This week was one with many miracles. For lack of time I'll name a few. This sure is a crazy place, haha. We are yet to teach someone who isn't currently using or has been on heroine or in prison. But man do I love these people.
We go see our investigator D every week. We went to visit him on Friday night, and he answered the door, drunk. We were devastated. The night before in another great lesson he had told us he was getting baptized, but that he was going to do it in Oklahoma, where he's moving to live with his nephew.
For the first time I was able to be so bold with him. I asked him what had changed from the time he left that lesson to when he got home and started drinking. "The second I leave the devil grabs me and pulls me down, I am weak. He's got a hold on me." He broke down for the first time, and so did I.
Richard G Scott once said "Once a person goes on your list, he goes on Satan's list too, and you have to work harder than him."
Before we met Danny he had been sober for a year. It was as soon as we started teaching him, he was going in the right direction, he started working on Danny hard. The harder we work the harder the adversary works on the people we meet. As a missionary you are wrong if you think the second you enter a person's life it will be easier, and come easily. It will only get harder before it gets better.
"The devil don't kick no dead dog." He is not going to work on someone who's already beat.
For the first time I was very bold with him.
"Do you want this more than you want that drink?" I told him that the reason things were so hard is because he had such great potential. I pleaded with him to keep trying. I told him he had two choices when we left that night. He could sit down and finish that drink when we left, or he could dump it down the sink and stop waiting for tomorrow.
We got a call from D that night. "I texted my nephew and told him a Mormon is coming to town. Because I am getting baptized in Butler. I know in my heart that it is right."
He has a long, hard way to come in the next few weeks. He must quit smoking and drinking in three weeks. We will be seeing him everyday.
If anyone has been prepared for our message, it is Danny. I know he has been waiting for us for a long time.
The weeks only get harder and harder, only because I am working harder. This week we taught a quarter of our zone's total lessons. We doubled the average number of lessons here. We quadrupled our amount of investigators. Good things are happening here. The area was in a place of standstill, and now they are moving. We talked to every person we passed this week, we walked everywhere. And everyone listened. I knew the place was on hold when I arrived.
It takes being bold to be successful.
We had a lesson with the Hoy family. At the end of the lesson I addressed the 18 year old son Lamonte, and asked him to think about what he wants out of our weekly lessons. We got him to open up for the first time, and for the first time since the missionaries started visiting them last year Lamonte came to church. Bow-tie and all.(: We were so happy when he walked in the door.
I've decided to walk everywhere rather than drive, so we can talk to everyone. It is scary thinking about how your decisions can impact people's lives, maybe even their salvation. My decision to drive would have cost 18 new people this week their chance at our message. Maybe the decision to take the short cut cost someone else's. It is hard learning to decipher between your own thoughts and the spirit.
Tuesday night we were looking through former investigators when I came across a woman named Angie on the list, who had been taught and was to be baptized back in September, but had a brain tumor and had moved, and not been contacted since. I felt like we needed to go see her.
I was honestly expecting her to open the door to us, welcome us in, and ask when she could be baptized. Haha. Instead, her son Dj answered the door. He told us his mom had moved, and joined another church, and declined our invitation to hear our message.
Pretty bummed, we were leaving when a woman who was in front of the house, his next door neighbor who had overheard us said, "wait, don't go."
She shared with us some of the things she has been going through, and told us she knew we were sent here. She and her son Dominik had lived in homeless shelters and under the freeway much of his life. She is currently battling some serious addictions. She and her son were at church on Sunday, she came prepared with a notebook and took notes on everything. She was so cute and excited to be there.
Being out here is so humbling. I realize I have taken not only my family and my circumstances for granted my whole life, but the gospel. Did you know that not everyone in the world is Mormon? Because apparently I didn't. I'm out of the bubble of Utah. Growing up there I've never even questioned questioning the things I grew up knowing- that the church and the Book of Mormon are true, that Joseph Smith was a prophet. And now I am here, where the name is laughed at. I think this can tear some people's testimonies apart when they go on missions. It is necessary for everyone to reach a point in their life, even if they have been a member their whole life, to really ask for themselves if it is true. Missionary work can be heartbreaking. But to see people like Danny, like Lamonte, and like Sandi and her son walk into church on Sunday morning brings so much happiness, the real kind.
Everyone's heard the saying "Imagine the people in white." As in to imagine them being baptized. But when I meet a person, maybe someone sitting drinking a beer with a cigarette in their hand, that they sometimes do or don't move to shake my hand, I imagine them in a white shirt and tie. Maybe a suit and tie. I imagine them past the baptism, in their everyday clothes. I see past the missing teeth, I know what the influence of the gospel would have on their lives.
Not to be a downer this week. It has been a good busy week, and things are really changing around here. Good things are happening. I'm still doing my best,
Ps. Yes my watch is upside-down in many of my pictures, it was on purpose. Pennsylvania is famous for the PA- ramble. In other words, people do not stop talking. Sometimes we sit for an hour listening to someone talk before we can get a word in, haha.