Hey y'all *voice crack*
If there was ever a time when I frustrated one of you people with my endless, dark, deep concerns, I apologize and I want you to know that I feel your pain now.
But first, the other cool thing!
There was a time (9/11) when Neil L. Anderson of the 12 decided to come to Colleyville TX and give us a 2-and-a-half-hour training. So. Stinkin'. COOL. Not only was the ENTIRE FORT WORTH TEXAS mission there.... but the ENTIRE DALLAS TEXAS MISSION was there!!!!! I haven't seen this many missionaries in one room since the MTC and it was INCREDIBLE. Elder Anderson is clearly a jovial sort of fellow. We all got to shake his hand and as some Dallas elder was walking by, he said "I'm never washing this hand again."
Elder Anderson touched on a lot of things that concern most (all) missionaries. First, not getting discouraged and second, the Atonement. He told us that in order to be successful, we can't look at numbers, we can't look at our investigators, we have to look at ourselves. We cannot expect to go mile-by-mile, instead, we have to "pull ourselves up, inch by inch. It's like rock climbing."
He then talked about the Atonement. He said that "there will a come a time in your life when the Atonement will play a very deep role in your life and it will suddenly become very VERY real to you." Growing up in the church, I knew ALLLL about the Atonement. I knew the science of justice being appeased while mercy still reigned. And it was nice. It just wasn't real. I had experienced the miraculous power of change in my life, assuredly! But it hadn't walloped me in the back of the head yet.
Well, Elder Anderson's prophecy happened a lot sooner than I think he expected.
The next day, we went over to my favorite little investigator's for a lesson. I say little because they are 12 and 13. Peyton and Tori remind me why I want to have kids... and then why I shudder at the thought of me ever reproducing. They're very opinionated, almost as loud as me, and they have TONS AND TONS OF QUESTIONS. I love them dearly and I'll probably take them home with me.
We got there just as they were finishing dinner, so we sat and chatted with them while they hurriedly tidied. Peyton looked up quite suddenly and said "Did you guys hear about the 9th grader who died yesterday?" Chantry and I looked at each other and said "No.... what happened?" Peyton recounts the story of his suicide and then says "I'm so confused. I don't know why anybody would want to kill themselves... So.... Because he killed himself, is he going to hell?"
I've heard just about every single weird question that would make the most stalwart missionary balk. But nothing could possibly prepare me for the innocence of a teenager, asking questions about death and the afterlife. Immediately, Chantry and I switched our plans and went into the most in-depth lesson of the Plan of Salvation I have EVER taught. And probably ever will teach. Because at every turn, at every angle, they would catch us off guard by saying things like "I had a cousin that died in his mommy's tummy-- will I get to see him again?"
As we went home, I started thinking about my experiences with death. The eventuality of it, the Church's stance of peace and happiness not normally associated with the passing of a loved one... I used to think that I had a good grip on the afterlife... But nothing makes you feel Heavenly Father's love like telling a 13 year old that she's going to live again and that she has no need to fear anymore.
Makes me really love my family, quite frankly. Also makes me cry. Again.
Please send a box of tissues,
Sister Weepy (Gunson)