We’ve talked to some weird strangers this week. Well, we talk to weird strangers every week. For example, this week we walked by a young man in a beanie and dark sunglasses and I said, “Hello!!” and he silently saluted me with two fingers. It was rather disarming. I didn’t think I would ever see myself speechless, but there I was, speechless. If he wanted to get out of talking to us, he did the right thing.
Well, we’ve had a pretty weird and great week together here in the CYSA. It started with zone training, when we gather with a crew of fellow missionaries and roll around or whatever. Sister Walker and I got to instruct and talk about following the spirit. It was actually fabulous because we got to practice teaching by the spirit. In Peach my Gospel (as I like to call it) there’s a section about the things you can do to invite the spirit (pray, use the scriptures, bear testimony, share personal experiences, and express love for God and those you are teaching) and as we practiced teaching with a focus on these elements, I realized that I could express love for those I teach about 100% more. As I did it with fellow missionaries, it really brought the spirit. We often talk about how our testimonies increase as we bear them, and likewise I learned that our love for others increases as we express it. Well good! We really do have such an intense love for those we teach. It takes exactly one and a half seconds with someone to feel the kind of love for them that you feel in family relationships. That is the #1 hard thing about missionary work: everyone around you has the power to just destroy you emotionally, and they do. It’s ok though because the atonement helps you learn to heal quickly and be resilient.
Merry Christmas everyone! The day has come… and went! And it was beautiful. We definitely had a week of miracles. On Monday we went caroling for FHE. I learned that people like caroling a lot better when it includes more that two people. Also, our valiant FHE coordinators put together little gift bags with a church-produced Christmas DVD and other materials and treats. We just knocked random doors and people loved it! There was one house with two families of little ones gathered together for some festivities. Sister Walker noticed that they seemed really excited for us to come by because the children kept coming to the window. They were our last stop at the other end of the cul-de-sac and after we sang to them, the mom told us that they had been waiting and hoping that we would come visit them. The kids had drawn and written a Christmas card for our little crew with candy canes taped to it. It was so gratifying. Another family said, “When we were in Germany we had Mormon friends, and they came to carol at our house too! We’ll have to send them a picture!”
I almost forgot… a Christmas duck and bee, with a reflection of Sister Walker’s planner. Merry Christmas.
What a week we’ve had! After poor Sister Rowley had the arduous experience of packing up everything she owns with an unhelpful (sleeping) companion and we shared a “deconstructed rocky road” ice cream experience with some of our fave members (try it, seriously) we took the now-short journey to transfer meeting. I don’t know if I’ve ever described the transfer meeting experience before, but for a refresher all the missionaries gather together in the stake center nearest to the mission office and sing “Ye Elders of Israel” but we change the opening line to “Ye missionaries called of God” to be more inclusive :’) and then as we stand and sing they march the greenies in and set them in the front row. The new missionaries, now scared out of their wits, sat on the front row to tremble while they await their turn to stand up and bear their testimonies. They were then united with their trainers who hugged them (the elders advised specifically not to embrace each other violently from the pulpit as has happened in the past) and brought them to their pews.
Afterward the outgoing missionaries bear their testimonies one at a time. This round saw seven sisters whom I love dearly one and all heading home– half of them I was in the MTC with during round 1 and the other half I have been on exchanges with. Pretty spooky. There was also a lone elder. Somehow I guess it was too weird to rope a lone elder in on the musical number, so the sisters all sang “Savior, Redeemer of My Soul” while the Lone Elder sat by himself in the choir seating. As they sang he began to look sadder and sadder and then he began to weep, and then he began to sob. It was one of the saddest things I have ever seen. Because of the strict social norms between elders and sisters it would not have been appropriate for me to comfort him, but it was terrible to watch this poor outgoing elder sit by himself and bawl. Terrible in a beautiful way. After the musical number the sisters all sat in the choir seats with the Lone Elder and they cried together while the mission president gave a rousing speech. We close by singing “Called to Serve,” including the special edition MBM third verse. Afterward we all wander around trying to figure out which is our bike and which is our companion and then we go back to work. It’s a very emotionally exhausting experience. A roller coaster of sorts.
On Thursday we had another shift at the visitor’s center. It was wonderful! Right as it was getting really busy a young lady walked in with her mom. She told me that she is a member and her mom is not, and they arrived with someone who had been a senior missionary in the daughter’s ward when she got baptized. We got to teach them half of an amazing lesson using the model of the temple and then… it was time to go and we turned them over to some other sisters. And I will never hear from them again. That’s definitely the hardest thing about the visitor’s center life. We also had such a weird, fun time doing the online chatting section of missionary work. That’s where all the off-the-wall questions come in.
We also had Elder Teh of the Seventy come for a visit! What an amazing one! He is so great. Even though we had to sit in pews for eight hours it was worth it. I received so much of that good lightning bolt revelation. You know the one.
The YSA also had such a classic YSA activity of an ugly sweater/holiday karaoke party. It was actually great and I got a pretty bad sweater with Santa and his fuzzy beard and the words “I believe…” scrawled across the bottom. I forgot a picture. How could I. My companion and I also experimented with what I like to call “traroling” which is a combination of tracting and caroling. She absolutely did not want to but because Sister Rowley is a great companion we picked the most festive house on the block (it was pretty festive) and sang “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” and invited her to the ~Festival of Lights~ at the visitors’ center. I think she loved it.
Finally on Sunday we brought our investigator to dinner at the mission home. It was so chaotic because on Sunday night the assistants and President were calling everyone and telling them where/if they were being transferred. I think our investigator enjoyed it, though. She’s such a good one.
Speaking of transfers! Sister Rowley is leaving me 😦 but I know the sister who is coming in and she is really great. I think we’re going to have a great transfer together. My transfer theme will be TIME, everything from punctuality to eternity with an emphasis on chapter 8 of Preach My Gospel. I will love it!
Okay, send me 100 Christmas cards! For my fridge! 5455 Columbia Rd Apt 213, Columbia MD 21044-5689
Sister Astluncd (that’s a real spelling somebody came up with over the phone. I don’t know.)