This week was so inspiring. I say that every week. It doesn't make it less true. Wednesday was my "Hump Day". Whoosh. Where did nine months go? But it was time for me to have some serious reflection. Am I the missionary I want to be? Am I going to plateau or launch forward? Luckily, I chose the latter. We were on exchanges in Enid and when Sister Roberts came to pick me up, she told me she had similar feelings. That she just wanted to work smarter, not harder. My thoughts exactly. And in return, we had a terrific week. We visited, and I'm not one for exaggerations, but probably 4 billion less active members. And ten of them came to church yesterday. We found a couple new people to teach (and then they promptly disappeared off the face of the planet... isn't that how it always goes?!) But the whole week just felt really good. In fact, we've been able to see a lot of people keep commitments this week. LeRoy reads pages and pages in his Book of Mormon every single day. There were just a lot of miraculous moments this week, moments where we didn't know why we were going where we were going, but then ended up exactly where we needed to be.
Shout out to Lewis Hodson! Dang! I'm just getting nephews right and left. I love my family oh so much and I'm excited to meet that little guy. There have been quite a few experiences this week that have made me feel very, very close to my family. Mostly just personal conversations between Sister Roberts and myself. But the family is given to us from God for the sole purpose of uplifting one another and being able to feel joy in this life. Yet we see so many broken, hurting families. And I know every family has their struggles, but I'm so grateful for mine. In every circumstance we face, no matter how they're related to me, I know that my family was specifically designed FOR ME. And they have taught me so much. And I love them (Every single one of you) so much.
There are similar sentiments about missionary work...Why do we do missionary work? To bring people closer to Christ. Why do we bring people closer to Christ? It is a process of strengthening us and helping us grow. It's also because we depend on one another to support the church (And us as human beings!) We all have our own God-given talents, and everybody else has something that you don't have. That's the genius behind callings and assignments. Everybody is needed. Sometimes we try to "rescue" people from less activity or inactivity, and we do it forcefully instead of how it is intended to be done. Clayton Christensen gave a talk in 2011 about this, which is actually what Sister Roberts and I are giving a training on this evening during Stillwater's Specialized Training Meeting, but he says, "As long as the pitch was 'You need the church," it didn't connect. But when the pitch was "We need you", he had this need to help others." Everybody wants to feel needed. We're designed that way. When we can utilize our talents, we feel purposeful. If we had no means to provide for anybody, we would feel worthless. That seemed to be a theme in church yesterday; Self Reliance. So many people we talk to blame their inadequacies or heartache on their circumstances. But we really are agents to act for ourselves, not to be acted upon. If you don't believe me, Read This!
So here I leave you with a story that solidified everything I've just talked about into a simple story from this week:
The only way to find true happiness is through the teachings of Jesus Christ. This I know. This week, we met with a family who has recently fallen into a rut. The wife was primary president, the husband a Young Mens' leader. Then one day, seemingly out of no where, she decided she didn't believe in Joseph Smith. She went home and told her Husband, and he agreed his testimony was weak as well. So they just left. We visited this family hoping to understand them and discern how we could help them once again, but their demeanor seemed...off. They appeared uncomfortable in their own skin, and a lot of what they said seemed like an attempt to defend, or rather, justify their decision instead of being able to just live peacefully and joyfully like the Gospel allows. I don't say this to back bite, nor am I insinuating that they shouldn't have questions or doubts. BUT STAY IN THE BOAT. There is more truth than there is mystery if you're willing to seek it out. And it makes me sad to see these strangers look so confused and lost, when every one who knew them well as active members of the church said they were so happy and involved. I'm sure, deep down, they know that what they've done was wrong. They've labelled themselves with cynicism and artificial happiness, and it's heart-wrenching. And now they're fearful to jump back in.
Overall, this encounter strengthened my testimony. Because I've seen the behind-the-scenes actions of the Ward, expending their efforts to reactivate this wayward family. No one ever took the time to consider, "Hmm...maybe this couple is on to something" because they saw the negative effects that took place almost instantly and instinctively wanted to rescue them and bring them back to joy. So whenever I hear anybody say, "The Mormons are a cult, they just brainwash people and try to convert everybody". I just have to remember that we are persistent, but it's because there is only one source of being ridiculously happy. There's only one way to not be cynical and judgmental. The Gospel heals.
I know it.
I love you all so much. Pardon the preachy-preach.