Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Working Hard to Improve My Patience...

Dear void:

It’s another blustery day in the hundred-acre mission field. The weather here is crazy. One minute it is tropical summer and the next it’s sweater weather. Somebody told me the other day that if you don’t like the weather in Houston, wait a minute! Haha that’s pretty true.

I think the same could be said about missionary work. If you feel like things are going smoothly, wait a minute! Haha and vice-versa. This past week our investigator Ana who totally wanted to be baptized told us that her mom is not going to let her meet with us anymore. Her mom wants her to go to the Catholic church. I guess they’re all going as a family. What?! I know. Totally stinks. But there’s really nothing we can do about that. It’s just SO HARD for me personally to walk away from someone who so obviously has felt the spirit and started to see some real spiritual growth, and who has such strong desires to keep growing! What can you do. . . KNOCK DOORS and find someone else to teach! The good thing about missionary work is you can always find someone else to worry about and it gets your mind off the people you have to leave behind.

So last Wednesday we went to do some sight-seeing in San Jacinto City, where the U.S.S Texas finds its berth. I think my poor brain hadn’t had that much non-religious stimulation in six months (today is my six month mark by the way!) and was flipping out. I kept asking all the elders ten billion questions about battleships and whether or not they would join the navy and “what is that for” and other questions they couldn’t possibly know the answer to. But it was way fun for me. I thought it was fascinating the way that ship was put together. I could never live on it though. Anyways, the point of all this is that I found myself, at the end of the day, behind the wheel of the Lord’s car, with two backseat drivers in white shirts and ties sitting behind me telling me, “don’t follow the zone leaders, we know the way home.” In other words, “the zone leaders are trying to lead you down the path of righteousness but we’re gonna lead you down the path that ROCKS.” And I totally succumbed to peer pressure and split off from the group. (actually I didn’t have much of a choice. I would do just about anything to avoid having my district leader (backseat driver #1) mad at me – we work with him on an almost daily basis.) So there I was, in the fourth largest city in this wonderful nation, stuck in rush hour traffic and –of course- taking the WRONG exit onto the WRONG freeway. The right freeway twists around and goes up over the wrong one so all the other missionaries could look down on us in mock pity and wave as we inched under them. And we inched for about another forty minutes before finally traffic broke enough for us to realize that in order to exit the freeway we would be going well out of our mission boundaries. Welcome to the Texas Houston mission, where the freeways take you into downtown and where missionaries from the East mission get sent home for visiting! Haha. Probably one of the most stressful car rides of my life! But we were all just laughing so hard. Every time we tried to fix a mistake, we ended up making a worse one. Anyways I finally got smart and decided my own knowledge, though limited, would be better getting me home than any information I was getting from the back seat. (I realized this about the time one of them took out his camera and started taking pictures of all the things we were seeing that we weren’t ever supposed to see since they’re in the Houston mission.) Let’s just say I was happy to set foot back on Houston East soil.

And speaking of the Houston East mission, we have a strange phenomenon here that the President is very concerned about. Since we have both English speaking missionaries and Spanish speaking missionaries, there naturally comes with that demographic a divide of sorts, and he wants to eliminate it. So he’s starting at the root of the problem and trying to correct our language. He no longer wants us to refer to them as English speaking missionaries – he’d prefer we don’t make any sort of distinction. I think he’s a wonderful President and trying hard to improve our mission but there are times when we really need to refer to them that way! For example, when we meet an English speaker and we want to give the referral to the “English missionaries.” How else do we say that? So my District leader came up with a long list of other things we could call them. One of them was “muggles.” When I heard that, I just turned to Hermana Harry and said, “do you know what this means?” then in my best Hagrid voice...”you’re a WIZARD harry!” hahaha! But the moral of the story is, we’re just going to try to bridge the divide which is what President wanted in the first place.

