Please pardon my humor with the featured image. It’s funny, I promise. -Lisette
I had a good moment on the back steps of the chapel yesterday…. Just taking a breather (two days solid at the church, between three wards worth of activities and three wards worth of Sacrament services… ), and I just started to cry. I wasn’t entire sure why, so I started to pray outloud, just looking at the sky…. and as I spoke I realized why I was crying. I didn’t want to leave. Not at all. I told God I was willing to give up everything to just stay here in XinZhu and just be a missionary. Cried some more as I thought about all the great progress XinZhu is making and how I wanted to just be here to see all these miracles come to pass. Eventually, I said “Amen” and started to move back inside when as clear as a voice, I had a thought come to me: “It’s nice that you’re willing… but that’s not what I need from you right now. Finish strong and I’ll let you know what’s in the future when you get there.” It was a really tender moment between God and I. I wiped my tears and turned to find a crowded hallway full of people who needed missionaries in their life. And for the next two months, I get the priviledge of being that missionary. I’m determined to make the most of every minute I have left.
Here’s what’s going on this week:
Prayer, Scripture Study, Partaking of the Sacrament — these are all things we’ve done and all things we know how to do. But in the last couple transfers, I’ve learned accutely the difference between just going through the motions and really having all your heart, might, mind, and strength involved when you participate in those three basic acts. The adjustments are minor, but the results are huge! I can tell the difference in the days that I make the most of my studies… because I’m just itching to get out the door and share the Gospel, to see miracles, to know that through faith my companion and I can make miracles happen, etc. That is a life full of hope and faith and love. It’s the kind of life I want to lead for the rest of my time on earth, really…
Splits w/ Hong JM
As we were coming up on the end of the week, we realized that Friday was a mess. We’d double booked several lessons and thought at first it might be do-able… but then started looking at the map. Of course — opposite sides of XinZhu. In planning we’d kind of sorted out a plan, but it didn’t really feel right moving people around. Each of the investigators booked for that day was in a critical spot and if we moved them back a day or to next week, we felt like we’d lose them. At one point, my companion just looked at me and said, “Well, why don’t we go on splits?” The room was silent for a whole minute… then my brain started to roll through all the possibilities. Was this doable? What members could help? Which of those members had cars? With one cell phone and two missionaries on opposite sides of the county, was this safe? Could I leave my companion whose only been here for two weeks by herself? Would this overwhelm anyone? We said a prayer and then started calling people. Without even too much effort, the next day lined up nicely with several women available if we needed a back up plan.
That day was absolutely the best — and in the course of driving out to the far ends of our area, my member-companion and I had a little companionship study. I asked her what she’d been studying in the scriptures recently and we started comparing notes on faith and prayer and obedience. We arrived at the lesson and I could just feel her getting fired up about being a missionary again. The lesson was perfect — wonderful companionship unity, absolutely both of us working in the Spirit to understand and help our investigator know how to use the tools God’s given her to develop faith and a personal testimony that the Book of Mormon is true. On the way to our next appointment, my member-companion began talking about some friends and family she wants to start preparing to to meet with the missionaries. I asked about their situations and we set some goals and made some plans for which points of doctrine would be of most significance to them, when and how to go about introducing us to the missionaries, and what she could do in the meantime to prepare herself for more opportunities like this. It was great!! 😀
Ward Mission Plans
In the last two months or so, I’ve seen the process a Ward goes through when it makes a Ward Mission Plan. It’s been interesting to watch three different Bishops and three different Ward Councils use completely different avenues… but all end up in the same place: any successful Ward Mission Plan needs to start with members, with Home and Visiting Teaching. As each of the active families solidify their own testimony of the basics, the Holy Ghost can be more active in their home and have a stronger influence on their friends and family members who need help. After that, the next question is how does the Ward then take action to help these friends and family members?
It’s been such an exciting process to see a shift in the attitude of each Ward Council member towards missionary work — from scared and timid to bold and confident in the course of one meeting. I’m not sure where the shift happened or what was the cause of it… but in each of these meetings as we talked about blessings Ward Council members see in their every day life, they get excited and start thinking of ways that Ward Council and the Ward structure can help their individual families and friends. After one particularly productive PEC, the Bishop went home to draft an email to all Ward Council Members. After our Thanksgiving activity, he handed me a copy and asked me what I thought. I smiled as I noted quotes from Preach My Gospel at the very top, followed by prinicples of finding, and open ended questions he was asking of every Ward Council member (including what are your fears about missionary work, how do we use doctrine to overcome this fear, and what kinds of activities would your family members be interested in attending that would help overcome this fear?). It was incredible and you could tell he himself had put in time and effort and he’s expecting the Ward Council members to do the same…. instead of just throwing out some random goals. He wants to produce a plan that meets this ward’s needs and everyone can be committed to. It’s a beautiful sight!
Little Girls and their Testimonies
We had a 10 year old pass her interview last night and she’ll be baptized this coming Saturday. She was so adorable and the Elder conducting her interview told us afterward that apparently her favorite commandment was Tithing. That was weird, so he began asking us for tips on how to get people fired up about Tithing. I just looked at my companion: “Uh… use Chocolate.” Hahaha!
But honestly, teaching her has been one of the sweetest moments of my life. Her mom and dad are both members, but divorced and neither of them really take care of their kids’ spiritual lives. So everything she knows about the Gospel is what she reads herself, what she remembers from Primary. She is at testimony to me that little kids know exactly what they’re doing when they get baptized. They really do have the ability to make that choice of eternal significance at such a young age… and God keeps track of them. Pretty sure this coming Saturday will be my favorite baptism of my mission. 😀
A Thanksgiving Fast
Just a funny note…. last week, I had some missionaries tell me some distressing news. I decided it was big enough I wanted to take it to God and fast for the clarity to help them. Decided this on Thursday morning. So right after breakfast, I began my 24 hour fast. That night, the Sisters called me and wished me a Happy Thanksgiving, started excitedly asking me what I’d eaten that day. I just laughed and said, “well, nothing…. I’m fasting.” There was silence on the phone. “Oh. Are we allowed to Fast on Thanksgiving?” HAHAHAHHAAAA! That was the best response ever!
But… no worries! Saturday arrived and we had more than enough food to feast on… and plenty of Elders hanging around to get it all eaten. 😀 Perhaps the greatest thing to be thankful for was how many part-member families showed up. We’ve been working on five families recently, and they ALL showed up with their non-member relatives. It was a beautiful sight! The whole family, in the church building, mixing and mingling with members and really feeling the love and spirit of Thanksgiving. We were invited by two of them to come over to their house later this week — an invitation never extended to missionaries before. So there’s hope of eternal families in the air as we head into the holiday season! 😀
Dating & Eternal Marriage
As a side note…. This month, several of our single male members decided it was finally time to be bold and start asking our single female members out on dates. I’m happy to report that as of this week there are more than a few official couples floating around XinZhu… studying scriptures together, spending time with each other’s families, getting involved in service projects together…. and the missionaries aren’t the only ones to notice. Our Stake President encouraged me to sit down with them and set temple wedding dates. This is an invite I’m more than willing to do and I know our Stake President will follow up. 😀 Not trunky…. just living vicariously for now! HAHAH!