1) My music pimp (MP) called us Tuesday and asked to go with her to visit her friend. We have visited her before and over the course of three visits she has gone from being scared of missionaries to absolutely adoring us and wanting us to come by all the time. We agreed, but when we arrived MP said we had to stop somewhere else first. We stopped by a part-member couple in the neighborhood and talked with them. MP went in and talked about colonoscopies for ten minutes and I was really fretting. But then the nonmember wife said we could come back again next week! Such is the work in a 55+ community I guess. We did have a great lesson with her friend after that and one later that night with another one of her friends. The lady is a little crazy, but she is a great missionary! She set up three lessons for us that day and they were all member present because she came along. Miracle!
2) On the 31st we still needed to find 29 investigators as a mission to meet our goal of 1,500 total new investigators for the month. I really felt like we could find two that day to help finish out our goal. I knew either way we would meet our goal because during the last week of the month we had all really kicked it into gear. We found over 400 people in just three days. But I wanted to help in the final sprint. By 8:10 that night we still hadn't found a single one. I felt impressed earlier in the day to stop by an older couple's home that we had contacted before. Their son is a member and they have a grandson on a mission in Argentina. AND they are originally from Iowa, so we had already bonded over that. The husband said he would never join, but I just felt that we should stop by. I prayed in the car that we would be able to love them and show them we care and then somehow share a message and set up a return appointment. When we arrived the wife was complaining about a head ache and it didn't seem like they would let us in. I told Sister Rasheed to pray in her heart that we would get in. We did! I turned on the Amanda Poppe charm and spent 45 minutes talking to them about their family. I then helped the wife with her Facebook because she didn't know what she was doing. I was waiting to be directed by the Spirit as to when and what to share when the wife asked if I would read her grandson's most recent email. It was all about temples and the importance of the family. I read it allowed and agreed with his statements. It was 9:15 and we had to leave in about 8 minutes at the latest to make curfew. We were wrapping up and I wasn't sure how to secure a return appointment to make these two turn from potential to new investigators when the following popped into my mind and out of my mouth, "Jim. I know you said we would never convert you, but can we at least teach you what your grandson is teaching in Argentina? We teach the same lessons, only in English. He mentioned the Family Proclamation in the email we read together. Can we stop by on Thursday after dinner to bring you a copy and talk with you about it?" He and his wife agreed and liked that idea! We literally got two new investigators with only five proselyting minutes to spare in January. MIRRRRRACCCCLLLLE #miracles4dayz
3) Cho Chang came to church with her nephew and two sons! During Sunday school she leaned over and asked me how to pay tithing. When I told her that only members pay tithing she asked if it took a year to become a member. I told her she could become a member in a few weeks if she really wanted to and that we would talk about baptism this week! How exciting! She is so prepared! She signed up to feed us during RS and is going with us on a RS hike this Saturday. Her kids are enjoying primary and scouts and I think her nephew enjoyed Young Men's. We told her about mutual and hope that he will start going to that. The coolest thing about all of this is that when missionaries talked to her two years ago she wasn't interested or ready. We saw her name in our area book and felt strongly that we needed to visit and we did and now she is asking us about baptism instead of the other way around. We will have to jump over the huge live in boyfriend of ten years hurdle. Maybe I'll get to help plan a wedding! That was my dream when I came out on a mission.
HAPPY ONE YEAR MISSIONIVERSARY TO ME! Thanks for the box full of compliments and the gift card, mom! It's like you know my language of love is words of affirmation or something. We went to Smashburger with a member from my last area for lunch, and for dinner I requested grilled cheese sandwiches and fruit salad with our ward mission leader and his wife. They thought I was crazy, but it had been over a year since I had had it! I said we could have steak next time. We also had a music practice for a fireside I'm singing in this Sunday. Elder Sweeten is in our quarter, so we spent time reminiscing about the MTC together and congratulating each other on making it a year. I don't think I ever told you, but we actually got dropped off at the exact same time at the MTC. We met each other as we picked up our name tags and said at the same time, "Arizona Mesa Mission" when we were asked which mission we were checking in with. We looked at each other, smiled, and became besties instantaneously. We were both not the happiest to be there that day and formed an instant bond in that line. It probably helped that he would whisper sing "Wrecking Ball" together at meals and in the gym. We both wondered if we would be strong enough to be good missionaries. Now he is a zone leader and I'm a sister district leader, we have both trained new missionaries, and we are doing so well and love our missions! We did a celebratory little dance, commended each other's fortitude, and made bets on who would get married first. I do have a leg up with my six month earlier release date.
As we ended our month of finding I realized that I learned more from the month of January than any other month of my mission. I wrote the following to my mission president in his weekly email:
"This will likely end up being quite a bit longer than my typical emails, but I wanted to share with you the thoughts I had at the conclusion of our month of intense finding.
