So we have dinner with different members every night which is always awesome, and always interesting, too. :)
So early this week we had dinner with a sweet, sweet family. They had three little girls and they were the most well-behaved girls I've ever seen! 7, 6, and 4. They were like little princesses at the dinner table. It was so ... quiet.
So the funny part, ready? Their dad is a dentist, cool right? SO FUNNY.
No, that's not the joke. We were sitting at dinner and finishing up and he said, "So, anyone need floss?" And we all laughed. But then he left and came back with floss. And so we all sat around and flossed and it was so awkward and quiet and hilarious, but Sis. Leavitt was like NO THANKS so she just talked while we flossed. Hahaha it was awesome. But now I floss every night! Not that I didn't before now.... *cough, cough*
With another Sister, we went out to eat at Cici's (pizza buffet of amazingness; we gorged ourselves.... shhhhh). She asked me to bless the food, so I did. Elder Byrd had told me before that she was raising her grandkids. So I blessed her and her grandchildren. What I didn't know, however, is that she called them her sons and they called her MOM! It was so embarrassing. I was really extra nice to her all night so she wouldn't hate me... I know she noticed because she accentuated the fact by calling them Son, and calling herself "Your mom..." to them. Oh man. It was awful. And way funny.
So new investigators!
Josh, Grant, and Brian. Oh, how to explain? We call them our "bashers-not-bashers" (like Janessa-not-Janessa, remember that?). So we knocked on Josh's door, and he immediately got into a discussion about the difference between priestly and kingly authority (I know,... what?) and we were like WHOA let's just come back and teach you sometime. So he's like, "Yeah, if you want to!" So we came back the next day and he had with him two of his good friends.
Now I have to tell you, I love these guys. They are so passionate about trying to follow Christ. They have a great love for God and for the Bible.
But we have some fundamental differences in our beliefs. They believe, if I am correct, that the fall of Adam and Eve was a sin. They believe that they were meant to live in perfection in the Garden of Eden and multiply and replenish in perfection. We believe that it was not a sin. They had a choice - God told them that they could eat any fruit in the garden, but if they ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (boy that's a mouthful) then they would be cast from his presence. But it wasn't a sin. After they made the choice, Adam and Eve rejoiced, saying if they hadn't partaken, they wouldn't have had children or experienced great joy! All in all it's really not important, though. It's easy to get into really deep philosophical discussions, but it's hard to remember that if they don't open their hearts up to the Spirit, nothing we say will have sway on them accepting the truth. I know that if not now, one day they will accept the truth. I hope it's soon! I want them to feel that and be able to fully partake of the Atonement!
Gayla the artist. We love Gayla. She's in her sixties, and she creates art, mostly crosses and religious art. She's so wonderful, and truly trying her best to live like Christ wants her to. She feels that she can really connect with Joseph Smith in that so many people she knows are so fervent in their different faiths, but she still doesn't know which church is true. I believe that she can know! I'm so excited for her.
OKAY OKAY, THE SCARY STUFF:
So we were driving around trying to find some place, and we drove by this huge church. It was all covered in weeds, and it looked so old, and had broken windows and it's SO AWESOME AND CREEPY. I just want to know about its history and I totally think it's haunted.
So Sister Leavitt and I were finishing our daily planning and getting ready for bed the other night. We were on the phone with our Elders and we started hearing finger-like-taps on our window. Sis. Leavitt had heard them a couple times, but she ignored them because she thought she was hearing things. Then she was like, "Sister Clark... Do you hear that?" and then we heard it again. IT WAS SO SCARY. SERIOUSLY. We hid in my bathroom and were seriously hugging each other and the Elders said, "Who screamed?" and we said, "WHAT?? NO ONE SCREAMED!!!" and then we were definitely extra freaked out. So they were like we're coming over. I said, "Oh, you don't have to... ..... we're fine...." But we definitely weren't and they came over anyway.
We were trying to calm ourselves down by eating some cake and then we heard a knock at the door and Sis. Leavitt jumped on me and we both screamed. Obviously it was the Elders... so we opened the door and they looked at the window and pointed.
IT WAS A BUG. There are these bugs called Cicadas (Seh-Cay-Tah, I don't know how it's spelled) and they are HUGE AND NOISY and it was tapping on our window creepily!
