This is going to be a long one, so grab a blanket and some popcorn and settle in!
"You go on your mission to save the one"
I've learned over the last few weeks what it means to save the one. Sister Thurgood was talking to her counselor about her frustrations and struggles. At one point she exclaimed out of frustration "I've had 6 baptisms and they don't even mean anything to me!" TJ didn't mean that these people aren't important to her or that their covenants didn't matter, what she felt was that she wasn't really apart of what happened. To her, she was just there in the right place and in the right time. Yes, she testified, yes she committed, but for her it didn't feel like she really made any difference. She felt guilty and thought that it made her a bad missionary. I am really grateful that she talks to Sister Perry every week because what she was told changed things for me.
Sister Perry said, "You go on your mission to save the one. Sometimes the one is a contact. Sometimes the one is a convert, or a member. Sometimes you have more than one one. And sometimes the one you're supposed to save is yourself." We're all on our missions to save the one, and for Sister Thurgood, right now, her one is herself.
You guys know that I didn't want to come on a mission. I remember when I knew that Heavenly Father wanted me to serve and I silently told him that I would go, but I wouldn't go happy. Even after I heard where I would be going I struggled to understand. When I got out here I heard a lot of missionaries talk about these "one" experiences. They told me about people that they met and talked to. They told me stories of testifying to people and their companions being speechless. Even I have experienced that a little. Once, Sister Bradley and I had an hour and 1/2 teach with someone and I didn't say a word because I knew that Sister Bradley needed to talk, but its never really happened to me personally. It's all I really wanted. I remember talking to McArthur about it in the MTC. I told her "I don't know why I'm here, but I hope when I get to the end of my mission I can look back and see what God needed me for." In short, I wanted to find my one.
When times got hard and I would break down it was always the second thing I prayed for. I would beg Heavenly Father "Please help me to feel I'm not alone, and please help me know why I'm here." I wasn't going to be picky. I was okay if my mission was for a contact or investigator or myself. I didn't need a baptism out of it or a gold medal. I just wanted to know that I made a difference to someone, even if it was myself. I wanted to know that I was sent here to do something only I could do, whether that was a testimony, or a pleasant conversation, or offering a helping hand. And maybe that is selfish, but in this work it is easy to get lost.
We hold ourselves to a standard that is unattainable. It's good because we push ourselves, but if Christ came down I know He would say "You are enough. You are who I need because only you can touch these peoples hearts in the way you do." I think if Christ came down and talked to us He would tell us that our uniqueness make His army stronger and He would love our individuality. We forget that as missionaries. We forget that we were called as we are and given this opportunity to grow. I think we forget that as people too. We have it in our heads that God wants something better, that He wants the refined version of us, but it isn't true. We are given the opportunities we are to serve and to uplift because He needs us as we are. He needs real people with real weaknesses and real struggles to touch His children and bring them back to Him. The Savior was willing to leave the 99 to find the 1, teaching us that to God and to Christ we are all the one.
Christ isn't on the earth anymore, but see, He is a smart guy, so He created a system. He called us, us missionaries, us mom and dads, and families, to go out and find the one. As missionaries we have the privilege of doing that everyday. We get to go out and talk, cry, laugh, and work with God's children. And we get to try to save them, try to help them with whatever is the next step for them. We get to be the Shepherds.
But, although we are here to serve all, we aren't going to be "the match" for all. If you talk to any convert you will quickly learn that their missionaries were exactly who they needed. They came in at the right time, in the right place, with the right personality. It has more to do with God's perfect planning than the missionary, but to try to take the missionary out of the equation wouldn't make sense. The thing about missions is that it's just as much about us as it is about them. When you add more of one element to a chemical equation it will not only change the bonds and properties of the reactor element, but starter element as well. This work changed us just as much as it changes them, and that's the miracle of it.
We don't just meet the people we meet to help them, but because they will help us. We learn in Jesus the Christ that "One-sided service however devoted, may become neglect." And the Lord knows that, so he helps us help them and in return they help us. We get so caught up in our one-sidedness. We always talk about what we are here to do for others, and I love that, but I think its silly to exclude the other part of the equation. In my mission I have seen that those that I have had the privilege of working with have taught me just as much, if not more, than what I have taught them. I don't think they would see it like that, but I do.
