Goodbyes are never too great for me, and this month it seemed like it was one big goodbye. As I put the pictures into place I thought about each one of these missionaries. They are very different from each other, and yet each holds a special place in my heart. Each contributed. Each grew. Each came to understand the atonement of Jesus Christ. I am excited to see what school brings for each of these Elders and Sisters.
Most importantly, I am excited to see how they do in the big leagues. A mission is like spring training. You learn the skills and do them over and over again. When you go home, you see if you learned them well enough to keep doing them in the game of life.
There are photos of Elder Marques and Sister MacCleary on President's phone, but he is not here. When he gets home tomorrow I will put them on.
Elder Gr____ and Elder Wi_____ invited me to go to one of their lessons. I got there a little early so I thought that I would read my Book of Mormon because I hadn’t done that today. No sooner had I opened the book then The Spirit said, “You are here. You can read any time, but you can’t talk with these people. Get out and do some missionary work.” So I got out looking to see with whom I could talk. There was a woman walking to the garbage. I hurried to her and called out. She turned and asked, “Are you talking to me?” “Yes!” She saw my tag and asked if I was the mission nurse. After I explained who I was she said, “I don’t want to say I am less active, but I haven’t been as often as I…” “would like to…” I interjected. As our conversation continued she told of serving a mission in Hawaii, and of her two children, and how when her oldest was about a year old she decided she was going to raise her to serve a mission. She shared how off and on she would read the Book of Mormon to her and how her lullaby was, “I am a child of God.” She shared that she worked nights and how her husband is not active and it is hard to go to church without him, but that she just needed to get in gear and come. When Elder Gr___ and Elder Wis___came we said our goodbyes and went to an apartment above and across the hall from her.
After knocking - and waiting much longer than I would have - the door opened. We slipped off our shoes and entered an immaculately clean home. We were there to teach the daughter of the woman who was the Primary President. The Elders had told me she was the less-active Primary President and to be quite honest I was curious what story was going to unfold. I had no idea the sacredness I would feel in this home.
We sat on the floor across from a young, high school aged woman. Her sister, mother and little brother sat too. The lesson was painfully difficult and majestically miraculous. Elder Gr____ and Elder Wis____ went between English and Marshallese. The mother and sister did too. The sister did a lot of the translating. Elder Gr___ sometimes offered side comments to help me understand a concern they had as missionaries or what they were trying to accomplish. He told me they were trying to establish that she needed to have a witness from the Holy Ghost to know if the Book of Mormon was true. After a few minutes of teaching they asked if she knew what the Holy Ghost was and she said, “no”. In this “bible belt” area that was the first time I’d heard that response. I watched fascinated as not only did they try to explain the Holy Ghost; but also, do it in another language. Toward the end of the lesson the family committed to coming to church and to reading from the Book of Mormon.
As I watched I could tell that the mother had something she wanted to say. So I asked if she wanted to bear her testimony. What followed was sacred as a mother shared her deep trust in the Lord. She testified that they Lord answered prayers. Sometimes it took a long time, but He did answer them. She shared that she had left her daughter with her mother in the Marshall Islands when she was four years old, and that she had always prayed that they would be reunited. Now they were together. She then said that she was praying for her husband to want to go back to church, and she knew the Lord would answer her prayer. It might be awhile, but she knew He would. While she talked, I had the thought that Elder Gr_____ should offer for her to have a priesthood blessing. She desired the blessing. I then witnessed what I hope I never forget. A humble daughter of God, who had faith in her loving Father, sat on the floor; while two young representatives knelt beside her. As the words flowed, I knew I was again witnessing a translation process. This time the missionaries were the translators. They were hearing the language of the Spirit and translating it into the language of the world. As I listened I was impressed with how Heavenly Father knows each of us so well. I was also reminded that daily we can know of His love if we follow His counsel, “He that has ears to hear let him hear.”
