It's so cool how God looks out for us. Through thick and thin, He's always right there. And when we're in need, He knows exactly what to send.
Yesterday He sent me two missionaries.
Matthew and I took the elders to Marie Callender's last night. I had been looking forward all week to feeding them; I love doing stuff for the missionaries, because I know what it's like to be them. I miss being one of them, and I'll take any chance I can to be with them.
And we had a great time! We were all well fed and left satisfied. But the best was still yet to come.
After dinner we came back to the house for a thought from the scriptures. The elders brought such a wonderful spirit into our home; it was something unique, and I felt it so strongly as they spake. It was something I had forgotten a little about what it was like to be a missionary. I wondered if this was what the members in Texas felt when they had me in their homes; it was just such a good feeling.
My brother is a champion. He took the initiative to ask the missionaries if he could go with them to a lesson, and next thing we knew, both of us were with the elders at the doorstep of their next appointment. It was Matt's first time going out with the missionaries, and I was as excited for him to have the experience as I was for myself. It just felt so good to be waiting at someone's door again, ready to teach!
Well, it wasn't the incredible lesson we thought it would be, because nobody answered. It ended up being an average night in the life of a missionary--the kind that doesn't make it into letters home after the fiftieth time. But I was pumped anyway, because this was still the missionary life, and I was starting to remember again.
One of the more difficult things for me as a missionary was finding a backup plan when things didn't go the way we expected. I have many memories of sitting in the car in some parking lot with my companion, going over all our lists of people to visit and trying to figure out where we should go. More often than not, everyone we had in mind had already been visited too recently, so it wouldn't have been too effective to see them just then. In the end, we knocked on a lot of doors.
And that's what was happening with our elders last night. We tried a couple doors, and whenever no one answered, the missionaries would flip through their planners to find someone else to visit.
It was the last house we tried. They were a family in our stake, whose daughter the missionaries had been teaching. A young man answered the door, and we just talked with him outside for a while. I remembered him. He remembered me. We had gone to Boy Scouts together, but hadn't seen each other in years. Yet something remarkable happened when we met again.
"Did you go on your mission?" he asked me.
"Where did you go?"
"I went to Texas."
"Texas? What part of Texas?"
"San Antonio and Austin."
He got real excited then. "You served in AUSTIN?! I used to live in Leander!"
"No way!" I was excited now, too. "I spent like nine months in Cedar Park and Georgetown!"
I knew Leander; my area in Cedar Park had taken in part of that town, and Georgetown was close, as well. We had a connection, and it turned out to be a good, successful visit.
I had a companion who, up to when we were together, had only spoken English on his mission, and he was concerned because he had been called to speak Spanish. His experience was similar to mine; I didn't get to use too much Spanish, either. That companion took his concern to our mission president, who gave him some counsel that has encouraged me and taught me the importance of keeping an eternal perspective. It basically went along the lines of, "Every calling comes from the Lord. If you never get to speak Spanish on your mission, perhaps you are simply being prepared for a time after your mission when you will need it."
A similar approach can be taken with just about everything else. I was called to serve in Texas for more reasons than those two years alone. It would be impossible to list all the many reasons why Texas was the perfect starting point for the rest of my life, but last night was an example of one: being able to relate to those connected to Texas (and there's a lot of them--it's a big place). For me that experience was a valuable reminder of the eternal nature of everything we do.
But just being with the missionaries helped, too. I've made it through the hardest stuff, but I'm still in a little bit of an awkward phase right now. It's one of those times when I'm in between stages, and a lot of things in my life are uncertain. And to be honest, I've been really tired lately. It can be hard to stay balanced sometimes; there are days when I don't want to be social . . . other days when I don't want to go to the gym or sit through class . . . and still other days when I really don't have much desire to be spiritual. I know what I know, and I know what I gotta do about it. But some days, it feels easier not to. I'm human.
I have such a patient Heavenly Father. He's not letting me just get out of this weird position; instead, He is constantly reminding me why I love serving Him, and where my next step is. He keeps dropping little blessings in my path, and pouring tender mercies from Heaven. I'm learning and growing, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. It's not the easiest place, but I love where I am. It's an uphill climb all the way, but the view from the top is incredible.
The time I spent with the elders last night strengthened me; it was like God was whispering, "Thanks for doing this for two years. It's a blast, isn't it? And with me right here next to you, you're gonna turn out alright."
That's what it means to be a TSAMer for life.