Monday, September 2, 2013

A Key in the Mailbox.

Here is the excerpt from my letter to President Castro:

Each week I am learning and growing in my desires to be more like my savior and be the type of missionary he wants me to be. This week has been full of a lot of contemplating and thinking about what that entails.

On Monday night Hermana Cannon and I had a discussion about fulfilling our purpose. We talked with a less active woman for a while and ended up teaching her the restoration, which was a wonderful opportunity to teach her things she had never known or forgotten since she had gone inactive. Hermana Cannon then brought up the question of whether or not we were fulfilling our purpose as missionaries by talking to her about her and her family beforehand. I had to do some thinking about that because I want to do all I can to fulfill my purpose and I know we are to be trusted more than loved but I also don't want to become a missionary robot who doesn't understand the feelings of others and whose only focus is on baptismal numbers or statistics. I want to maintain the person I am and make that person better rather than have a missionary self and a non-missionary self. This discussion was a time for me to reflect on who I am going to be as a missionary. I had to pray to my Heavenly Father for forgiveness and for humility to accept who he wants me to become and not hold on to my pride. I'm still not sure the best way to handle helping less actives feel loved and accepted but also make use of our time to share the gospel. I do know that I want to follow the Savior and be the kind of person he would be in all circumstances.

On Wednesday we also had another eye opening evening as we took a member with us to a lesson with a Hispanic woman in our neighborhood that we have visited a few times named Selena. We taught her the Plan of Salvation. She is quite knowledgeable in the Bible and has a lot of opinions about how it should be interpreted. She and the member we brought with us to the meeting ended up spending much of it arguing. We are learning how to be bold and loving and listen to our investigators but "to teach and not to be taught". We want the spirit to be foremost in all of our lessons and we didn't feel that the lesson was focused on the spirit that evening. Hermana Cannon and I discussed that evening what it means "to teach and not to be taught" and how to do that without turning discussions into an argument or by interrupting our investigators. Again, it is a process that we will have to find a balance for.

Our next big learning opportunity was on Friday night. We had a lesson lined up in the home of a member family (the Swolgaard's) with their friends the Stacy's. The Swolgaard's have been doing wonderful missionary work with them and have been praying for them for years.  We had met the Stacy's the week before and then we were able to arrange this meeting. I was so excited about this family and really wanted this lesson to go well. We had talked with the Stacy's about forgiveness a little the week before and Sister Swolgaard told us how much Sarah Stacy appreciated that message. I wondered about sharing the wonderful Mormon message about forgiveness with them but I also wanted to dive right in and get to the restoration of the gospel. In our planning Hermana Cannon and I decided the restoration was the best option and I felt good about the plan. At dinner, with both families, there were 8 children all running around and things got a little chaotic but we were able to have some good conversation with the adults. When it came time for the lesson, however, things were still a little crazy and we weren't sure if we would be able to keep the spirit long enough to teach the restoration the way we wanted so we decided instead to share the Mormon message. We were able to tie that into Christ and our purpose as missionaries and a little of the restoration but not as much as we would have liked. I left the lesson feeling that it went pretty well considering the circumstances.

As we got in the car, Hermana Cannon immediately began evaluating and asking what we should have done better. As we talked, and as I have studied further since then, I have come to the realization that yes, evaluating our lessons is necessary and important and I want to learn all I can, but I also have to learn to accept my best. Maybe the restoration would have been a better decision, maybe not. We will never know. But in the moment, hopefully under direction of the Spirit, we decided to go a different way and that is okay. I learned in Ether 12 today that Moroni was worried about his imperfections as well. The Lord told him, however, that His grace is sufficient for the meek. If I am humble enough to follow the Lord, He will make up the rest. I want to be positive about the choices I make and how I teach as long as I am doing my best and trying to follow the Spirit. I will never be a perfect teacher but God will make up for my imperfections as long as I am doing all I can to be diligent, obedient and faithful.

This attitude has been necessary this week as our miracle family, Carl Dawn and Woody, haven't responded well to our calls and visits and didn't show up to church or our lesson that was scheduled on Sunday. Another one of our investigators, who even had a baptismal date at one time, has also seemed to be avoiding contact with us. It is easy to wonder what we did wrong and to feel guilt about losing one of God's children. The weight of knowing that God is relying on me and my companion to take care of this area and the people in our stewardship is so overwhelming. I don't want to be the reason someone loses out on the blessings of salvation. Heavenly Father is helping me see, however, that as long as I am trying my best that is all I can ask for. I want to constantly improve and become a better missionary and a more Christlike servant of the Lord and He will help me along the way.