“The boy who lived” and I have actually had quite a week. Our zone leaders asked us to knock doors for two hours each day, after three o-clock in the afternoon, so we’ve met some interesting people. We chose a new apartment complex that we had never knocked before and started knocking fairly randomly at a door that was on an end. A cute Hispanic woman who was probably about sixty or seventy opened and let us set up an appointment with her for the next day, then told us that she was the only Hispanic in the complex. We knocked a few more doors just to make sure and she was telling the truth. Everyone else confirmed it as well, so we decided we’d be more productive somewhere else. Anyways we went back to teach the woman we met and turns out she’s a less active member! But it was so odd to me because she never told us. We got about halfway through the first lesson before I figured it out and asked her. Sure enough, there she is on our ward directory. That was a weird experience. But I told her that the Lord must be calling out to her to come back to church then because all of that hullaballoo just to meet her. I don’t think she’s going to come. Some people are so strange. But I really do think that we were led to her. Why else would we have received such strong impressions to knock that complex? I’m glad the Lord is more patient with his lost sheep than I am. As for me, I’m working hard to improve my patience. Which is just a missionary way of saying that I totally lose my temper after visiting less actives that show no interest in coming back to church but happily claim that they have faith they will inherit all the blessings of an active member in the eternities. It just doesn’t work that way. Something interesting I’ve noticed about the Hispanic people is that they are very quick to accept the gospel but – and they’ll all tell you this- they’re very lazy about STAYING in the gospel. We have a lot of less-actives. I guess that’s probably true with everyone though.

And I don’t have anything else super-interesting to write about. I think the hardest part about missionary work (and I think I’ve said this before) is just the monotony. It’s never boring but a lot of the time it’s just average. It’s like flying a plane. 90% nothing and 10% high stress/ultimate excitement. But I have noticed, since I’m doing my six month mark nostalgia, that looking back you can see how far you’ve come even though at the time you didn’t realize you were changing.

I hope you’re all changing and growing and progressing as well. As I tell my district leader, “may your every wish be granted.” (that’s what I tell him when he says “this is a dumb song” and I read his mind and change the track…but I mean it sorta seriously to all of you…or at least most of you, depending on who reads this. Haha jk okay all of you!)

Love you lots!


p.s. Meg - i officially had a dream about you. I dreamed I went to go see you because I hadn't heard from you in so long! And you were sitting in your pajamas on the top bunk of a bunk bed so I think you weren't expecting me. haha. Don't make me come find you! Write me....

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Plan B...or C or D...

Happy P-day familia mia!

I hope every one of you kneels down each night with your (eternal) companion and prays before diligently planning your day out like Harry and I do. Last night I couldn’t help but think, “those who can’t wed, plan!” and laugh at how true that is. (mom: name that movie) You can make a plan for each half hour of your day, and a back-up plan as well, but why is it that what you ACTUALLY end up doing never really goes according to plan A OR plan B? I guess some things you just can’t plan for.

For example: On Sunday, we planned to have eleven investigators in church. Haha. That was plan A. Since we were feeling so great about that, we decided to go knocking doors before church started and picked a street we both felt good about. As soon as we turned down that street, we both started oohing and ahhing like we’d just walked into Disneyland. HOUSES. With YARDS. Haha it was actually really really pretty. And so we were remembering those far off days when we used to have grass in front of a house and a driveway where we could put the car that we actually owned. (or at least, my dad owned. ) And then, to our further amazement, we noticed something…strange…on the side of the road. I’ve seen cats and possums (yes mom, possums!) and all sorts of mangy dogs, but this was a new one: PEACOCKS. Yeah. About twelve of them! It was the coolest thing ever. We drove further and found more! All over the place. Who would have thought. We got some crazy pictures. So that was our not-according-to-plan-experience #1 for the day.

Experience #2: remember our plan for eleven investigators? Nobody showed up! So I was sitting up on stand by the piano, waiting to play the closing hymn, when a guy in black jeans and a turquoise shirt walked in. I looked at him and then did a double-take. It was Jose Gonzalez- one of the investigators that I didn’t really think would come! I think my face just about broke from smiling so big – and so he smiled back and kinda shrugged his shoulders at me like “what am I doing here?” haha. He is my favorite investigator that I’ve ever had. (don’t tell the rest.) He teases a lot and he’s very smart, but has been put off by religions that take money from the people and give it to their pastors. So he’s not very trusting, but he told us later that he’s been to lots of churches, but when he walked into our chapel, he felt something different. Definitely didn’t plan on that.

