My Dearest Family,
This has been a whirlwind of a week. It's official, New Mexico is getting another mission, and as a result, the New Mexico Albuquerque Mission is getting split to create a Farmington Mew Mexico Mission. The boundary changes will affect the Provo Mission, a Texas Mission and two Arizona missions. Crazy. I'm having a hard time adjusting to the realization that when I go home, my mission will no longer exist as I know it. The change will take place on July 1, 2010. I'm thinking that the mission office will send out a letter and maps to all the current missionaries, but if it doesn't happen, let me know. This is too crazy.
We took the new sisters tracting yesterday as part of their orientation, and one of the Elders I came out with was there. He was asking me how many transfers I had left. I really couldn't remember. But he told me that I only have two left, because he won't count the one that just started. Wow. I'm afraid of the time I don't have left. Last week, I would wake up in the middle of the night, realizing that I'm a missionary, and it was the most surreal feeling. I got a notice from the mission office today that my release date is June 23, 2010, and to contact President Anderson if I have any questions. In the back of my mind, I keep toying around with the idea of going home the late transfer in August but 1. I don't know if that is even allowed, since every sister missionary (except for one) has gone home the early transfer as long as I've been in the mission. 2. With a new mission being formed, Church headquarters might have played the number game already with the number of new missionaries being assigned here. And 3. That could potentially have me finishing in a completely different mission than I started in, with a completely different group of missionaries and president, for only about the last 3ish weeks of my mission. That could be traumatic. Also, I would miss going home with the sisters I came out with. So, mostly, there are a lot of reasons why I wouldn't want to go home the August transfer, but at the same time, I really want more time on the mission. It has gone by so fast. Needless to say, this has been a very conflicting week.
Thank you for the Valentines Cookies. That was too sweet of you. I hope you start to thaw out soon. Everyone back here is talking about the snow on the east coast.
Our Zone Leader called us on Saturday night with transfer news. He told us that Sister Allred was going to the Cortez 2nd Ward, and that I was going back to the Paradise Hills ward. Sister Allred and I were so excited by the totally unexpected. But then he told us that it was all a joke. Yes, Sister Allred and I are both staying in High Range.
Back when I was in the MTC, they gave us a devotional about the normal emotional phases that accompany change. Here are the phases I remember the speaker explaining and how they relate to High Range.
1. Honeymoon Phase
Yes! We're going to make this dead area vibrant. We're going to see miracles. This will be an amazing area. We have a purpose here. Complete transformation and huge developing teaching pool, here we come!
I miss what I left behind, baptism dates and investigators.
Maybe we'll get transferred.
Mostly frustration that despite working hard and trying to be obedient there is little immediate success.
5. Successful Readjustment
This is what I am still working on. I knew from the moment we got here that we would have to rely on the Spirit, and on Heavenly Father more than in any other area. Yet, I don't understand why the work can't move faster. I guess this is a lesson in patience. When I went to Paradise Hills, I think I had the faith to see direct immediate answers to my prayers. Here, I guess I am learning that even when we have faith, even when we work hard, we don't always get what we want. There are many faithful people who don't get exactly what they want when they want it. Yet, I cannot reconcile this lesson in patience with the Lord's repeated and firm promise that the field is white, ready to harvest! If there are people who are so ready for the gospel, why aren't we finding them? Or why aren't they more anxious to progress? Is there something that I'm doing wrong? Is there a different approach that we should be taking? Is our method for finding investigators the incorrect one for the area? What can I do better? And yet, every missionary should know that it isn't us that drives the work, it's the Spirit. In some ways, it feels like a Catch-22. I guess I'm learning to have more realistic expectations for the area. We're probably not going to have a thriving pool of investigators over night. Yet at the same time, I still yearn to have investigators. I yearn to see miracles. I want the Lord to do for us, in this area, what I simply cannot do for myself. We read those inspirational stories from the Ensign about how missionaries can transform a dead area overnight. How can I see THAT kind of miracle? Maybe the mission isn't about seeing miracles. Maybe, as Sister Allred says, all I can hope to do is my best, and if nothing comes from it, then at least I can know I tried my best. I guess Sister Allred and I will keep plugging away at this area. I have felt the Spirit confirm on a few different occasions that we DO have a purpose here, and I firmly believe that people ARE prepared, or are being prepared. I don't know if I see it yet. I hope that the successful readjustment comes soon. I hope that we won't have to resort to the "imaginary investigators" we're planning to create to make companion study more entertaining. :)
Regardless, if Heavenly Father needs a missionary to work, even when it's hard, I want him to know that he can count on me. It's so easy to be a missionary when the work is thriving. You teach lessons. You have a set schedule. The real challenge is what do you do when the work isn't exactly "thriving". All I can do is try to do my personal best and let Heavenly Father make up for the HUGE difference between my best and what the area needs.
One of the golden people we baptized in Paradise Hills has already gone less active, by moving in with some anti-Mormons. I wish it wasn't so heartbreaking to hear that kind of news.
Also, we met a lady at Pep Boys who started talking about Apostles. We told her that this was our message: we have 12 Apostles today, the gospel has been restored, and we have a living prophet! She seemed to agree, amid periods of slight confrontation. But ultimately, she told us that SHE was an Apostle. Oh boy, the craziness.
Well, I love you dearly, the time has flown by today, and I wish I had more time to tell you what's going on. In good news, we were invited back to a really cool couple's house. I have great hopes for them.
I love you dearly. Thank you for your support and love. I appreciate it more than you ever know.