Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Lows and Highs

So, after I wrote last week, our lives fell a little bit apart. I called Freddy (who was an amazing new Christian who had brought his family to church, who asked us for a church tour, who was reading from the Book of Mormon every day, and is way in-tune with the Spirit) and he said that he's too busy to meet, and his life has been complicated lately (moving to a new house) so he felt it would be easier if he just followed his family to the Methodist church. He wouldn't agree to meet us again, but I invited him again to read the chapter in the Book of Mormon he'd been assigned and to pray about it. He said he would, I told him we'd always be here for him, and we ended the conversation on a friendly note. I then crawled into my bed and cried, and cried. He was so close to the truth. I thought of his wife and children, who I haven't even met yet, but who are looking for truth and for God. I thought of the times he'd felt and recognized the Spirit during our lessons with him. I know it's not over, this isn't the end of his story or his family's story. While I was crying (it'd been a while since I'd cried), it was weird to observe myself. I kept examining or checking myself for selfish motives... was I sad that now we have to figure something else to do on Thursday afternoons instead of teaching him, was I sad because I won't be able to tell people I was there when he and his family were baptized... no. I cried with my heart and I was crying purely out of love and sadness that Freddy and his family are being kept from receiving the blessings of the Gospel that my family and I have received and will receive. I was crying because of charity. I tell you this humbly. It was a purifying and defining experience for me, and it was completely not about me.

We also found out that day that another of our solid investigators left the country suddenly and has no plans to come back anytime soon, which was really a blow. And yet another one of our investigators who has been quitting smoking after it being a lifetime habit.. well, I will have to tell you in person someday.

There is one boy I have to tell you more about, though, Jack. I talked about him in my last email. He is the highlight of our day every time we see him. He has been through SO much... he is from the capital city of Nepal, and from what he says it sounds like a very sketchy place. He has seen and been involved in many terrible things in his life. He's had a hard life, a lot of it due to his own mistakes. But he has been touched by the love and light of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. He is repenting, sincerely. He prays in his head as he walks to work so that God will be nearby him. He reads the Book of Mormon and has felt it was true from the moment he saw his copy being pulled out of Sister Noorda's bag as we were giving it to him. He wants to memorize every page... he savors it. He is constantly looking forward to Sunday, because that means he gets to come to church. He has sincere questions and he's finding that they're beginning to be answered. A few days ago, we sat down with him for our 2nd formal lesson with a baptism date in our minds that we planned to offer to him that lesson. After the opening prayer, he asked us what the next step was, what he could do to improve besides reading and praying and coming to church. We talked about how baptism is the gate to the path of discipleship, the beginning (not end goal of) our spiritual lives. He got it. He normally talks a lot, but at this moment he was quiet. Sister Noorda invited him to be baptized on August 26.  Jack sat there quietly and thought about it for a few seconds. He then replied, "I think I should," with a grin. I wish you could have been there. It was exhilarating. We asked him a minute later how he felt about this decision, and he said, "I'm excited!" He asked us to give him a list of commandments (and "things to avoid") that he needs to follow before baptism, and that he would obey all of it. We told him we'd teach him the commandments line upon line, but his heart is so contrite and "willing to submit to all things." He is quick to recognize and believe the word of God. The Holy Ghost has guided him and helped him recognize Jesus Christ as the source to which he can look for a remission of his sins. He is a great example to me. We are really excited about him. He is another one of those people whom it is an absolute privilege to be teaching. (You will get to know him a little, President--you will most likely interview him next month before he is baptized).

Also!! I'm not sure if I told you how Devi (the man from Bangalore who wanted baptism) has been insanely busy with work and hasn't been able to meet us, and then we found out he is going back to India for a few months (undefined period of time)? I was SO bummed that he was leaving. His ticket was for last night. But he called us and told us "bad news"--that something with his visa requires him to stay in Malaysia until August, so he had to cancel/postpone his trip back. He was sad because he was supposed to see his cousin's wedding, but he said that we can meet him anytime now because he had already taken a 2 month leave from work. So now we get to teach him again!! I am so happy!!

Other than that... Chinese Anton has been passing the sacrament on most Sundays, and has been called as the Branch Librarian, which warms my heart. In his white shirt and tie :).  Also, Nigerian Anton also got the priesthood and went out to buy a set of white shirts and ties, which he now wears every Sunday at church. As I watch them, I feel like a proud mother, even though both of these guys are in their 30's. It's great.

In other news... at church, Kripala randomly (as in, interrupted a conversation I was having with a member, and) gave me a box of "drink mix." He said sometime to the effect of, "I see you sometimes feel very hot! The other day I was drinking this, I made it with ice, and it was very nice! It was so nice, I felt relaxed and all cooled off. Very nice mah, this is for you." Me and the member both laughed a little and I stuck it in my bag. Later when we got home, I was looking at it and discovered, to my surprise, that it was actually a box of packets of medication for urinary tract infections. (To clarify--I have never experienced such an infection.) I laughed for a very long time. I don't know whether he knew what he was giving me or what he himself had been drinking. He was either being sneaky, or oblivious. Either way, it was hilarious.

Being a missionary is great. I love it. Sister Noorda is amazing and hilarious, which helps. The Gospel is true and is the power of God unto the Salvation of His children. I firmly believe and know that God lives and loves each one of us.

Sister Gopinath

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