We do meet the most interesting of people. Among the multitude of people this week were a under cover detective, a ski-lift accident survivor, a German emigrant, and a Hawaiian Southern Baptist minister.
Tuesday we helped a woman named Barbara with her house. That is a big project. She asked if she could keep us for a week or two to finish it. We explained that we're not exactly service missionaries, but could help a few hours a week. She's a neat lady and has some incredible stories. She said she will visit with us at church, but wasn't able to make it this weekend.
Barbara lives in the same neighborhood as Justice, so we went to see him afterward. He hadn't kept his commitments again, and kept changing the subject as we tried to teach and testify. It was clear to me, we needed to drop him, so we had a discussion with him, and he finally admitted that his mom wasn't a fan of mormons, and he wasn't likely to read what we told him to. We told him we would be available if he ever did decide to investigate it more and left. Throughout my mission, I have been pretty heartbroken when people with so much potential don't go anywhere. Countless times I have met and taught people who seem so golden, and then they avoid us, don't return calls, drop off the face of the earth. I remember back in Montgomery, standing in front of PJ's door and just praying that she would open to us. After a good bit of time standing and knocking and waiting, and knocking again, Sister Ray would encourage me, but tell me, "Sister Sheffer, she's not going to open the door," and we would have to move on. In a training we received from the church mission department, we were told that the only way we would get the Lord to lead more of the elect to us, is to prove to Him that we can tell the difference. We discern between who is elect and who is not ready by inviting. We are trained on the importance of dropping people so we use the Lord's time perfectly to find and teach the elect. While I've gotten more used to letting people go, it has never been easy for me. This time I got to encourage Sister Hall. She was pretty discouraged. I told her not to worry, that when one door closes, God opens another door, and we would find someone prepared.
We biked to...we didn't even know where, we just biked. I made some Spanish contacts that were pretty promising and sent the info to the hermanas. Then we had a good conversation with a woman on her porch. We asked where she would recommend going to get the least amount of doors slammed in our face (I can't remember how I phrased it, but it honestly was something along those lines). She offered a large neighborhood nearby. We walked our bikes down, looking down streets. I had a super subtle feeling about one particular house. I've learned to trust those subtle feelings and we knocked it. It was the only house we knocked that evening because we were there for an hour. The man who answered said elders were meeting with him regularly, and unexpectedly stopped. He had a notebook of questions and research he had done about our church. He is honest and sincere, and very skeptical. He is a logical person, and researched Christianity with serious scrutiny before developing a testimony of the Savior and deciding to call himself a Christian. He is now doing the same thing with the mormon church. He had good questions, and it really made me come alive to be prepare to answer his questions, which thankfully, all have answers. He said he wants us to teach his children, so they can decide for themselves as well. I feel so good about this family. The father has got to be one of the kindest people I have ever met. It was dark by the time we left his house, and he was very concerned that we were on our bikes. He told us to text him when we got home safely because he was going to worry about us. I know if he studies with faith as he did with Christianity, that he will recognize the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and our faith.
Thursday night we were biking home after a member appointment, that a non-member happened to show up to. We were planning on sharing something different with the family who had just lost a loved one, but when the friend showed up, I had a feeling to share something different, but wasn't as well prepared. I FUMBLED with the scriptures. I NEVER FUMBLE...but I did. In the end, I don't even know what I shared, but I testified and Sister Hall testified, and the spirit was very strong. I was still mildly embarrassed leaving there. On our bikes, I was reflecting on what happened when I see a guy about our age get out of his car. I brake quickly and say what's up, then use an approach President had trained us on, using religious questions. He played along for a little bit, and then said, "Okay, I'm going to spoil this for y'all...we're mormons." I wanted to buckle my bike helmet on my face. He is less active, and his mom came out, and we had a good, brief little lesson since we had to make curfew. God's timing. I still can't figure out how we ended up there, because I thought we were going out of the neighborhood the same way we came in, but we didn't.
AWESOME restoration lesson with this man and his 4 granddaughters, two of them were 5. It was awesome to see the cute little girls answering questions and bringing the spirit. he said he knows it's true, but he admitted it would be hard because he's so old and has only known the baptist religion his whole life. We have a follow up appt.
Remember Byra? We packed up her house and cleaned it out, since she finally got her new house in Columbiana. This is a great step to prepare her to accept the gospel. She was so appreciative, and that's my favorite kind of work sometimes. Cleaning is therapeutic. Afterward we got to meet some awesome people at a birthday party for a 1 yr old in the ward. The mom went ALL OUT. It was way fun, and neat to put a good light on mormon missionaries. One of their neighbors wants to get together with us and the member family to learn more.
I can't believe how many visitors came to the trunk or treat party. It was awesome!
Yesterday we taught a lesson with a member family and one of the YW's friends who is investigating the church. She is 17, an absolute sweetheart, awful family situation. The YW had already given her a Book of Mormon, and she had already started reading it. She was excited to learn more, and is so open. She doesn't live in our ward boundaries, but we will work with the missionaries over there to help give her a foundation, and prepare her to go to church on her own in her respective ward.
Afterward we got pretty busy with appointments, and finally started heading back to eat dinner after 8. When we got back to our apartment, our neighbor was out with his dog. We had met him briefly before, but hadn't got to know him very well. We talked with him for a bit, then he said, "okay, I have a question. What do y'all do?" He then launched into how he had been living next to missionaries for 5 years, but it was always elders, and he felt embarrassing asking them what the heck they were doing going off on bikes every day in suits. He told us about how he had asked his stepmom and his friends if they knew anything about mormons, but had never asked missionaries directly because for whatever reason he was embarrassed. We had a really good talk with him, and will be teaching him Tuesday night. Too cool.
Transfer calls came Saturday. Sister Hall and I will be staying together in Alabaster, but we will be moving in with the hermanas in the same complex, different apartment, and elders will be moving back into our apartment. It will be very good for the ward to have elders again. We're so sad that the set of sisters we have been working with, and have gotten so close to are going home this week. They are absolute champions and have become close friends.
The gospel is true. The Book of Mormon provides comfort and truth.