Before reading this, I want you all to check out a location on Google Earth. It’s GaoFeng Road in XinZhu city… there’s a big Buddah at the top of it, hard to miss. It leads to an area called Bao Shan. Please note all the switch backs and the elevation change. I have personally met a crazy Scottsman who swears that’s the best road to train for Triathalons on… Done? Ok. Good.
Over the last few weeks, we’ve been blessed to have a bunch of new investigators. The bulk of those live in a distant corner of our area named Bao Shan. After checking several sources and having it confirmed by both postal workers on WWII era motorcycles, several bishops, and the missionaries… it was decided that Bao Shan is in one of our Wards. Excellent! Dai Jiemei and I’s first thought was: a place we’ve never been before? has a bunch of our investigators living in it? up a mountain? Sick. Let’s go! Took a look at our Tuesday and realized we had three hours in the middle with not a lot to do. Usually, Tuesday is packed. Prayed about it, got a good feeling, and pulled out the map.
Getting to Bao Shan was the next step. There’s several ways — some more direct than others — we could use. This Gao Feng Road was definitely the most direct, if not the steepest. Unfortunately, every time we thought about any other road, we got a bad feeling. Being in tune with the Holy Ghost is an experience like none other, by the way. He really will let you know anything you want, especially when it pertains to where to go, what to say, and who to talk to. So, yes. Gao Feng Road. It was decided.
That morning, had a few lessons, attended District Meeting, told the Elders what we were up to, filled our water bottles, and headed out. Saw lots of great people and had some wonderful conversations at lights. As we ascended, we expected people to be scarce. Not the case. The looks they were giving us were weirder and weirder with every step… as if they’d never seen missionaries before, or they’d never seen them in Bao Shan before. Strange. We kept up the trek and marked a few spots we’d like to return to and seriously tract.
We hit those switchbacks and I stopped being able to ride my bike. There was no way. So I hopped off and walked it up the mountain. In the flats between switchbacks was a tiered park. Took a breather on a bench and an old man appeared out of nowhere, wanting to talk with us. The most interesting conversation unfolded, beginning with him utterly convinced he had already taken all that Jesus had ever said and internalized it… ending with him accepting a copy of the Book of Mormon. The change was slight, and I pray that its influence continues to work with him, but it was so fascinating to see that shift in his thought process when he started to think that the Heaven’s are still open. Revelation is still very much available today as it was back then.
Kept going up the mountain, found some sweet villages and loads of people who’d never seen foreigners… let alone missionaries! Then, without rhyme or reason, we’re staring at the back of industrial buildings. Pulled out the map. Yup. We’d backed onto the Science Park (TSMC’s home). Shot down the mountain and were outpacing some sports cars at one point. 0.0 Took the flat road through the Science Park back into town. As we road through there, it happened to be rush hour and again with the strange looks from people on the road. Of course they know who we are… but to see it on their face, they didn’t know why we were up there. As we road, I saw each and every face as if for the first time. Saw them as individuals and had a very distinct impression that these people just needed to see that missionaries can and are willing to go anywhere. This message is THAT important.
Got back into town in time for two lessons and a coordination meeting. Absolutely exhausted, convinced we’d lost 10lbs of sweat on the road, and completely content. Not really sure what results would come of our little Pioneer Day activity, but satisfied that we’d done some good somewhere along the way. Fast forward to Sunday. Word travelled fast that the Sisters had managed to accomplish something no Elder has previously done…. members who live in the far reaches of the area were suddenly talking to us and wanting to invite us over to their house for dinner, to meet their neighbors, etc. Woe! And, perhaps the best, one lady I’d never seen before stopped at the door to tell us she’d seen us in Bao Shan. She hadn’t been to church in several years, but when she saw us struggling up the mountain she started to cry. She said, “If those girls can come this far to share the gospel, I can certainly drive a car down to the church to see them every Sunday.” Woke up Sunday morning and told her two teenage daughters they’d be going to church that day. They were excited and The Young Women’s President was overjoyed to see them there again. 😀
So… point being: I’m now very aware of what it means to struggle and labor in the Spirit. 😀 And I’ll be even more cautious next time I tell God I’m willing to go whever He wants me to go… My endurance and faith were tested to it’s breaking point. But in that moment I also felt the enabling power of the Atonement, knowing that “my flesh was weak, but my free spirit cried I will!” I also learned that Preach My Gospel is true — in finding, no effort is wasted. That activity yielded no numbers to speak of in Daily Planning Session that night… but the potential investigators we have through member referrals waiting for us next week are innumerable. And we succeeded in bringing a mother and her two daughters back to church. Awesome. 😀
I love you all! I wouldn’t recommend crazy treks up mountains in a skirt… but you can make sure the people who see you every day see the best you — the you that reflects Jesus. Through your example, lives will be changed. You might not know it at the time, but God is using you to spread the Gospel, to bring happiness to His children. Let Him guide you. 😀
Sister Crazy-Fit Oler