Monday, July 13, 2015

Thank You


Have you ever heard the phrase, "words like knives" ? I have. But I'm not sure I ever really understood what it meant until I got to the mission. People are people and I have accepted that not everyone is going to love us. Rude remarks, unfair assumptions, and death stares are a normal part of missionary life. But the other day was something different. 

We went to go teach a family that we've taught a few times now. Good people who always accepted us with a smile. They had been listening to missionaries from another church for a while, but that was no problem, we just shared what we know and left them to ask God. 

The other day we stopped by to teach them about the restoration of the gospel through the prophet Joseph Smith. As we launched into the first vision I could see it in their eyes. Anger. It's something I've seen before so I took a deep breath, reminded myself to be Christlike and understanding, and braced myself for their feedback. Just as I had anticipated, they launched right on in. Unfair accusations, rude comments and all sorts of who-knows-what came into play. 

Even though I had braced myself, it still hurt. Then the wife looked me right in the eyes and with judgement and hate made very personal comments regarding my family and my life that she knew from the many chats we had before. What she said hurt. Really bad. I don't know what it was, but those words slapped me hard and a lump formed in my throat. I took a moment to breath. Be Christlike, I told myself. Be like Him. Be like Him. Be like Him. All I did was share my testimony that Christ lives and loves us and that because of Him we can change and be better. We ended with a prayer and got the heck out of there. 

I made it out the door before the tears came. My darling companion already knew and threw an arm around my shoulder the second we made it out. A tear or two slipped their way out as my companion gave me a much needed hug. "Wow, that was REALLY mean, what she said." I just nodded in agreement. We took a moment to breath. I wiped away the tears and we analyzed what had just happened. In the end we decided to forget about it and change the subject to something positive. We ended up having a really great conversation and a wonderful rest of the day. Words can be like knives, but there's also a catchy phrase I've heard that says,
"Sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me."

We didn't let those words get us down that day. That lady who said those mean words didn't win. Positivity won. Happiness won. Who knows what that lady has gone through or what she was thinking at the time she said those things. It's my job to teach and testify and do my best to be like Christ. I'm not always super great at it. But I sure am trying. And I know that God sees that. And I know that my best (even though not all that great) is enough.


We had our last lesson with one of the most golden investigators I've ever taught in my whole mission on Saturday. Well not really our last lesson but MY last lesson with him because I'm going home. It was a great lesson (as always when teaching Edgar). The spirit was there and everyone was able to voice opinions and points of view and express concerns. It was a great atmosphere of learning and willingness to follow Christ. 

In the end both Edgar and his friend Valeria (who always comes to his appointments with us) expressed their thanks. As Valeria shared some memories and thoughts of the journey we've all taken together she began to cry. "The work you missionaries do is such an important one. You are making a difference. You are helping my friend, but you are also helping inspire me to be better!" She said a lot of other beautiful and awesome things that I don't remember. But all that really stuck out to me was that she said Thank You. Two very simple words that meant a whole lot. 

As a missionary you don't get told thank you a lot. Sometimes that's hard. I'm a praise person. I like to be told good job and be patted on the head in a way. But when people thank you and they say it with their heart, it really makes all the difference in the world. So this week (my last week in the mission field) I challenge one and all to say Thank You. Say it to the guy at the grocery store, say it to your mom, tell it to your teacher, a stranger, anyone and everyone. Really. Say thank you. In word and deed. Be thankful because there is SO much to be thankful for.

*we had an activity today! We played soccer and ate hot dogs. It was great.

*a selfie with Edgar and Valeria.
We love them.
A lot.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Alma 26


We started out this historical day with history making diarrhea. Hermana Hancock was throwing up. We had a sister training leader with us and we had to go meet up at Walmart so she could get back together with her companion and go back to her area. As we waited in probably the fanciest place that exists here in Salina Cruz (Walmart) Hermana Hancock threw a hand to her mouth, plugged her nose and RAN for the door. She barely made it out when she threw up her breakfast all over the place. And if two white Mormon missionaries aren't something to stare at, two white Mormon missionaries throwing up all over the place sure is. 

