August 8, 2010
Wait, this transfer is already over? What? I’m trying to figure out why the days go by so quick on a mission, but my only guess is just that we immerse ourselves in the work, and the days take care of themselves. I’ve learned a lot this transfer, and I feel like a totally different missionary than I was in Springvale, simply because you have to change for each area. Elder Faumui will be heading out (he’s ecstatic, he’s been quite frustrated here) and I’ll be holding down the fort. I don’t yet know who will come in though. I’m a bit worried about carrying the area myself, because I feel like I don’t know the people very well, especially the Samoans because he would do all the talking. I hope I get a Samoan Elder here because this branch needs that presence. But this now puts me in charge of the area, so I’ve got to start thinking critically about what each person needs. The main obstacle, of course, is just that the area is slow to progress as the people are stubborn and evasive.
Elder Faumui and I have grown to click pretty well now. He’s a lot of fun to talk to. Each night, we joke about the strangers we talked to or members we visited. At first we were pretty stiff and defensive, now we just make fun of each other, and the other Elders. Earlier this week, we got a call from Elder Ghergori, our district leader, asking if we could look in the back of our car.
“What for?” I asked.
“My hair gel,” he replied.
“Oh, you mean this Rokk Wax on our table? Sorry, there’s really not much left,” I teased.
“Elder Ghergori!” Elder Faumui jumped in. “I’m throwing it in the rubbish. Listen!” CHOOM! “Hear that?”
“Nooooo! I need that! I look awful!”
“Look on the bright side Elder Ghergori– Elder Faumui and I look great!”
So yeah, that’s the kind of drama missionaries go through.
But, this week has been horribly slow. I heard about how Elder Carlile is braving the rainstorms preaching the Gospel, and of course Elder Bennett has people mobbing him and all, but pretty much the worst danger here is boredom. We bike to a house, nobody home. Next house, nobody home. Next house, long chat, but no progress. We saw a Sudanese fellow who was baptized 4 months ago, but hasn’t been to church in a long time. We read about Lehi’s dream with him, and he said he would definitely come to church the next day. He didn’t. We also have a less active woman, Sister Cook, who knows the church is true, but just doesn’t want to come. She’s happy to see us and talk, but she doesn’t come to church. She doesn’t want to stop smoking either. “When I’m ready,” she says. Another less active person we invited to church, but she says she’s working. It leaves us no way to help.
We’ve also done a bit of finding this week. A lot of people here (and lots of people also in the States I know) have this problem with God. There’s this misconception that because of all the pain in the world, like murder, abuse, disasters, diseases, etc., there couldn’t possibly be a God because he wouldn’t let it happen! We’ve met people who had relatives die from cancer or murder, so they lost their belief. We tried to explain to the people why that argument doesn’t makes sense, but because they were comfortable in that belief, they wouldn’t listen. So, allow me a moment to explain for the rest of you in case you’ve wondered this. Mainly, that argument comes from selfishness, but also a misunderstanding of who God is.
First, to say that God owes us anything, such as protection or preservation, is ridiculous. We owe him everything, because he put us here. If the system was “be good = God fixes everything,” then Jesus Christ wouldn’t have suffered his gruesome death, because he lived a perfect life. Do we live perfect lives? I sure don’t.
Second, if you look in Moroni 7:12, it clearly says that the good things come from God, and the bad things come from Satan. All that suffering and evil? That would be Satan. Adam and Eve chose to yield to Satan’s temptations and we became subject to all those evil things. That includes death, and all variations of it. But, the important thing is that we always have the ability to choose not to follow Satan, so in the end, it’s our fault. But that’s where God comes in. He knew from the beginning we would make mistakes, so he set up this plan, what we call the Plan of Salvation. The Earth is for us to learn and grow, and make the right choices and become free from Satan. Then, once we live our lives, we can eventually be free from all those pains and live with our families again, with resurrected bodies. This is what the scripture means in 1 Corinthians 15:22 — “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” The way to life is following the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Really, God does a lot to make the Gospel accessible. We have scriptures, prayer, Prophets, the Church, callings, temples, families, the Holy Ghost, and most importantly, the sacrifice of Christ to help us in our trials.
Think of it this way: Man points gun at you. I say, “Don’t shoot!” His friend says, “Shoot!” BANG. Who’s to blame? Answer: the shooter, but his friend sure didn’t help either.
So, that’s how things are here in Shepp. We have a car now, which is an absolute luxury. I haven’t had a car since I was in Hampton Park. I rediscovered that I love driving, and it’s fun driving on the left with the wheel on the right. The Camrys are nice, too. Mainly, it will speed up the work here significantly, I just hope that our work will see results.
Glad things are well at home. I love you all so so much! Talk to you again soon.
-Elder Scott Baker