As we made our way to one of our appointments this week we came across one tiny, skinny, little old lady trying to help another tiny little old lady into the house and they were not having much success, so we stopped and offered to help. Her rickety old rocker was looking a bit iffy so we tried to steady it and help her up onto the curb and into her tiny house.
This lady was a HOOT. She told us her name was Gillermina and that she was 89 years old. She has no teeth and big poofy grey hair that she has tied up in a big flowery bow. Once we finally got her into her chair, she started chatting with us. She goes to a Christian church and sang us a few lively hymns about her mansion in heaven.
She clapped her hands and closed her eyes as she sang. I don't think I've ever seen anything so endearing in my whole life. At the end of each song she applauded herself and shouted BRAVOOOO!!! In her tiny squeaky toothless way.
She invited us to come to her church on Sunday. We told her we had plans...haha we love her. She is a kindred spirit. We now pass by there every time we are in the area and play as her audience as she sings us a lively song about Jesus. We've found her a few other times since and helped her get into her house and what not. She really is a doll. Always a cackling laugh and a BRAVO for us. I love people. I love Gillermina.
This last week we had a gathering of missionaries that left my companion and I frustrated. To put things lightly, the behavior of these "representatvies of Jesus Christ" was anything but Christ-like. Maturity was no where to be found, and my companion and I had to turn into baby sitters to keep everyone under control.
As we left the meeting we felt frustrated and irritated. We asked the questions like "How could they act that way after so much time of service in the mission?" "Have they learned ANYTHING here in the mission?" "Do they understand who they are and who they are representing?"
Then, trying not to judge, we knelt together in prayer and asked for the Lords help to be positive and get rid of any negative or judgmental thoughts and feelings. But the whole situation really called me to reflect on my own mission and my own behavior.
I began to ask myself a lot of questions. Have I been changed by my mission? Am I the same person today that I was when I showed up? Am I just serving time or am I serving a mission? We had a return sister missionary come with us that afternoon and she has only been home for a year. We asked her what it was like to come home and all about her experiences on her mission.
"You can really tell what kind of a missionary you were by the way you live your life AFTER the mission." she commented. That got me thinking even more. It reminded me of one of my favorite scripture stories.
18 ¶And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.
I love this story because Christ called and they listened. They left everything they had ever known to be his followers. Sometimes, as missionaries (and as people in general), when Christ calls its hard to leave our nets behind. We still want to keep just a bit of where we were and who we were and we give him some of who we are and some of what we have, but we never quite give him our all.
In a talk by Jeffery R. Holland, he tells this same story, but then tells of how after Christ's death his apostles go back to their nets and go fishing again. They returned to what they so willingly left behind. They returned to an old way of life, a much more comfortable way but maybe not the best way. Then the resurrected Christ shows up and gives Peter a talking to. And Elder Holland puts it perfectly:
After a joyful reunion with the resurrected Jesus, Peter had an exchange with the Savior that I consider the crucial turning point of the apostolic ministry generally and certainly for Peter personally, moving this great rock of a man to a majestic life of devoted service and leadership.
Looking at their battered little boats, their frayed nets, and a stunning pile of 153 fish, Jesus said to His senior Apostle, “Peter, do you love me more than you love all this?” Peter said, “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.”
The Savior responds to that reply but continues to look into the eyes of His disciple and says again, “Peter, do you love me?” Undoubtedly confused a bit by the repetition of the question, the great fisherman answers a second time, “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.”
The Savior again gives a brief response, but with relentless scrutiny He asks for the third time, “Peter, do you love me?” By now surely Peter is feeling truly uncomfortable. Perhaps there is in his heart the memory of only a few days earlier when he had been asked another question three times and he had answered equally emphatically—but in the negative. Or perhaps he began to wonder if he misunderstood the Master Teacher’s question. Or perhaps he was searching his heart, seeking honest confirmation of the answer he had given so readily, almost automatically. Whatever his feelings, Peter said for the third time, “Lord, … thou knowest that I love thee.”
To which Jesus responded (and here again I acknowledge my nonscriptural elaboration), perhaps saying something like: “Then Peter, why are you here? Why are we back on this same shore, by these same nets, having this same conversation? Wasn’t it obvious then and isn’t it obvious now that if I want fish, I can get fish? What I need, Peter, are disciples—and I need them forever. I need someone to feed my sheep and save my lambs. I need someone to preach my gospel and defend my faith. I need someone who loves me, truly, truly loves me, and loves what our Father in Heaven has commissioned me to do. Ours is not a feeble message. It is not a fleeting task. It is not hapless; it is not hopeless; it is not to be consigned to the ash heap of history. It is the work of Almighty God, and it is to change the world.
My beloved brothers and sisters, I am not certain just what our experience will be on Judgment Day, but I will be very surprised if at some point in that conversation, God does not ask us exactly what Christ asked Peter: “Did you love me?”
We can’t quit and we can’t go back. After an encounter with the living Son of the living God, nothing is ever again to be as it was before.
To all within the sound of my voice, the voice of Christ comes ringing down through the halls of time, asking each one of us while there is time, “Do you love me?” And for every one of us, I answer with my honor and my soul, “Yea, Lord, we do love thee.” And having set our “hand to the plough,” we will never look back until this work is finished and love of God and neighbor rules the world. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Do we love Him enough to leave our nets behind forever? Think about it. Whats your net? And what are you willing to leave behind to follow him?
I testify that CHRIST LIVES! Isn't that the coolest thing you've heard all day? He is calling you to follow. Will you heed the call? Drop your net and go. And do it because of love. I am leaving my nets behind more and more every day. I'm not perfect, but I'm trying. And I know that He is there helping me to let go of my nets and follow him forever.
*Just chilin' with a member's goat. He was a little camera shy, and this was the best picture I could get of him.
*Hermana Iron Man: we are currently teaching a family that works at children's parties painting faces and dressing up as different super heros and cartoon characters! They let me try on the iron man mask at the end of the lesson. The greatest part is the giant minion in the background. Hahaha teaching a family of clowns is always an adventure.