Nov 14, 2010
This week was a roller coaster. On Tuesday, we had a perfect plan of everything ready to go, brilliant ideas, outstanding enthusiasm, and we were going to show Satan a force he’d never seen. And we did, up until we came to Lucinda’s door. She talked to us apprehensively, and soon admitted nervously, “Well, we’re thinking of switching churches.”
If you’ve heard the words, “Let’s just be friends,” it felt something like that.
She went on to describe numerous reasons that stem at two basic things: 1) it’s a better social environment that both her and her kids enjoy, and 2) she doesn’t have a testimony that what we’ve taught her is true.
We were completely unprepared for that one, and after a basic invitation to continue to read the Book of Mormon, we left in a dazed state wondering what to do now. Try starting over? Let her go? Be more bold in teaching? After a few months of building up her faith, it was shocking to find it fallen to pieces, and we just weren’t sure where to start. We spent the week reviewing what we might have done wrong, what do we teach next, how do we fix this problem? I even made it the focus of my training lesson in our District Meeting that week, as it is something all missionaries must be concerned about when teaching investigators. I felt we had done everything, but could have paid more attention to early signs and made sure she was acting in faith to actually find the truth of things.
I was anxiously waiting for our trip to Melbourne at which Elder Nielsen, a general authority in the Pacific Area Presidency who reports to the Apostles, would meet with our zone and give instruction. When he took questions, I briefly explained what happened, and he basically said to find what her true concerns were and answer her questions. So that’s what we planned to do.
On Saturday, we rocked up in the morning like we always used to, and asked to find what her concerns were. She reaffirmed the reasons I mentioned before, and also said her baptism was an act of faith, hoping that from there things would make more sense. After her baptism, she was getting promptings to visit a church she used to attend years ago, and they kept popping up over and over until she didn’t know what else to do but just go and see. She received a warm welcome and felt like she was back at home. Considering how she feels and what she wants from religion, it’s a better match for her. What can you say to that? I can’t tell her that’s the wrong choice, but I feel like if she had that spiritual witness of the Restoration, and if she could feel welcome in our diverse community, she could feel much more fulfilled, spiritually. So we’re still not quite sure what to do next– leave her be, like the members feel is right, or press for a solid experiment on the Book of Mormon, like the zone leaders want. Personally, I’m just glad that at least she feels a closer relationship with God, and she said that was what we helped her with the most, since before we came along, she had no religious influence in her family. But I also know she can get a deeper appreciation for God and Jesus Christ through the Priesthood, the Book of Mormon, and especially temple work. A member here said that our church is kind of like a university, whereas others are more like elementary school in terms of depth and application. I think that’s a good way to put it.
So that has been the main reason for my stress. But I will happily report that my drive to Melbourne and back was entirely stress-free, even while driving through the busy suburb streets of Wantirna, all thanks to my shiny Navman GPS. I love it.
I don’t really know where this next week will go, but we are supposed to be meeting with that family again, the Dysons, that we met thanks to Elder Mitsvotai. That will be exciting.
I love all of you, I’m glad to hear you’re doing well.
-Elder Scott Baker