Turnpikes and Tender Mercies
Another week in paradise has just FLOWN BY. And last week my e-mail was pretty sub-par, so I’m going to recap on a couple events that were fairly noteworthy. Charles Trotter (usually I leave out either the first or last name, but this guy is going to be a famous musician some day, so I decided to leave them both in) is the next door neighbor of one of our investigators. We had just left Maria’s house (hah! That name could either be a real name or a fake name…odds are pretty high in both favors. I’ll just let you assume what you want) and there was a man out on his lawn. I thought he was feeding or chasing the nearby bird at first, but turns out he was just weeding around a little tree. So anyways, I had a fleeting thought to go talk to him, then a fleeting thought not to, then another fleeting thought to go talk to him. Majority rules. We walked over to him and introduced ourselves and talked a little about the gospel…which he wasn’t that interested in…but then somehow he mentioned that he played the guitar and wrote music. I said, “Hey! I do too!” which made him really excited and he ran inside to bring out his acoustic so he could play us a little song. The longer we were there, the more he opened up. Turns out that his son had passed away only 6 months earlier and he kept finding and receiving all of these little tender mercies that helped him to know that God was mindful and that his son was supposed to pass away at that time. His son was 21 when he died on the 22 of September, so those two numbers meant a lot to Charles. I asked if I could play a couple songs (yay for mini hymn books!) and then he had warmed up to us so much he actually accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon. When we were just about to leave, he asked what day it was. I smiled knowingly and said, “The 22 of May.” He smiled back and thanked us for being an answer to his prayer that day. Another funny and non-coincidental story is about our good friend Geraldo. Geraldo is practically homeless, but not quite…he’s staying in a friend’s camp trailer. I’ve never knocked on a camp trailer before, and I wouldn’t have either, so it’s a good thing he was outside. Geraldo is from Mexico and has a very strong belief in God. His faith has helped him get through some pretty difficult times in his life, and he shared some of them with us. He showed us two little wallet sized pictures of his daughters (which Sis. Jennings told me later that one of them looked exactly like me, but I didn’t catch it) and told us how he’d had an incredible experience of breaking out of jail with God’s help after he’d been put in unlawfully. His story reminded me of Alma and Amulek, actually…So, we taught him about the Book of Mormon and a little about the restoration. He said he would study it and then he left. He was such an interesting little man that at this point, I half expected him to just disappear as he was walking away…but he didn’t. Darn. Regardless, we still didn’t expect to ever see him again. Little did we know…
The next day, and in a completely different part of town, (now remember, Geraldo doesn’t really have anything to his name) we were driving down a quiet little road, when this familiar man rides by on an old bike. I waved, and he waved back, and then I realized who it was, so I waved even harder and pulled over the car! He told us that other people had seen his Book of Mormon and said it was false and that we were crazy, so we were able to address his concerns, teach a little more of the restoration, and renew his desire to read the Book of Mormon. And we got his phone number this time! (Spiritual slap in the face to me for judging and not expecting him to have a phone the day before. Always ask!) Geraldo thinks that we met again so that we could share his message with the world, but we know that we met so he could receive our message to the world 🙂
You will be pleased to know that I am learning even more traditional mexican recipes. That is all I will say about that.
This last week we had interviews with President Bell, and halfway through the interview I realized that it was the last interview I would have before my last night in the mission home! WHAT. President Bell also didn’t dance around the subject that I was going home in 8 weeks. He was pretty open about it. Rude. But other than that, interviews were great. He commented on me saying “Hakuna Matata” after every letter I send him (just like I do to these) and said he appreciated it. That actually came from an invitation from him quite a few months back to have more of a “hakuna matata attitude” and not be so hard on myself. That was a turning point of my mission and I believe my life. I found out after interviews that he invited other sisters to adopt the same thing.
Sister Jennings got sick that day as well, so we spent part of the rest of the day inside before switching around so I could go on an exchange in Holton while she stayed at home with another sister to get better.
Exchanges in Holton were so fun! There are so many hispanics that we found up there and two long-lost members of the church that we are going to start working with! We also did service in a Christian food pantry. We help the people who come in to collect their items (a little like bishop’s storehouse) but when no one is there, there’s a little bit of down time. They had a little chalkboard with a bible phrase written on it…pretty poorly, I’ll admit. Well, I didn’t tell them I thought it looked bad, but just said that I’m a graphic designer, I get excited when I see a chalkboard, and I would love to do something on their board. They were thrilled and I got design while we talked about the gospel and how the Savior has blessed our lives. Fun way to serve with some of my favorite things.
It has been so wonderful for me to see how our talents are magnified when we are in the service of the Lord. I know I’ll have a lot of catching up to do with design and school when I get home, but the Lord has been helping me to at least keep up on and improve on some skills while I am out here on my mission.
Last story. We were finishing up an exchange with Emporia this week and I was driving back. Well, I got confused with the exits because there are a couple exits/transfers/turnpikes/chaos that I forgot about and drove straight past the exit! Well, I kept praying that there would be an off-ramp that I could take to turn around and go the opposite direction, but THERE WASN’T FOR 40 MILES. I didn’t know what to do! We drove for a good 15 (…maybe 20) miles until we realized that we weren’t going to find another exit…we called our zone leaders (a little in desperation, a little in defeat) and I said, “This is probably the most embarrassing call I will ever make on my mission, but I missed the exit and we’re heading towards Wichita and there’s nowhere to turn around, and I don’t know what to do.” Well he said, “Aren’t there those emergency u-turns in the middle of the road?” I said, “Yes, but it says NO U-TURN.” He told me to take it anyway….So I did and we headed back to Emporia. Right when we pulled up to the Gas station, the gas light turned on. Thank goodness we made it back with gas! However, we did lose 40 miles and we are accountable for our miles in the mission cars. Moral of this story: Pay attention to the signs (i.e. commandments, scriptures, prophets, etc.) while speeding through life because some mistakes are super hard to turn around from. There are always consequences because we are accountable for the choices we make. And don’t take the turnpike unless you know what you are doing, and just incase you forget, you have at lease two other people in the car who also know what they are doing… haha! Love you all!