This last week a member of the Seventy came to a Multizona [missionary meeting]. Just about everything he said was SUPER inspired and helped me out a ton. But the best thing he said was that prepared investigators ask questions.
I had never thought of that before. As I reflected and thought back on every baptism and every fantastic or progressing investigator I'd ever had, I realized that he was 100% right. They all had one thing in common. They asked questions. Good questions. Not questions to poke and jab. Not questions to confuse or contradict. But real questions.
This was just what me and my companion needed to hear. Lately we've been teaching quite a lot - running from one appointment to the other. Talking with everyone. Asking for references from anything that breathes. And working really hard.
BUT no one, I mean, NO ONE is progressing. They don't read, they don't pray, and they definitely do not come to church. It's exhausting. And frustrating. So many times I have thought "Why am I wasting my time?"
We tell them again and again WHY we are there and WHAT we expect them to do. After the stuff that Elder Pieper [member of the Seventy] said, we realized that none of our investigators were asking questions and that we are likely going to need to drop just about all of them. Ouch.
That means lots of hot and sweaty days out in the sun searching for new people. That means getting rejected a lot more. That means lower numbers. But we trust in the Lord. If we give it our all, He will take care of the rest. It's like a story I read this last week of a little kid who told her dad she wanted a bike. He told her that if she worked really hard and saved her pennies she would have her bike.
She got right to work doing extra chores around the house for her mother and a lemonade stand every Saturday. She avoided buying candy at the store and she saved every bit of money she could. A few weeks later she again approached her father proudly placing before him her 75 cents that she had worked so very hard to earn.
They walked downtown and when they arrived at the bike shop the little girl could hardly contain her excitement. She knew it the moment she saw it, the pink bike in the back was the one. She ran towards it to check the price. When she saw that the bike cost 150 dollars she began to cry. "Oh dad, I'll never have enough money to buy that bike." The reality of it hit her. Even after her very best efforts, she couldn't buy the bike.
But then her father intervened. "You know what? Give me your 75 cents and I'll pay for the rest?" The tears stopped and a smile replaced the sad. She did her best and her father recognized it. He payed the rest.
We are all the little kid who wants the bike. We want to live with God again. We want to live in Heaven. We want an eternal family. But in all honesty what we bring to the table is so very little. Salvation is 150 dollars and we've only got a measly 75 cents. But if we do our best, God pays for the rest. He is our Heavenly Father and He loves us. He wants us to be happy. He sees are efforts, even when they're small. He gave us His Son to pay the price. And because of Him we have enough. We are enough. I am enough.
After the giant Multizona with the member of the Seventy, I headed out with another Hermana to do divisions! We hopped onto a SUPER crowded bus and there sitting before me were two gringos. The first thought that crossed my mind was "what are two white people doing here?" and the second one was "I should contact them." So I tried to strike up a friendly conversation.
As soon as they opened their mouths to respond I regreted my decision. Without answering the question I asked them, they began to jeer and make fun. Mentioning this and that about how they were of the devil and only came to Oaxaca to sleep around and drink beer. Their language was horrible. The f word every other word and several other curse words creatively weaved in there too.
I decided to make one more effort to chat because the awkward situation is that they were smashed in the bus directly in front of me and just standing there as they rambled on was killing me. I asked them if they had ever talked with mormon missionaries before. That was big mistake. "Yep," said the bearded one that smelled like BO, "and you wanna know what I told them?" I didn't want to know.
He told me anyway. "Go back to your F-ing country!" He yelled in my face. That's when the praying began. 'Please Heavenly Father make them get off the bus soon. Please oh please oh please...' Good thing God answers prayers because they hoped off about 2 blocks later.
I think the me before my mission would have gotten angry, wanting to make a good come back or throw something very heavy on his head. But instead of feeling anger and hate I just felt sorry for them. It was so very obvious that they were lost and unhappy. Hiding behind colorful tattoos, piercings, alcohol and who knows what else. As they got off the bus, I said a prayer of thanks and a prayer to help them find something more in their lives.
Their words hurt. Ouch. Then once we got off the bus in the area I was visiting I tried contacting the mototaxi driver to try and raise my spirits with a better contacting experience. It wasn't better. He made fun of me for not sharing my first name and told me I didn't love God. Ok. It was a frustrating afternoon but we didn't let it get us down.
Another hard day. Disanimo got the better of me and I felt like curling up in a ball and crying. But on the mission there isn't time to curl up in a ball and cry. We walked about a million miles and nobody was home. And then we decided we needed to say a prayer because we both felt super disanimated.
So we stopped by the house, knelt down, and said a prayer. "Prayer is not just something you use once a day, its something you use every time you come to a locked door." The prayer really helped. We expressed our feelings of tiredness and disanimo. And He helped pick us up and keep us going.
Then about an hour later our investigator called. She's the girlfriend of a less-active and we've been teaching them both. She called to let us know her he had died. We taught him a ton and we had finally got him to come back to church and were working on getting them both married.
But the thing is, she is always joking around so I didn't think she was actually serious. So I called the sister of the one who died and asked her if it was true. Turns out it was true and she didn't know. I was the one who told her. And I had to hear her and her mom break down and sob. I basically felt like the worst person in the world.
We went and saw them today though. To give them pictures that we had of Saul (the one who passed away) and to hug and cry a little with the family. It was hard.
This week was a little rough.
Last night me and my companion had a good cry. We're planning to have a fast this week to help us get our animo back and to begin to see results in our area. God listens. He loves us. And He always sends us what we need.
*Paula coming with us to teach. We are slowly but surely convincing her that serving a mission is the coolest thing ever.