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.