I haven't been ranking the best weeks of my mission, but if I was, this would probably be number one. We worked out of our minds, we biked our legs off, we ate like there was no tomorrow, and we slept like rocks. Last Wednesday I was so tired we pulled into the apartment with our bikes, I tossed mine against the wall, and then laid on the hardwood for the next 20 minutes eating Christmas candy while Elder H laughed at me.
Tuesday we had Elder David Pino of the Seventy come. I've never been tailgating, or waited in line for the next new movie, but anticipating the arrival of Elder Pino was pretty close to it. All the missionaries were there about at least an hour early. The room was humming with quite excitement as Elder Pino strolled in, looking much older and smaller than I expected. President Slaughter was right behind him, looking giddy. Elder Pino spoke in Spanish to us as a missionary translated for him. He was hilarious, insightful, all that good stuff that comes from being a general authority of the church of Jesus Christ. The spirit in that room was marvelous. The air was so light, the mood was so great. What a blessing it is, to be a missionary of the Lord's church.
Wednesday was just as great. We may have not had a lesson all day, but we fought- well, I'd hate to use fighting for something as enjoyable as missionary work, but there is a feeling you get when it feels like nothing is going your way, and you have to find ways to be as productive as possible. When you have five appointments set up and none of them happen because people are busy, or when you run into some Jehovah's Witnesses who just want to pick a fight, it feels like you are in a battle. You and the work are duking it out, trying to do everything to help others come unto Christ. It may be some of the most fun you've ever had, but yes, it does feel like a fight sometimes.
Anyways, everything changed as soon as we had dinner with the P. Sister P told us last Sunday that she was going to make wings for us, which made her husband almost fall out of his seat with excitement when he heard this. The build up for these wings, which sounded like the most amazing things on earth, was not falsely attributed. We walked into the home and there was Sister Powell, making them right in front of our eyes, popping out 8 to 10 of them every ten minutes or so. It was glorious. She also had homemade fries with homemade fry sauce which could rock anyone's socks. But those wings. I would walk from Jerome to the Pl's home just for those buffalo wings. I had 17 wings, and Elder H had 19. So I may not have won the grand prize, but I definitely was first place in my weight class. And besides, Elder H couldn't hold them in. That was the worst part of the week. We were heading down Bulverde on our bikes. I was in front, and Elder Hill was keeping good pace until one moment I look back and he's a quarter mile behind me. Turns out it was that stupid dead deer that the city hasn't picked up for the past three weeks that proved to be his demise. Poor Elder H. The stench was just too much.
Friday we had one of those moments that you always dream of, but never have. It was something straight out of a church movie. It was this moment, as well as one other moment, that have been the stuff of Mormon Messages.
Let me tell you the first one. It came about three weeks ago. We were knocking on the door of a less active part member home that we have been trying to get into for months. We knocked on the door, and someone actually answered! Unfortunately, it was Brother L, the less active. He curtly said, "Hey, now's not a good time fellas. Come by maybe when I'm done with school next year."
Boo. We're missionaries man. You know that neither of us will be here in a year. We just wanted to invite you to the Christmas party, but no.
"Oh alright, no worries. See you then." We walk down the street, when we hear him yell from the other side of the block "Hey! Come back! My wife has some questions for you!"
We looked at each like we were witnessing Moses part the Red Sea. "we're actually getting into the Lockharts!" We thought. It really was a miracle.
And that's how we met the Ls. Brother L's nonmember wife had a bunch of questions about the Plan of Salvation and we ended up having one of the more spiritual, heartfelt lessons I've had all mission. We meet with them weekly now. Unfortunately, they have a hard time coming to church, and that's holding Sister L back from being baptized.
But Friday! Friday we were knocking on an old, old potential named W, when a woman answered the door. Her name was B T, and as soon as she found out we were LDS and not Jehovah's Witnesses (People really don't like them down here) she opened up and said, "I've been wondering about your church. There are just so many churches out there and they all believe different things from the bible and…" and then she went off for about five minutes about why the Great Apostasy happened and the need for a restoration. Elder H and I just sat there dumbfounded. She was golden! Her kids were adorable and she said that she wanted to hear everything we had to say. Unfortunately, her husband wasn't home, so we couldn't go inside, but we scheduled a future appointment with her family and she is super excited to meet us. It's just one of the those moments that you have to cherish.
Sunday was special. In the Evans Ranch sacrament meeting, we got to sing my favorite Christmas song by my request, "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day." All I had to do was ask the wife of the organist if we could sing it, and without hesitation she said "absolutely. Anything for the Elders."
I love that song so much. It is so beautiful, so heartfelt, so poetic. I couldn't stop myself from tearing up as the fourth verse finished. I'll finish this post with the lyrics
And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
of peace on earth, good will to men."
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
with peace on earth, good will to men."
God is not dead nor does he sleep. The right will prevail, and there shall be peace on earth, good will to men.
Elder Richard Hall