Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?

Notes from Mama Gunson:
Yesterday (Monday): Hannah and her companion live with an LDS couple, the Leonards.  I am SO grateful for this adorable picture and note from Sister Leonard!  I'll send along Hannah's email if she ever writes one this week.

"And the library is closed, so these two sweet sisters can't email today.  But they are doing very well, they both refused my offer of the home computer, because they are righteous mission rule keeping girls.  So expect to hear from them later in the week!" 
--Sis. Leonard

Today (Tuesday): Yay!  Glad I didn't have to wait a whole week to hear from her!  She's in the same area with the same comp for another 6 weeks.  Her address is still as follows:
231 Oakview Dr.
Double Oak, Texas 75077
Hey y'all!

There's a certain stigma in the mission that follows the last week of the transfer... Either it goes really swell, there's little to no trial and you feel like you've beaten every enemy. Or you have a week of mayhem and sadness where everything goes wrong in a cataclysmic meltdown and you're in shock at how suddenly, everything took a turn for the worst... Lantana's Week 6 was the latter of the two.

So... Sometimes, your most progressing investigator runs away. Zack Owens left the Van Patten home and is, apparently, living in some hotel. I didn't know that was on the list of oppositions. When we found out, I was in shock and couldn't process the information. There's no course for this in the MTC! It threw us off so bad... We managed to get back in limited contact with him... but his fire for baptism has all but died away. According to the member family he was living with, he wasn't sincere in our lessons. He behaved so differently during lessons than he did at any other time that the Van Pattens were confused and pretty concerned... while we were blissfully unaware. Sister Heap and I had to deal with the thought that, perhaps if we were better missionaries, we could have seen this coming. We felt the need to apologize to the Van Pattens... I have since analyzed (probably overanalyzed) every lesson... and found through retrospect that, as we taught him, he did not possess the light of someone who's turning around and facing the Son. We felt cheated on and lied to. I have a bad history with Zack's. They're not too good for my achy breaky heart.

Bradley Privette, however, does have that turnaround! Within 24 hours of us teaching him of the Atonement, he was all smiles during the next lesson. he was practically teaching us! He told us that the Book of Mormon validates the Bible (yes, it does!), that you need someone called of God to help lead the church (you sure do!) and that fellowship is an essential part of a successful church congregation (yes it is!!). He said "I feel like Jonah in the whale... I just got spit out! But I'm still wiping slime off. And I'm gonna smell like fish for a while. But I know that through God, in this life or the next, I won't smell like fish anymore." When we texted him later on in the week, we asked him if he was reading the Book of Mormon. He said "It's going great! How could I have thought for a second that God left me?!?!" He even asked if he could bring friends to his next lesson! That there is a man trying to find his Father.

 But sometimes, your second most progressing investigator has to go to prison for a couple of days for some unpaid speeding tickets.... Of course he would, it's Week 6.

So, I totally failed to talk about Youth Conference for the Lewisville stake... The program was basically a three-day mission experience. On Saturday, we, as an entire zone (that's about 17 missionaries) taught 270 youth how to teach a gospel message. We divided into wards (so we taught our youth) and basically did a one-hour MTC! Then... in just about an hour... they taught over 130 lessons to member's friends and neighbors. All of them were non-members. This was a MASSIVE success! They really enjoyed it and it was amazing to teach them all!! They were so enthusiastic... I hope they all go on missions. They all came back with nothing bad to say, glowing with the spirit... These youth are incredible. I've never seen a finer bunch. We texted them all afterwards, asking "how did it go?!" and they all texted us back, saying stuff like "I'm going on splits with y'all now!" and "I'm going on a mission!" Man... SO jealous of that Youth Conference, but holy Toledo... It was an amazing honor to teach them. Even more so, in this instance, I realized how much these youth loved us. They gave us full undivided attention and treated us like respected peers.

I love this ward.
I suppose you have to take the good with the bad in all things. Keeps us humble. BUt frequently throughout the week, Sister Heap and I would turn to each other and say "O Brother, Where Art Thou?!" because we've been trying to find Zack and bring him back into the light and Bradley needs to make some better decisions to help his gospel-applying situation out... But the one Brother I need never ask for whereabouts for is Christ. If I have learned anything from this week (and this transfer), it's that Christ is always right next to us. The only way He leaves is when we push us. But like Bradley said... He has never left. In Sacrament Meeting, I was overwhelmed by the stresses and trials of the week and started praying... Immediately, I had the sweetest feeling overcome me. It felt like an arm around my shoulders. I just felt so much love from our Heavenly Father and Elder Brother.... It was pretty emotional week.... I almost died.

By the way, I'm not getting transferred. Neither is Sister Heap. THANK GOODNESS.
Have a great week!
Sister Gunson

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