Monday, February 16, 2015

A (Possibly Very Premature) Boot-Eulogy

I think that's how you spell that word. I think I'm going to be completely unintelligble when I get back. Now that I've had a Latino companion I can't speak English nor Spanish competently.

Anyhoo. Transfers are next week, and I'm guessing that I'm going. They change us fairly frequently here in this mission. It's not very common to have a companion for more than one change. Even in the middle of training the switch us around. It happened to me.

And that's what I'm going to write about a little bit. Because looking back I understand, I think, why it was that I had to come here to La Bota.

They say there's two things you should be very careful to pray for: Patience and Humility. Because if you pray for one of those - or worse, both - you're GOING to get it. So it was that one day here in La Bota I remembered that quote and realized that I had been doing exactly that for about a month and that it was for that exact reason that I was here. The epiphany was of that genre of comedy where you have no idea whether to laugh or cry hysterically.

My training was rough. I think it is for every missionary, first of all because of the adjustment. To strange foods that are at times questionable (as to whether it is still living or not), walking in the dust and fending of dogs in unbearable heat - or pouring rain, not understanding a thing anyone says, and coming home only to have to do paperwork before you can finally throw yourself in bed only half-undressed because there wasn't time and your companion is one of those - heaven forbid - obedient ones. For me, the adjustment to all of the work wasn't actually incredibly hard, but for perfectionists the real trouble is in that House of Mirrors like a mentioned last week. And I can tell you, I looked in a lot of distorted mirrors.

I figured out, and my trainer helpèd me figure out, that I needed to take it easy, relax, because if I kept it up I was going to explode. I realized that too and started to pray for patience, patience to get me through until the point when I felt comfortable with myself and my abilities. I don't remember if I started to pray for patience at the end of that first transfer, or in the second, but I do know that it was my main goal for my second transfer. I remember when I learned I was going to leave Moran - we did the nightly call out in the middle of the street because that's where the pay-phone was conveniently located outside our apartment. We learned that the transfers were already coming in and we were told to call back in about 5 minutes. We waited, then called. I don't know what I was expecting, but I do remember my companion listening into the phone that his face lighting up in surprising then him telling me, "You're going to La Bota!"

I was sad to go, but also excited to get to know a new sector. I was also excited as I arrived - my companion was great, we got along incredibly well, and I was ready to work.

Then we got to work and it was incredibly hard.

I'd come from Moran - one of the highest-baptizing sectors in the mission. Here, to La Bota, where we've had only a handful in the past year. We didn't have a ton of people to teach, the sector was tiny and already contacted several times over, and I got sick on top of it. I prayed for patience practically every night and got more and more frustrated as appointments fell through, we had to contact constantly, and I doubted more and more my ability to do this. Many were the times when I looked at the day in front of me and just didn't know how I was going to do it.

It was, as Nick Arvanitas put it, "the desert of my afflictions."

And so it was that one day I realized I had been praying for patience this whole time and that I was here for that very reason.

But the point of all this is now I have a much stronger faith in the Lord. Hope that everything will get better. And a little bit more patience to wait that out. Because this second transfer here I've come to love it! I no longer have so much fear to go out and work. I feel like I can do what needs to be done. And more and more I'm wanting to do it, too! Nothing more than to go out and do the work of the Lord every day. I still have a looong way to go - I often look at the e-mails of other missionaries out there and feel a bit overwhelmed seeing their awesome example. But I'm also more certain I can do it.

We have such a small perspective. How often do we think about how the things we are doing right now, in this tiny moment, will impact us for all of eternity? Maxwell explains it better than I in his talk "But for a Small Moment:"
An eighth trap to be avoided, brothers and sisters, is the tendency we have—rather humanly, rather understandably—to get ourselves caught in peering through the prism of the present and then distorting our perspective about things. Time is of this world; it is not of eternity. We can, if we are not careful, feel the pressures of time and see things in a distorted way. How important it is that we see things as much as possible through the lens of the gospel with its eternal perspectives.
I should like, if I may, to share with you on this point the fine writing of your own A. Lester Allen, a dean and scientist on this campus. This is what I have come to call the “Allen Analogy” about time. Let me read you these lines, if I may. Their application will be obvious. Dean Allen writes:
Suppose, for instance, that we imagine a “being” moving onto our earth whose entire life-span is only 1/100 of a second. Ten thousand “years” for him, generation after generation, would be only one second of our time. Suppose this imaginary being comes up to a quiet pond in the forest where you are seated. You have just tossed in a rock and are watching the ripples. A leaf is fluttering from the sky and a bird is swooping over the water. He would find everything absolutely motionless. Looking at you, he would say: “In all recorded history nothing has changed. My father and his father before him have seen that everything is absolutely still. This creature called man has never had a heartbeat and has never breathed. The water is standing in stationary waves as if someone had thrown a rock into it; it seems frozen. A leaf is suspended in the air, and a bird has stopped right over the middle of the pond. There is no movement. Gravity is suspended.” The concept of time in this imaginary being, so different from ours, would give him an entirely different perspective of what we call reality.
On the other hand, picture another imaginary creature for whom one “second” of his time is 10,000 years of our time. What would the pond be like to him? By the time he sat down beside it, taking 15,000 of our years to do so, the pond would have vanished. Individual human beings would be invisible, since our entire life-span would be only 1/100 of one of his “seconds.” The surface of the earth would be undulating as mountains are built up and worn down. The forest would persist but a few minutes and then disappear. His concept of “reality” would be much different than our own.
That's the most clever way I have seen time and intimations of eternity dealt with. It is very important that we not assume the perspective of mortality in making the decisions that bear on eternity! We need the perspectives of the gospel to make decisions in the context of eternity. We need to understand we cannot do the Lord's work in the world's way.
I just want to testify that the Lord knows us and answers our prayers. He gives us exactly what we need - and sometimes He has to yank us kicking and screaming out of our comfort zones to do so. In fact that's exactly what He does all the time. I know that only through that method we can become who we need to become - and God knows exactly what that is and how to do it. We just need to trust in Him! I'll probably have other hard trials in the future, but I know better now that by relying on him I can get through it. I've loved La Bota and because I'm writing this eulogy I'm probably going to stay here another 3 months or something. Love you all! I'll close with a scripture I love. In this passage Alma and his people are in captivity and in dire straits. So what did they do?

 12 And Alma and his people did not raise their voices to the Lord their God, but did pour out their hearts to him; and he did know the thoughts of their hearts.
 13 And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.
 14 And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.
 15 And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.
 16 And it came to pass that so great was their faith and their patience that the voice of the Lord came unto them again, saying:Be of good comfort, for on the morrow I will deliver you out of bondage.
On the morrow! It may seem like forever, but it's not much, in the end. And we'll all look back one day have a laugh at it.

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