Last night I sat up in my “bed” (a mattress pad on the floor in the basement, because it’s too hot upstairs) and ran upstairs to my study desk because I needed to remember what had blown my mind about Alma 29 earlier that day. Friends, countrypeople, etc, this is a fantastic chapter with great personal relevance to my life and yours as well. It starts off with Alma saying, “O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people! Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption, that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon the face of the earth.” Have you ever felt this way? Wishing you could change the world so that there is literally no more sorrow anywhere all by yourself? I sure have. I have also directly, specifically wished that I were an angel before. In particular in my young teenage years I thought about that a lot. I imagined having special powers of some kind, and a really important mission from God, and not being bound by the limitations of mortality. I hadn’t thought about that particular desire in years, until I read this chapter yesterday. Alma goes on to call himself out, and me along with him in verse 3: “But behold, I am a man, and do sin in my wish; for I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted me.” Awkward for me and Alma and our sinful wishes. Alma describes the doctrine he is preaching as a regular, mortal missionary and the glory and truth and importance of his calling and says, “Now, seeing that I know these things, why should I desire more than to perform the work to which I have been called?” This chapter seriously blew my mind. I want the glamour and importance of being the one who ensures that there is no more sorrow on the face of the earth, but that is not what the Lord has asked me to do. I do not have responsibility to cry repentance unto the ends of the earth, I have responsibility to cry repentance unto the greater Charles Town area. What could be more important than exactly what the Lord has planned for us? I also love this chapter because it reads like a sonnet, with a little volta and everything. It particularly reminds me of Shakespeare’s sonnet 29. Alma 29, sonnet 29… coincidence? I think not. The Book of Mormon is the whole package.
Our week began with zone conference, which is a new concept for me. It was my zone conference and the mission president’s last zone conference. The mission president is just such a dad and he loves being such a dad, and needless to say he got all emotional and then we all got all emotional and it was just a big missionary love fest. We also got soft serve on the way home so I was extremely satisfied with our experience. My favorite notes from the conference read “gratitude is a cure-all” and “love is foolproof.” I don’t super remember why or when I wrote those statements, but use them however you’d like.
This week we also got to take an investigator on a church tour. These are the best! She is an investigator we picked up this week and I am really excited for her. I know in theory that the gospel has something to offer everyone but being able to see what the gospel specifically has to offer everyone as individuals is a special experience. Church tours are great because we get to set up the sacrament table, which I have never had a reason or opportunity to do before. This is a very spiritual experience. Sitting in the chapel, especially when it is quiet, is a surprisingly sacred experience. We also took our investigator through the bathroom into the baptismal font, which had a huge spider in it, because there was a big meeting in the room that the font opens into. I was just planning on forgetting about the baptismal font portion of the tour, but we had a recent convert and a good friend of our investigator helping us with the tour and she was so excited to show her friend where she was baptized. Despite the spider and the bathroom and the weirdness of standing in a closed, empty font, there was something really nice about hearing our friend tell us about how wonderful her experience of being baptized was.
This week I also had my first reuben sandwich over at Mama Tyrell’s house. Have you ever had one of those? Highly recommended! She mentioned that she was making hummingbird cake for the elders (if you haven’t had it, think of the most Southern cake you can imagine and there you have it) and the next evening while we were winding down from the day there was a knock at our door. We never really expect people to come to our door so we were a little nervous. I believe Sister Blanchard said, “Is this going to be the Saratov Approach all over again?” Surprising to us, it was actually just Mama Tyrell’s best friend Greg with two slices of hummingbird cake.
Here is the animal news of the week. First of all, the toads are out hopping around. I was so excited when I saw one for the first time, and I just had to pick it up and say hi. If you’ve ever met and tried to handle a toad before, one of their defense mechanisms is to pee. A lot. I am an experienced toad-handler so I held my new friend at an arm’s length. Honestly, I don’t know how that much fluid came out of such a tiny animal but it did. We are also enjoying the fireflies so much. Yesterday there was a huge thunderstorm and as I fell asleep I watched the lightning bugs twinkling below and the lightning flashing above. We are too lucky.
A fun and adventuresome feature of our experience this week is that we ran out of miles! We’re only allotted 1,000 miles per month and about fifty more of them were taken for other missionaries. On Thursday we have to spend a few hours planning out our week but we also needed to use our final fifteen miles to drive to the car repariment emporium and back for our early morning appointment there. We couldn’t afford to drive home and then drive back into town to proselyte, so we ended up parking at Dairy Queen, buying Dilly Bars, and conducting our studies and our weekly planning session at a sticky DQ table. The next day we had someone drop us off at the far end of town and spent the rest of the day walking home, visiting people on our way. We discovered a lot about Charles Town and the surrounding countryside that day and enjoyed walking the scenic stretches of farmland on our way back. Needless to say, I am very grateful for the advent of a new month and new miles.
If I were an angel, I would definitely use my powers to pop in and visit you all. In the absence of said powers, write me a letter so I can hear all about your life, because I miss you! You can write me at 14 Deerbrook Drive, Charles Town WV 25414.