Monday, September 16, 2013
Love Others, No Matter What
I've been bombarded with letters from the mission home saying things like, "Thanks for serving! Hope you come again!" and "Be sure you give your mom a hug!" and "Be sure to pay your companion back for all that money you borrowed!" So my mind has been kinda torn apart, so I will try to reconstruct my memories using small notes I wrote in my planner so that I would have something to write about today.
The other morning, as we walked around to find someone to teach, I noticed a house down the street with a giant Snoopy sitting on a stump. I told Elder Merrill we'd knock on that door. The man at the house was just about to climb into his car when we walked up. We had a nice chat with him for a half hour. He was atheist. He was born Catholic, but it "took him until he was 20 to get indoctrinated out of it." Now he thinks that he's just a blip in the universe, and exists only for pleasure. He'd been depressed his whole life because he felt like he was just working for others to live rich lives. He retired 3 years ago, and he says he's the happiest he's ever been because he gets to do what he wants. He has a wife and no kids. He's living for himself. I have never met someone so selfish in my life. he was nice, certainly. But he was horribly selfish. I asked him what made him happy. He didn't get close to saying family or friends. His happiness came from giving himself pleasure. It was a sad scene.
One of the sisters in my district has had a really tough time recently. She's been praying to know if she should continue to serve a mission. She's engaged, and many of her friends have been saying they would feel better if she came home and got married. Her parents really want her to serve a mission. The Cabot elders gave her a blessing; I gave her a blessing; she and her companion have had several prayers. Finally, on Tuesday, Pres. Petersen talked with her. She has decided to stay. I'm really happy for her, and I testified to her that it wouldn't be easy, but it would be worth it. She knows some of the heartache that I've gone through myself, and I told her similar counsel that I received before I left to serve. She's a lot happier now.
When the transfer started, I had 3 sets of missionaries in my district: Jacksonville, Cabot Elders and Cabot Sisters. Two weeks ago, the North Little Rock Elders got put into my district. This past week, we got the Sherwood Sisters. I have to call a bunch of people each night. My stewardship seems to be added unto DAILY. And they all seem so young. I'm so old.
Also recently, a recent convert from Montana moved in with her daughter and granddaughter on the military base. Her name is Libby. She's here because the daughter, Melanie, has a brain tumor. Melanie had brain surgery on the 5th and will go in for radiation and possibly chemo. Libby is so happy to be a part of the church and wants to serve however she can. We're gonna try and go in to teach Melanie and her daughter, Sierra, as well. I feel a lot of love for them.
Because of Faith's promotion, she's been very busy lately. She's eager to progress, though. She really wants her family sealed, so we're gonna do what we can to help get Marty on board.
I'm not putting this next part here to puff myself up or anything, but... especially because this is my last area, and I'm closing my mission, I want to remember this. The Relief Society president was speaking with a less-active woman after church. She pointed to us and said, "These boys will help you with whatever you need." The less-active member needed a blessing. After we gave the blessing, I asked her if she needed anything. The Relief Society president jumped in and said, "They mean it, too. These are the best missionaries that Jacksonville has had since missionaries began serving here again." Jacksonville had been re-opened to missionary work two years ago, and Elder Merrill and I have brought 2 baptisms into the ward since there had been an 18-month drought.
I'm so grateful that God has brought us miracles. These baptisms happened only because it was the right people at the right time. Elder Merrill and I were only the harvesters after the missionaries before us have already sewn, watered and trimmed each individual for us to reap.
I love the members here, and I love to smile around them and laugh with them. We really do have to love people into the gospel. I dunno if it's bad to say or if it's the secret to missionary work, but most of the people I have seen progress the most are people I have loved the most.
Love others, no matter what. That's what I've learned.
Now I'll continue to finish off my whole loaf of French bread. Love this stuff.