Unplanned Experience #3: and I’m not sure that this one counts because it happened before Sunday but it was pretty darn unplanned. Last p-day, in an effort to buy shirts that actually allow you to keep your sanity in this Texas heat, we PLANNED to go to a thrift store (don’t judge too harshly, we only get $130 a month!) with some of the other hermanas who live near us to buy some really cute shirts. Two hours later, we walked out of the thrift store. The hermanas didn’t come when planned, so Harry and I just walked around collecting everything we thought might possibly fit us (sarah- they had really cute stuff and really CHEAP. It’s like the reject store for charlotte russe and stuff). When the time came to try everything on, we asked to be shown to a fitting room. PLANS CHANGEDwhen the store worker told us there WASN’T A fitting room. (we’re not in Utah anymore Harry) haha! Oops. So we found a nice corner in the bed sheet section, took a mirror from the mirror section, and tried our shirts on over our lovely missionary proselyting clothes. Talk about companion unity- we had to depend on each other to tell us whether something was cute/ made us look fat or not. As if people didn’t already think we were weird enough. But I’m happy to report that I bought some stuff that I’m pretty happy about and seeing as each shirt was about two dollars to five dollars, I didn’t spend much money at all either. And I’m glad, because the other day I got asked if I was a menonite! OUCH. Hermana Harry and I just looked at each other and then I said, we’ve got to buy some new clothes! Haha the guy actually laughed pretty hard. He was an unplanned experience as well. In fact, he’ll be unplanned-experience #4

Number 4: We contacted a referral and set up an appointment, when we got there, he wasn’t available but his wife was and she invited us in. As we started the lesson she started saying how she and her husband have really been wanting to come to our church. Then she already knew the Joseph Smith story and said she knew it was true and felt like this church was “calling” to her. I told her I knew it was. Haha. No, her name isn’t Israel, it’s Lucia, but we’re going back tonight and I’m way excited. Anyways, the unplanned part of this story is that as we left, the sun had gone down. Usually we’re told not to contact after dark, but we were pretty stoked about the awesome lesson we had just had and so we decided to contact the two guys drinking on the back of their truck across the street. That’s where we got called menonites. But they were actually really friendly, funny, not-interested-in-religion drunk guys. And they were little short of amazed that we weren’t scared to talk to them. As they were asking me if I was scared, I told them no, but then my mind went off on all the reasons why I probably SHOULD be scared, but my na├»ve, growing-up-in-Utah mind hadn’t thought of any of them before we contacted. I think next time I’ll think that through.

Anyways, the moral of the story is, plan to be planning as you go along.

May you all plan to write me back LOOOONG letters with lots of encouraging compliments, and may you all follow through with your plans. I’ll be planning on checking the mailbox lots this week! Haha I love you all and hope everyone is doing well. Talk to you soon,


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Bathroom Joys

Hello, Hello! Hello, Hello! We welcome you to-day, hello! (as sung by the primary…laugh…it’s funny)

Happy Easter to everyone! Thank you thank you thank you for the basket and all the treats! I loved it – and I felt right at home eating four boxes of peeps (one for each of my sisters and one for me…just like I always do. You girls are crazy by the way – peeps are GOOD.) I decorated our apartment while Hermana Harry was showering so she was pretty stoked when she got out. I think her comment was “The easter bunny came!” haha. Her mom is a health freak and sent plastic eggs with un-buttered, un-salted popcorn inside…so I hid those along with the cute Noah’s arc my-mom-is-so-spiritual eggs that you sent, chuck full of sugar. (by the way, they came off in threesies threesies all because of birds and beesies beesies, so where are my third set of eggs?) oh yeah, I also hid the eggs we dyed the night before (mine was red and said GO UTES with a block u. that’s right. ) which had started sweating because it was so humid in our apartment and now the dye is everywhere. But it was way fun. Harry’s sister sent nerf guns for each of us so we had a nice nerf fight as well, running around and screaming like dignified servants of the Lord. And then we put on our nylons and went to conference like good missionaries. But actually I really enjoyed conference as well. (I resisted reminding everyone of it in my last e-mail because I knew that one of my dear sisters in particular would have a fit and call me goober. That’s for you sarah. That’s how much I love you. Just nobody tell her that I had it marked on my calendar and I’ve been counting down the days. Goober missionary happens to the best of us. ) I especially liked the talk that Sister Beck gave (even though I like her hair darker better) when she said that women have to fight the temptation of thinking that they deserve more “time off” or “time to themselves to relax.” AMEN. Soooooo much to say about that. We could train for another marathon based on that thought alone. Nuff said.