When it came time to leave, the mother gave me a guam which is a traditional Marshallese dress. I didn’t need the gift because I had received something so much greater. I had received the opportunity to watch God work among the children of man. But I gratefully took the gift as a reminder of a mother’s love for her daughter and her faith in a Heavenly Father.
As soon as we left the apartment, I knew that our work was not over. Ann, the woman with whom I had visited while waiting for the missionaries, was walking in our direction. We teasingly reminded her of the commitment she’d made to attend church and read the Book of Mormon. And this time I got her name and number. (I love that God gives me second chances). I told her she was now my friend and she should expect to hear from me. It wasn’t until this morning while writing this, that I realized I know her. I met her about a year ago when she was translating for Sister Nor____ and Sister Rich_____. She would help them for entire days. When I pulled into the apartment complex, I didn’t know she lived there. But the great thing is; God did!
God knows each one of us and our circumstances.
Pictures taken by the youngest son while entertaining himself with my phone.
The Lord’s dealings in our lives ceases to amaze me! Yesterday, I watched God work through President.
A little over a week ago President started stressing that as missionaries, we needed to be more bold in approaching people. I’ve heard him repeatedly ask the missionaries, “Do you believe this is the most important thing that will happen to a person?” With that statement has come an increase in his own personal boldness. He will offer a pass-a-long card and then say, “Learning what this website teaches is the most important thing that’s going to happen to you today.”
I am a firm believer that when we match our actions with God’s commands, things become easier to accomplish. I certainly saw that yesterday. As we got ready to leave the hotel, I realized I hadn’t packed my dress clothes. Kevin went before me. By the time I caught up, he was just finishing a conversation. He was giving away a pass-a-long card and saying “This is the most important thing you’ll do today.” With sincerity, she looked at him and said, “I believe it”.
Later in the day as I came out of the gas station, I observed Kevin approach a road worker. “Hey, can I give you something that is going to change your life?” A conversation ensued. It ended up the road worker who looked to be about 40 was a member who hadn’t been active in the church since he was 18. I watched in amazement as the two visited as if they were old friends. When it came time to leave, their exchange went something like this.
Kevin: “It’s time to come back to Church isn’t it?”
Road Worker: “Yea, it is.”
Kevin: “I’ll send the missionaries by.”
After getting his address, and a picture, Kevin casually said, “I love you, man.” And I knew he did.
And the angel said unto me:…Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?
And I answered Him, saying, Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things. 1 Nephi 11:21-22
Last night the Martin’s were baptized. The ward turned out in mass. The Sisters had to set up more chairs. Many cried. Their journey has been the ward’s journey.
May came and went, and with that passing, went their first baptismal date. They just couldn’t `quit smoking. But their determination, the determination of others, and the Lord’s enabling power finally led them to the waters of baptism. After hearing that they couldn’t afford to buy the supplies for the stop smoking workshop, a members volunteered to sponsor them. He bought all the supplies they’d need, and then gave them something else – support. He helped Josiah. He held him accountable, and he cheered him on.
Two Sundays before their baptism, I sat and listened to him bear testimony of the Lord’s guiding help. He shared how hard it had been to stop smoking, but that the Lord had helped him. It was all I could do not to laugh aloud as he explained that on a particular day he had wanted so badly to smoke. Finally he decided that he needed to do something to keep his mind off smoking. Burning the old pile of stuff in the back looked like the perfect project. What started out as a back yard burn, end up being a near forest fire. Okay, it wasn’t quite that bad, but one back door and quite a bit of property later, he stood grateful that the fire was finally out. Josiah finished his testimony with, “When I asked the Lord to help me, I didn’t think it would be by lighting my back yard and back door on fire, but I guarantee I wasn’t thinking about smoking.”
For someone who isn't a member of the church, they ight think that as they stepped into the waters of baptism their journey was over but really it was really just beginning. And, oh how wonderful to know that as they walk through their journey they won’t be alone. They will have each other, the Lord, and a whole lot of ward members!
Opening a New Area that Hasn't Been Open for 10 years or Even if You''ve Only Been Out Three Weeks You Can Make A Difference!