4 April 2016
Conference was amazing, wasn’t it? I really hope it feels and sounds the same to me a year from now and on after that. You know, without the black (missionary) tag. I worry about a lot of things like that. I realized it most strongly for the first time when we started showing people the Christmas video, “A Savior is Born.” There we sat, my companion and I, basking in smiles and chicken skin, and someone would say, “Oh, isn’t that cute?” I guess it was cute, but that would never have been in the repertoire of words I’d choose to describe it. To be fair, I don’t know how I would describe it, but whatever it is I think or feel when watching or listening to that sort, I sincerely hope that the intensity isn’t only a temporary result of my calling, but that the sensitivity remains, even grows.
Despite what it sounds like, I still often struggle to hear or speak mush, but I’m learning to find the middle ground, and it is very much a continuous process.
So, FUN things first:
That time when Mati and Sean whipped up an impromptu dinner for us: Sister Biggs bowed her head to say a prayer on the food and we all followed suit only to discover one long, silent minute or two later, that she’d actually just said a personal prayer in her head. Hilarious! If you were there.
There was a gecko on the rafters above us the other day when we were painting with Ella (a potential investigator who often hangs out at the farm). Our sunflowers turned out equally beautiful, each in its own way, but I do believe that Sister Biggs’s is probably the most authentic. For some reason, it seems all kinds of things like to drop on Sister Biggs and her belongings…
Whilst on exchanges, Sister Judkins and I met up with Bishop Carlile and Uncle Lehi Livingston at Castle Hospital to visit a recovering less active lady. Bishop offered a blessing to her, which she accepted. Then in the middle of the blessing someone’s phone started ringing. Uncle Lehi’s eyes whipped open, hands still stuck to Sister’s head, looking to find out whose it was. It was a tender but quite hilarious moment! Long story short, we were privileged to find out the hard way that the phone that was ringing was not Brother Livingston’s. We all laughed pretty hard at that one for a few!
I discovered that I have been teaching false doctrine concerning the qualifications for the degrees of glory. In my defense, Preach my Gospel and the Plan of Salvation missionary pamphlet contained very incomplete, to the point of nearing incorrect, definitions. I have repented, however, and to be honest, my life makes infinitely more sense now. Always good to spend time studying Doctrine & Covenants 76!
The “tsunami” the elders had us prepping for… For real? The mission is practically just one giant day separated by intermittent naps. How was I supposed to know it was April Fools?
Another thing: I learned a lot more this week than I previously knew about the popular church here in Hawaii, “New Hope.” It is quite literally a theatrical production. Our new friend Peggy admitted to us that is precisely what attracted her and her husband so many years ago. She spoke so admiringly of her church but relatively little about anything they actually taught there. It was at that moment that I realized how many other people we have met who do exactly the same thing. They are so in love with the ideas of their churches, their pastors and stages and TV screens, that they never stop to realize that they’re converted to nothing of substance. It made me more grateful than I have ever previously been, for the way our church, The Church, works, huge, functional, and humble. The teachings of Christ are the roots at the bottom and the fruit at the top; they are the driving force of everything within the organization. Just another reason we can see it is true.
Something I’ve been struggling with off than on (though more often on than off) recently is individual worth (That is premortal, mortal, and postmortal individual worth) and confidence. I am very aware that my ability to speak coherently and concisely is very directly related to the way I feel about my abilities. It is a trial that I relive often, but I am grateful for it because I feel it is so much easier to learn about spiritual things when you have troubles to test them out on, to inspire you to seek and find and feel. Though I do have plenty of my own problems and down days to work through, I have been blessed enough to be able to empathetically experience this through others, too, rather than simply out of my own necessity. That is the beauty of the mission.
As for miracles: Dixon. Dixon’s sixteen-year-old daughter has been an active nonmember for nearly four years. Sheri gives talks, has interviews with the bishop, bears testimony, the whole nine yards. But she was never baptized because when the question initially came up, her Catholic parents didn’t offer approval. Lately however, her father, Dixon has been attending, so we and several others have talked with Sheri about bringing up the big “B” word once again. Far as we know, it hasn’t been a topic of conversation, so we’ve been really unsure about how to proceed.
We stopped by yesterday though, and Sheri wasn’t home, so instead we talked with Dixon only to find out that he’s been reading the Book of Mormon! He was so excited to talk to us about church stuff. Remember that year we got the synthesizer and I was so full of joy and other things that I didn’t even know what to do? Or, Rob and Esther will get this one: that other Christmas when they supposedly weren’t coming home because Zachary was too fresh to fly but then they magically showed up at the Joseph Smith building right before our high school choir sang? Imagine that, grown man version. He’s been studying the history of the church, which he said he loves. He told us how his sister says that the Mormons don’t really believe in the Holy Spirit and how he has experienced that to be obviously false. He admitted that he’s wanted to pray with Sheri for “some time now.” We set a return appointment for Wednesday. Shoots, if he knew getting baptized was what he needed to do, we would be making the program already.
Sister Biggs and were so ecstatic that we walked away laughing in joy. I left that place smiling soooo big, but my cheeks weren’t even sore. It doesn’t get any more real than that.
My favorite talks from conference were all of them, but especially the talk “Fathers” by Elder D. Todd Christofferson, though I didn’t realize it until I was pondering some in personal study. I really do have the best of all dads.
I am curious to know, however, the cause of so many mentions of refugees. Though obviously an ever-present trouble, and grateful as I am for the mission bubble, I really don’t like feeling unaware, even if it is of worldly things.
Admiring your efforts to be more holy, by the way!
To dad: I definitely may or may not have had a prayer in my heart the day before receiving your letter. (Thanks, by the way, it was much needed and greatly appreciated. You were and are, SO COOL.)
Love you, Mom, Dad, and everyone.
You’re always in my prayers,
Kaiakea, the cutie