Our pet that we found the other night upon returning home. Just a tarantula in our closet, no big deal (yeah we killed it alright)
Well we've got a lot going on this week. Lots of work to be done here in Cuichapa, really. Elder Williams and I are looking for new people every day, and finding quite a few. But it seems so hard lately here. Seems like we work and work and work, and nothing changes. We're not doing the same thing either, we keep trying new things, looking in PMG (Preach My Gospel) for new techniques all the time. I've actually just stopped reading straight through the scriptures like I used to, or studying subjects, and I'm reading PMG from front to back again, but with way more deep-studying. I love it, but we're still struggling to find the right way to do everything here. It's tough. It doesn't get me down, I just keep looking for another way every time something fails, but Elder Williams gets pretty down sometimes. I understand, as this is his first area here in Mexico, and its not the easiest to say the least.. I don't know why, but it seems so tough lately. It's such a small little town, we pretty much know everybody already, but they all are so confused. Half of them dont want to hear from us, and those who let us teach them don't want to change. We have been looking for ways to bring the Spirit more into our lessons so that they can feel the spirit so strong they can't deny it. We feel succesful as far as it goes teaching-wise, and spirit-wise, but it doesn't shake them. Then I found a simple sentence in PMG that just broke my heart, because it rang so true to me in the moment I read it. Like I was living it:
"Your responsibility is to teach clearly and powerfully so they can make a correct choice. Some may not accept your message even when they have received a spiritual witness that it is true. You will be saddened because you love them and desire their salvation." (page 10, Preach My Gospel)
Well, we can't obligate the people to accept the gospel. This week, we went to an appointment with Pola, a lady that we talked with a few days prior, she was so nice and open with us, and accepted that we come back to share the gospel with her family. Well when we got to her house a few days later to talk with them, we came to the door; knocked, shouted "buenas tardes", everything. We even saw her neighbor and she told us that she should be home, that she was just sweeping the porch a few minutes ago. Then I thought maybe she was in her sisters house (behind her house) so we walked to the side of the house to approach her sisters front door. As we walked towards her house, I turned back and saw Pola with her young daughter run into their home, and the little girl had such a scared face running with her mom. I just stood and was perplexed by the sight. At first, I was scared thinking that something was happening, but then I realized, "...they're running from ME..?.." I thought "What did I do to deserve such behavior? What reason do they have to be scared of us, I haven't done anything to them.." I walked back to the door, and tried talking to her, but to no end. I was talking into an 'empty' home, as nobody was responding to me.. We then apologized to the 'empty' home for whatever we might have done, offered our help with anything, listened for a response, and still nothing. Walking away from the home, I felt so weird. I felt so rejected, misunderstood, saddened, and frightened by the girls face all at the same time. And then I felt a warm comforting, a voice telling me "You didn't do anything. They might treat you in such a manner, but you know you are innocent of such things." I felt that really, even this time, I was standing shoulder to shoulder with the Savior. Sure, we may have dissapointments in the mission, not everyone will accept us, some may treat us like criminals, and we may be bad-mouthed, etc. All these things, the Savior suffered too. It reminds me of a talk I heard from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland:
Anyone who does any kind of missionary work will have occasion to ask, Why is this so hard? Why doesn’t it go better? Why can’t our success be more rapid? Why aren’t there more people joining the Church? It is the truth. We believe in angels. We trust in miracles. Why don’t people just flock to the font? Why isn’t the only risk in missionary work that of pneumonia from being soaking wet all day and all night in the baptismal font?
You will have occasion to ask those questions. I have thought about this a great deal. I offer this as my personal feeling. I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because Salvation was easy. We are The Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our Great Eternal Head. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him? It seems to me that missionaries and mission leaders have to spend at least a few moments in Gethsemane. Missionaries and mission leaders have to take at least a step or two toward the summit of Calvary.
Now, please don’t misunderstand. I’m not talking about anything anywhere near what Christ experienced. That would be presumptuous and sacrilegious. But I believe that missionaries investigators, to come to the truth, to come to salvation, to know something of this price that has been paid, will have to pay a token of that same price.
For that reason I don’t believe missionary work has ever been easy, nor that conversion is, nor that retention is, nor that continued faithfulness is. I believe it is supposed to require some effort, something from the depths of our soul.
If He could come forward in the night, kneel down, fall on His face, bleed from every pore, and cry, “Abba, Father (Papa), if this cup can pass, let it pass,”then little wonder that salvation is not a whimsical or easy thing for us. If you wonder if there isn’t an easier way, you should remember you are not the first one to ask that. Someone a lot greater and a lot grander asked a long time ago if there wasn’t an easier way.
The Atonement will carry the missionaries perhaps even more importantly than it will carry the investigators. When you struggle, when you are rejected, when you are spit upon and cast out and made a hiss and a byword, you are standing with the best life this world has ever known, the only pure and perfect life ever lived. You have reason to stand tall and be grateful that the Living Son of the Living God knows all about your sorrows and afflictions. The only way to salvation is through Gethsemane and on to Calvary. The only way to eternity is through Him—the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
I know its hard sometimes but it will always be worth it. We are learning not only about the Atonement from reading the scriptures, but through our very own experiences.
Even with all the hard trials, I know that the message we are sharing is true, I know that Jesus Christ lives, and directs this church. Even with all the persecusion and trials and whatever it might be that happens to us, the truth will always press on, forward and forever.
May we all strive to share just a little more of the gospel in our lives. Let us not be afraid of rejection, for it is truly these types of experiences that strengthen ourselves.
"Dare to be a mormon
Dare to stand alone
Dare to have a purpose firm
Dare to make it known."
This is my prayer for you all, and I so share it with you in the humble name of my Lord, even Jesus Christ. Amen.