Whoa, I am so happy to see all the family pictures from Brian's graduation. I have been a little sensitive at Elder Parker's comment that the family picture I carry around looks like we're all from the 80's, but dang ya'll are slapping down with style. Zach's captain red beard, Trevor's thick rims, Dad's sudden loss of weight and Mom you just look beautiful. Not a single one of you with slacks that match your suit coat. Trevor, you're huge! I don't know my family anymore. Go back to the 80s.
I wish I could report a week full of lessons, miracles finding families, and street-preach triumphs galore, but instead we had a lot of no-shows and hands-in-face to replace them. I don't say that with a tone of discouragement or a plea for pitty, but that's what the week consisted of. We have one investigator currently progressing, who seems to be somewhat of an anime-junkie and all the mannerisms that accompany such a person, but I'm grateful for the desire he is showing forth to change. I tell you, the difference between an investigator that ends up in a baptismal font and one who doesn't is an investigator that keeps his commitments. It's been difficult to get this guy, Alvin, to read the Book of Mormon, but he finally has had to courage to read and he came to us this week with the news that he not only felt like everything we've been telling him was right, but when he opens up the Book of Mormon he finds passages that particularly strengthen and inspire him. Sometimes all I want to say is, "I told you so."
Yesterday as Elder Woo and I were street contacting in Aldrich Bay Park, we came upon several families. As I couldn't seem to think of anything more to say than "We have a special message about how families can live together forever" before the typical chinese "No thanks, don't need it" answer came, I began to get frustrated. I seem to write about this a lot, and in the midst of my frustration I got more frustrated for being frustrated, frustrated that I couldn't help from being frustrated. Elder Parker, an elder from Anaheim that lives in the same apartment, asked me during my bout of frustrastion if I loved my mission, and then asked me why.
Whenever I see a family on the street, for some reason most of the time I expect their initial reaction to be something more like, "Whoa, dang! Are you kidding me? Eternal families? Tell me everything." When they don't, after a while it almost feels painful to me. I've often wondered how many people do I have to pile through until I meet another Sister Yip, Soso, or Francis. Every feeling of dissatifisfaction, pain, bewilderment, or inadequacy was completely redeemed by each of their conversions to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and I learned how much patience and humility was required for each of them to happen. And then I think rashly to myself that after I've learned it once or twice, God will be satisfied that the lesson was taught and then all the miracles will flow in exponentially and baptisms will be performed routinely every Sunday. As foolish as it seems in writing, I can't tell you how often I can be tempted to feel this way.
Brigham Young once said, "To profess to be a Saint, and not enjoy the spirit of it, tries every fiber of the heart, and is one of the most painful experiences that man can suffer." I haven't tried harder to be a Saint more my whole life than on my mission. The harder I've tried, the more I've recognized my limitations at being a good one. Humility sometimes feels a lot more like it comes in reaction to my initial pride than an inherent response to unfortunate circumstances. When it comes second more often than first, I find myself on my knees begging to be more Christlike.
C.S. Lewis wrote, "God allows spiritual peaks to subside into (often extensive) troughs in order for 'servants to finally become Sons,' 'stand[ing] up on [their] own legs--to carry out from the will alone duties which have lost all relish... growing into the sort of creature He wants [them] to be." This statement summarizes exactly why I love my mission, and what it has been like for me to this point. I have had plenty of success, and I've seen miracles, and I continue to have and see it. God's love has become infinitely more real, my prayers have become infinitely more meek and searching, and my ability to cherish the sweetness of even one small act of kindness has been magnified by a thousand. And that's exactly one of the great evidences of God's existence -- even when we'd hope for an immediate answer or sudden blessing, we get instead a memory of the pure goodness that comes from virtue, kindness, and morality, a memory of what we do know and of what the Lord has already given. God said to Oliver Cowdery in Doctrine in Covenants section 6, "if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things. Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?"
I lament how many times I've been "compelled to be humble" (Alma 32), but rejoice in the what it is helping me to become. A patient Saint, and a man who loves the Lord.