Loving and Welcoming Visitors

This week was good. We have one couple, Caroline and Luan,* who we are teaching.  When we arrived in this area we were very confused because we couldn’t find Caroline’s teaching record.  A teaching record is a form we fill out to say what we taught people.  That way if both the missionaries get transferred, or if you can’t remember what you taught, you can look at the teaching record and see what’s already been taught. I turns out that she doesn’t have a teaching record because she’s never been taught! Her daughter was taught, and she had already been to church and knew the missionaries quite well, and had already reached the Isaiah sections in the Book of Mormon, so we thought she must have been taught something already. But it turns out that she had been drinking and smoking a lot– so much that she was too nervous to sit through a lesson.  The Sisters tried to teach her but she would leave.  But now she sits through lessons, listens, learns, and is reading the Book of Mormon a lot!  She has been to church a total of three times. She wants to get baptized and understands the importance of faith, repentance, baptism, the Holy Ghost, etc.  All without ever being taught!  

Caroline also really wants to get married in order to keep God’s commandments and be baptized. And our ward is helping them out!  They already went to the marriage office and things are progressing!  I have taught lots of people who needed to get married before, but nothing really ever worked out.  Her husband Luan could use some prayers that he can find work.  He seems very driven — he is really working hard to find a steady job to support his family, but now he is just doing whatever odd job he can find.  

Recife Temple
Courtesy of ChurchofJesusChrist.org

One thing I would like to remember as an ex-missionary is the importance of loving and welcoming visitors.  As a missionary I am definitely better at not unrighteously judging people and focusing on encouraging them in their successes. As a member who just sees a visitor or recent convert show up to church without knowing the backstory, it is sometimes easy  to think judgmental thoughts about their behavior or dress or attitude.  But as a missionary I am thrilled when people show up to church!  Being a missionary has definitely helped me develop more charity and empathy for people.  Our investigators are very rarely accustomed to the way church members act or dress (and frequently don’t have the resources to buy church-y clothes anyway), but that is normal.  We are just so happy when they show up to church, because we know it will help them get closer to Christ.  There is a huge difference between people who go to church and people we teach who never visit church.  There have been a couple of times when members’ feathers got a bit ruffled because of someone’s odd behavior, or because a recent convert talked about a weakness they have.  That is sad because it can make that person feel unwelcome and stop their forward progress.  But the majority of members are very welcoming, and we appreciate all the people who visit investigators, give car rides, and help in other ways.  

We are teaching another young woman, Viviane, who has been going to church for a year but hasn’t been baptized. Her mom doesn’t want to give permission.  She could use prayers as well (and for us, so we can run into her mom and know how to help!).

Arthur is still struggling with cigarettes.  He has made huge progress but the last cigarette is really hard to give up.  But we have high hopes for this week!  

Caju fruit
Photo Credit: Victoria Rachitzky Hoch, Flickr

Fun fact — a while ago I sent a picture of a caju fruit.  This week I bought another one to eat.  It was tasty . . . and burned the side of my mouth!  The first time I ate one it burned my throat a bit.  My companion said I needed to buy a sweeter one.  This one seemed sweeter . . . until I noticed afterwards that my lips were a bit burnt!  I am starting to wonder if I have some kind of weird allergy just to caju fruit.  Other fun fact — cashews are taken individually from that weird thing on top of the caju fruit!  Now I know why they are so expensive — they have to remove them one by one!  

I have been studying the church´s Come, Follow Me manual. This year we are studying about the New Testament. This verse really touched me: 

40 And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

41 And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.

Acts 5:40-41

Here Peter and John are arrested for preaching the gospel, told not to talk about Christ, beaten, and then let go.  And what do they do? They rejoice in their sufferings . . . and continue preaching about Christ, because their allegiance to God is greater than their allegiance to man.  I  have known about Christian virtues all my life–if someone slaps you, turn the other cheek, trials help us grow, if someone makes you walk one mile with them, walk two, etc. — Sometime it is easy to get so used to hearing these things we don’t really think about them.  It is really difficult to do these things!  And are we doing them?  I certainly am not yet on Peter and John’s level.  I haven’t gone through anything anywhere near as difficult as they did, and yet I am not as Christlike as they were.  Luckily, we have this scripture from the D&C (the Doctrine and Covenants are a book of scripture that has revelations from God given to modern prophets like Joseph Smith) to guide us:

13 Ye are not able to abide the presence of God now, neither the ministering of angels; wherefore, continue in patience until ye are perfected.

D&C 67:13

Repentance is not the backup plan, it is the plan!

Hope you all have a wonderful week.

*Investigators names are always changed to protect their privacy

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