Hola familia y amigos!
Sooo lets start with the good stuff. This week it was Elder Erickson’s birthday (21 baby!!!!) and Thanksgiving! For thanksgiving we bought a milanesa sandwich with fries and a dozen empanadas and feasted. It was the best. I have video. Anyways….
This week was….. hard. To say the least. We were super excited to work hard and have an incredible week at first. We contacted like a million people, walked super fast to every person that we were going to meet with, and we endured a lot of rejection. But, we were determined and we kept working harder and harder. I don’t think I’ve worked harder one week in my whole mission/life.
But despite our best efforts allll this week, it was the absolute worst week of my mission (looking at the numbers). We taught 4 lessons (1/4 or 1/5 of what we usually teach), we had 26 different appointments cancel on us (only 2 of 28 actually let us in. The other 2 lessons were unplanned in contacts). We found 5 new investigators because of the 120 contacts we did this week (5 is about half or 1/3 of the new investigators we usually find every week). Nobody came to church. And nobody is progressing because they didn´t come to church.
You might wonder (as I have) Why, if I am working harder than I ever have before, am I seeing the worst results than ever before. I can’t come up with a perfect answer but I know there is one. I know there is a reason for failure and for disappointment. Sometimes being a missionary is hard. But there is comfort to be found in the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Elder Holland once said this to new mission presidents:
“Why is this so hard? Why doesn’t it go better? Why can’t our success be more rapid? Why aren’t there more people joining the Church? It is the truth. We believe in angels. We trust in miracles. Why don’t people just flock to the font? Why isn’t the only risk in missionary work that of pneumonia from being soaking wet all day and all night in the baptismal font?
You will have occasion to ask those questions. I have thought about this a great deal. I offer this as my personal feeling. I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation never was easy. We are The Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our Great Eternal Head. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him? It seems to me that missionaries and mission leaders have to spend at least a few moments in Gethsemane. Missionaries and mission leaders have to take at least a step or two toward the summit of Calvary.
Now, please don’t misunderstand. I’m not talking about anything anywhere near what Christ experienced. That would be presumptuous and sacrilegious. But I believe that missionaries and investigators, to come to the truth, to come to salvation, to know something of this price that has been paid, will have to pay a token of that same price.
For that reason, I don’t believe missionary work has ever been easy, nor that conversion is, nor that retention is, nor that continued faithfulness is. I believe it is supposed to require some effort, something from the depths of our soul.
If He could come forward in the night, kneel down, fall on His face, bleed from every pore, and cry, “Abba, Father (Papa), if this cup can pass, let it pass,” 16 then little wonder that salvation is not a whimsical or easy thing for us. If you wonder if there isn’t an easier way, you should remember you are not the first one to ask that. Someone a lot greater and a lot grander asked a long time ago if there wasn’t an easier way.
The Atonement will carry the missionaries perhaps even more importantly than it will carry the investigators. When you struggle, when you are rejected, when you are spit upon and cast out and made a hiss and a byword, you are standing with the best life this world has ever known, the only pure and perfect life ever lived. You have reason to stand tall and be grateful that the Living Son of the Living God knows all about your sorrows and afflictions. The only way to salvation is through Gethsemane and on to Calvary. The only way to eternity is through Him—the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”
The Atonement is carrying me right now. I am so grateful for Him and His love and His support. Every time my father in heaven stretches and tests me I grow stronger and more humble. I recognize Him and his hand in my life every day.
If anybody is in a situation that they think that they can´t handle, I am here to tell you, drawing experience from what little sorrow I have experienced and dealt with, in that moment when you feel like you can’t take one more step, He will be there to carry you. So keep walking and keep trying. When the Lord sees fit he will step in and help. And when that help comes in a big way, you will realize that He was with you the entire way.
I love you all so much. I am so very very happy to be here in Argentina and, even though I miss you all, I know I am exactly where I need to be.
Livin´ the Dream,