Well, this week was quite the adventure! On Monday we went with the Elders to visit a less active, Schwester B, who is always really medicated so she is always here and there and getting up and doing something else, turning on Romanian music and dancing, and then falling asleep in the middle of her sentences. It was quite the adventure. We met with her a couple more times during the week and the adventures just get more interesting.
But on Tuesday we went to distrikt meeting, like usual, but on the bus a woman from China started talking to Sister Henry and asked her where she was from and what she was doing here in Germany. When we got off the bus we took the woman to the church with us. I was able to talk to her in Chinese a little bit, though I have lost a good deal of what I once had, I still sound good enough for her to respond to me. But for the most part we talked in English.
Her name is Lily, yes, I know, but it gets better. Her Chinese name is the same character as my Chinese name, which is really crazy. And, Lily is really excited because we have the same eyes. Which is random, because a lot of Chinese people have really dark eyes and mine are hazel leaning on the green side and Lily was really excited when we were giving her a tour of the church because she decided we have the same eyes.
Lily lives in Shanghai and goes to Christian churches there. She has a strong faith in Christ and believes that everytime she’s having a difficult time in life, the Lord always gets her to church. She told us she’s looking for home, looking for something that feels right. She said that people in China think that she’s only half Chinese and she said that she feels that she doesn’t fit in there. When we showed her the Restoration DVD she said that Joseph Smith’s story was a lot like hers. She said that she was searching for something, but wasn’t sure what it was.
We talked with her on Friday about coming to church on Sunday and she said she wasn’t sure if she was going to be able to make it to church because she is on Vacation, but we promised her that if she came to church she would feel that it was good and that it was for what she was looking. But she told us she wasn’t sure.
So on Sunday, Sister Henry and I decided to fast that she would come to church, but I’m gonna be honest, I wasn’t sure how much faith I actually had that she was going to come, it was more of a hope that she would show up. We tried to call her on our way to the church, but her phone was off, and I was convinced that we weren’t gonna be able to get her to church.
I should know better than to doubt the Lord, because twenty minutes into combined Relief Society/Priesthood I heard the high heels clicking that only a funky Chinese doctor would wear. I turned around and lo and behold, there was Lily.
She LOVED church! She said that it felt so good and she felt comfortable. We met with her after church and the lesson was so spiritual and when she prayed it was SO powerful! She started crying she felt the spirit so strongly and Benji felt it too. It was just so incredible how the Lord works His miracles among the children of men.
We asked Lily if she would be baptized and she said she needed a little more time, which is find for now, but she doesn’t have a lot of time. She goes back to China on the 18th of July, so we’ve gotta get her baptized BEFORE she goes back. But I have confidence that the Lord has been preparing her for this and that she will be able to join the church and participate (just like Herr Ding, if you remember him) as a full and active member in China.
I talked a little bit about Schwester B, and well, we visited her twice in Reichenau, a clinic in the near where she is being treated. And that was quite interesting. It was a bit scary walking through the streets of the open area past buildings and people that were much too pleasant to be Germans. As we continued on we found a set of several chairs in an open field, all of them progressively more sunk into the ground. Strange.
This week I have been thinking a lot about missionary work and how difficult it is. It demands a lot from you. Full obedience, a complete bending of your will to the the Lord’s for eighteen months to two years. You are asked to leave everything behind, to forsake all of your hopes, your dreams, your desires, for that time and change yourself. I thought a lot about this unexpected demand from the missionary work. You think it will be easy to go out there, day in and day out , to talk to people about the gospel, to talk to people about why you believe in Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, everything. It all seems so easy to wake up at 6:30, put in fourteen hour days and then get pleasantly into bed at the end of a satisfying day. You expect that people will stop you on the street, that you’ll have many opportunities to teach people and to talk about all the incredible things you know, but instead, you’re in for a surprise.
Everyday you drag yourself out of bed and kneel down on the cold hard floor to pray for the strengh and the energy to do the work that day. You fight to stay awake during studies and then you go out only to be rejected, shut down, yelled at, cursed at, have doors slammed in your face, and get rained on. And if you’re lucky enough to avoid the rain, you end up getting soaked by your own sweat. And then, when you finally make it through the day, you kneel down on the floor again, and try not to fall asleep on your knees. Once you’re done praying you fall into bed, hoping that you’ll be able to fall alseep quickly, but the humidity keeps you awake, cooking in your bed until you fall asleep from pure exhaustion.
So why has every missionary said that it’s the best eighteen months or two years of their life? Why does every returned missionary wish that they were back in the mission field?Because every day you wake up, roll out of bed and speak with the Creater of the universe about your plans to help His children for the day. Then you get to study the words of the Lord, to gain inspiration, guidance, and personal revelation. Then it’s off in the work of the salvation of souls. Speaking with the children of the Almighty about their loving Father who wants them to return safely home. You feel love and sorrow for those that reject the opportunity to hear the gospel, but you keep going on in the hope that someone, somewhere will be willing to listen. And so you press on, through the heat, the rain, the snow, the wind, the rejections, because what you’re doing is more important than the natural man. You push forward because there could be someone waiting around the next corner that could be ready to hear the gospel. The person on the bus next to you could be go through the temple in a year and a half, but you have to talk to them first. And then, at the end of the day, you come home, sweaty, tired, but happy, satisfied that you did your best. And again, you have a chance to sit and talk with your Heavenly Father to talk about all the things you did that day. To thank Him for His help, and for all the times you saw His hand in the work that day.
And you keep going throughout your mission, doing the work of the Lord, thinking that you’re doing it to change other people’s lives, and although you are, the greatest reason your there isn’t for the salvation of the souls of other men, rather, for the salvation of your own soul.
Every day in the work of the Lord is another day in the Refiner’s fire. And eventually, after eighteen months to two years, you realize how much has changed since you were first dropped into the unexpected blessing of missionary work. And you understand, that the Lord had planned to make you what you could be all along, it just took that time to make you what He wanted.
I have noticed in the last sixteen and a half months of service in the Lord that I have grown in ways I never would have imagined. I have come to understand the meaning of the scripture in 2 Corinthians: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” I still have a lot of time to continue to change on my mission. Plenty of time to continue the refining process. But I’m sure that though the Lord has taken some serious efforts to refine me on my mission, I know He will continue to do so throughout my entire life. I am just so grateful I have had, and continue to have the opportunity to lose my life for the Lord’s sake and the gospels.
I love you all, and I am so grateful for all of your prayers. I feel them every day.