I suppose this is because we are coworkers with God, because we are constantly in prayer and supplication, and of course because we need something to get us through how hard and heartbreaking the work is by nature. There are as many lows as there are highs (perhaps more) and this week I have been focusing on being vulnerable, which is both a fun buzzword and a legitimately useful quality. In my civilian life I made a habit of protecting myself from disappointment and heartbreak by not getting my hopes up too often. I would try to have minimal expectations and avoid becoming emotionally invested when other peoples’ actions could let me down.
This was probably the right course, I’m not really sure. But as a missionary it’s a different story. In Preach My Gospel there’s a long section on the importance of having high expectations, which I was originally a little skeptical about. Appointments are about as likely to fall through as they are to hold, people are about as likely to neglect their commitments as they are to keep them, and rejection is far more common than acceptance. I got in the habit of trying to be emotionally prepared for these inevitable experiences, which kind of translates as becoming jaded. But here’s what I figured out when a promising new investigator didn’t show up for church on Sunday: the work should break your heart. It’s allowed to break your heart. We are coworkers with the Redeemer who is “anointed to bind up the broken-hearted” and we are allowed to feel our disappointments fully because we can trust Jesus to make us feel better. As I took the sacrament on Sunday, watching the entrance to the church closely for someone who never came, I felt the healing power of the atonement bring me all the way home from my disappointment.
This week we had a wonderful manifestation of miracles, specifically in the form of two beautiful young families and a young man who is now in the care of the elders. The young man was someone who we talked to on the street. He seemed so interested in meeting with us again that I (still a little jaded) wondered if his intentions were in the wrong place. When we went to knock on his door with no answer, I felt a familiar resignation, particularly when one of his neighbors shouted: “He isn’t interested!” Another neighbor, who was on the grass playing with her kids, shouted back, “Leave them alone, Maggie!” and we started talking to her. She manifested a strong interest in the gospel and we set up an appointment for another visit, which went wonderfully. Our second lesson with her will be today. When we first met, she looked at me closely and said, “You look familiar. Have I met you before?” Finally, the original appointment arrived and we had an amazing first lesson with him and then explained that the elders would be taking good care of him from then on.
I also had the great pleasure of going on exchanges, aka having a slumber party. Sister Moore was my temporary companion for a few days and we slogged through the torrential rain, sharing an umbrella like good companions and teaching our now-weekly Bible study class while puddles formed at our feet. Exchanges are important opportunities to try out the work with a fresh perspective and I learned a lot from Sister Moore.
Yesterday we saw another miracle. A member of the ward had called and mentioned a friend who was feeling overwhelmed with her new baby and her toddler and who had accepted her offer that we come by and help her clean up a little. This sister also mentioned that we could share a little spiritual thought with her before we left. After scrubbing the toilets and mopping (which is actually my favorite chore) we taught her a little about the Holy Ghost and asked if she would be interested in learning more. She was! Her kids already have Mormon names, so I think it’s meant to be.
I’m nearing the final chapters of Moroni currently. SO GOOD. Go read them!!!! That’s all I can say. Also, while you’re at it, go write me a letter. My address is 923 National Hwy, LaVale, MD 25102.
With hugs and handshakes,