June 16, 2014
This week was so busy, but I was so blessed to see all of the little details come together so clearly as we got out and worked with members and investigators. Heavenly Father gives us these little gifts in the details of our day, and it’s pretty incredible when you sit down and look at them. I keep a gratitude journal to help me remember (I am always pressed for time to write a huge journal entry) and to feel Heavenly Father’s love for me, and the guidance and blessings he has given me. It’s just a little notebook with a date written above a list of 5 things I have seen that day that I am grateful for, but it has made all the difference.
Yesterday in Relief Society one of my favorite sisters, Sister Kintz, gave the lesson on baptism. It was wonderful, and really helped me to refocus my efforts as a missionary and helped me remember my own baptism and confirmation, and the promises I have made to my Father throughout the past years. She talked about the little things that we do, and that the Lord does for us, that may seem small, but make all the difference – the eternal details. If we don’t pay attention, we might miss them, but they are just as integral as the “big things.” For example, total immersion during baptism. It might be a small thing if a little piece of clothing isn’t beneath the water, or a little detail like that, but we do it again because those little details matter to the Lord, and they thus need to matter to us.
I’ve been thinking a lot about two things this past week: obedience and charity.
First, obedience. As a missionary, obedience is key to doing the work in a way that is pleasing to Heavenly Father. It’s the windows that I talked about last week. Obedience allows us to be a little more like Christ than we normally would, and thus be able to receive the blessings that the Lord has kept in store specifically for us as individuals. President Hall has promised the missionaries in the Great California San Fernando Mission so many blessings through inspiration from the Lord for those who are obedient, and they are so incredible. They pertain to our current families, our future families, our investigators, the wards we work in – every aspect of our life, and I know they are inspired. I am striving to be more obedient so that I can walk closer to the Savior, not only as a missionary, but throughout my life.
I saw a lot of things that caused me to study charity this week. I think it’s something that I study on a regular basis because it is so crucial in the world today (it’s no surprise that this past week, my friend from SVU, Elder Stebbing in Russia studied charity too). In his email, he quoted Hyrum Smith: “Charity is the ability to make life more meaningful for others.” We don’t expect any recompense for being charitable, so it’s not always easy for the natural man to get over himself/herself and love someone who needs it. Charity is the pure love of Christ – the more we love Christ, I’ve found, the more we love our neighbor. There’s a reason that the two great commandments are to 1) love God, and 2) love your neighbor. They go hand-in-hand: the more you love one, the more you automatically love the other. It’s a cycle that is pretty incredible when you think about it, because everyone involved is blessed. Those you love receive your help, strength, and support. You receive special blessings such as increased love, patience, and peace in life (see Colossians 3). And best of all, the Lord is happy!
We had an incredible few days, all because we were trying to love people more. We went to contact a referral, who wasn’t home (again), and decided to knock doors in the area. We knocked on this one beautiful house, and I honestly can say I wasn’t expecting anyone to listen to us. I wanted them to, I was praying for them to listen, but sometimes as missionaries, we get deterred by big houses with all the fancy gadgets and glass windows. Especially when you’re serving in an area that tends to be poorer than others. Anyway. We knocked, and this lady came to the door and told us she wasn’t interested, that she was a devout Catholic and that she really had no time. She told us that she was “fond of the Mormons” (I really felt like some sort of fluffy dog at that point), and appreciated what we were doing, but really wasn’t interested in the message. Before I could even think, I asked, “do you know of anyone who needs service?”
Within minutes, she was on the phone with her neighbor and shooing us next door to help her. That’s how we met Lorraine. She broke her back 8 months ago, and has had great difficulty in healing and getting back to her “normal self.” We offered to help her do a few things around the house that she was struggling to do. She was so amazed that we wanted to help, and wanted nothing in return! We came back the next day in our work clothes and helped her with her garden and her kitchen. She uses a walker, and is really struggling to walk and be confident in it, and she lives alone. She asked if we would walk with her, and we did, just a few laps around the neighborhood. We told her we would be back the next week, and went off, thankful for our little miracle of the day – having the opportunity to serve unexpectedly.
Sister Flake and I get a lot of joy out of serving. We would do it all day if we could! There is no better feeling than brightening someone’s day or helping them do something they might not be able to do by themselves, no matter the reason. It helps us stay focused and feel the love of the Savior more strongly, and helps us to stay positive and remember why we’re here. Lorraine was appalled when we told her it wasn’t uncommon for people to yell at us, to slam doors in our faces, and just be rude, all because we are missionaries. It’s become second nature to us, so that’s another reason we love service. It is gratefully accepted.
Lorraine called us on Friday and asked us if we would come walk with her for half an hour. She was having a pretty rough day, and was getting down on herself. As we were walking, she lost her balance and fell. It was terrifying for a few seconds, but we got her up and walking again. She was completely mortified and depressed at that point. We got her back to her house, and I felt prompted to ask her if she would be willing to receive a priesthood blessing for healing and comfort.
I had wanted to talk to her about it on the first day that we walked with her, but something held me back. I was so glad when she excitedly accepted, and then accepted the offer for us to teach her more about what we believe. It’s all in the Lord’s timing, not ours. I’m thankful we have the Spirit as our third companion!! It might not sound like much, but that’s huge for us. Lorraine is such a blessing to us, and it’s a joy to spend time with her and talk to her.
Another little detail that made my week happened during exchanges with our Sister Training Leaders, Sister Goettsche and Sister Moore. Sister Goettsche and Sister Flake worked together in Mission Hills for 24 hours while Sister Moore and I worked in the YSA ward. The YSA ward covers the entire valley, so they have a lot of ground to cover. We were contacting, and not much happened. Everyone is on vacation this week, it seems. We stopped by to talk to Bishop Patten, who is hilarious in and of himself, but he was definitely on one this week! He found out I was from Connecticut, and promptly called Bishop Florian in the Bloomfield ward to let him know that one of the missionaries from his stake had “done something right in the premortal existance to land herself in California on a mission.” It felt good to have a little contact with home. I’m not sure, however, that Bishop Florian has any idea who I am, other than the fact that I’ve attended his ward a few times over the summers. :) Eternal details for sure.
There are some days when I can’t believe that I’m a missionary. It’s still so strange, and I love it. California is still new and foreign to me (trust me, it’s pretty foreign to a girl who was raised in the east). I had to laugh – this week is the world cup (feel free to send me updates! I beg of you!), and all of the people on the street are sporting their team jerseys. It’s pretty hilarious, because Elder Benjamin and I have a count going of how many jerseys we see over the span of the time the cup is happening, and who is most represented. At this point, it’s Mexico and Argentina. We’ve been trying to keep up with the scores through members, who think it’s pretty funny that we love soccer so much. One plus to being here in this part of California is that most everyone is a fan! Although I mentioned that Germany is my favorite, and I’ve gotten some pretty terrible looks from the families in my ward who are from Mexico and the Philippines. You live and you live.
Also, California has so many leaf blowers. I don’t know that anyone owns a rake in this state. There is no such thing as quiet in the San Fernando valley because of those things!
Well, I hope you are all having a wonderful week. I love you! Keep loving the eternal details!