That's the cool thing about this work, as we strive to help others, the Lord helps us. I love this quote by Elder Richard G. Scott, he said, "When we are acting as instruments in behalf of others, we are more easily inspired than when we think only of ourselves. In the process of helping others, the Lord can piggy back direction for our own benefit." I've seen that. As I have lost myself in the work, and its become about them, I have been blessed. And I think as missionaries that's what we want. Any missionary that said they didn't want anything back from their mission would be lying. We want to come out different, we want to learn lessons we need to learn, we want to know who we are, and as we lose ourselves in others we are able to come to know those things because we obtain the characteristics of Christ, and sometimes if we are lucky we get to find our one in the process. And I have.
Torunn's my one guys. I don't really know how to describe it, but it just clicks. I've been gone from Trondheim for about 6 weeks now (can you guys believe that?), and I didn't really understand it when I first left. Of course you love your areas, and you love the members, and your investigators, and all your memories there, but it was different with Torunn. I really felt like I was leaving a part of my heart when I left her. But I brushed it off. I thought that maybe it was because I was there for so long or because it was my first real area, and that's why it hurt to be away from T-heim and her, but I've been thinking about it a lot and it isn't those things. With Tor, I just feel really drawn to her. It's always been like that. From the first conversation we had we just hit it off and as I got to know her I realized how much she was like me, and how much I wanted to help her. But not in the read this pamphlet and pray about it kind of way, but in a let me just sit here and talk to you all day kind of way. It's weird. I have all the people I have met on my mission and I love them all to death, but then there's Torunn. She's seriously my best friend out here guys. She has so many qualities that remind me of you all. She is so her own person like Lo, she is bossy like Aly, she is hyper like Lins, and she listen and puts me in my place like Heather. She is sarcastic like Kate, and just lets me talk forever without giving her a chance like Lor. She is really good at relating like Annie, and she sometimes says things just like Mom. I love that girl. And I guess I wanted to tell you guys, because now I know. I know why I'm out here, and not in the "I'm here to help everyone" kinda of way, but in a very real way. And I know that God hears and answers prayers. She and my pride at times were the only reason that I stayed and didn't give up. And it's crazy, because these relationships they don't go away. I guess finding your one is seeing just a little bit of what Christ feels for us, and that's a miracle in its self. And the cool thing is that in saving them, they end up saving you too.
That's been on my mind a lot this week, so I thought I would take some time to write about it. I've written in my journal a total of like 20 days on my mission, so these letters home, they are my memories. I guess that's why I am so real and so descriptive. I don't want to forget a thing! But to mix it up a little bit, let's see the quotes of the week from TJ.....
Me talking to her about one of our 9 year old investigators, and she interrupts and says, "I told you! From the ages of 4 to 11 I'm like I don't want to know you, I don't want to see you. Just go into your room and don't come out until you are 12."
Me asking TJ about how we are going to recognize this random person that was supposed to come to our Christmas Concert. "How are you going to know who they are?!"
TJ: "I'm just going to look for the person I don't know. This branch is so small I have everyone's back sides memorize!"
Me asking TJ about the crafting projects we have been working on, "Are these projects going to expand? I HAVE to know!"
TJ: "No. I'll probably just sink back into depression and no want to do anything....."
Me "......ummm... anyways..."
TJ after getting ready: "You know how you said you were having a fat day?.... Well... I am fat today!"
Us talking about needing a sewing machine. We started talking about one of the families we work with here that has a really really messy house. TJ "K has to have a sewing machine somewhere in her house! That and Santa, they're both lost in there somewhere!"
TJ talking about losing her phone; "I don't know where my phone is. I'm not used to being so spacey."
Me: "Yeah. Why are you so spacey? Are you pregnant?"
TJ: " Might as well be. It would be more enjoyable than just being a depressed maniac!"
TJ every time something doesn't go her way, "GOOD GRACIOUS!"
And my favorites- TJ after she has taken her sleeping pills....
"Was I concerned that Aurora's dress was going to fall off during our teach? Absolutely!"
