Last night while waiting for a bus, my companion Sister Lee told me she thought missionary work was boring. Something I’ve learned on my mission is to not jump to conclusions and think people are crazy a half second after they say something. After a few seconds of thinking about what she said, she asked me if I ever got bored doing the same thing every day: visiting members, teaching the gospel, riding buses, walking forever. Oh, that’s what she meant. Honestly I’d never thought of missionary work as monotonous because we’re always meeting such interesting and different people! I love it! I love them! And it’s because of these people we love and are trying so desperately to help, that missionary work is the craziest roller coaster I’ve ever been on. Actually, I hate roller coasters and never ride them unless tricked by my parents. But somehow I volunteered for this one!
Remember when I got to go to the beach and on the bus we set a baptismal date with Sister Kim? Well…yesterday she got BAPTIZED! It’s been a long road for her because she first met the missionaries in February; a seemingly longer road because she could only meet with us once a month at best. Her original date that we’d set on the bus didn’t work out, and she was really sad about it, but I think it was just the incentive she needed! After that original date passed, she started reading the Book of Mormon and praying every day! Something she’d only done on occasion before. She really is a testament to how important members are because it was their love and support that kept her coming and interested in the church. One day Sister Harless and I were sitting on the subway when we got a long text message from Sister Kim. It was the kind of text message that I need to get a post-it out for and write down all the words I don’t know, then use the handy cellphone dictionary to decode. I’m still learning. Anyway, she said that recently her mind about church had been changing. Doesn’t sound good, right? But she continued on saying that she’d been doing what we said and praying! She said particularly one night she didn’t feel anything special, and went to bed. When she woke up in the morning she had the strangest sensation that God heard her prayers. She said she absolutely knew it! And so, yesterday we celebrated her baptism!
I feel like on really amazing days, days where I can see forever at the top of the roller coaster, I quickly have to plummet to the bottom of the hill and experience the rush and stomach wrench that comes after you’ve slowly climbed the roller coaster, click by click. Yesterday was one of those days. I warn you now; this next story doesn’t have a happy ending. On Saturday night, we met the most amazing girl. She’d come into contact with a member at their English after-school academy and he told her a little bit about our message and English program. She was super excited to meet us, and we’re excited to meet anyone new! The hour we spent with her on Saturday night was powerful. We only briefly introduced the English program, and mostly just talked about God and prayer and the tangible blessings that come from the gospel message we share. By the time we left both she and my companion were crying together. She said she could tell that we really were sent here to testify of Christ, that every question that came to her mind, we then answered. Wow, I’ve heard of that happening to missionaries, but no one had ever told me that we were answering the concerns of her heart. All three of us were looking forward to our next meeting.
Yesterday at church during sacrament meeting I was sitting on the stand because I was conducting the music. The first Sunday of every month is special because the members can come to the podium and bear their testimony if they desire. I was sitting there listening to the members when I heard the phone vibrate, indicating a text message. I don’t condone phone usage at church, but we always have to be prepared in case an investigator wants to come to church. I read a message from our new friend and immediately I could feel tears welling up. Our dear friend that we’d just met said that she felt our beliefs were a little different and therefore she was cancelling our next appointment. I immediately texted back, asking if she could remember the powerful feeling she’d had when we’d met just the night before. I asked her if she’d sincerely prayed about what we’d talked about. She responded again and said that she didn’t really remember, but when she prayed she just felt that it was different, so it would be okay if we never met again. Wow, I felt my heart being wrenched around in my chest. I tried getting it together but, unfortunately, it was time for the closing song, so I had to stand up in front of everyone. Usually I’m all smiles and eye contact when conducting, but I could barely keep it together. She had been so amazing. I just knew that she was special, that the Lord had prepared her to meet us.
Unfortunately, the hymn was super long, or maybe it just felt that way. Throughout my mission I’ve been able to gauge my language ability on how well I understand the hymns. It’s always a little bit more than before. Yesterday as we sang “The Lord Is My Light” I could understand every single word. And I felt how true they were. As the third verse finished a single tear rolled down my cheek, and I couldn’t do anything about it, conducting with one hand and a hymn book in the other, but the words in the hymn in that moment reminded me of everything I needed; “And, walking by faith, I am blest every hour. The Lord is my light; He is my joy and my song. By day and by night, He leads me along.”
I know that is true. I know that He wants each of his children to understand that, and that’s why I’m here. He suffered for us and so he knows absolutely everything that we suffer. He knows all of our joys, too, like Sister Kim getting baptized and having access to all those great blessings! He’s there rejoicing and weeping with us every step of the way. I hate roller coasters, but I wouldn’t give up this experience or that knowledge for anything.