We had a full week here in Crystal Spring 1st. Lots of things happened. My trainee arrived this week, so we’ll start there!
My new companion is Elder Castillo. He’s from Houston, Texas, and he just graduated from high school. So…my new companion is actually younger than my sister by a month, so that’s a little weird sometimes. But he’s cool! He’s ready to work and he’s pretty funny, though I have a bit of a hard time placing what kind of person he is. His personality is sort of an amalgamation of many types of people, if that makes sense. It probably doesn’t, but that’s alright.
Anyway, he’s super cool, he loves soccer, and he was very involved in Scouting while he was growing up (his dad works for Boy Scouts of America).
Since Elder Castillo got here, we’ve spent most of our time in training meetings and zone meetings, but we did have a full day of work on Thursday and many good things happened! First off, Pamela set a baptismal date for five weeks out, which is exciting! She’s continuing to progress every day! In addition to Pamela, we taught a woman named Sylvia on Thursday. Her daughter is a semi-active member who we are teaching, but she is a non-member and she’s super funny.
Sylvia is also a little crazy. She was a hippy in the 60’s (or so we have reason to believe) and she used to be an elephant keeper. She sits in on our lessons (she investigated before, but there’s a couple barriers to her progressing). We might add her as an investigator soon, but we’re not sure. When we teach, she likes to tell us her problems. Right now she’s refinancing her home, so she keeps saying, “yea, though I walk through the valley of refinancing”. It’s funny.
When we went by there to teach this week, she started writing down things we were saying and then she came up with her own answer to her problems: “just let Jesus succeed”. I had a hard time not laughing when she said that because it didn’t make a lot of sense. Every time we go by, something like that happens and she starts laughing hysterically and says that every time we come by we spread our “Mormon magic” and her problems are magically solved. She also calls us the “Mormon ninjas”. She’s wacky and the funniest person we deal with in this area. I have many journal entries about things she’s said.
Elder Baniago and I last week at the Pacifica Pier on P-Day. We saw whales while we were out there which was super cool.
Saying goodbye to Elder Mason. He got transferred to the Walnut Creek zone, where I started my mission.
Early in the week, while I was waiting for my trainee to arrive, I had the opportunity to work with Elder Forsyth and Elder Apostolos, our zone leaders. It was good, mentally, to work with them, especially since they’ve become two good friends and inspiring examples to me. While working together, we had a lot of discussions about perspective and attitude. I realized an important lesson from them this week, but let me preface that with a review of my last few months:
The past few months in this area have been hard for me. I’ve been stressed out and I’ve spent most of the time with a lot of responsibility on my shoulders. Training for almost the full time I’ve been here and starting fresh with another missionary has been a lot to handle. Additionally, the work has been harder here than my first area and I don’t quite see eye to eye with a lot of the ward members we work with. All these things have been a bit of a struggle for me and I’ve fallen into a vicious cycle of stress and anxiety and hopelessness.
This last week, Elder Apostolos and Elder Forsyth showed the zone a video (with President Frandsen’s approval) from a movie called “Facing the Giants”. The clip is of a high school football player doubting his team’s ability to beat the team they are playing on the following Friday. The coach asks the player (Brock) to perform what’s called a “death crawl” (essentially carrying another person on your back while crawling) to the 50-yard line. The coach blind folds Brock and tells him to keep going till he can’t anymore. As Brock begins he’s gets going and starts to struggle after a while. He keeps going and going and starts yelling and struggling as he’s doing it, but the coach keeps encouraging and yelling and pushing him to give all he can until he collapses. When he takes off the blind fold he realizes he made it all the way to the end zone.
The moral of this story is this: that we can indeed do more than we know. The Lord knows this and that’s why he puts in situations that are hard. He proves us and tests us and shows us that we are more than we know. The whole time we do our own “death crawl”, the Lord is just like that coach. He’s standing over us encouraging and telling us we can do more even when we feel like we can’t. And when we start struggling, he gets down on his knees, continuing to encourage and show us love. He’s with us every step of the way, no matter what. I encourage all of you to look up this video if you have a chance. It’s inspiring, especially when we relate it to the Lord and the plan of salvation.
I learned from my zone leaders this week that perspective is important. That we must remember that there is no reason to let stress overtake us despite all the challenges around us. We must simply change our attitude and turn to the Lord. I’ve been focusing on that this week and, although it’s been hard, I’m feeling better. However, I am exhausted, but I can keep going. The Lord knows this and he’s pushing me harder than I have been pushed before, but if I maintain the right mindset, I know I can make it through hard things. My prayer is that all of you can tap into your own eternal potential too. That you all can call on the Lord for strength to push through hard things.
Know that I love all of you! I hope you all have a great week!