" Do these pills accumulate? One day will I just sleep for 40 hours and you will take me to the hospital because you will think I'm in a coma? And I'll wake up and be like WOOAAAHHH, I'M IN NARNIA!!!"
"I hereby declare that I am no longer accountable for my words!!"
And here you have it, the words of TJ for the week!
So is it kinda gay that you guys are all together reading this? Yes. Can you tell that the rhetorical questions are still going? Of course. Have multiple missionaries rung me and told me that after listening to Sister Thurgood and I ask so many rhetorical questions at Zone Leader Training that they do it all the time? Absolutely! For reals though, are you guys having fun? Guess what? We get to see each other's faces in like 8 days!!! Yay!!!
This week was full of ups and downs. Sister Thurgood had 3 panic attacks, so it was a bit of a stressful week. The cool thing though is that Sister Thurgood and I are totally good. The Lord is blessing us so much. Things are hard, but the work is going forward. There are like 9 thousand highlights from the week. First off, lets just talk about the elephant in the room.... no that was not a fat joke... I fell. Here's the story...
It had been a long day. One of those days where you don't understand anything anyone is saying to you and the members are crazy and the choir concert is approaching and you have to help set up for it... do you guys ever have days like that? They're rough. So we get done with almost everything we need to do and we leave the church. I'm feeling pretty low at this point. We still needed to walk down the street to go and teach this Armaninan family that got baptized right before I got here. They are the best, but anywho, TJ takes one good look at me and realizes that I'm just not my peppy self. She says, "Can I hold your hand?" You know before the mish, I had some standards. I was pretty choosy about who I held hands with, but these days I'll take what I can get. So we start walking down the street holding hands, being sister missionaries and all, and we are talking and complaining, and then BAM! My feet slip on ice and I slow-mo fall on my back. So here I am. On my back. Holding TJs handing with her standing over me with pure terror. At this point my life got as low as it possibily could, figuratively, and litterally, and what do I do? I just laugh. Hystrically. And TJ laughs and pulls me up. Then we see that I have this huge gash on my hand and we laugh even harder. Seriously, when did this become my life? So we go to this teach and I just hold my hand the whole time trying to not get blood anywhere. #thisisreal #tønsberg2014
Thankfully my hand is starting to heal. Its kinda nasty looking because the cut is a sideways one, but I think that its going to survive. Guess what I got in the mail this week from Tor? A CTR Norsk ring! Yeah, I about cried when I saw it. She is the best! I will send a pic!
So I told you guys that this week was a bit hard right? Well I have a miracle story for you guys. So Tuesday we had planned to go out and do some contacting. We really wanted to go out because we hadn't had as much time to be out as we wanted in the last little bit. Well somethings came up. Sister Thurgood had a panic attack and I didn't feel like we could go out, so we went and did some other things instead. TJ was feeling pretty low, but she decided to send out a last minute text to everyone in our phone. It was a quick message that just said "Hey, this is the missionaries, want to meet with us?" Like who is going to respond to that right? But Hey, the Lord has humor. So we get all these texts back with people telling us "Nei Takk" aka, no thank you, and were all like fine. Delete. Delete. Delete. But then a few days later we get a text back. She was saved in our phone as Aurora and she asked us to come at 8 o'clock on Saturday. We were like sure! Where? And she gave us her address and told us that there would be a total of 4 of them.
