Monday, November 16, 2015

Onion Patch

This week was quite the week! I came off the week before pretty darn content, and ready to work again. But it just didn't turn out that way. Last week was full of lessons and talking to people. But this week...was a bit harder. Well, a lot harder. Appointments fell through, goals weren't met, everything kind of just turned dark and dreary. I think every missionary has experienced that moment when you're so excited to go teach someone but they're not home or don't seem to want to receive you anymore...that happened more than once this week.

As a point of reference, we can use the standards of excellence here in the mission. For contacts, the standard of excellence in a week is 100 (some of you who have served in places that aren't South America are probably laughing at the puniness of that number but that's the way it is here). Very rarely do people ever get 100 contacts (or even more than 50, really) because they're busy teaching people. This week, we had 106 contacts. So many of our appointments fell through (and back-up plans, too) that we had to be contacting a ton. And it's not easy in this sector. It's not very big. We contacted it in its entirety last change and I think we've already contacted a fourth of it over again in these first two weeks. And it seems like only here in Ecuador are people rude enough to actually slam the door on us some times.

All of this made it hard for me to have faith. I began to doubt whether the people were really out there. I wondered what I was doing here, why it was so hard, why nobody listened. It's the first time I've really started to feel that in my mission.

But late last night while were contacting (because everything had fallen through again) I remembered something I read recently in a talk Pres. Eyring once gave, a story about his dad.

Let me encourage you by telling you a story. It was told to me by my father. He told it with the intent to chuckle at himself. It was a story about his trying to do his duty, just the way you try to do your duty.

Now you have to know a little bit about my father. His name was Henry Eyring, like mine. He had done some of the things students of this university are preparing to be able to do. His work in chemistry was substantial enough to bring the honors some of you will someday have, but he was still a member of a ward of the Church with his duty to do. To appreciate this story, you have to realize that it occurred when he was nearly eighty and had bone cancer. He had bone cancer so badly in his hips that he could hardly move. The pain was great.

Dad was the senior high councilor in his stake with the responsibility for the welfare farm. An assignment was given to weed a field of onions, so Dad assigned himself to go work on the farm.

Dad never told me how hard it was, but I have met several people who were with him that day. I talked to one of them on the phone the other night to check the story. The one I talked to said that he was weeding in the row next to Dad through much of the day. He told me the same thing that others who were there that day have told me. He said that the pain was so great that Dad was pulling himself along on his stomach with his elbows. He couldn’t kneel. The pain was too great for him to kneel. Everyone who has talked to me has remarked how Dad smiled, and laughed, and talked happily with them as they worked in that field of onions.

Now, this is the joke Dad told me on himself, afterward. He said he was there at the end of the day. After all the work was finished and the onions were all weeded, someone asked him, “Henry, good heavens! You didn’t pull those weeds, did you? Those weeds were sprayed two days ago, and they were going to die anyway.”

Dad just roared. He thought that was the funniest thing. He thought it was a great joke on himself. He had worked through the day in the wrong weeds. They had been sprayed and would have died anyway.

When Dad told me this story, I knew how tough it was. So I said to him, “Dad, how could you make a joke out of that? How could you take it so pleasantly?”

He said something to me that I will never forget, and I hope you won’t. He said, “Hal, I wasn’t there for the weeds.”

Now, you’ll be in an onion patch much of your life. So will I. It will be hard to see the powers of heaven magnifying us or our efforts. It may even be hard to see our work being of any value at all. And sometimes our work won’t go well.

But you didn’t come for the weeds. You came for the Savior. And if you pray, and if you choose to be clean, and if you choose to follow God’s servants, you will be able to work and wait long enough to bring down the powers of heaven.

Well, as I remembered that, I realized...I'm in my onion patch, here. But what  I'm doing is what the Lord wants me to be doing. In working I'm showing him I love him, and that's what truly matters. It's hard to describe how I felt, but I could feel so much calmer and at peace. The Spirit let me know everything was ok.

We kept contacting and a lady answered the door who just couldn't accept something apart from the Bible. I could testify to her that it speaks of Christ, and I know it's how I get my testimony of him. She may not have accepted us, but a contact that would have discouraged me in the past left me with peace. I knew I'd done my part and testified and felt the Spirit. I was there for the Savior, although the weeds were pretty tough.

In other news, our less-active Victor is soon to be rescued! He came to church this week without any prodding at all and stayed all three hours. He's even excited to help us in the mission work, which is great.

Also, we went back to teach Olga, and it was a good visit. She told us a bit about her economic problems and I felt we should talk about the Sabbath day. My testimony of the sabbath has really grown here on the mission. You know, people just need to keep the commandments and they'll have everything they need! Honestly. She didn't come to church the next day, but I do feel good about what we taught, I think she understood pretty well. First time I've ever taught that in the second visit.

Well that's it from the Andes. Hope everyone's doing well at home.
 I ate beatles the other day, dried out and salted. I think they're beetles, at least. They're called catzos here. Pretty darn tasty actually. With the toasted corn I ate like half that plate alone.

 So some fleas managed to get in my bed and bit me all over. It's obnoxious because then I have to be walking around and the bites scrape against my clothes or shoes and get really terrible. This one developed into a blister. WARNING GRAPHIC

We made cookies! Totally taking advantage of the fact we have an oven here.

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