Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Sister Franks in the Philippines - October 20, 2013

Happy Monday!!

I just want to let you all know that this week was really great. :) Though we didn't have a record-breaking number of lessons, for me this was probably one of the most productive and inspiring weeks I've had so far on my mission. I really feel like the Lord was working hard this week to teach me how to listen to the Spirit, and I've been trying really hard to learn. Consequently, I feel like my eyes have been opened to see the Lord's hand so much more clearly in our work. 
Every day, we pray that we will be led to those whom the Lord has prepared to hear our message. Sometimes, I'm unsure how that will be fulfilled, since our day is full of appointments and we don't know when we will have time to find new investigators. Of course, the Lord always sees things more clearly than we do, and always has a plan and a way to move forward His work. I've been trying to make a more conscious effort to OYM ("open your mouth"--just talk to random people you meet) this week, and most especially to listen to the subtle promptings of the Spirit to guide us in our work. There are a lot of examples that I could share from our work this week, but the biggest learning experience/testimony builder for me was our evening last Wednesday.
We had our temple day/P-day on Wednesday, so we didn't go out to work until 6. We went to meet with a recent convert, but she wasn't home from work yet, so we then went to try to meet with one of our investigators who had a baptismal date and was progressing really well, but has started drinking again and won't respond to our attempts to meet with him. As we were walking to his house (the second attempt to contact him again after he missed our appointment the day before), I had the feeling that we should go to a different part of our area to meet with the non-member sister of one of our branch missionaries. It was the strangest sensation for me. I knew even before we got to the neighborhood of our investigator that we weren't going to be able to meet with him, and that we needed to go to the other area. I was reluctant to say anything, though, because the other area was far away and I had no idea why I was receiving the prompting, since we already had plans to visit the referral the next day. I got up the courage to tell Sister Garcia about my feeling, and that if we couldn't meet with Rolly, we should go to Hinapao. She was confused, but went along with it. Ultimately, we ended up following the prompting (not without opposition, of course, but I knew if we didn't follow it, I would severely regret it) and went to visit the family in Hinapao. The ward missionary we had been hoping to have as a member present was at work, and his sister wasn't interested to join us, so we ended up with an semi-awkward lesson. Sister Garcia talked to the father (also a nonmember) and I talked to the younger brother (an active, newly ordained deacon) because I was too confused by the father's Tagalog. When we came home from the lesson, neither Sister Garcia nor I could figure out why I had received such a strong and clear prompting, but we just prayed that our effort was worthwhile.
All the rest of the week, I still had no idea why we had gone. It's an understatement to say we were surprised when we got to the Chapel on Sunday morning and saw the two active brothers standing outside with their father, all in their Sunday best. We stopped to greet them and discovered they were standing outside because they were waiting for their mother (nonmember), who was also coming! I was shocked, and so humbled. I had been thinking all week that our visit was unproductive, because the father didn't seem receptive at all to our message, and yet it was reaffirmed to me that we really have no idea who is being prepared to hear this Gospel.
Basically, this week has taught me so much about the workings of the Spirit and how the Lord is truly behind every aspect and every success of this work.
The 12-week training program that Sister Garcia and I are going through also taught me so much this week! We were studying the importance of members and how to work with them to forward this work. It was perfect, actually, because our branch council meeting was this Sunday so we were able to talk with the leaders about some of the things we learned. We talked a lot in our study about how we really need the members to be involved, both as home and visiting teachers for the less-actives, and as fellowshippers to our investigators to encourage them and support them, especially when we aren't there. We spent most of the time allotted to us in ward council discussing the less active members we met/worked with last week and asked for the help of the members. They were very receptive and even made some plans to visit some of the less-actives that afternoon. We were surprised and delighted when, just a few hours later, we were interrupted in our lesson with a part-member family by a group of members who had come to see the less active father. We continued teaching his family and the members focused on meeting with the brother, and it turned out to be a beautiful lesson. We were focused on How to Begin Teaching and introducing the Restoration, so we talked about God's love for each of us and how our goal in the Church is to help every single one of God's children return to Him and receive the help and care they need.
I think it's safe to say that being a missionary has, more than anything, made me so much more excited to be a member again! I am realizing just how important members are in the Lord's work. Missionaries are great, but:
1) we are not superheroes. We don't have any special powers or abilities like I used to think. In fact, sometimes I feel like all we really have are weaknesses, faith, and the Spirit. It's hard to say which is most prevalent.
2) we aren't "regular people." We're those crazy people who give up 18 or 24 months of their life to preach the gospel. Investigators need help and support to realize that it doesn't take a special class of people to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or to the live the Gospel. All it takes is a desire to be better, a willingness to make sacrifices, and hope to receive all the blessings that the Lord wants to give to us. You can be a Mormon and still have a normal life! (Okay, maybe slightly better than normal, because you get to see things from an Eternal perspective and understand why we have trials, why bad things happen, and how the Lord has given the tools we need to have joy in our lives despite the hardships we face.)
3) we want to be there for our investigators, to answer their questions, to let them know we believe in them and are praying for them, to invite the Spirit into their lives, but we really just don't have time. A lot of times, I think investigators who have a sincere desire to follow Christ falter in their pursuit because the influences of the devil are more prevalent than the influences of good in their life. Satan is working 24/7 to discourage them (and us). Even just 5 or 10 minutes a day from the side of the Spirit is so powerful. A phone call, an encouraging text, a Facebook message, or a friendly greeting from a neighbor to see how they are doing and what can be done to help them--that's how we perform miracles from the Lord. It doesn't take something enormous. It's the little things that matter most.

I actually have more to say, but it will have to wait till next week because I'm already almost out of time. I hope you are all doing well! I love you so much!! Have a great week!!

Love always,
Sister Emma Franks

P.S. To everyone who sent me an email: thank you!! I love getting and reading your emails, even when I don't get a chance to respond to them all.

No comments:

Post a Comment