Easter has come and gone, and the Savior lives still. In other news, I have been on a mission for 2 months, and have reached then end of my first official transfer. I still weigh 70 kilograms (155 lbs) thanks to running and working out every day (I like the new look), I am officially “trained,” have a haircut (looks the same), and will be departing Berwick tomorrow for an area they still have not told me. I should find out tomorrow morning. According to Elder Jones, the Zone Leader, I’ll be jumping into a trio because one of them is high-tailing it home in 2 weeks. Allegedly he’s been getting a bit dodgy, so I’m supposed to whip him into shape so he ends on a good note and not in a flatulent slide. Apparently that’s the way mission presidents use the good Elders; they pair them up with the ones who are falling behind. This will be difficult, because I hate being forceful, but this is probably one of the most important skills I can learn on my mission; pressuring people to get better. Sounds kind of like you, mom.
This past week, Elder Moala from Tonga switched places with our other Zone Leader, Elder Dalton, to serve in our area for the remainder of the transfer. Elder Moala is a true character. Elder Moala speaks English, but it is rather broken and comes across in a thick accent that sounds Jamaican to me, but he is definitely not from Jamaica. He’s huge, and eats chicken, pork, beef, meat, and occasionally noodles on the side of more meat. “It make you big and strong!” he tells me. He’s been telling me I should eat that way so I can take true advantage of all the working out I’ve been doing. I think I’ll stick with the pyramid. He’s been taking care of lunch for us most of the week. He buys a big pack of drumsticks boils it all, tosses in a bunch of packs of Ramen noodles, a little flavoring, and that’s lunch. “You want some chicken, Cereal Man?” He calls me Cereal Man because I eat cereal in the morning and at night. “Whoah, Cereal Man, you getting big!” I suppose I do merit the name, because I discovered I go through 6+ liters of milk every week. I went on exchanges with him a couple times, and when we tract, he likes to say, “We also offer free service if you need any help with something like your garden, my friend here is excellent gardner he do it up really nice for you.” I just let him go with it. He’s been teasing Elder Aisa, saying that I’m training him. He says a lot of Elders even after 3 months are quaking in their shoes as they knock on doors, but I look like I’ve been out 6 months. I hardly know how to respond to things like that.
Let me relay a few stories now… We visited some members in the hospital with Afualo in the Hampton Park ward to share some scriptures etc. This was the second time we went, and the first time we had gone, a less active member noticed us and asked if we could share a thought with her husband who was in the hospital, who is not a member. So we visited him again this time. Next door this second week was another family of members surrounding grandpa, whose time was fast approaching. He sure was in a pathetic state. Dad, I never saw Taylor Kew in his final stages, but based on your description, this looked pretty similar. Vacant stare, thing bones, and too weak to even adjust his position for better comfort and unable to speak. The whole family were members, so we shared a thought. I talked about Alma 7:11-12, emphasizing the value of the Savior’s sacrifice and the pain he felt in our behalf, and the hope it brought to one day live again, perfected. It was a simple thought, but they all appreciated it. Unfortunately, this grandpa, being so weak and on painkillers, hardly had the strength to hear; he falls asleep at random intervals. But after we shared the thought, I heard a prompting say, “Sing I Stand All Amazed.” So we did. After the song, I could see a remarkable renewing in this senior’s awareness, nodding his head in thanks with a piercing eye contact. He even shook our hands. It reminded me of touring with Singers when we sang a few numbers in a clinic, and sharing the powerful spirit that hymns provide. Never underestimate the power in those simple notes and lyrics.
Also, Elder Aisa and I got some solid tracting time over Easter weekend. For some reason, people were a bit more odd than usual (you know, because usually two sharply-dressed young adults knocking on your door saying they have the secrets to happiness isn’t an awkward or odd situation at all). I’ll replay three door conversations from Good Friday:
Knock Knock — “Hi, how are you?”
“Who are you?”
“We’re from the Church of Jesus Christ of–”
“Why are you coming on Friday? It’s Friday! Come on…” She closed the door, laughing to herself. At first, I thought, “Wow, that was rude,” but then I realized that she wouldn’t have listened to us if it was Wednesday either.
Knock Knock — “Hi, how you goin?”
“What are you selling? What on earth are you doing going around on Good Friday?”
“Oh, we’re just sharing a message about Jesus Christ!”
“Ugh! Nah…” *slam*
I thought this was hilarious, because we completely discredited his guilt trip on us.
Knock Knock — “Hi, how are you today?”
“Yes? What do you want?”
“We’re missionaries from the Church of–”
“Oh sorry, we don’t…” he began to close the door, “we’re not…um..” and the door cut off whatever silly excuse he was not going to give us. It was like we terrified him.
I saw Elder Peek last night for the first time, we had a mission fireside in which Elders can bring converts and investigators too. The whole mission is invited. It was so great to see him again.
So things are great. I have no idea what my new area, companions, living quarters, etc. will be like, so I’ll be back in cold water for a bit. But keep in mind that I was prepared for this, and I am 100% devoted to be an effective missionary. I can’t wait to see how I can help these people.
I love all of you so much. I do miss you, and it can be stressful sometimes, but there really is no better place I could be right now. I have a lot to do. The Lord needs me here to strengthen his kingdom, and I need to learn how. I simply can’t wait to see how what I learn in the coming months increases my potential. I love this growth. It can be difficult to understand what a privilege missionary work can be, but that’s only because we don’t look in the right places. And that applies to a lot of things. John 6:27.
Remember that Heavenly Father loves you as a parent loves his child. Remember that Jesus Christ suffered specifically for you. Remember that we are promised to be strengthened and uplifted in all afflictions if we simply do what He says. Why do you think people still read the Bible, and subsequently the Book of Mormon, after hundreds of years? Because it works. And in the end, the only person who decides if it does not work is ourselves. Matthew 7:24-27.
-Elder Scott Baker