By way of other news, we met a nice black guy who was working at the home of one of the doors we knocked a few days ago and he was totally interested but as we were talking I got pretty interested in HIM! (not like that…) He told us his name is yarim or something but that he goes by (get this) “dolla bill.” I know. So somebody needs to tell Peter Ott. Ask him if half dolla feels the desire to up it to dolla fiddy. Do I hear a dolla fiddy? Goin once, goin twice, SOLD to the crazy contactee who sings rap and looks for God in nirvana or whatever he was saying.

But we actually had a pretty cool week. LOTS OF DOOR KNOCKING. But we met some cool people. One girl we’ve recently started teaching is named Ana and she is fifteen, and her brother got baptized in December. She would listen to our lessons and agree with everything until I asked her to get baptized and then she started saying all this stuff about already being baptized catholic (totally disheartening – okay. Let’s start back at square ONE) but I could have sworn she understood the lessons and so we started going back over it and then finally she was kinda staring off and then snapped out of it and looked at me and said “I feel like I can’t get any closer to Jesus because last year they took my Dad to prison for something he didn’t do and he’s going to be in there for seventeen years and I promised myself that when he got out I would get revenge. With that feeling inside me, I can’t even open the Book of Mormon. I can’t get any closer to God.” Whoa. I bore my testimony of the Atonement and getting over those kinds of feelings BY getting closer to God. Then I promised her that in seventeen years when her dad got out, he would be happier to see his daughter happy and close to God than to see her miserable and seeking revenge. We continued on with the lesson and afterwards she said “Just now when you were talking I felt that feeling go down in my heart a little bit. I want it to go away.” Yesterday she told us she has been reading the Book of Mormon and she feels like we love her and God loves her. She said “I’ve been thinking a lot about what you said to me about being baptized and I think I’m gonna do it.” One of the best experiences of my mission so far. She’s such a good girl and her brother is solid as well.

And now it’s time for “Awkward Becca-on-a-mission Moments:” I hope everyone is sitting down for this one… So our dinner appointments with members are always a stressful thing for me because on Sunday I am always playing prelude when the Hermana in charge of our meal schedule gives us our schedule, so Hermana Harry who is ever so diligently trying to learn Spanish but really not quite there just yet is the one who does all the communicating. Suffice it to say we accidentally ended up with two meals for yesterday. I was trying to call and confirm one and call and cancel the other but only managed to cancel the one and never got a hold of the other Hermana. So I was already feeling awkward just showing up at her house. Then, when we got there everyone was eating and her sister and her kids were there as well… pretty apparent that she had forgotten about us. So she jumps up and tries to fake like she didn’t and apologized for having started without us. We ended up sitting on the couch awkwardly while she cooked. Imagine how I’m feeling sitting there. Okay. Now, I’ve had to go to the bathroom for the past seven hours… so I finally ask if I can use her bathroom and she says go right ahead. I go around the corner and see the bathroom door slightly open so I push on it and WHOA! SOMEBODY’S IN THERE. Yeah. I walked in on her son. I’m not quite ready to laugh about it yet. Especially given the fact that he’s about eighteen and way cute. Who would have thought that I’d see more naked boy on the mission than ever before in my life? Not me! (what is is with me and seeing men on toilets? Anyone remember my story about the man in the woman’s bathroom in the public library? Yeah. I don’t get it.) But there you go. I’m totally awkward, and Hermana Harry told the elders and they have never laughed so hard. Thanks Harry. I wanted to crawl into my scripture case and die. Haha luckily he was pretty cool about it. And it actually wasn’t that bad. Tomorrow it will probably hilarious. Right now it’s still kinda painful. I don’t recommend that. There are better ways to build relationships with the members. I blame it on the fact that I was only in the MTC for three weeks. (along with everything else I do that is crazy)

Speaking of things that are crazy, and this will be my last thought of the week, I have realized something about myself: I am Miss 20 questions. Seriously though. My poor district leaders have to put up with me. I don’t get how everyone else is fine when they say “anyone have any questions?” Nobody ever raises their hand except for struggle buddy hermana tingey behind the piano who never seems to be DONE asking questions. Haha. But that’s okay. They feel important when they get to answer, and I get to take their answer and file it away and then come up with my own later during study. Haha. Random, but true. Idiosyncracy (gill?)

There is beauty all around when there’s love at home (except when walking in on someone in the bathroom.) LOCK THE DOOR. I love you all. How is everyone doing? Somebody needs to find out if Meagan Renae Kline is dead or alive. Tell her I love her but she MUST WRITE ME OR ELSE!

Okay muah!