November 7, 2010
This week, we broke our backs, suffered afflictions, traveled hither and thither, doing this and that, helping him and her, near and far, high and low, and took a deep breath at the end of the week and checked our score. By score, I mean our key indicators of what we accomplished, which is measured by how many lessons we teach, referrals we receive andcontact, people we find etc. To our exceeding astonishment, we found we set a new record! It counted up to a grand total of…. one lesson taught to a less active member. And that was all.
What? What happened? What were we doing all week? Usually we teach at least 7 lessons total and can find a person or two. But this week we had been focusing on service projects and other responsibilites, which includes rehearsals, publicizing our Christmas pageant, and a funeral. And then I got a heavy fever that maxed out at 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit and was in recovery over the weekend, so that is how I will justify myself.
I’ve become a professional gardener, specializing in deweedification. Australia has some pretty funny-looking weeds, one of which has roots that only extend a shallow 2 inches in the ground but can grow up to your waist after a few days of heavy rainfall. Sometimes it has thorns and sprouts ugly flowers. After one particularly wet series of rainy days, we had walked into our back garden to get our bikes and found heaps of these stretched all over the walkways that had sprouted even faster than John Lazenby and Thad Carlile.
Oh, I should also mention that this transfer, I have been promoted to District Leader, and Elder Born, who I was afraid would leave us forever, is now the Wangaratta Zone Leader. So I still get to chat with him every few days. I also get to check on Echuca and Finley, make sure they’re doing their job, and give trainings. I enjoy it, because I can call them whenever I like and tell a few jokes, swap some stories, and make them smile. Good job.
We also have been placing flyers for our Christmas pageant into peoples’ mailboxes. We can cover a small chunk of Shepparton in about 2 hours, but it’s a lot of walking. It’s a great conversation starter, but it’s funny how people still say no before we even get the word “Christmas” in there. Plus, I find it sad how a sturdy shun of God in turn destroys the spirit of Christmas, which is the spirit of family unity, parties, desserts, and gift-giving (emphasizing the charity, not materialism). A lot of damage is done that way.
Then on Thursday, we paid our respects to a young couple in the branch who lost their baby who had lived not even a year. I haven’t been to an LDS funeral in a long time, not since I was only about 15, but it is incredible how reassuring the Plan of Salvation is for families who have to deal with that kind of tragedy. They were of course heartbroken, but at the same time confident in the promise that their separation from their beloved son is only for a short time. How valuable that reassurance is!
We’ve had some extra attention this week from acquaintances of other faiths, most notable of which is a fellow who lives near the chapel and has characteristics of autism. He likes to talk to us, tell us what his pastor says about us (but not listen to what we have to say in response) and then mutter about how we’re a cult religion. “My pastor says you’re a cult religion. Am I being judgmental?” What would you say? “Yes, you are.” “Well, my pastor says if I believe in the Holy Trinity I’m going to heaven and you don’t so you’re going to hell. Cult religion!” We understand he’s not entirely accountable for his confusion, but he does drive some of the members nuts.
We also happened to get a knock on the door on Saturday from some Jehovah’s Witnesses! They dropped off a Watchtower and invited us to their Sunday service. I was prepared for an assault because I know that has happened in the past, but they were respectful and polite which we appreciated. Plus, that was when my fever was approaching, so I wouldn’t have had the focus and patience to give my full attention.
On the weekend, I suffered a fever of chills and a burning head while Elder Bartle suffered cabin fever and isolated insanity as I slept. Being sick on a mission is no fun. Luckily, the Solomons got some church movies and a DVD player for us.
We’re gearing up for a busy month. We have lots of names to catch up with, leaks to plug, projects to finish, flyers to pass out, the works. Elder Nielsen from the Pacific Area Presidency (basically one of the men in charge of church affairs all over Australia and the neighboring countries) will be visiting the mission, so we get to meet him on Friday! I get to drive down to Melbourne again! Woohoo! I love road trips. I will also be learning a lot about leadership now that I’m a district leader. I miss all of you back there, but I’m always thinking about you. I love you.
-Elder Scott Baker