I wish I could just share with you everything that has happened to me this week, but that would take a whole lot of paper, a whole lot of words, and honestly, I don't know that I could really explain it all! So, instead, I'll just share a couple of my favorite stores and experiences.
So while in the MTC, we teach "investigators." They each have their own character, their own stores, their own experiences, etc. They walk around campus for us to get to know, and to teach. Sister Currie and I taught two this week, let me introduce you! Joe is about 22. He's a recovering alcoholic, and has 3 kids with his girlfriend. But he doesn't quite understand what it means for him. Joe is golden, basically. Our second investigator is Whitney. Whitney is about 24, and is also a recovering addict. She and her husband are theist, but her 90-day program asks her to discover a "higher being." So she is learning about all different faiths, and asked to speak with us. YAY!
The first day of lessons went wonderfully with Joe. We taught him the blessings of the atonement, and how we can be cleansed through Christ, and he accepted our invitation to pray, and to be baptized!! Whitney's lesson went much differently. When we arrived, they threw us a little bit of a curve ball. Whitney lives in El Paso, TX, and we would be teaching her over Skype. Oh no. How can I share a scripture, or convey the spirit, over a computer screen? In our panic, I can say, the lesson did not go as planned. We left as friends, and connected to her, but didn't give her the experience we had hoped. Still, she invited us back for Wednesday.
Wednesday, we improved! By the end of our meeting with Joe, he told us he felt peace through prayer, and he committed to keeping the Word of Wisdom, and was working toward baptism on the 26th. Whitney's lesson went much better as well. She was able to read the Book of Mormon with us, using her kindle. She talked about the good feeling she had when she read, and told US she wanted to start reading the Book of Mormon, from cover to cover. WOW! She asked us to meet with her again on Friday, to talk about what we read. (Keep in mind, they are allowed to say no to return appointments, and are even encouraged NOT to , if you aren't helping them.) Needless to say, we were stoked, and SO happy! Fast forward to Friday: because we'd be leaving the MTC the following Monday, this was our last day with them. We decided to have a district fast for all those who wanted to, to invite the spirit into our lessons, and to help them feel God's love. Our first lesson was with Joe. He had relapsed, and felt he could no longer be baptized. Of course, we were sad. But we were able to explain that we will make mistakes. Though he needs to overcome his addition before baptism, he can be forgiven, and strengthened through Christ, to which he responded, "I've felt His help, and I know that he won't give up on me. "YES!" He also committed to living the law of chastity. The spirit we felt was so strong! Next, we were meeting with Whitney. We sat down and called...with no answer. A few minutes later, we tried again: with no answer. Sad and discouraged, we left her a message, letting her know our appreciation of getting to know her. We let her know we would be transferred, but left our emails so she could still contact us if there was any more that we could do for her.
We then said a prayer. All of our discouragement and disappointment was replaced with understanding , and we knew it was okay. Whether she was unavailable, not in the mood to talk to us today, or not ready for the message we shared, it was okay! We had tried, and would continue to try. We can do all that we can, the Lord will do the rest, for those who are prepared, and willing to accept him. I think we learned an important lesson that I know I'll see many times more throughout my mission. We still have our agency. I'm sure there will be times that we will be rejected, even by some of our most promising investigators. It will be okay! "Keep calm and carry on." ;)
The Lord loves us, the Lord loves our investigators and He is taking care of both of us, even if it's in a way that we don't understand yet.
Lastly, I just wanted to share my favorite testimony strengthening moment of the week. So, as missionaries, we are told that we are called to teach with power and authority. When they set us apart, we receive authority. When we learn to teach by the spirit, we receive power.
So often, as missionaries, we find ourselves teaching about prayer, but when we get to our testimony, we say "we actually believe Heavenly Father can answer your prayers!" Well, that's great...but where is the power? Our testimonies bring such a spirit, and such power! So, why are we afraid to share them? In a testimony meeting, I am perfectly confident in saying, "I know that Heavenly Father will answer my prayers,: yet, I shy away when I have to say "I know Heavenly Father will answer your prayers." But why? I know for myself, I think, "But what if they don't recognize the answer? What if they don't understand?" But again...why?! I KNOW that Heavenly Father will answer their prayers! He loves them, and is preparing them to receive this message. He will not just leave them to wonder. He wants nothing more than to show his love for them, and pour blessings upon them, he just needs them to ask.
When we withhold that knowledge that we have, we not only hurt ourselves, but those we teach. If I can't tell them that I know, where is the power they need to have the faith to know for themselves?
WOW. That was a lot of scrambles thoughts, and words. It makes so much more sense in my head. :) I guess what I'm trying to say is, if you know it, share it. Your faith does matter, and does make a difference, and your testimony can change lives. The Lord does not leave us to wonder, if we ask in faith.
I'll be honest. I'm super pumped to get out in the mission field, but I really do love it here. I feel like I have grown so much and can't wait to continue in California.
The church is true! :) I love you all!