I have always believed there is something to learn in every situation if we open ourselves up to the opportunity. As we discussed the underlying goals of Miracle March in MLC and what that could do for each individual missionary I knew that the first quarter of 2015 would be a growing season for me. One of my strengths, that often turns into a flaw, is my tendency to try to anticipate any and every possible outcome. This is great when I'm planning something important or when I am in charge of an event. It is not as great though when I try to anticipate what the Lord is going to teach me. I have a pretty low success rate for trying to read His mind and I often waste too much time trying to quickly learn the lesson I think He is going to teach me so I can move on to the next stage of life. In January I believed full heartedly that my area would find 20 investigators so that we would contribute in perfect proportion to the mission’s goal to find 1,500 people. I never doubted that it would happen. I figured that there would be a trial of my faith and that we wouldn't really start finding until at least the middle of the month. I know that the Lord can do absolutely anything and so I didn't doubt the possibility of finding all 20 people in the last week of the month alone. It wasn't ideal; especially because my OCD would have preferred that we found an even 5 people a week, but it was still very possible. Because of that, I anticipated that the Lord was going to teach me that he can do anything. I did my part by talking with more people than I have ever talked to during my mission, by planning as well as I could by the Spirit, and finding ways to sacrifice and consecrate my efforts. I continued throughout the month to do all of these things even when there wasn't a correlation between my (and when I say I and my throughout this letter, I mean we; Sister Rasheed was doing all of these things as well) diligence and new investigators. I didn't let myself get discouraged and I didn't take our lack of success as an excuse to forsake the better habits we had picked up. With only a handful of days left in the month I actually learned what the Lord wanted me to learn. I already have a testimony of obedience and the Lord being all powerful. I didn't need to learn that. It was foolish of me to think that He would have me learn something that I already had strong beliefs about. What I have always struggled with is the law of consecration and the idea of a Zion Society. You can chalk it up to my typically conservative ideals, my hatred of socialism and the inherent similarities, my belief that everyone should be able to solve their own problems, and my tendency to think that asking for help is nearly a sin. As we got daily updates about the miracles that were happening in the last week of the month I realized that whether we found 20 people or not, as a mission we were going to hit our goal. I always knew we would, but I figured that every missionary would help meet that goal by the Lord strengthening them to find 10 investigators per ward. It never crossed my mind that we would meet that goal by others finding more, some finding less, and some finding next to none. I pondered on that and realized that it didn't bother me...and that was unusual. I did spend a few days before this realization beating myself up for not "pulling my own weight", but I finally reached a point where I learned something. We had a collective goal as a mission and we all wanted to meet it. We worked, sacrificed, obeyed, prayed, fasted, and generally lived our lives to a higher standard than we had been living before. We purified ourselves and steeled ourselves against the adversary. We employed our talents and abilities. We repented and then we repented some more. Each day we evaluated and grew. We truly fought like dragons. My fire breathing effort only yielded 11 new investigators, but I exerted all the effort I could. There were others that worked harder than I did and still some that worked less than me, but at the end of the day I believe that we all worked as hard as we could and the Lord recognizes that and accepts that. That is what the law of consecration is; working your hardest and allowing your effort to be enough. 10 people don't necessarily each give 10%, 10 people give everything and they still reach 100%. I don't have ill feelings toward others who may have put forth a tangibly smaller effort than I, because I know that it was still all they could give, just as I hope those that did more than I can recognize that though my 100% was less than theirs, it was still 100% of my abilities. The goal was always 1,500 investigators AS A MISSION.
The goal was never 20 new investigators for Sisters Poppe and Rasheed, 20 for Sisters Moreton and Casey, etc. It was an ideal means to an end and a solid idea, but it was never the larger goal. I learned that my best is enough. I learned that the Lord strengthens others to make up for your weaknesses. I learned that perfect symmetry isn't the way the Lord does things. I learned to not resent others because their talents are more or less than mine. I learned that the Millennium won't be as Stalin-esque as I originally believed. I learned that though I gave my all I still need to progress, because 100% in January won't cut it in February because we can't remain stagnant. I learned what the Lord wanted me to learn."
You know you're rubbing off on your companion in a bad way when she says, "What is this?!" in an annoyed tone when someone doesn't turn left right away on a green arrow. Then later in the week when she says, "This is not good!" when someone cuts you off at a stoplight you know that you're the companion that gave the foreigner slight road rage. On a more positive language note, I've started picking one or two things a week to consistently correct in her vocabulary. It has helped me not be overwhelmed by all the things I think I should teach her, and has also helped her make permanent changes in her speaking. I correct her every single time she makes a mistake in regards to the pre-selected phrases for the week. She had been saying, "so many stuffs," "so much things," and "I think so no," a lot. It is comical, but I decided that last week we would change those to, "so many things," "so much stuff," and "I don't think so." It worked and she says them correctly about 95% of the time now.
Funny Sister R line of the week:
As I was taking my blanket off, my skirt went up to my mid-thigh and Sister R patted my leg and said, "oh! Good strong leg sister. Good, good leg." She has never said anything about my legs ever and that was the second time this week she did. If we are in our apartment there is a 90% chance I'm just walking around in a shirt and my garments so it isn't like she doesn't see my legs either. It was hilarious.
It was a very productive week for us and I felt blessed to teach more than we ever have as a companionship. We taught 13 member lessons, 10 nonmember lessons, and 2 less active lessons. I really hope to continue to teach in some way or another for the rest of my life because it truly is a thrill for me. Unfortunately that will probably just turn into me just forcing my kids to do flash cards and stuff and they will hate me until they're 18 and smart and accepted at Yale.
Make good decisions and remember who you are.