So this last week was a very strange one, but I was extremely excited to come to the library today to write about it, because it was quite unbelievable all the things that went down in such a short time (but don't be fooled, it didn't really feel like a short amont of time during it all).
We are extremely busy in Etobicoke South. But now I find out that I love the car and I hate the car. Yeah, I don't know how to be grateful for anything apparently and I'm working on that. Before we had the car, it was frustrating because we weren't able to do all the things we wanted to because our mode of transportation limited us: The Simple Life. Now, we have little restriction on our ability to transport ourselves thus we find oursevles overbooking and gloriously teaching ourselves to exhaustiong: The Not-So-Simple Life. We taught an astounding 26 lessons last week and barely were in contact with half of our investigators. It's troubling - but awesome.
Sister Mitchell and I got food poisioning this week, which really put a damper on things. We can't quite decide if it was from the hamburgers we treated ourselves to for lunch, or the dinner we had at a member's house that evening. Perhaps our week was too boring and we needed this to "spice it up" a little bit. Regardless, I threw up on the side of the road for the second time during my mission (yeah, we keep statistics for things like this :)), and spent the next 24 hours incredibly dizzy, lightheaded and queasy. It was spectactular. In real life I think I would have cancelled all my plans and attempted to recover, but in missionary life we cannot afford that luxury. Sister Mitchell and I (both of the same ill health) proceeded on with our day. We felt like real troopers, let me tell ya.
But it was all worth it, it always is. This is why:
A couple of weeks ago Sister Arksey met a man on the bus named Immanuel (from Cameroon). It wasn't until this Thursday that we were able to finally meet with him and his roommate Carlos (from Mozambique). Our first lesson with them went pretty well, but they definitely asked some tough questions (they googled "Mormons" before we came) and we addressed issues regarding baptisims for the dead, plural marriage, Mountain Meadows Massacre, etc. But by the end of it, they were both very interested and we had a return appointment for Saturday. Immanuel told us as we were leaving "You must come for four hours on Saturday in order to answer all of my questions." Perhaps I was insensitive, because I simply laughed and told him "No way could we handle four hours!" We returned on Saturday with copies of the Book of Mormon for them in their respective languages and taught them the Plan of Salvation. This was by far my least favorite time teaching the Plan of Salvation at that point on my mission. Immanuel had a LOT of questions and we bounced all over the place. He really struggled with the concept of man having agency, and he and the member we brought with us got in quite the confrontation over it. Immanuel needed to be "proved" the Plan of Salvation was true from the Bible and was not too keen about the Book of Mormon. He kept telling us to "convince him"... blah blah blah. I got really sick of it. Once I had had enough I just said "Look Immanuel, we are not going to convince you of anything. That is not our role here. Our sole purpose is to teach you what we know to be true from the scriptures and from the prophets and invite you to pray about it and ask God. He will convince you of its truth, not us. True conversion will never be obtained man to man as words of religion and theology are exchanged and discussed. Your only chance to by "convinced" or to obtain conversion is to let God touch your heart. Not to have our words enter your mind and change what you think. We are here as individuals because God has touched each of our hearts and we have changed because of it. Everyone can experience that if they turn to their Father and ask Him to know the truth." We left the books with them and arranged for them to come to church the next day.
Sister Mitchell and I are just sitting in the typical testimony meeting Sunday when I look up to see Immanuel approaching the stand. On his first Sunday in church. I hit Sister Mitchell and we both couldn't believe our eyes. She just looked at me "What do we do?" I had no response but "Uhhh, pray?" So we poured out our little hearts into prayer until the moment of truth and Immanuel began to speak. I have never been so nervous on my mission as I was at that point. We are of so little faith.
Immanuel started talking and bore a fantastic testimony. He told of his search throughout his life to find the church of Christ. That since he was young he has been from church to church, that he had been baptized five different times, because each church told him his previous baptism was invalid. He said that he had had so many questions that no one could answer, and he always ended up frustrated and eventually gave up. He decided that the Lord would guide him to where he needed to be, in His own timing. He then told about how he met Sister Arksey on the bus and was trying to be polite in accepting her card, and didn't have any intention of stepping foot in the church; but since we kept calling to set up an appointment, he finally accepted, and he told of our first lesson. He said he was so intrigued that he wanted us to come back for four hours the next day so we could help him with more of his questions. He also shared how our second lesson went, and how he expected us to "convince him" and what my response to him was about that. After we left, he thought about the things we had taught, and decided since he told us he'd read the Book of Mormon and pray about it, he should at least be an honest man. He read from Moroni 10:3-5 and quoted it over the pulpit. He said he loved the promise contained in it to every man that their answer can come from God. He also read in Moroni 7 how we choose between good and evil, and how only good things come from God. He said that if only good things from God, then perhaps this Book of Mormon really was from God, and we really were on to something here. He then prayed about it, and knew that he had to come to church the next day and see for himself what it was like. He said that he still has a lot to learn, but he feels that perhaps this is the path the God has been leading him to for much of his life.
I was crying. Okay, nearly sobbing. As a missionary, you see little miracles everyday, but you never expect anything like that to happen. Heavenly Father loves us, unconditionally and irrefutably. He is ALWAYS taking care of us.
P.S. The photos are some classy photos of my new best friend and me.There's also one of Sister Mitchell and me outside the library. Enjoy the fantastic tan line on my feet. That's my favorite part of that photo :)