Hey world! What it is?
I'm going to be honest, after a crazy day of travelling to Belo Horizonte, getting my visa renewed, and running around, I have not had a whole lot of time to prepare a good e-mail for you lovely people. That's a horrible admission to make, because I like to entertain. But I guess I'll just follow the Spirit and we'll see what I say.
1) Get Out- So first off a strange, somewhat shocking little story that happened during a visit to a less active we are working with. To begin with, the less active family was at church on Sunday and the son is going on visits with us regularly. But that's not where I'm going with this.
First thing you need to know: The father was letting an old friend he found living on the street stay at their house. We were in their house to visit, and the father had left us with the son and the formerly homeless "Whitney." We were talking with them, and Whitney was telling us excitedly about how the three of them were planning to move into a nicer apartment together, how he and the father were old friends, etc.
Soon, the father returned, angry. He said to Whitney: "You lied to me. I don't like it when people lie to me." Next thing we knew Whitney had his backpack on, two plastic bags of stuff, and was on the road again. Confused, we asked where Whitney was going.
The father replied, "He lied to me."
"So...where is he going?"
"To live on the street again, I imagine."
I liked the guy, and felt bad for him. And was a little confused at what had just happened.
2) So Close- There is a very bitter feeling in the life of a missionary that accompanies the ending of some lessons. A lesson is like a work of art, that you create together with the investigator. We teach the "first lesson" (The Message of the Restoration) a lot as we search for new investigators. The goal, by the end of the lesson, is their accepting the invite to read the Book of Mormon, pray, be baptized after receiving an answer, and to come to church with us on Sunday.
So the whole lesson is spent building up to this point, helping them understand, adapting to their circumstances, asking questions, reading scriptures, and preparing them for that invite. Usually we can tell whether or not they will accept based on their understanding. If they don't accept even just one part of the invite, we usually leave without planning to return.
So what is that bitter feeling? When you feel you've taught a great lesson, that you and the investigator are learning and being uplifted together, and are sure they will accept...and they don't. And you leave the house, asking yourself if you had missed an opportunity, because they should have accepted. This happened more times than I like this week. But, at the same time, we found a large number of extremely prepared people. And we know that there are people the Lord has already prepared for us, we just need to find them.
3) Members- To all of you "regular members of the church" out there, I love you. Thank you for everything you do for the missionaries. The food, the kind words, the friendship, and the help in the work. We appreciate it. I appreciate it. I'm so happy to be serving in a branch where I consider the members my friends. It's because of you that missionaries are able to handle being far from their families, and it's because of you that the work moves forward. Never underestimate your role, or what you are doing. I know we're always asking more of you--more references, more visits, more support--but first you need to know that we're inexpressibly grateful.
I have felt that a lot here in Ipatinga. A great love for the members, in large part because of the great love they have for me--without knowing me very well, simply knowing that I am a missionary.
It's good being a missionary. Thank you for all your help. We're here to help you, your families, your friends. Don't be afraid to ask.
I love you all. Next week I promise a better letter. This is the Lord's work. We are fallible servants, but we do our best. I'm doing my best. I wish I could do more. But I'm getting there. And I think that pleases Him.