April 18, 2010
I’m beginning to wonder if it really is “everyone” I’m addressing in these… that’s okay, missions are great, and sharing the gospel is important, and what better day and age to share when all information is instantly accessible? That’s good, this is the right place to be.
This week was definitely one of the more challenging weeks. The main detractor was my health. On Tuesday, Elder Au-Yeung and I started walking, and he immediately said, “You sound a little sick.” I didn’t know he could tell from just my voice, but I was having a bit of a sore throat. It’s actually funny now how my sore throats feel post-tonsillectomy, they’re not nearly as bad. But it was still a sore throat. I just said I was fine, so what if I sounded a little strange. However, as we continued to walk down the long streets to the empty doors, I could feel myself getting a bit more difficult to carry. Even when people answered the door, I could feel my confounded mind scrambling for words to say. After an hour we were already into Springvale center about to go street contacting, and I just said, “Okay, I’m done. I need to go home and lie down.”
That day and the two following it, I was pretty much confined to the flat, out cold asleep. We had to cancel a few appointments, and Elder Au-Yeung went with Elder Vaiho to teach Anthony. My energy was shot. It’s a bit strange being sick when you’re on a mission, because normally “sick” translates to “pajamas all day with the TV on.” Instead, it’s a policy of “if you need rest, sleep. If not, work.” So I was pretty much spending my time resting as much as possible, and otherwise eating, studying, or talking. Finally, on the afternoon of the third day, you could say I was risen, but that would imply a glory I certainly do not have. So I’ll just say I recovered two days later.
After that, it was a little difficult to get back into the full working rhythm, but we were consistent with daily contact with Anthony. Anthony is definitely prepared. Everything we teach is easy for him to accept because of his humility and willingness to listen. He has a strong faith. We brought him to a ward activity on Saturday which was great, and he liked church as well. To quote, “It’s way better than the other church I used to go to.” So he had a great time. He’ll be baptized next week.
Other than that, we haven’t found any other people that have returned our calls or followed through with appointments. I’m still getting used to street contacting, I’m much better at doors. Doors have a set of rules and a consistent process of exchanged phrases. I haven’t quite established all those patterns yet for the street. But I have had some good conversations, especially with some students because I can relate to them. What’s funny is that you can see how uncomfortable people get sometimes despite us being perfectly friendly and welcoming. They don’t have a clue what our intent or purpose is. Calm down, folks! They probably think we’re crazy, fearless nutcases. I can tell you, that is not me. Maybe Elder Peek, but not me. 😉
So in addition to being sick, another difficulty was being blind in ward support. This is the second time I have been “doubled-in” to a ward, so I feel blind in how to use the members. Let me take a moment to answer your question of, “Well, missionary work is so hard. How can I possibly help the missionaries?” Let me set this straight.
First, introduce yourself to Elders. You know who they are, because they’ve got the tag. You know who you are. But they don’t have a clue who you are. Say hi, tell them your name, your calling, a bit about your family, and what you do. Better yet, introduce them to other members. Knowing the ward helps the Elder understand how he can better help you, but he doesn’t know how until there’s some information exchanged.
Also, have them over for dinner. If you can’t have them over, at least get some food to them in some way. It’s nice to not have to worry about juggling allotment money. Better yet, having them over strengthens you as they share a message, and they also know how to help you in other ways.
Make sure they have transportation. Even if you can’t go to teach with them, you can at least save them some time and miles by getting them to appointments, or to far-off meetings. Or it could even be just errands.
Ask if they have any questions about the area. Where to shop, drycleaning, etc. They don’t really have time to take a tour of the city and compare everything. You’ve already done so, so share that knowledge.
Lastly, help them teach. Let them know when you’re available, so they can plan appointments accordingly. It is much more effective when a smart member can testify of what is being taught. Missionaries are not viewed as normal people, but members are, so it helps establish the credibility and power of the Gospel.
So, that is my teaching. Now I can tell you a bit more about the week.
It was weird to send off Elder Au-Yeung home. The missionary word for homesick is “trunky.” He was trunky as. We took a bunch of pictures, bought him a cheesecake, and had some great talks before heading to bed. I was so glad I got to serve with him. He has set a strong example of diligent work, strong teaching, record keeping, and in general being a real missionary. Despite his Chinese accent, he spoke English fluently and talked just like the rest of us. It’s weird to think he’ll be watching The Dark Knight for the first time this week. Hmm… I’m going to change the subject now.
My new companion is Elder Petty (no, his first name is not Tom), from Queensland, Australia. Already I can tell we’re off to a good start, so this will be another good week of learning how to serve well and in unity.
I want to thank all the people that have written me such wonderful letters so far. I’m sorry I haven’t given you credit until now, and more sorry that I cannot write you back very easily. Grandma Jenee, Grandpa Jack, Bishop Richard Pederson, Bishop Porter, Aunt Cheryl… shoot I know there are so many more people than that, but I didn’t bring my stack of letters here. I love your words of encouragement, your articles, and your updates. I’ll try to keep in touch. Sir Andrew Duval Esquire, I got your recent letter. 🙂 I’m so lucky to have your support. I’ll set a goal to respond to each of you before the end of May.
Things are still going well. I hope I can find more people like Anthony this week. Only one way to find out! I love all of you!
-Elder Scott Baker