Monday, February 2, 2015

Light of the World

Darkness: the absence of light. That´s it.
If there's one thing I've learned on the mission (and there's more than one, but here we go) it's that you have to do hard things and that your comfort zone has to expand pretty rapidly or else you're going to have a rough go of it. Who should be the first to train a new missionary while still in training? Hermana Een. Who should we ask to give a 10 minute talk on Sunday (IN SPANISH)? Hermana Een. Who should share a spiritual thought in the next Zone Conference (specialized training... I'd try and explain it but I'm not exactly sure what it is either)? Hermana Een. Who has lost all ability to say no? Hermana Een. Es una cosa de la misión. [It is a thing of the mission] (My companion thinks I say that a lot.)

You know that old TV show, Dragon Tales? Remember Zach and Wheezy? (The two-headed, green and purple one?) Sometimes that's what a companionship is like. You take two VERY different people and tell them to work as one. There's bumps in the road. There's a lot of adjustment.   It's weird being a senior companion/trainer to someone who is above me both in Language and in years and the only thing I have going for me is "mission experience," and not much of that either. But we try.
Ustedes son maquinas! [You are machines!]  I hear that a lot from well-meaning leaders in the mission regarding my companion and I.  In a way it's true. We're doing hard things, never before done, and we're giving it our best.  We're not quite well-oiled yet. We still get lost, take the wrong metros and have to ask where the bus stop is...but we're getting there.
This week I had my first first intercambio (when the Sister Training Leaders come and spend the day with you), so Hermana Boyer joined our companionship for a day. We worked through winds worthy of the Wizard of Oz, prayed a lot, and had one of the best days I've ever had on my mission. Part of that was due to the members we visited and the lessons we taught, but above all of that was when Souad accepted a baptismal date.  Here's her story.
       We were knocking doors (a necessity of missionary work, though not one Hermana Manotas enjoys) and a woman answered. Her hair was disheveled, her doorway was dark and she looked...well... a little scary. She told us how she didn't have power, didn't have light, and wasn't very interested in our message... because she's boarderline muslim (whatever that means).   But we left our card and encouraged her to call us if she ever needed help.   About 10 minutes later we got a call simply saying, "I found a candle. You can come back."
I was a little hesitant (Dang it Saratov Approach) but we went back, sat in her humble piso (sharing a chair because she didn't have 2), and listened. When the time was right I shared my favorite scripture, John 8:12 (I [Jesus] am the light of the world. He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.)  We bore testimony.  We tried to comfort her.  And when the time came, we left.
This is the "Willow Tree" figure we got
for Alayna about 9 years ago . . . when we
first named Alayna, we didn't know that
 it is a form of "Helen" which means
"Shining One" or "Torchbearer".
We got her this after we found that out.
 She is living up to her name!
She called a few times in the following days, once saying "I have light. You can come back." So when we were in the area again, we stopped by.  It was a COMPLETE change. The light was on (she'd talked to the landlord).   She was more alert.  Her hair was more tame, her glasses were on, and she looked like a different person.  This time we were able to share a little bit more of a lesson, of our message.  After a while she said, "Oh, you guys are the Mormons?"  And told us how she had visited with Elders before and really liked it.  So we set up another appointment.
The three of us went to Souad's house again. She had found another chair so we could all sit and was SO different.  We hadn't even gotten very far into the lesson, simply talking about this and that about the church and she said "Take me Take me, Baptize me!" So we set a date.
I've always heard that people could change.   And I've really tried to believe it.   But now I know.   Now I've seen it for myself, and that changes everything.  So everything that's hard in mission work is worth it because we really ARE making a difference. We didn't do anything with electricity, but we brought a light, and it continues to grow and glow. And I'll never forget that.
Summary: People really CAN change, and the light that the gospel brings is SO REAL. Having a new companion is different in ways that are both good and challenging. But we try.
Love you guys!
Hermana Een
Hermana Manotas and Hermana Alayna Een

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