Jan 4 at 11:06 AM
What a wonderfully beautiful day! The sky is clear and the air is crisp! I can hardly believe that it is already January again! Time flies on wings of lightning!
It's come to my attention that I don't tell enough interesting stories about serving in the TSAM! My mom sent me some questions this week, and I decided to answer them where others can see!
What do you normally do for breakfast and lunch?
Well... I make food. Because missionaries like food. Scrambled eggs in the morning, and usually some chicken and veggies for lunch. Except for the last couple of weeks, because we got a lot of Christmas tamales. Those are my favorite things!
What do you do when appointments cancel?
We plan ahead and have back up plans. It's a weird balance to find, because you want to have the faith that appointments will happen and not fall through, but you also need to have plans for just in case. It's fun, though! Definitely something that I've learned over time, though.
Do you knock on doors ever?
We knock on doors daily. However, I haven't ever had to do any of the "traditional" missionary tracting while here in the TSAM. There are so many less-active members and part-member families to visit! We are also always finding by preaching by the way, so our schedule is always filled with people to visit. We get a lot of media referrals as well. For example, last week, we contacted (meaning we taught them a lesson and delivered the requested content) 10 referrals, and still had 10 who hadn't answered the door/phone. It's incredible! Choosing a street and knocking every door just isn't as effective as these other things we do. Don't get me wrong, though. We knock when we feel prompted to knock. We never pass by a door that the Spirit tells us is important.
Do you have any favorite members?
This isn't a fair question and you know that I can't answer it, Mom. Gosh.
Any interesting stories?
Last Saturday, our low tire pressure light came on. But... we didn't take care of it as quickly as we should have, and by the time we finally stopped somewhere to fill up our tires (about a week later), it was pouring rain and 40 degrees. But the car wouldn't stop beeping... so we had to do it. It was a lot of fun and everyone else at the gas station thought we were crazy. But all is well now. The crazy life of a missionary.
This week we had a wonderful Mission Leadership Council (where the leaders of the mission-zone leaders, sister training leaders, etc. gather to discuss the needs of the mission). One of the main topics was our missionary purpose. President Slaughter pointed out that the scriptures tell us of a strait and narrow path that leads to eternal life. In order to get onto that path, one must enter through the gate. The gate is repentance and baptism (see 2 Nephi 31:17). Thus, our "laser-focused objective", as he called it, is to teach repentance and baptize converts.
Coming out of MLC I had two goals. Number one: Floss every day. (The goals you make when your mission president also happens to be a dentist. Don't worry! I'm doing a lot better! Someone tell Dr. Platt! Haha!) Number two, the most important: TEACH REPENTANCE AND BAPTIZE CONVERTS.
That night we had a lesson with a woman named Patricia. As we taught her the wonderful message of the Restoration, all I could think the whole time was: "Am I teaching repentance so that we can baptize a convert?" As we taught, there were several moments of silence as we allowed Patricia to ponder. We asked her how she felt after hearing of Joseph Smith's experience in the Sacred Grove, and she took a long time to think about it. She finally answered that she could not imagine having that happen to her. It was then that we were able to testify to her that although Christ Himself was not visible in the room, we were His representatives. We invited her to be baptized and she said: "I cannot deny an invitation from my Savior." All was sailing smoothly, until we invited her to church. She told us that she worked only on Saturday and Sunday in order to provide for her family and would not be able to worship with us. Immediately, my missionary purpose came to mind: "TEACH REPENTANCE AND BAPTIZE CONVERTS!!" Where in previous months I would have said something like: "Well, that's okay. We'll figure something out," I was able to boldly say: "Patricia, as we teach you, we will invite you to make and keep commitments that show your Father in Heaven that you are willing to accept and live His gospel. One of those commitments is to attend church every week and partake of the sacrament. We realize that it may not seem like that is possible now, but as you move forward with faith, we promise that the Lord will provide a way for you to worship with us each week." I was able to feel such power behind my words as I invited Patrica to repent. I recognize now that there is a better way to do missionary work. It is only as we teach repentance boldy that we will truly be able to baptize converts and build the Lord's kingdom.
On another occasion, we were teaching a man who likes to teach us. We are usually hesitant to schedule appointments with him, but he usually has read in the Book of Mormon and asks us to teach him more. This time, he allowed us to start teaching him the doctrine of Christ. We were reading in 2 Nephi 31, and as we got to the part where the Nephi talks about the baptism of fire, he suddenly had many questions. We started answering them, but it soon became apparent that he was not interested in learning, but in teaching us how we are wrong. He asked question after question, opening up to Bible verse after Bible verse and would not allow us to continue teaching. I could not think of a way to connect anything he was saying back to the restored gospel. Suddenly, a question popped into my head. "Do you believe the Bible?" I asked. He looked at me, in some sort of shock. I was surpised at his answer: "Well... parts of it. I believe that some of it is the word of God." I almost could not believe it. Here was this man, who was so intent on teaching us about the Bible, and he did not even believe it! It was incredible to be that I was then able to testify that the Bible and the Book of Mormon are scripture-the word of God. I told him that we believe the Bible, and we know that the doctrines contained in it are true. We also believe the Book of Mormon, and believe that teh doctrines contained in it are true. We believe that as we follow the words of scripture, the mysteries of God will be unfolded to our eyes. The man seemed to not be able to speak, and we soon closed with a word of prayer. We aren't sure if we will ever go back there, but I hope that he begins to see the Bible and the Book of Mormon as they truly are.
There are no neutrals. Once we accept our call to serve, we solidify the choice we made before this life to stay on the Lord's side. We are disciples of Jesus Christ. There is no gray area to step back to and there never was a gray area in the first place. We are on the Lord's side. There is no going back to where we were before, no stepping closer to the dividing line. We have been called to be disciples forever, to continually walk closer to the Lord, and that starts here and now. It starts in knowing who we are and who we can become. We have crossed the line. We are disciples, now and forever.
I love what it says in Preach My Gospel: "Some chapters in Preach My Gospel focus on what you need to do as a missionary-- how to study, how to teach, how to manage time wisely. Just as vital as what you do, however, is who you are."
We, as a mission, know what we are to do: TEACH REPENTANCE AND BAPTIZE CONVERTS. Now, as we continue to do so, we must discover who we are and who we can and need to become. We can say that we teach repentance and baptize converts, but until we get to the point that we are actually to believe and internalize that as our purpose, nothing will happen. We must catch the vision of what a disciple of Christ truly is. This is not a temporary calling; this is eternal.
I can hardly wait to continue teaching repentance and baptizing converts.