never ever quit trying!
We had a fantastic lesson with Patty too. Unfortunately she's leaving for an entire month to go spend time with family out of state, but she's strong. She's so close!! We had a lesson about the atonement. We read her Alma 7 and talked about how Christ not only atoned for our sins, but our pains, sicknesses, weaknesses, frustrations, and heartaches. She had never heard that doctrine before. I love teaching this to people. Perhaps no one on this earth understands what they're going through, but Christ does. He knows our hearts inside and out. He knows exactly how to help us. He didn't want us to go through this life alone, and because of His pure, selfless love, we don't have to. So many times this week I found myself casting my burdens at His feet. And although my burdens may be trivial compared to others, He still cares, because He understands. Every time I've prayed I've felt a weight lifted. I have felt God's love for me, His love for the people I love, and even His love for the people who spurned me this week. He will always give us strength when we need it, no matter what we're going through. So cast your burden at His feet. He is waiting there to take it from you, and from those you love. Pray for them. Let go of your burdens, your frustrations, your grudges, your doubts, and your discouragements, and let Christ take them from you. And never quit trying to live each day to the fullest. Through the strength of the Lord we can do all things. I know these things to be true. Of these things I testify in the name of Jesus Christ amen.
My family and friends, the Church is true. The Gospel has been restored. It is our light, it is our hope, it is our source of comfort, healing, and happiness. No matter how hard it gets, there is always something to hold on to. Missionary work is the best. It is the hardest and most rewarding thing I've ever done. I love it so much. I love my Savior. I love His Gospel, I love His work. I love you all. God has blessed me with an incredible family and friends who love and support me. I am truly indebted to Him forever. I'm sorry to all those who had rough weeks this week like mine. But things will get better. Things will look up. Let go but don't quit! On to the victory. :)
Lots of love,