Poor elders. They are so good and patient with us. The bug escaped into our open door, so we ran out and Elder Mierau ran in and grabbed that big ole bug and threw it out.
We were so embarrassed.
Speaking of the Elders, they are seriously the best ever. So patient, always asking what they can do to help. It's so kind. And the zone leaders called a couple nights ago to see how I was after my first week in the field. They just talked and asked me questions for a few minutes and it was so nice.
SO I KNOW I'VE SAID A LOT, BUT BEAR WITH ME.
I've been working on becoming a more consecrated missionary, I think I mentioned that last week. A part of that is being bold and speaking up, which is something I've had a hard time with since I've been here. I've always been the kind of person to just let people live their lives how they're going to live them, but Sister Leavitt is so bold, and so excited and energetic! She's crazy, honestly, and I love it.
But me, I'm not like that. I know I'm supposed to become a new person in a lot of ways, and in a lot of ways I have. But how can I reconcile my need to be a bold missionary with the very core of my spirit, who is not?
What I've realized is that my definition of BOLD was misunderstood. I was looking at Sister Leavitt and thinking that being bold meant talking a lot, being loud and proud and excited!
When really, being bold just means testifying of truth. It doesn't have to be loud, that's just her personality!
I've started looking to President Eyring as my example. He is a bold witness of Jesus Christ in that he fervently and honestly declares His truth. He doesn't pound his fist on the pulpit, or shake his hands as Elder Holland does. But he shows through his emotions that he KNOWS of the truthfulness of this gospel, and that as he does so he is filled with His Spirit.
I want to be bold like President Eyring!
I also thought of another example. Queen Esther. She saved her people by risking her life in approaching the king. She didn't come at him with a loud voice, or with armies and swords, or with fire. On the other hand, she didn't come to him with her eyes turned away and a stutter in her voice, either. She had to have stood firmly before him and made every single word she said count.
I want to be brave like Queen Esther.
I know that if I strive to have these qualities, especially in having everything I say be of worth and importance, and saying it unabashedly, I can be bold and brave and become a better missionary in bringing lost souls unto Christ! It is GOD'S work. I can only do God's work with His help.
Yesterday I fasted that I could have those qualities, bold and brave. I already felt God strengthening me in the morning, and I even felt more like myself! But then last night, when we met with another amazing investigator, Caroline, my prayer/fast was answered even more! We were planning on teaching the Plan of Salvation, but she just loves to talk! I love everything she has to say, but I had to remind myself that I am here, called as a missionary, to invite others to come unto Christ. That means action on my part! I asked her a couple questions, but really I just opened my mouth, I took that first step and then the Spirit helped me speak. I didn't stutter over my words, as often as I do (I usually say "um" and "you know" a lot, which I didn't notice until my sweet comp pointed it out to me). I spoke and testified of truth. I would wait for her to take a breath, and then I opened my mouth.
Heavenly Father knows me. He knows all of us. Fasting and prayer is real, and even more real are His answers. I'm so grateful that I have this opportunity to make this weakness I have into a strength through Christ! Its God's work. He gave me strength to open my mouth, and then He filled it with truth!
I love you all so much. Your letters are inspiring to me, and your experiences are as well! Seleck - my experience with the bashers-not-bashers reminded me of your experience with your neighbor. We came back and they had looked for things in the Book of Mormon to question. It was hard. But remember that we all chose Christ once, and we can all chose Him again. Sometimes it takes time. Let me know how that is going! And for everyone, too. I want to hear about your experiences, missionary or not. I love to hear how you're doing. :)
I love you I love you I LOVE YOU! The gospel is true!
Love, Sister Clark
P.S. One more story, really fast. Yesterday we were knocking on doors in a HUGE apartment complex before a dinner appointment nearby. We'd had a few rejects, and lots of people not home. And then we came to one door and Sis. Leavitt said "we just knocked next door, we shouldn't knock this one." And I said "SISTER LEAVITT, THEY ARE WAITING FOR THE GOSPEL!" so she knocked and they opened the door. We did our spiel, and he said, "Do you wanna come in?" and she said, "Is there another woman here?" because it's mission rules. And he was like, "You know, Sisters, you're eating dinner here in like 30 minutes, right?"
IT WAS SO AWKWARD AND FUNNY. They had a good laugh about it. We were embarrassed. :)