Okay... so I didn't give it much thought. I was kinda like okay, that's weird, but didn't really think it over. On Saturday as we were walking up the thought came to my mind that this might be super sketch. We didn't know any of her background or anything and I was really nervous that we were getting called into a let's bash the Mormon sesh. Not my fav thing to do on a Saturday night. TJ had my back though, so we knocked on the door. Who answers? This gorgeous blond girl, who invites us in with a huge smile on her face. We walk in to find another 3 pretty people. Okay does it matter that these people are pretty? No. But do we ever teach pretty, young, NORMAL, people? No! Miracle number one! It was 3 girls and 1 boy. We sat down and started talking and getting to know them and it was like magic. They were all so open and had so many questions. The missionaries had met two of the girls in the summer and then never called them back. We had an amazing teach with them! At one point we told them that we weren't here to prove anything to them, and Aurora says "In a way, we really want you to prove it to us. We want you to present your case and then let us decide." Um hello? Golden. They were so cool guys. TJ was amazing. She rocked the lesson! And it was so cool teaching 4 people that were all so different! We were just like "What do you believe? What do you believe? And you? And you?" I felt like I was conducting a question symphony! GUYS. This NEVER happens. Its a missionaries dream! It was cool too because they had 2 other guys come in during the teach so we ended teaching 3 boys and 3 girls. We committed the 4 to read the Book of Mormon introduction before we see them again. They weren't sure when they could meet with us so they all got our numbers so that they could meet with us alone if they couldn't do it together. It was so cool! They are probably in their 23-25s. Somewhere in there. I love them! At the end it got a bit crazy because people kept coming in so we asked if we could pray and then just threw the question out there if anyone wanted to try. Aurora said "I'll do it!" And she prayed there on the spot. Afterwards her friend high fived her. Dream teach? I think so!
Afterwards Sister Thurgood and I left and just jumped up and down hugging each other. We just got 4 new sweet investigators and they loved it! We got in the car and screamed at the top of our lungs! #Sistermissionarylife Then we called Gusty and told him the story in high pitched voices. What did he say? "ONE AT A TIME PEOPLE!" Hahaha. I love that kid! It was so cool guys! Man, it was awesome. They texted us on Sunday and were like "You guys are the best! We can't wait to see you again! Etc etc." They are cool. And one comes from North Norway! Her dialect is like Heaven! We asked them to read the Moroni promise out loud and they said, "Should we read in unison?" We about died. I was trying not to laugh so hard. They are the best!
We had our Christmas concert this last Friday. Guess who got a last minute solo? This girl. Well actually it was a duet, but I sang so loud, it might as well have been a solo. The other girl didn't know the part which only made me sing louder :) Didn't need a microphone for this girl! We had 2 of our investigators sing in it. They are from Sweden and they sang 3 songs. It was amazing! They basically saved the show. It was so cool. I recorded it on my recorder (thanks mom!) and on my camera. It was kinda funny though because here Christ isn't talked about AT ALL at Christmas time, so one of the songs they did was so not like any of the other songs sang. Its called "Winter Song" and its like a pop song. Lets just say that TJ and I were enjoying our non-motab time!! It was SOOO good! And it was way awkward for the people that had to follow them up. #Christmasconcert2013 #gosoloorgohome Did we see the lady (who is way intense) the next day and have her tell us what she is going to sing for next year? Yes! Do I understand why someone needs a whole year to practice a song? Absolutely not.
Yesterday there was 24 people in church, 4 missionaries. Highest I have seen yet. We used a CD player in sacrament meeting because there wasn't anyone to play the piano. Do they hate me a little bit because I am not talented? I think so. One of the members brought a friend with her. She is 13 and we taught her the first lesson, because it was the primary lesson we were teaching (coincidence? I think not), and she wants to be taught by us! Things are going well here!!
How are things going there? It sounds like you guys are busy busy!!! I am so excited to talk with you all next week! Oh.... yeah... I forgot.... my hair got chopped.... Yeah... So here's the quick story... We had this potential investigator right? And she cut hair. I was thinking well what better way to get her to be a real investigator than by letting her serve us. So we went to her and had a great conversation. She sat me down pulls out her scissors and says "I really haven't cut hair that much, just for some close friends." And then chop. over an inch gone. Do I look like a gay page boy? Absolutely. Has my hair been in a pony tail since then? Yes. Will I go get it fixed one day? Probably after it grows another inch. Seriously guys, don't tell me that I don't sacrifice for this work!
Okay, I better get. Hahaha I never say that, but today I realized that both mom and Heather said that in their emails. Heather, are you becoming Mom? Yep! I love you guys so much!! I hope that the Holidays!! Sounds like we will be skyping at Midnight your time to welcome in Christmas and then again later when the babies are up! That will be fun! You guys still warm (like its cold there) and happy! We will talk snartly!!
Keep it real. Keep it classy. And may the odds be ever in your favor!!