This week has been pretty amazing. I remember a quote from a devotional given by Hartman Rector Jr, paraphrasing him, he said,”I believe you can get as much revelation from the Ensign magazine as you can out of the Holy Scriptures.” He goes on and makes a joke about how he knows the correct pronunciation and all because he was an ensign in the military and someone diagrammed it out for him, but I believe that! The Ensign this month is remarkable and focused on happiness. The pursuit of happiness has always been one of the most traveled roads in history, but what brings true happiness? The Ensign this month really helps to answer that, and I’ve been searching for that as well. I feel like that is one pursuit that all missionaries, somewhere in their mission, seek through. To find what makes you happy allows you to see a pattern and follow it to keep feeling the tranquility and peace that we so desire each day. What brings true happiness and how can we find it out. That’s what we have subconsciously been trying to figure out this week.
Monday we got a haircut (definitely important) and then went bowling with the Billerica Elders and the District! It was fun, especially since I got to spend time with Elder Greding, one of my former companions in New Haven, CT! That afternoon after emailing, all of our appointments in Salem fell through. We had planned on teaching three Restoration lessons, and everyone had to cancel. We were in Lynnfield, so we decided to seize the day and save miles! After planning out a few points, we headed out to see people. Across the street from the library, there was a 9/11 memorial for the city of Lynnfield. It was a time to stop, reflect and remember those who lost their lives and other who put their lives on the line to help as much as they could. God loves us and even though difficult things happen, they are meant to build us, not tear us down. Always remember that. We stopped by a member family just to say hi, but they invited us in to dinner. The timing was perfect and 30 seconds later, they would have been praying over the food. We enjoyed a good time with them and we talked about people to visit in the ward. They gave us some suggestions, and we were on our way. That evening, we did our best to be efficient and follow the Spirit with the Less Actives we had planned to see. Some weren’t home, we felt to stop by another time with others, but the Lord helped us do our best.
Tuesday morning was slow, which made it hard, but we went by the computers to plan out a route for the day. I felt like going to Peabody would be good, but Elder Merrill really felt like a walking day in Salem would be productive. After some prayer and heart wrenching on the decision, I conceded that Salem sounded good. We planned it out and with the 4 or 5 hours we had, we headed out. We parked, and after taking a picture by Merrill St, we were on our way. Sis. Dailey is a member who was born and raised in Hawaii between the 40s and the 60s and we talked to her for about 45 minutes. She was wonderful and we did all we could to help her in the situation that she was in. After Sister Dailey we kept walking, doing our best to follow the promptings that we were given. At one point, we walked past a car repair shop, and we felt that we should talk to the man, so we asked about the classic car he had, the year, make and model, and while standing and admiring it, a voice came from behind,”You can focus on that after the mission.” Two couples stood behind us and after introducing themselves, they explained that they were members from Southern Utah and Colorado visiting Salem! The kind of people you run into on your mission! It was fun to run into them and they gave us a little bit of candy too, which tasted good. We ran into a potential investigator at a bus stop, and then Elder Merrill started talking to another lady after listening to her concerns, which turned into an invitation to church. Right as we were about to leave, a woman came up to us and said that she was a member of the Church, originally from the Congo, but that she had lived in Salem for more than 10 years, but because of family situations, she couldn’t come to church, but that we were welcome to stop by any time. Wow!! That was a tender mercy if anything! After her, we saw Andy hurrying to go to class, but exchanged hellos and set up a potential time to swing by! Elder Merrill felt like we should stop at a pizza place, and luckily he had his MSF card. He tried talking to a girl in the restaurant, but it didn’t work out. As we were waiting for our tiny pizza, a wonderful family walked in. I felt that we should talk to them, but couldn’t think of a way. We were walking out, and about a hundred feet out, we realized that we didn’t have a bag to carry the pizza, so we went back. On the way out, I made a comment on the dad’s shirt (a silhouette of a bear with the word ‘papa’ in the middle) and he said thank you, but that was our icebreaker! We asked if he had ever seen missionaries before, and he said that two of them, a taller one with dark hair (Elder Melendez or Elde Asay) and a shorter one with curly blonde hair (Elder Curzon) had actually talked to him for about an hour and had given him a Book of Mormon. We exchanged numbers and told him we would call him sometime and set up an appointment! They were such an awesome family and we can’t wait to go back! We walked out to Derby Wharf, at pizza while watching the waves and looking at Marblehead, and it