2 Nephi 2:27 was the theme of our week this week. My title for this email is a combination of two lead tongue moments this week from Hermana B as we were talking about this for our various investigators. I really like the addition of 2 Nephi10:23. That's the perspective I need right at the moment as I had a rather emotionally difficult week. Especially the latter half.
Wednesday, we went three times to the apartment of a potential investigator. The first time, we had an appointment scheduled and they postponed it to 5 pm. We came back at 5, and nobody was there, so we came back again at 6. Nobody was there again, but P’s mom A lives right beneath them and she was outside. While we were visiting with A we learned that the couple we were trying to visit upstairs fight a lot and very loudly. Putting two and two together, we're pretty sure that's where the large blue bruises we've seen all over V come from. I had that sitting in the back of my head, and then, as a favor to the branch president we picked up the Elders and took them to give a blessing to the inactive daughter of a member named D who was recently assaulted by her husband. He broke into her house, beat her for two hours to within an inch of her life, tried to gouge out her eyes and then strangle her with the cord of a curling iron. She went to the police and they gave her a restraining order, but what good will that do? He broke into her house the first time. So in addition to being beaten and battling a resultant kidney infection, this woman is still afraid for her life. V's boyfriend E, and D's husband are two more examples of people who are products of the world. But then, here come these two young men, Elders with the Priesthood authority of God to heal and to comfort and to bless the lives of other people, and that realization again of what Heavenly Father expects of us and allows us and enables us to become washed over me again, and I just had to cry about it for a little bit. It is such a beautiful thing. The contrast is so great to me that I'm almost crying again just thinking about it. With all my being I loathe men of the world. I abhor them and it just makes me sick to think about all of the terrible problems they cause. But on the other hand, there is nothing to me more beautiful than a worthy Priesthood holder who has "become." Young men, do whatever it takes to be worthy of and use your Priesthood. Even if you don't understand why, do it on faith and one day you will understand and you will be so grateful that you did it.
So that was rough. I'm also really worried about M. I feel like we're starting to lose her, and it's so hard not to feel like it's my fault. We've realized as a companionship that there are skills and objectives we need to be working on, and the way we teach needs to be a little bit adjusted, and those things don't even necessarily relate to M's situation, but having that realization that you need to change and then watching an investigator starting to slip puts you in a really vulnerable situation. It's so hard not to look back and think "if only I had done something differently. If only we could change the way that lesson went." I wasn't here when Hermana B and her last companion started teaching M, but I wonder if we have spent sufficient time addressing the basic principles of the gospel. I don't think we ever allowed her to dig her roots in deep before moving on because she was so willing to listen and learn. She always accepted the commitments we've given her, but I think now that it has been a while of living those commitments, she's like the plant from the parable of the sowers that burst forth with tons of leaves and promise, but wasn't able to support it with the root system that's in place. I think she's a little bit top heavy, and now that she's realized it, she's feeling a little bit pushed. She didn't come to church yesterday although her recent convert friend, K, brought the girls after a sleep over, and she didn't come to a dinner we had planned with a member family last night. So pray for M. Her daughter J is so ready to be baptized. That girl eats the gospel up like she'll die tomorrow if she doesn't.
Onto happier thing: This week, we had a really fun lesson with the G family about prayer. We had them pretend to be reporters for the news and "interview" characters from the Book of Mormon about the who, what, when, where, why and how of prayer. At the end, they gave us a news report answering all of the questions, and they did a great job. In the meantime, J and B told us their "how we met" story. Are y'all ready for this? You're sure? Ok. Our story starts with B living in Acuna, Mexico when she's 16, and J living in Los Angeles when he's 22. J comes to Acuna to visit some friends or family and meets B. He likes her. She seems to like him. Three days later, he asks her (in his own words) "hey, you want to go with me? You want to marry me?" And she said, "sure." Well, J was leaving back to Los Angeles in a week and wasn't going to be back any time soon, so they got married less than a week later. My question: "B, what on earth were your parents thinking?!" B's dad was in jail at the time, and her mom told her she could do what she wanted, but she should always know she was welcome home if she needed to come back. So, thirteen years and three kids later, they've joined the church and they're working towards a celestial marriage. Crazy!! This story is another one that emphasizes to me the importance of our choices. J struggles with alcohol. At one point, B picked up with the kids and moved to Del Rio (we can see Acuna from our side of the river and B can go see her family often) because she couldn't take his addiction anymore. J, however, loves his wife and children and decided to follow them. He has worked so hard since then to give up alcohol and to be a good husband and father. He wants to change and is working so hard to "become." It's all about his choices. This Sunday, B wasn't feeling well, but J got all the kids up and ready and brought them all to church. He was even wearing a super smooshed, wrinkly red tie with his white shirt and jeans. He beat us to Sunday School and texted us to ask where we were, haha. Even just five weeks ago when I got here, he was still struggling with alcohol, and one of our first lessons was about the importance of coming to church. But as a family, they set a goal to come every Sunday, and now as the righteous head of his household, J is doing everything he can to make sure that happens. I love him!!
It's all about your choices. Every lesson we taught seemed to focus around that this week. What do we have control over? What righteous decisions can we make to be happy now and to become the person that Heavenly Father wants us to become? That's the best part about missionary work, is watching people make those right decisions. And the hardest part, when you have to watch people choose the other path, especially after you have poured so much of yourself into them.
That's the big news this week. I love you all, and I love hearing how things are going. I am so grateful, more and more every day, to have been raised in the gospel by a family that loves and cares for each other. Mom and Dad, you are such great role models and I hope I can have a family just like our someday.
The gospel is true. It changes people. As we keep the commandments, we are happy, but we're free to cheese the switter option or the beet.
Love you all!