All is well in New Mexico! This week was difficult . . . when they say the mission is an emotional rollercoaster, they aren’t lying. But there were several tender mercies this week, so before I start writing, know that there is purpose behind it.
On Wednesday, I was feeling so overwhelmed. I was feeling very discouraged because, although we’ve been working, I felt like the work I was doing wasn’t making a difference. I was on the verge of tears. Tons of discouraging thoughts kept flooding through my brain. Silently I prayed, “Please let me talk to someone who will listen, Heavenly Father. Please help us find people who we can help influence!”
Within a couple minutes my prayer was answered dramatically. My companion and I were looking up potential investigators (people missionaries have talked to before, but weren’t ready at the time). We finished talking to one gentleman, who . . . you guessed it . . . wasn’t interested, when we heard someone call us from across the street. It was Mitchell! We see Mitchell everywhere, but have never gotten the chance to talk to him. He was dating one of our investigator’s daughters. So we’d see him at the house all the time. Then we’d see him at the library on P-days. He told us that he was baptized into the church when he was 18, but refused to go back because he didn’t believe the Book of Mormon was true anymore. But in his face, it was clear he missed the church. He even admitted to the fact, saying “I didn’t want to leave, I LOVED the church!”
Well, we had Mitchell all to ourselves. I don’t think I’ve ever been so bold before. I was NOT going to take NO for an answer. I asked him how long it had been since he read the Book of Mormon, and he said it had been 21 years. No wonder you don’t have a testimony! I promised him that he COULD know it was true. That he didn’t have to leave the church. He kept making excuses. I asked him if he would let us teach him the lessons again, and he said, "no". My companion and I bore our testimonies of the Book of Mormon and of its importance. “Mitchell!” I finally said. “I’ve come out here on my mission. I’ve left my family. I don’t get paid. People don’t really listen to us. But this message is so important. The whole world has to know about it, what else in the world could get me to leave all that! Will you at LEAST think about letting us teach you again? Please!”
Then came the revelation, “I have been thinking about it since the first day I saw you over at Mrs. Gomez’ house!”
As much as he said he didn’t want to learn, and as much as he said he didn’t believe anymore, the fact remained, simply seeing the missionaries got him thinking about this. I hope the Holy Ghost is pestering him to NO END!
Like I said…I went into this conversation refusing to take NO for an answer. “OK Mitchell, do you still have a copy of the Book of Mormon?” He affirmed that he did. “Well, will you go home and pray about it?”
HE SAID YES!
My prayer offered just a few minutes before was answered. I got to talk to someone who would listen! Then my companion and I went back to our apartment, and guess what?!?! My prayer was answered a SECOND time! One of the couples we’ve been working with called us back! We had been out of contact for a while, and they called us back! (Investigators don’t call you back toooo often, just FYI).
We left the apartment, and I exclaimed out loud, “Heavenly Father really does answer my prayers!”
I was startled at myself for exclaiming that out loud. Of course I already knew that. I bear testimony of that all day long. But today…it was my own prayer being answered. And I felt reassurance, that Heavenly Father IS AWARE of the work I do. Even on days when doors get slammed in your face.
The SECOND difficult thing about this week happened Thursday. Before I got my mission call, one of my good friends on a mission wrote me a caution in one of his letters. “Courtney, I have to warn you. No one can prepare you for how much your heart will ache for the people you teach.”
I thought that was interesting advice. There have been many times on my mission when I was surprised at myself for NOT being more emotionally involved in the lives of the people I teach. I wanted to have that same level of charity that the missionary who wrote that advice had. So I made it a matter of prayer.
Be careful what you pray for. One of the less active families in our ward said we could teach their family a lesson. The ward had warned us that this particular family had gotten into a lot of anti-Mormon literature. So we spent three days preparing a lesson and praying. But when we showed up on Thursday night, the father bluntly told us that they didn’t want anything to do with the church and that they didn’t believe it anymore. I felt like a horse had just kicked me. The wind was completely knocked out of me. I have faced rejection nearly every day. But this time was different. Even now, I can’t explain why it was different. It just is. The only explanation for my grief is that we had prepared so much, and that it was clear that there had once been a light in this family’s life. That light was now gone.
I went home and sobbed. All I could do was write my testimony. And explain that despite what pseudo-intellectuals say, truth comes NOT as the world says it does (by looking at every side of an issue for example), but through our Heavenly Father who is the source of real truth, as manifested to our hearts and minds through the Holy Ghost. Once you have felt the Holy Ghost’s illumination, the world makes sense, and you KNOW the source of real truth.
We also got two new investigators this week. The daughter is awesome and was SO excited to get a copy of the Book of Mormon. I've never seen someone so eager to accept a commitment! Teaching a first lesson to a new investigator brightens your day like nothing else.
Yesterday was good too! We got to help with a Fireside for the Youth on missionary work. It feels like I was just attending those! Now I'm talking at them! Oh Boy. Time flies.
Anyway, I’m basically out of time. But I love you all. I love being a missionary. This work is so important to our Heavenly Father. P-day will be super relaxed today! I’m excited just to sleep in, write letters, and go out for lunch!
Love you all! Thanks for all your love and support. Have a wonderful week!