How's life on the outside? Still magnifying your callings? Enduring to the end? Turning the other cheek? Following the prophet? Keep it up ;)
This week's been another week!
I've fried my email time, but just know that I did the Buffalo Wild Wings Blazin Challenge and conquered it like ancient Rome. It was horrible!! Haha the wings were like 200 degrees right out of the cooker and literally gave Elder Anderson blisters on his thumbs. 12 of them in 6 minutes. We finished in 4 and took that t-shirt home ;)
Conducted a really good exchange with our Camdenton district leader Elder Barton, my long lost MTC companion! We get along really good, and it was fun to reminisce a little bit. His companion is going home in 2 weeks and definitely knows it haha.
Taught lots of lessons, set a baptismal date for July 23 with one of our newer investigators, Dorothy! She's progressing well and noticed brighter days as an answer to some questioning prayers. Teaching a lot at the Ft. Wood Branch and trying to organize all the different soldiers that come in and out! I have no idea what I've taught half of them anymore.
Going to the St. Louis temple with this third of the mission on Wednesday! I cannot wait. It's going to be spiritually paramount.
Alright, real talk! I've been battling lately to stay on top. I've been out in the field more than 15 months now, and I feel like I should be at the top of my game, far better than I was a year ago! But in some respects, I feel as though I'm just under performing and doing the same things over and over and over again. And I don't feel nearly as motivated. It's hard to keep that kind of flame burning for a long time, even in the "best work" I can be engaged in. Sometimes I feel like I'm just waiting for my time to end so I can get home and finally start my own real life!
A good friend and past companion gave me some good advice though: I just have to get back to the basics. For some reason I thought my time out here would progressively get easier and easier as I adjusted and became more competent. Which seems silly now, because it's more like a race. A swimming race to be exact. When I dove in, my stroke wasn't that good, but I had TONS of energy and focus, and it propelled me just as well! Toward the end of the race, I've gotten into a real rhythm and smoothed out my strokes, but I'm just pooped out. The strokes are repetitive. Sometimes I can't even use my practiced strokes, because I'm too tired and unmotivated to even stay afloat. I start to suck in water, cough, panic, surge to the surface on fear and adrenaline for just enough time to get some more strokes in. Then I'm worn out again, and I start to slow down, and sink! I tread water to catch my breath and see how far I am from the finish line... still got a ways to go. I can barely make out the people on the shore though, maybe I can hear them cheering when I turn my head for a breath.
But the good news is, I wouldn't rather be in any other race in the world right now! It's crunch time, down to the wire, for all the marbles, new personal record, fight through the pain. It's moments like this in the race when you find out what you're made of. Moments like this when you dig deep and expand. Nothing left but you, and who you can be. I probably wouldn't learn much if it was easy. And I'm learning to choose the harder right. I'm learning to steady my breathing, master myself, and trust the the Lord will keep me afloat if I keep swimming.
Our good friend Jeffrey R. Holland beat me to the punch:
"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."
I think I'm starting to dredge the depths. Swim ON!
Elder T. Hakes