July 2, 2012
"Here Maria, try these, they're called 'brownies' !" "They look brown" "As they should be!"
Hey there family and friends!
I know I've mentioned this for the past 3 weeks or, but I think it's cool how I'm 20 and halfway done with my mission. Kinda scary, kinda cool. This cycle is nearly over too, which is weird to imagine. Feels like I just barely got here to Marks! We find out this Thursday about what's going down next cycle, so here's to hoping that I stay here!
Our main investigator is making some incredible progress. It's so cool to see just how the Gospel has helped her shine. Just a few weeks ago she was very unhappy, but now she is just doing so much better. She was telling us about her reading of 3 Nephi 11 (and further) in the Book of Mormon and explaining how wonderful it was that Christ healed people and taught them the same things he did to people in Jerusalem in the Bible. She also prayed at last nights meeting and it was incredible to hear her words of gratitude to God.
Yesterday was a miracle day really, though I had my doubts about how it'd turn out. I forget if I mentioned it or not, but our investigator has some medical troubles that makes it hard for her to walk. A member of the Church is a kind of caretaker for her and does various errands like getting groceries and taking walks with her and her son. In calling Saturday night to remind her of Church, she said that she couldn't come because her helper was out of town and couldn't help her get to Church or take care of her son while he was here (remember, he's 2 and a half year old cute hooligan boy). We frantically called a ton of members with no luck for who could help out the little boy while she was at Church. Not gonna lie, I was pretty dissappointed when I found out that many of our good active members would be gone, or had to work or didn't answer their phone at all. I thought "if everyone wants this branch to grow, why can't anyone help us with this great woman who's going to get baptized!" Me and Elder Stoddard prayed about it and figured that everything would work out for the best so long as we'd rely on God and do our part.
That Saturday night was a hard one for me, laying down to go to sleep. Me and Elder Stoddard worry so much about this branch. Almost no one pays their tithing and nearly no one keeps their temple covenants save for a choice few (which says something considering there's really only about 10-15 active members). It hurt so bad just to think about the branch and wanting to help the members so much but not knowing how. I felt incredibly unqualified for the work, just a poor non-native kid trying to figure out how to help the members keep the salvation they've fought for and help the branch grow. I also just felt awful as I thought about all the things we've faced as missionaries in trying to help people accept the Gospel. I can't explain why, but i just felt awful, once again just feeling that I couldn't do anything, that there are so many more talented better people than me who can do this work and so forth. I was, naturally, having troubles sleeping with those kind of thoughts wandering in my head but, whenever it's hard for me to sleep, I try to sing hymns that I've memorized in Russian in my head, and so that night I sang, in my head of course, my favorite hymn in Russian "Abide with me, tis eventide." At some point, I fell asleep and I slept better than I have in a long time on my mission. The next morning, when I woke up, I felt good, and at peace, despite all the thoughts and concerns I had the night before.
Well, lo and behold, our investigator made it to Church with her son. By a miracle her helper had made it back in time for Church and be able to help the son and we had more people at Church today than we have in a long time. Pretty cool to see how, despite our worries and our weaknesses, one way or the other the Lord will provide a way for everything to work out. Still always a really humbling feeling to think that a 20 year old guy like me can help people learn more about the Church and accept the Gospel. Pretty cool, right?
In lighter news, I've perfected my recipe for brownies and have been sharing them with all the Russians, who love it. They all call it a kind of pie (which is kinda goofy why they wouldn't call it a type or cookie or cake, but whatever floats their boat!). The little boy especially approved of the brownies and turned into a little bottle rocket after eating such delicious choclately brownie goodness.
Sad to hear that there won't be fireworks this year, but, like Mom promised, eat a few snow cones for me, will ya? :)
If it ends up that either I or Elder SToddard is transferred it means that we'll get mail and (hopefully!) that cool package you sent. Hopefully that happens :)
They set up a new system for e-mailing the mission president and putting in key indicators, and the computer was whining at me for trying to use it, so I've only got a few minutes left, so sorry for the shorter e-mail this week! Thanks so much for everything! Ya'll really are the best :)
Be good now, and eat some snow cones and delicious bbq!