Sunday, November 3, 2013

Stories from My Mission: The Spirit Leads Me to People

I was in my first area of my mission in Bella Vista with my mission trainer, Elder Tenny, when I had my first experience with being lead by the spirit to find someone who needed to hear the gospel. This was not the first time that my companion and I were lead to find someone but this was the first time that the spirit worked through me and not my companion. I don't remember how long I had been on my mission but it was probably about 10 weeks into my mission.

We were having a hard time finding people to talk to and a number of appointments "fadged" us. ("fadge" is a Spanish speaking American missionary slag word that comes from the Spanish word "fallar", which means "to fail" or "to let somebody down". In Argentina the double l (ll) is pronounced with a strong "-sh" sound so it would sound like "fashar" and when someone didn't keep an appointment that we made we would say "nos falló". That word, "falló", got corrupted by American missionaries and we would say "Someone 'falled' us" which, if you remember the double l has a "-sh" sound so it would sound like "fash-ed" or "fadged".)  If I remember correctly we had something like 20 appointments fadge in one week, so we were feeling a little down.

One morning I was thinking and praying about what to do and I looked over at a big map of Bella Vista we had on the wall of our apartment and I started thinking about where we could go to find people. While looking at the map I had a strong impression that there was a specific place on the map where we should try tracting. I remember two streets standing out in my mind and where they crossed I felt that we should go even though I had never been there nor even walked down either street. I was unsure if I really had the impression so in my mind I rephrased my question and I again felt that we should focus on a specific corner where the two roads crossed. I looked at the map and considered that specific block where I had the impression that we should go and in my mind I asked if we should focus on that entire block or on the two streets and where they crossed.

The answer came back that it was that block specifically but that one corner of it was the place that we should go. To make sure I again asked in my mind if that was the place where we should go and I even asked about the surrounding area and about the rest of the block. The spirit again impressed on me the importance of those two specific streets and where they crossed and it even indicated the exact spot on the block where we should go. By this time I was convinced that that is where we were supposed to go so I pulled out my small copy of the city map that I kept in my pocket and noted the place and then continued getting ready for the day.

We had one person that we wanted to try and visit that morning so we went there first, but they were not home. We tried clapping at a few houses but no one was home. At this point Elder Tenny looked at me and asked it I had any ideas. I had not told him about the impression I had that morning but I pulled out my map and recalled where the spirit had indicated. I again considered the location and wondered if we should focus on the entire block or just on the one corner. Again the spirit indicated that we should go to the corner it had indicated before.

I pointed out the location on the map to Elder Tenny and said that we should go there. I was still mostly unfamiliar with the area so I really didn't know the best route to get from where we were to where we needed to go. When I pointed to the spot on the map Elder Tenny said "OK" and headed out. I think by that time he was discouraged enough that when his junior companion pointed out a seemingly random location on the map he didn't ask any questions. I just told him that we should go to that specific city block (it turned out to be a bit of a walk, about 1 km from where we were).

After walking for a while we came to the block that I had indicated to Elder Tenny. He pointed it out but I realized that we were at the wrong corner of the block, we still needed to go one street over to the next corner. Because I still wanted to see if the impression I had was correct I said we could try starting at the nearest corner of the block even though the spirit had indicated to me that we should go to the next corner. We clapped at the house on the corner but no one answered. Elder Tenny was still rather discouraged and probably would have given up on the seemingly random suggestions from his junior companion. After no one answered our clap I pulled out my map again and again the spirit confirmed that we were at the correct block but the wrong corner.

I told Elder Tenny that we needed to go to the next corner and he acquiesced without a comment and we walked down to the other corner. At the corner I again asked in my mind if this is where we were supposed to be. Again the spirit indicated the same as it had done before. We went over to the first house and clapped. A young man came out and we talked for a while and explained who we were. He seemed interested in our message so he agreed to have us come back. At the second house a middle aged man answered and again we talked for a while and he agreed to listen to us so we set another appointment. At the third house a women with a few small children answered. We talked for a while and she told us that she would like to talk to us, but that she would be at her parents house for the next few days in a place called barrio EPAM. Because it was a place where we would go about once a week we agreed to stop by.

The next house there was a man who came to the door. We talked briefly and he agreed that we could come back later and talk to him. We had spent an entire week with little success and in less than an hour we had met, talked to and set appointments with four new people all in a row. After the fourth house there were no more houses on that side of the street. My companion newly energized by our string of "good luck" decided that we needed to cross the street and keep going. I knew that it was pointless because the spirit had instructed me to only go that one corner and after the fourth house it told me that we were done. We tried clapping a few more houses in the area but no one wanted to talk to us.

Of the four people that we found that day we never were able to find two of them after that. The young mother we talked to was one of the people we never saw again, but we did pass by her parent's house a few days later and talked to them. They listened to a few discussions but were never very interested. The only member of their family who would talk to us was their teenage daughter, who was one of the most intelligent people I ever met in the area. More than anyone else she was willing to read and study the Book of Mormon. She had a sharp mind and over the next few months with my new companion Elder Bullock we had some of the most intellectually stimulating conversations that I ever had on my mission.

When some of the members found out that we were teaching her they were very surprised because she was known as the "popular, but dumb" girl in their high school (think ditzy cheerleader). They had no idea that she was actually very smart. She managed to read through almost the entire Book of Mormon in a few months. We taught her for a few months until one day we passed by her house and her parents informed us that she had run away to Buenos Aires with her boyfriend. She had not even bothered to stay and finish high school. I never found out what happened to her, but I know that through a unique chain of events that started with a prompting to go to a specific street corner we were supposed to meet her and teach her about the gospel and about the Church.

I don't know if any thing ever came of the other people that we talked to that day, but I do know that I was lead very specifically to that location. I would use the feelings and promptings that I had that day as a reference throughout my mission when ever I was prompted to find people. It was something that happened many times on my mission, and that is where I first learned to listen to those promptings.

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