Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Like Unto Job

April 28, 2014

Sometimes, I really just like to take things completely out of context and think of exactly what is happening. I never tire of reminding myself that I am living on some strange little island in the Amazon River.

There I was in a ghetto ambulance speeding through the island passing by Motokars. This little Mexican girl that I have come to love a lot was laying down and looked up at my pale face and shaking hands (the ambulance sent me straight into a Panic Attack, maybe I should have been the one laying down!) and a light clicked in her face. She looked like she was going to cry. "I am SO sorry!" she whispered. I asked what she meant and she said "I didn't mean to call you crazy."

It had been a long, hard five days. We had been in the hospital for almost a week and the Doctors could not find out what was wrong with my companion. The Doctor finally gave up and called it "anxiety." She instantly started protesting and claiming that she wasn't crazy and she was too strong to have anxiety.

When members and other missionaries came by to see her they all said the same thing. Every time someone asked what's wrong she just said that they think she is crazy. I just sat there quietly listening feeling myself being labeled as crazy and weak. Of course, no one had any idea that I have that problem, but the words still hurt.

My poor companion felt horrible for what she had said, but honestly I was fine. I just wanted her to get better. The doctors realized it wasn´t anxiety when she started having seizures and, long story short, my favorite companion boarded a plane Friday night, after one week in the Hospital, and was sent home to Mexico for better care.

 Hermana Allphin, the one that lives down the street from me, looked over at me in the airport and said, "Well Job, how is it going over there?" I got a good laugh out of it. She said I reminded her of Job because, over the space of three weeks, I literally lost everything.

 It started out with my health and then the anxiety got really bad. Shortly after that, my area started falling apart. We couldn't find anyone to teach, and the fact that, between my companion and I, we have been in the hospital for a total of 13 days in 3 weeks. Then, when my Zone leaders saw that my baptisms have gone down, they told me I can't just stop working my hardest just because I feel sorry for myself and are talking to President to tell him that I shouldn't be Sister Leader anymore because I can't handle it. The Zone leader said I should stop training, stop opening new areas, and step down from my spot on the Leadership Council and end my mission being Junior Companion to someone with less time than me. I really started feeling like everything was getting taken away from me.

Saturday night, the power went out and I just remember sitting in the dark, by myself, planning by candlelight for an area that is falling apart. I wanted to just be done. I was ready to just give up and go to bed, when a word came into my mind and pierced my heart. "Diligencia." I realized that, even with everything that has happened, I need to do my best to be a Diligent and Obedient missionary. There is a strong force (Satan) that really, really wants me to get discouraged and go home. So, I have my choices. I can give up and just pack my bags, I can stay in the mission and make excuses and not work as hard as I should, or I can just press forward and stay on it.

My new goal is to find out WHY Satan wants me to give up. I need to find the people that he doesn't want me to find. I need to help the people he is trying to keep me from helping. I need to marry and baptize the families he doesn't want me to marry and baptize and, more than anything, strive to become the person he doesn't want me to be. Right before my companion left, Elder Mejia and Elder Scott came over to give her a blessing, and no one wanted to leave or say goodbye, so we just kind of awkwardly sat there, avoiding the unavoidable.

Elder Mejia saw my journal, which I have sadly left untouched for about six months, and started reading it. I didn't care 1. Because it's in English and he wouldn't understand all of it, and 2. Because there are no great secrets, just a bunch of stories. Anyway, he read all of what I had written when I was new. Honestly, I don't even remember being this way, but every single day I had written something like "I am scared." "I just want to go home so bad." "I hate this place." "I will never learn Spanish." "The food makes me sick." "I just want to give up."

I couldn't help but think. What would have happened if I would have just gone home my first transfer when I really, really wanted to? Look at all of the people I have Baptized, who would have taught and found them? What would I be doing with my life if I weren't here? What would have happened to all these poor people I have helped??? Maybe someone else would have helped them eventually, but how sad it would be for me to have lost the amazing privilege of being there.

All of the sisters I have trained and the areas I have opened...what would have happened with all that? I am SO grateful that I stuck with it. Anyway, long story short, but in that candlelit moment I decided to not just stay, but to rise to a sense of new commitment and be the most diligent and obedient missionary that I can. And, can I just say that the Lord is already blessing me for my decision? Sunday morning, when I wanted to just sit and feel sorry for myself, I got up and started studying and the phone rang. The President´s Assistants called me and said that someone from my area had been going to their ward and they wanted me to visit them that same day. I was able to find a member to work with me (since I can't do it alone) and when we got to the house I knocked on the door and someone that I taught a long time ago opened the door, and quickly shut it in my face saying that the new person I was looking for wasn't there.

I was ready to give up, but remembered that I had her phone number, so I turned the corner and called the lady, Shirley, and she answered and said that she was in the house, so she sent her daughter out to meet us and let us inside (the lady that shut the door in my face was in a corner, pouting that we had found a way into the house) and we started teaching this single mother and her two teenage kids.

I noticed that Shirley was shaking a lot and couldn't look anyone in the eye. As I got to know her a bit, she admitted that she suffers from very serious anxiety. She explained that she was living in Lima and was being taught by the Elders, and then came to Iquitos and her anxiety got worse. One day, she was out walking (and having a very serious panic attack) and looked up and saw a church and felt peace and has been going there every Sunday for a month. I explained to her that there is a church a lot closer to her house and we got talking and, after a very Spiritual lesson, the whole family committed to baptism. It was amazing.

The lady almost cried as I talked about receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and said that that could help her cope with her anxiety. It was...well...just amazing. Amazing. The Lord loves me and is taking care of me. I am so thankful for Him and the blessings that he gives me for trying to be diligent and obedient even when it is so hard. I love him and love His work and SO grateful to be a part of it.

So incredibly grateful.

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