This week I have been learning lots of lessons about who I am as a missionary and how I can become better. I'm trying to have more humility to learn from Hermana Cannon and faith to know that Lord will help me."

Now here is some of the fun stuff:

First, let's start out with a story. Once upon a time there were two missionaries who LOVED checking the mail. One day there was nothing inside but a funny little key. Not knowing what it was, nor having time to ask the manager about it at the moment they ignored it and went on their way. Well, this continued for a week, or maybe even two, until one day they happened to remember to ask their manager about the strange little key abiding in their mailbox. "Well," said the manager, "that means you have a package." "A package!" They exclaimed! This whole time the rusty, old, lonely key signified the most glorious surprise a missionary could behold! That evening they finally took the key out of its resting place in the back of their mailbox, found the lock that it belonged to, and pulled out a wonderful little package full of goodies and surprises of all sorts from Sister Millet's sweet, generous Aunt Mary. Sister Millet was SOOOO grateful for the wonderful joys she found in the package and it made her whole week brighter. The End.

Morale of the story: keys in the mailbox are kind of like gold, and Aunt Mary is the sweetest person ever.

PS. One of the happy joys in the package was Dr. Pepper Lipsmackers so now I can feel like Mama every time I put it on.

Next story: On Monday night we went to dinner at the Williams. They are an adorable family that is SOOO sweet. (Shout out to Sister Williams if she happens to look at the blog. Thank you for being amazing to us!) We ate amazing food and taught the plan of salvation (Ygnacio was supposed to come but he's avoiding us now. :() As we were about to leave, little 5 year old Beth who just started Kindergarten whispered in my ear, "When you taught Kindergarten did you share the gospel?" Is that not the sweetest thing you've ever heard? I love her.

Oh, also on Monday Brother Millett took us to see a cool bridge.

Holding up the bridge.
Sister Millett and he both like to tell us all about how people like to commit suicide off the bridge and they put up a fence but that doesn't stop the crazy people from jumping.

Have I told you how awesome the Millett's are? They're hilarious. We also found Hidden Valley (as in Hidden Valley Ranch) and let me tell you, it looks nothing like the pictures. Quite disappointing actually. There are no giant carrots or bowls of ranch dressing with kids having delicious looking picnics.

Jen with Brother Millett (Stake Patriarch) and another missionary.

Tuesday we ate at Paula's Pancake House for Hermana Wright's birthday. It was delicious. I got French toast again. It was amazing. Then we had a funny little health conference in Goleta (not sure how to spell it) where they told us to eat fruits and veggies and be good girls and boys. That night we ate a Burrito Loco with this awesome lady who is like 79 and has cancer but plays tennis and walks 3 miles a day and donates tons of money to charity and is more active than I think I've ever been in my life. (She told us all about how awesome she is as I scarfed down the best burrito of my life the size of my face...actually I did save some of it for lunch the next day.)

On Friday we discovered a Snow White cottage complete with a little dungeon next door.

Cellar next to Snow White's Cottage
It was the coolest thing I've ever seen. I'm kind of on my own version of parade of homes here every day. We also got awesome hats from a less active member who let us do some service by helping her clean out her closet and organize. The picture doesn't do it justice, but it's awesome. And I can't wait to use it for a Halloween costume.

Hermana Cannon and Hermana Millet wearing the
crazy hats they received.
Friday was insanely hot here. Actually, it's been hot all weekend and apparently we're heading into the heat of the summer here. They're just getting me ready for Argentina! I also had a spider on my pillow that got away that night and another one that we had to kill. EEW! Even more preparation for Argentina. Maybe my VISA is on its way!

Ooh! Good news from Friday we finally got pastries from Mortensen's. They are the best, for sure. I got a giant eclair. It was amazing! We also decided during planning to try to meet the standard of excellence this week for our weekly goals. It's going to be insanely difficult but I'm going to try to have faith and work like crazy to make it happen. It's the last week of our transfer and we have no idea what might happen next week.

Last little story: we have met a cute little Honduran family in our apartment complex who always smiles and says hi to us. We were finally able to teach the Mom on Friday. She still has two kids back in Honduras! She is shipping them over one at a time. She works so hard and her kids are so sweet and polite. The six year old daughter gave me a cute picture during the lesson (sometimes I have to force myself to try to listen to Hermana Cannon and the mom and not just smile at Luatany). She is so sweet and I can only imagine being her teacher and having no idea about her home life. They are moving right now because we think they were evicted and her dad is in prison. It is so sad, but she's so sweet.

Ah! Time's up. I LOVE YOU! Have a great week. Talk to you soon!



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