Thursday, April 23, 2015

All I could do was testify

After four transfers (6 months) in the south area with Sister Stucki, I have been transferred to the north area. I am now with the lovely Sister Munson. We are already setting up some amazing plans for this area! Sister Stucki is with Sister Backus in the south area. The elders got mixed up as well, with Elder Bouck (district leader) and Elder Duckworth in the south area and Elder Peck and Elder Snow in the north area. This will be a fun transfer for sure! :)

Something I forgot to mention a couple of weeks ago... The previous mission president, President Bradford C. Bowen, was made a general authority at general conference. All the missionaries who had served with him puffed up their chests with pride and whispered a quiet, "Yes!" Haha, Congratulations President Bowen! You will serve everyone well!

To be honest, I do not have any story that can top this next story, so I will keep my random tangents to a minimum.

I have mentioned, as I worked in the south area, about working with Maria and her family. She and her boyfriend (the father of their three beautiful little boys) live together. We have been trying and trying for six months to get her to the point of being willing to marry him, which she has been unwilling to do for reasons of her own. She has been progressing wonderfully and is keeping every commandment except the Law of Chastity (living with a man when they are unwed). However, because she and her boyfriend could not be baptized because of this issue, they can not progress anymore. Most of the FHEs and lessons we had with them were to help them maintain the testimony they had already developed. We had discussed this week that a very bold, straight-forward conversation would need to be had with Maria and her unwillingness to marry her boyfriend. Maria and I have quite the bond, and she has told me all of her concerns and worries. She does not have the same trust for any of the other missionaries, although she is friendly with them all. Knowing that I would be transferred out of the area, we decided it would be best for me to have this chat with her before I left.

Sunday came and we waited for them to come to church, as they had promised. I sat and prayed the entire day for inspiration and revelation concerning what to say to Maria and how to say it. I could not think of anything. I received some wonderful counsel from some missionaries. I even shed a few tears worrying about what to do. However, Maria and her family did not come to church. Knowing the conversation still needed to be had, we decided the four south missionaries would go down to the family's house after the baptism later that day.

I was so scared to have this conversation. I did not know how angry Maria would be for my honesty. She might not even want to see me again. I knew I was not exaggerating because of her reactions before when I tried to show some bold honesty. Driving to and walking up to that house was so hard. You know that feeling you get when you have to go to the doctor for something you don't want to get (i.e. a shot or bad results or something)? You are scared out of your mind and your knees are shaking and you can barely move, yet your body somehow still pulls itself forward towards the doctors office? That's how I felt driving to and walking to her house. I was so scared. Maria is one of my favorite people, and I did not want to hurt her at all. I love her so much.

We walked in the house and immediately the three other missionaries sat down with the boys and read the scriptures so I could have a chat with Maria. I was already starting to cry. I told Maria I was being transferred out of the area so this was the last chat we could have for a while. We sat down at the kitchen table. I said a quick prayer and immediately started crying. Maria was a little confused (people tend to be very confused and shocked when I cry, as I do not seem the kind of person who has those kinds of emotions). All I could do was testify. I testified of how much I loved her and how much I was willing to do for her happiness. I testified to her of the life of Jesus Christ. I testified of the redeeming power of His Atonement. I testified that if she put her life in His hands, everything would be ok. I testified of the love Heavenly Father has for her. With tears flowing openly, I begged, yes, begged her to obey all the commandments, because if she did, she could be with her family forever. I begged her to do everything she could to be with her family for eternity. I begged her to allow Christ to help her. At the end of my monologue, I sat there and waited for her response. I knew I had said everything I possibly could to help her understand the gravity of the choices she had to make.

She was quiet for a moment. Then she looked me in the eye and asked, "Do you promise me that my family can be together forever?" My tears started again as I said, "Maria, I promise you in the name of Jesus Christ that you can be together with your family forever." She said she understood everything I said and was actually a little floored. I asked her to ponder more about what I said, and she agreed. I asked her to say a prayer, and she did. She prayed to Heavenly Father about the things I had told her, and I had the relief of knowing she understood everything I had told her. She even asked Heavenly Father to help me stop crying. She did not hate me, nor did she refuse the missionaries to come back. In fact, she asked when she would get to see me next. I did not waste this opportunity to encourage her to go to church every week, even if it was just to see me.

I love Maria so much, and I sincerely hope my testimony impacted her. I hope with all my heart that she will choose to follow the plan Heavenly Father has for her. I hope I can be there when she gets baptized, and even when she becomes sealed to her family in the temple for all time and eternity.

I love you all and hope you all realize the tender mercies of the Lord in every day you live.

Sister Smyly Crawford

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