It is crazy for me to think that soon I will be past my one year mark and that nearly all of the major holidays are past. I was thinking to myself the other day at how closely a mission's life resembles regular life:
In its early stages you think it will never end. You are just fired up with all sorts of energy and all the of "chronologically mature" people wonder how it is that someone as "young" as you could have so much optimism about everything. There's a sort of go-getter attitude that demands that you do absolutely everything in as short a time as possible, because simply things are just that awesome!
As time moves on you start to realize that things might be a little bit more difficult that you had originally thought, and started to wonder what it was exactly you had agreed to do and to wonder if it wasn't a bit too much for you to handle. But as you continue on your way you decided that it really doesn't matter all that much; you are young-ish and invincible anyway, so nothing could possibly happen to you. Bad stuff was just for all the other people out there who weren't invincible like you were.
Eventually you run into some people you just really didn't get along with, some circumstances you just couldn't quite tackle on your own and that deflates you a little bit, but by golly you are here and you are going to make the most of it and enjoy making the most of it, whether you like it or not! Even if you aren't quite as invincible as you once thought you were your extreme knowledge about everything more than makes up for it; it's no trouble to handle just about everything when know just about everything after all.
Things start to shift and to change in ways that weren't entirely pleasant and also were completely out of your control. Your "parents" (Missionary slang for the missionaries who trained you) "die" and go home after they've reached the ripe old age of 2 years, you pack up and ship off to a completely new area, people reject you and those who were making the most progress suddenly decided coming closer to Christ isn't worth the cost, and you realize that all you've done so far simply isn't all that much. You aren't invincible, you don't know everything, and if you keep it up you will stay working alone in all but name. You are put to the test, but not in ways that you have do before.
You reach that point where you either break or realize that you can't continue on your own. You have to start to rely on those around you. You have to trust them. You have to turn to God and accept His help. The only other alternative is to break, and stay broken, instead of breaking and then growing stronger, like a muscle after a good workout.
Next you reach a little bit where I'm at, the "Midlife" crisis. Half of your life is gone, and you start to wonder if it was worth it, worth the cost for coming to this place. You look back on all the things you've done, the people you've talked with, the places you've been, and then you try to add up the cost verses the reward. It's another point where you either bounce back or break, and the way to bounce back is exactly the same as it was the first time; you turn to God. You must decide that you can't see everything the way that they truly are, that you've influenced people in ways that you simply cannot see. You have done things you did not know that you've done, and will yet do a great many more things without you even knowing that you did anything worth talking about. It was crazy the first half, but the party is just getting started because Round 2 is about to start. It's time to soldier up and get going again, but this time remember that you have allies. You have friends and supporters. Most importantly, you have a Father who knows you better than even you do, and will support you in all that you need to accomplish.
Wow, that took a bit longer than I thought it would! Sorry if that was a bit strange, but these thoughts have been bouncing around in my head for a very long while now.
A few things worth mentioning of last week and today. We have been working with a woman and her son, M***and J***, for a few weeks now. Her daughter had already been baptized because M***'s deceased husband was a member of the church. M*** really wants to join the Church so she can go and be Sealed in the temple with him and her children for all time and eternity. Even though she has a lot of questions, (some that even we can't answer with all of our missionary wisdom!) she is still willing to be baptized because she believes in what we believe and in what her husband believed and she has faith that all of the questions she has will be answered sooner or later, in this life or in the next.
We also ran into a really awesome guy named C*** while we were walking around on Friday. He is in the Marines and was on leave for Christmas when we saw him and started talking with him. He was just outside shooting a pellet rifle at a target with a friend when we started talking about religion. He'd never heard of the Book of Mormon before and was really interested in reading it. Sadly for us he is back to New York by now (Heading your way, Hermana!) and we are unable to teach him. Hopefully we planted a seed.
Just today there was a convert to the church who invited us out to lunch and met us at a restaurant here in town. It was super nice and equally unexpected! I love little surprises like that.... =D
Anywho, Happy New Year! Make this next year the best one you've ever lived!