Monday, October 21, 2013

It just feels like everything good that could've happened, didn't ...and everything bad, did

Hello Everyone!
So this was my first trial week in the mission. I'm sure every missionary has multiple weeks like this, and probably for their benefit ;-)
We had so much potential success this week, but at every single opportunity, we met failure. We set very high goals, goals that our area hasn't seen for a long time. We set tons of appointments and had members scheduled to attend with us to every one.  Everything was set, and we were well prepared for success.
But when we showed up to our appointments -- with our members -- not a single person was home. In fact, we ended up with the lowest number of lessons the entire time I've been here. That was super frustrating -- hour after hour after hour -- day after day -- taking time away from members just to have them face failure along with us. It really was extremely disappointing. 
Even our contacting was low. We had high expectations, but missed severely. It feels like everyone had a disrespectful vibe towards us this week. We couldn't invite just about anybody to do anything.
We also had no investigators come to Church this week. Even Gabriel didn't come to church, and he wasn't present for the two lessons we had prepared for him. :(
It just feels like everything good that could've happened, didn't, and everything bad, did.

But I know that every missionary has these kinds of weeks. Satan will always try to halt the work of the Lord and bring down the hearts of His missionaries. I know that things often get worse before they get better. And the sun ultimately always rises again. I believe that this week was a test from God to see if we would accept failure or stand up and try again. Well I can promise you that I will not accept mediocrity. I will always strive to stretch myself and work to the end of everyday. I understand that God will only bless those who show Him that they want success. We will continue to set high expectations, and despite setbacks, we'll strive to achieve them. We will show God that we want success, by going out in search of it, by planning for it, by expecting it, by reaching for it.
But despite even the darkest hour, light will always pierce the night. We were still blessed with success. We picked up a former investigator. Her name is Fernanda. She studied with the missionaries about 6 months ago, and even had a baptismal interview and passed it. The problem then was her step-dad. Her mom loves us to death, loves us, loves us, loves us. She even said that she knows she will one day be a Mormon. The problem is the step-dad. He is understandably worried about his family. He did allow Fernanda's brother, Alexis, to be baptized into the church, but once Fernanda was about to get baptized, decided he didn't want a split-religion family, stopped her baptism, and wouldn't let Alexis attend Church anymore. 
Understandably, the father didn't want conflicts to arise because of religion, but as time passed after Alexis' baptism, he went "down hill" really fast. After he stopped affiliating with the church, he made some bad decisions. Elder Jensen and I have persistently returned to their house the entire time I've been here; we've never gotten in, but we have had opportunities to talk. And now, Alexis is coming back to church, and making some better decisions again. And his family has noticed ...and we've been allowed to teach them once again. The wife even invited us to her son's Catholic baptism ...which was actually a little weird, or different I should say. SUPER loud music and dancing. But it was cool to see. The wife even asked us to bless her baby. It felt a little out of place; but we took the baby and step-dad outside and said a sweet little prayer. We were then allowed to return the next day to teach Fernanda. :)  So I think with more time, we might even be privileged to teach the father.
Another blessing we had this week was with Pedro, Gabriel's father-in-law. He loves us so much. His beliefs have completely changed since we've been teaching. He absolutely knows that the church is true, and has gone from hard-core Catholic to dedicated Mormon. :)  And as an emblem of his care for us ...he bought us real leather jackets!!! :D  Brand new, sweet Italian jackets!!   Well over $100 each! He also bought us some ties!! How cool is that! It was so exciting. When we came to teach him and Gabriel this last week, he gave us these presents.  We then taught our lesson, went home, and opened them up! We were awe struck. So kind and loving.  I will forever LOVE this jacket! I feel so cool! I just need to buy some matching pants ;) THRIFT SHOP! :D
This week was tough, I'm not going to lie. I hope I don't come across another week like this one in a long, long time. But I know there are lessons to be learned even from really tough weeks.
Patience and Hope. :)
I will never stop trying. As long as I give my full effort, I can never regret my work. :) I worked hard, and so I'm proud of last week ...but hopeful for the coming week. :)
I love you all and miss you tons!
Love Elder Clemons
Last Wednesday we had "Middle Part Miericoles!"  So fun and funny. We all had to wear our hair parted in the middle to our district meeting. And we all got prizes at the end for our parts! It was so funny! Enjoy! :D