So this week, basically the entire mission was confused about what we were supposed to do on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. You that scene in Bug’s Life where the long line of ants comes to a twig or some obstacle and the head ant freaks out so everyone else freaks out because no one knows what to do? Yeah that’s what it felt like! Last year, there was a zone activity for the missionaries because it probs wouldn’t be super effective to go door knocking Christmas morning. But then it was the 23rd and there was still no news of a zone activity…. We were so lost haha.
On the 24th, we had lunch with Luis and then we taught J (I’ll talk about that in a minute), and then we baked cookies at the church to give away to the members (again, becasue we had nothing else to do…) then we went caroling with the elders in our district. We went to President Monson’s old neighbourhood and found his old house! The new residents weren’t home but the neighbors saw our name tags and were all “Oh the latter day saints! Did you know that there was a member of your church who used to live down the street?” He made a pretty lasting impression 🙂 It was 10 degrees Christmas Eve, and while we were waiting for our bus to go home for the evening, it started POURING. So yeah, we got soaked haha.
We weren’t allowed to proselyte on Christmas day since we were trying to encourage people to be with their families. If we didn’t already have appointments scheduled, we received instruction to drop by members and carol to them on Christmas day. Aside from skyping and Christmas dinner, we literally had zero plans. So did everyone else in our zone. Except for the east sisters… somehow they always have teaching appointments haha. Anyways, since we weren’t allowed to stay inside and we also weren’t allowed to tract, and it was literally a ghost town out on the streets… Sister LaPoint and I did a service project and decided to deep clean the church kitchen! Oh man I don’t that oven had been cleaned like ever. So that was fun! Then we had Christmas dinner with our relief society president (lots of tongan food) and then we skyped! It was fun getting to talk to my family again.
And then we had the rest of the evening open. Still no snow Christmas day.
Caroling to members Christmas day was probably a pretty cool idea for missionaries with cars…. but we had to use public transit which would take about seven years to get from one house to the next. So we walked around the city with our district and dropped by a few people who weren’t home. It was a lot of fun, though. I love my district 🙂
GOOD THING WE’RE STAYING THE SAME!! Transfer calls were last night and Sister LaPoint and I are sticking around for another six weeks!!! I know that God puts you where you need to be and all that jazz… but I’m just really gald that my will and God’s will were aligned on this one 🙂 The east sisters are staying the same, too. One of the south elders is leaving, and we’re getting a new district leader, but other than that the missionaries in our ward are the same! Huzzah!
Which I am ESPECIALLY stoked about because we have a super boss new bishop!! We had dinner with him last night and he’s totally on board with President Clayton’s vision for the work of salvation. SO EXCITED FOR THIS TRANSFER I CANT EVEN TELL YOU.
We’ve been breaking our backs for the past couple of weeks trying to confirm addresses on the ward list before 2015. From the combined effort of the three companionships in our ward, we found 73 wrong addresses. IT’S SO SAD. So we’re working on finding them and either transferring their records to their new ward or to Salt Lake. Most of the new residents that we’ve talked to have been living there for 3+ years. But this one guy that we tried to find, we’ll call him John Doe because that’s basically who he is, really got to me and Sister LaPoint. John Doe has a wife named Jane. They have young daughter together. John’s records were transferred into our ward three years ago from Provo. At some point, Satan worked really hard on John and John drifted away from church. The saddest part about this whole story, is that no one noticed. Then, John moved away for one reason or another. A while later, new missionaries came into the ward and noticed that John was missing. Then they learned that we have absolutely no accurate contact information for John and his young family. And now, John, who at one point in his life made a covenant with God to serve him, is one of Christ’s wandering lost sheep, and we don’t know where to find him. Because we lost him.
THAT IS WHY HOME AND VISITING TEACHING IS SO IMPORTANT. God’s church is designed SO PERFECTLY. If we all did our part, people like John Doe wouldn’t go missing! We are a ward family and we have a responsibility to uplift, support, and strengthen one another. We have a responsibility to help our brothers and sisters. When home and visiting teaching is a priority, there is ALWAYS time to make those visits, or phone calls, or facebook messages. I understand that sometimes the people you’re supposed to teach can be hard to get a hold of, but with all this new technology there really is no excuse any more.The poor Doe family slipped away under the radar because no one checked up on them, and no one knew who they were.
We’ve found a lot of people whose addresses aren’t correct, but for some reason John Doe really upset us, so we took some extra effort to look into finding him. There’s no record of home or visiting teaching for his family ever, and a couple people on the ward council thought the name sounded familiar, but didn’t know who he was. It just breaks my heart.
The silver lining to this story is that Luis found him on facebook and sent him a message. I love social media. Hopefully we’ll be able to bring him back. Can’t wait until the internet is open for missionaries to use here….
I hope that all of you will go and visit your assigned members of the congregation this month. Let’s all set a new year’s resolution for 100% home and visiting teaching every month, okay? 🙂 And then actually report it. I think half of the problem is that the visits that are actually made don’t end up getting reported….
We’ll probably be the only missionaries in the ward’s history who actually decreased ward membership instead of adding to it 😛
J, our investigator who quit smoking, read the book of mormon in three weeks, and basically is the coolest guy ever, has absolutely zero support from his Catholic, Portuguese family. He was totally prepared to stay sober all Christmas, but when he talked to his family about it they started questioning him and calling him crazy and basically being the worst influences ever. So he caved. He didn’t smoke though! But he drank. We met with him on boxing day and thought it would be best to give him a break. He wanted to reread the Book of Mormon on his own and told us to call him in four weeks. But only if Sister LaPoint and I were still here. He told us not to pawn him off onto some other missionaries, haha. Good thing we’ll be around 🙂
That appointment just broke my heart. I’m not one to get homesick, so the holidays were fine for me. Same with sister LaPoint. But I can see how the holiday season would be really hard for a missionary who had never lived away from home before. Now that the mission age is lowered, I can see how that would be a more common occurrence. Missionary work is hard. Most of the people we talk to every day don’t want to talk to us. Many of them don’t waste any time telling us exactly what they think of us. The things we hold dearest to us, the knowledge that we so desperately want to share with the people around us, is constantly mocked straight to our faces. It’s hard. And this week, it was really tough. Holiday season, appointments falling through, people who we have grown really close to, like J, taking a step backwards…. it was heartbreaking.
Members only really see missionaries on Sundays or maybe at dinner appointments. But you don’t know what they sacrificed to come on a mission. You don’t know the disappointments they struggle with. It can be easy to judge a missionary based on how they look, or how you see them act around others. It can be easy to judge in your mind what you perceive to be a effective versus an ineffective missionary. But I would just like to remind you that a lady in my last ward called me the worst missionary she had ever seen. It is really hard for me to tell when I have done enough, and I would imagine that I’m not the only missionary who feels like that. Missionaries are pretty hard on themselves. People tell us that we’re brainwashed, young, and naive every day. Missionaries rarely receive praise or encouragement. So please, please tell your missionaries that you appreciate them. Please express your sincere gratitude, and set your judgements aside. Tell them that you can tell when they’re working hard. It means the most coming from members. We need a little encouragement some times.
Well, that was long. I hope your Christmas was merry, and that you’ll all go do your home and visiting teaching for the month of December. You have three days still 😉