was just amazing. We took pictures by the lighthouse, and just before we left, we went up to talk to a man who was fishing behind the lighthouse. After some conversation with our broken Spanish and his limited English, we said that we were ‘los mormones’ and he told us that his friend or sister was a member of our church in Lawrence, MA, which is just north of our area! We eventually got him in contact with the Spanish Elders, and they are excited to go see him. Our time was more limited at this point. We needed to walk back to the car and make it to correlation, so we started to hustle more. Talking to everyone we could, we kept going. As we rounded the corner of the final stretch, we looked at a sign for a coffee shop/bakery and it said,”Fresh Bismarks with Real Cream”. That sounded really good. On the back, there was another delicious sounding item, not to mention that I had a feeling to go and talk to one of the ladies in the shop. We were very conflicted because we knew we would be late to correlation, but the prompting was there, so we went. The donuts were super good, and just before we were to leave, I saw a door near the people we felt we should talk to. We went to try it, but it was an emergency exit, but we had their attention. We asked them if they had ever seen missionaries like us before, and they said that they had seen us walking down the street and were surprised that there weren’t more of us. We sat down and started with small talk and questions. Elder Merrill started talking to one or two of them and I started talking to another of the ladies that was there. The lady I felt prompted to talk to was the most attentive and was definitely taking everything in we said. We heard as she was whispering to her friend,”When they walked in, it just looked like they were glowing.” The other woman said,”Oh it was probably just the sunscreen that one of them was wearing”, and then the other lady persisted and said it again. We weren’t doing anything special, but people will notice, even if you don’t. The gospel has an outward effect on us, on the way we live, but more importantly, on who we are. Even though they weren’t interested, we left them all with cards, and the lady who made the comment really genuinely loved the picture of Christ teaching the Sermon on the Mount. I don’t know if they will ever see missionaries again, but it was an experience for us and for them to remember. After leaving, we called Sister Long, a ward missionary, and she said that she was the only ward missionary there at the time, so it would probably be just better to cancel for this week and wait till next week. The Lord is in the details and knows his priorities and how everything will work out. Not knowing what to do, we drove to Beverly and parked. We couldn’t figure anything out, so we just started driving again and waved at a man walking outside. The Spirit said,”Go talk to him!”, so with the faith that had run over from the day, and pulled over. It could have been super awkward, but we were able to talk to him! Being happy is really hard. It is ALWAYS an uphill battle the requires constant effort, but in the end, it is so worth it.
Wednesday morning we were able to talk to Evan’s dad. He works nights, which is hard, since he sleeps during the day, but we made it work! Bishop was able to see what he needs before helping him return to activity, but we should be able to figure it out through multiple people in the ward. Update: John B. is man we met at the Farmers Market a few weeks ago. He was very wealthy, but he and his wife gave most of it away and now he just helps other people. He’s the head of housing in a local town and has many connections. He asked how he could helps us, and we told him we could give his number to one of the counselors in the Bishopric. He has been able to help place people within 30 minutes in our ward who have had a very difficult time finding housing. His help has already been immense and the bishopric loves him! Again, we didn’t do anything, but the Lord put him in our path to bless the people of this ward.
Thursday morning, we had lunch with the missionary high councilor, Br. Westwood. We went to Casa Vallarta, my favorite restaurant our here, which conveniently has a location in Saugus, just south of our area. He was in the Army and had big assignments, so he shared some fun experiences and we learned a lot about him.
Friday was District Meeting. After District Meeting, we felt that we needed to spend sufficient time updating our area book. We spent a good amount of time, but it is completely up to date! It was a big task, but we feel so happy now that it is done. Being organized is definitely a key to happiness.
Saturday, we weekly planned VERY thoroughly, and that felt very good! It will definitely pay off this week and we can’t wait to see it happen. We also called the cops on a group of people that looked like they were having a drug deal. It was SO stressful, and quite frightening, but their response time was good, and hopefully it all turned out peacefully.
Sunday was our Stake Conference. Bishop Dean M Davies was supposed to be there (but President Eyring asked him to remain in Puerto Rico to help the people), but Elder Bennett, and area authority, and our Stake President spoke. The main thing they said was how Elder Bednar talks about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The principles all lead to one another, and living them is a process, not steps. Enjoy your week!