Friday, February 13, 2015

Back to Work

December 26, 2007 – January 5, 2008

The Pico de Orizaba on an evening in early January.

Over the next couple of weeks Elder Nájera and I continued to teach some of the investigators I’d found with Elder Guerra. One of these people was a woman named Adid, who was preparing for her baptism. Others included Daniel and César from El Mango. Their mother was still receptive towards us, even though she had never come to church with her sons. We hoped that by continuing to teach Daniel and César, she would decide to come, but the community expectations in El Mango always kept her from coming along on Sundays. Adid got baptized near the end of December; Daniel and César did the same just after New Year’s.

At César and Daniel’s baptism. The girl in the middle is their sister, who always stayed back at El Mango with her mother on Sundays.

We also worked on finding new people to teach. As usual, this meant lots of knocking on doors and contacting people in the street. In general, our goal was to find a constant supply of people interested in listening to us while also helping the investigators we’d already worked with. Easier said than done. Contacting was still super hard for me. It would take so much mental effort for me to just stop someone on the street that I would sometimes get frustrated if they weren’t interested. Of course this just makes things worse; I should have just thanked them for their time and let it slide off me. My journal includes an entry about my contacting difficulties:

Earlier today I was thinking, “without contacts, the mission would be so easy.” As if to prove me wrong, I had a rough time just walking around and being polite. I have to learn to not take out my current moods on others. I’m far too dependent on others to make me happy. I need to find ways to cheer myself up effectively.

I was starting to get the nuances of contacting, though. Even when someone says you can visit them in their home, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll happen. Lots of times we’d plan to visit a person we met in a street contact only to get there and have no one answer the door. Even when we would set actual dates and times to arrive, it was still more common for an appointment like that to fall through than to result in teaching a lesson. This may have just been the result of them forgetting about it or not actually believing we would come, but it I think might also have something to do with the culture in Veracruz. In general, people tended to avoid rejecting us directly. Instead, they would often say something like, “I can’t right now; come back some other time,” even if they didn’t really want us to come back.

My personal favorite of these polite rejections was when we’d ask to stop by at a specific time, or invite someone to attend church with us, and they’d say, “Si Dios quiere.” The best translations of this are probably “God willing,” or “if it’s possible,” but, more literally, it means, “If God wants.” A common snarky missionary’s response was, “Oh, believe us; He does.”

Keeping cheerful in the face of rejection was just really hard for me. But that’s part of what you sign up for as a missionary. You just have to roll with the punches and keep going until something good inevitably happens. Many of my best days in the mission field seemed to come right after some of the worst ones.

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