I am so busy. It’s amazing! And really, a great blessing because we’re always running around teaching people and meeting new people in the process. Sometimes I’m surprised I don’t fall over from exhaustion, but the 8 hours of mandated sleep I get each night because of the missionary schedule helps. Also, when you’re spending all your time thinking about other people and focusing on their needs, you can’t spare a moment for yourself! Sometimes I’m worried that we’re too busy to meet new people, too focused on the friends we’re already meeting, but the work goes on and somehow we do keep meeting new people interested in what we have to share!
Last Monday wasn’t too crazy, but we always end our P-day time a little early in order to get to an appointment we have in the evening. We’d spent our free time in the downtown shopping area near our church exploring and having a great time. So much fun that the time we’d planned to go to the church and write letters after shopping was all spent up! But we went to the church anyway for what would only be 10-20 minutes before catching the bus we needed. As we were approaching the church, I noticed this girl ahead turning into the parking lot. I thought, “Oh, she’s parked her car in our parking lot. One of those people.” Then she passed the cars and kept walking. My next thought was, “Oh, she is going to use the church restroom. One of those people.” I know, I’m still working on being a better person. I’m a work in progress. It wasn’t until she shook the locked doors that she saw our reflection in the glass doors and turned around. She asked if we were the missionaries serving in the Chungjang Ward area. Then I thought, “Oh, no, she knows the word ‘ward.’ She’s a member and I should be really nice and not be thinking skeptical thoughts about her. Dang it.” We told her we were and walked inside together. That is when she told us that she used to meet with the elders a long time ago and that she wanted to meet again, so she’d come to the church looking for them.
My mind was crowded with thoughts of how this was a first for me and how absolutely perfect our timing was and a myriad of other things! I told her that usually we meet with women and elders meet with men, so would it be okay if she met with us. I also asked if she was interested in English or the gospel. She said it was okay (to meet with us) and she was really interested in both. Both. BOTH! I’ll take it! I knew she was sincere because the appointment we scheduled was for the very next day. She was even early to the church for our appointment and got there before we did.
During the 30 minutes of English discussion (by the way, she lived with a host family in America, so her English is nearly perfect), she kept getting off topic and asking us questions about our missions and telling us about herself. Turns out, when she’d met with the missionaries before, she was always so happy, and the missionaries’ smiles always warmed her up, but she had to stop meeting with them because she had to leave Gwangju for school and work. She was feeling especially low recently, so she remembered that feeling and joy she’d felt with them, and decided to go to the church. I told her what a miracle it was that we’d met because normally no one is at the church, and we were only stopping in for a few minutes. She was just as astonished as we had been the day before when she learned of the “coincidence” of meeting her.
Usually in a first meeting, especially with people interested in English, I just do a brief introduction focusing on the Book of Mormon and the power of prayer, but since she’d met with missionaries before, I asked her what she remembered. “Smith,” was her answer. Good, Joseph Smith. I decided in that moment to go all out, and we taught the whole first lesson about prophets and Christ’s church and the restoration of the fullness of his gospel and priesthood. She even remembered parts of Joseph Smith’s first vision when I asked her what happened when he prayed for an answer. Ah, YES! No wonder the missionaries were always so happy when she met them, she’s AMAZING! Using the pictures in the front of the blue Book of Mormons we give to people, I asked her if when she knew our message was true if she’d get baptized. She said, “Yes!” I couldn’t testify to and promise enough of the happiness and joy she can find through our message!
Seriously, missionary work is the best. And it’s because I get to share the happiest message around! This week I got to see the effects of that message on someone else, someone whose heart was touched and came looking for more. I’m so lucky that I’m here right now and get to help her along that path. I couldn’t be anywhere better!