Saturday, October 25, 2014

"Did you not tell them they were the Lords chips?"

It was the end of August and I was still back in the area of Las Fuentes.  We were 6 missionaries riding on a rickety old Mexican bus, heading back to our areas after a zone conference.  I was happily sitting in my seat with a long awaited birthday package on my lap and a few letters in my back pack.  My comp and I were chatting with the other four elders about the talks, capacitaciones given during the zone conference, what would happen in the next transfers, and if I was going to share the candy that was surely in my package.

The roads in Mexico aren't exactly roads, and they are placed in really strange areas.  Wherever there isn't a house, they'll put a road. At this moment we happened to be traveling along the edge of a mountain (Tijuana's full of them).  On one side, mountain.  On the other, sudden drop off.  But that's normal in Mexico.  The roads might be crazy but the drivers are highly skilled.  However, all of a sudden our light conversation was interrupted when the wheels hit some rocks.  The bus began to loose control and people began to shout out.  My heart began to beat faster and rise up in my chest.  For one split second I thought "this is it."  It felt like it took several minutes, but in only a few seconds the wheels caught grip of the ground once more and we continued on our path as though nothing happened.

I soon forgot about it, but as we stepped off the bus one of the Elders brought up the subject.  He said that in such situations, casi nunca (almost never),  the bus can get control again.  Usually they go spinning off the edge.... not to sound too dramatic.

But this bus carried 6 servants of the Lord.  He wasn't going to let anything happen to us. 

 I love being a part of miracles.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Today we had transfers.  Now that I've finished training Hna. Pacheco it's time that I move on to another area.  And after 6 months in Las Fuentes I'm ready for a change.  So today, the president paired me up with Hna. Cabrera and sent us off to Agua Caliente.

Q: But Hna. Lance, after 6 months serving in one area how do you now feel leaving it?

A:  Good question.  To be honest, mixed feelings.  40% Relief, 30% Excitement, and 30% Tristeza

Q:  Interesting combination.  Could you explain more?

A:  Sure thing.  
Relief because after 6 months in the same area you've reached a point when you've tried everything.  Walking down the street you pass by at least 10 people that you've contacted and been rejected by.  Everyone is an ex-investigator, and those crazy members never seem to change.  It's releaving to know that I've done my part and now someone else can come in and help with new ideas.
Excitement because now I get to BE that new person.  New territory.  New faces.  New members to work with.  I can give new ideas and perhaps help the area progress more.  And like in every area I've had before, I can become a better missionary here.
Tristeza because I have to leave Fuentes...

Q:  Intriguing... after half a year in Fuentes you're still sad to leave it?

A:  You bet'cha!  That place became my home.  I literally walked down every street in that area... or to better put it, climbed every hill.  I learned a TON about how to be a better missionary, disciple of Christ, and even more important, I grew to know my Savior better there.  There is a reason I will forever call Las Fuentes my Gethsemane.
Not to mention the members.  Sure, there were a few wackos and algunas que are "Sunday members" y nada mas.  But there were several who really became my family.  Converts that I've been able to help grow and have seen progress.  Less actives that were starting to gain their testimonies again.  As to the investigators, they are always hard to leave.  I've worked so hard on some of them to help them gain a testimony. For example:  I started teaching Rosalio and Lupe with Hna. Bautista.  About 4 months ago.  They were progressing mas o menos.  Read the BOM, loved our visits, but never went to church.  Then Hna. Pacheco came and they went on vacation to visit family in Chiuauah (I think that's how you spell it).  A month latter they came back and called us saying that they wanted us to stop by again.  So we started teaching them again... but Rosalio had a lot of doubts.  He like to listen to us, but thought that being strong in his faith meant that he shouldn't doubt his Catholic upbringing...... long story short, yesterday we went to visit them and Rosalio said that he wanted to be baptized.  I nearly cried..  I can I leave them now?

But here we are.  New area.  New start.  Lots of hills... Wish me luck!  

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Tender Mercies

Time to share a little missionary wisdom:

Usually, when RMs share their missionary experiences they share the most spiritually pumped moments.  The times when people break down crying, emotions are high, and miracles are popping up like daisies.  Something that's worthy of 100+ likes and 67 re-postings on Facebook.  It creates a pretty picture of missionary work, but as I've said before, a little morphed.  Unlike daisies, mission miracles are more like tulips in a parking lot.  There is a lot of digging required, water, and protection from passing cars.  And then hopefully you get one, beautiful, blooming flower.  It's worth the work, but exhausting.

So how do you not get discouraged every time some punk-kid runs over your sprouting seedling with his bicycle?   When I arrived to this lovely country called Mexico I learned pretty quickly to count the tender mercies of each day.  It began with Spanish.  In order to get through a day of not understanding anything around me I often turned to the skies for comfort.  Finding the same constellations in the night sky as I did for my BYU astronomy class, hearing a random English song played on the radio, feeling a gentle breeze wrap itself around me.  These were my consoling messages from the big guy upstairs.  The, "it's going to be okay" and "you're only in a different country, not a different planet" and "be patient, the language will come" moments.

I continued to progress with these little nudges.  Now the bicycle has changed.  The punk-kid has been switched out for a soccer mom in her SUV, running late to pick up her kids from practice.   But I've been doing this for 11 months now.  I'm far from perfect, but have a little experience to share with the other hermanas.  A few strips of caution tape to put around the tulip.

In the mission, and in life, the jaw dropping miracles will be few, but the tender mercies will come by handfuls.  You've just got to look for them.  Learn how Heavenly Father speaks with you individually.  He speaks to me through the sky.  Paints a masterpiece in the heavens to cheer me up and let me know that at least He thinks I did a good job.  Sunsets, and other little victories keep me there, kneeling by my run-over, dry, tiny seedling, sprouting out of the hard pavement.  The tulips are few, but they make for a pretty table setting in the end.