We went home and put poor Hermana Hancock to bed. The rest of the day was uneventful. After reading the Book of Mormon for a good little while and taking a short nap I was out of things to do. We watched The District missionary training videos which I quoted word for word (seen those bad boys WAAAAYYY too many times). I mostly just held Hermana Hancock's hand and forced her to drink gatorade. BUT I was wearing red, white, and blue all the while. God bless America. 

At 7 o' clock we had a really important appointment with a golden investigator (Edgar. love that guy.). We both felt really weak and still kind of icky, but we said a powerful prayer, put on some mascara, and went to our appointment. 

It actually turned out to be a really powerful lesson. Edgar is my favorite. He is sincerely searching for truth and checking everything with God. His friend Valeria is making sure he is reading the Book of Mormon daily, and he loves coming to church. Plus, he has a reeeeally fat chihuahua that always makes us laugh. He's excited for his baptism and has promised to video chat me in so I can "be there" in spirit.


So these last few weeks have been a little hard for me. I find myself going over my whole mission in my head and little Satan thoughts creep in like "Did I even make that big of a difference this last year and a half?" "Did I accomplish all I wanted to?" "I've still got such a long ways to go." 

These doubts and all this negative self talk was bringing me down. It was almost subconsciously  happening. Self bullying. But then today as I opened up to Alma 26 I was filled with peace and joy. It was almost as if God himself had come down to tell me that it WAS worth it. That I WAS (and still am) a successful missionary. That I'm not perfect but I sure am trying and that that is OK. 

As I read Alma 26, I had a vivid flash back to a few weeks prior to starting my mission when I read the very same chapter. I remember where I sat and what I was wearing and how I felt. I remember not knowing what to expect in the next year and a half to come. I remember feeling ready to go and serve and feel the feelings that the sons of Mosiah felt. 

A year and a half later as I read the same chapter it hit me how much had really changed. I not only read the feelings of these powerful missionaries I FELT and really UNDERSTOOD them. In verses 29 and 30 its says ... 

29 And we have entered into their houses and taught them, and we have taught them in their streets; yea, and we have taught them upon their hills; and we have also entered into their temples and their synagogues and taught them; and we have been cast out, and mocked, and spit upon, and smote upon our cheeks; and we have been stoned, and taken and bound with strong cords, and cast into prison; and through the power and wisdom of God we have been delivered again.
 30 And we have suffered all manner of afflictions, and all this, that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul; and we supposed that our joy would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some.

 ... As I read verse 29 I saw myself in my hand teaching in houses, huts, streets, and hills. I saw myself being cast out, laughed at, disrespected, made fun of, and ridiculed. And why did I do it? I thought. Then came verse 30. That I might save someone. Even just one. The worth of souls is GREAT in the sight of God. And for Him maybe one would even be enough. Then when I got to the last few verses of the chapter tears of pure JOY began to flow as I read...

 35 Now have we not reason to rejoice? Yea, I say unto you, there never were men that had so great reason to rejoice as we, since the world began; yea, and my joy is carried away, even unto boasting in my God; for he has all power, all wisdom, and all understanding; he comprehendeth all things, and he is a merciful Being, even unto salvation, to those who will repent and believe on his name.
 36 Now if this is boasting, even so will I boast; for this is my life and my light, my joy and my salvation, and my redemption from everlasting wo. Yea, blessed is the name of my God, who has been mindful of this people, who are a branch of the tree of Israel, and has been lost from its body in a strange land; yea, I say, blessed be the name of my God, who has been mindful of us, wanderers in a strange land.
 37 Now my brethren, we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth. Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever. Amen.
....Don't we have reason to rejoice? I sure do think so. And if its bragging, well I'll brag, God is great. He has changed the course of my life forever. And for that I am grateful. For that I am joyful.

*4th of July:
sigh, impossible to take a cute pic in Salina Cruz because you are always sweaty...but the bright side is we sure rocked our red white and blue even if ill and in bed the majority of the day.

An investigator asked us if we were thirsty and when we said yes he came back with a machete and a coconut. It was delicious.
our neighbors who treat their pets like people. This is their new baby (yes it is only a few weeks old) parrot. We are trying to train to to say HELLO. He has his own fan. It makes me laugh every time!