Fun fact: the first black man to receive the priesthood in South Carolina lives in our ward. We took him out with us this week. It seems that people are more apt to listen to us when someone of their color is with us. This rang true with hispanics and hispanic fellow shippers as well.
Yesterday I learned a lot at sacrament meeting! I was kind of tuning out until the lady speaking talked about charity. I feel like I have been judging people too much lately. Especially other missionaries and members. She said for her, charity means holding back judgements. I liked that a lot. She told a story of a three year old. This 3 year old saw a peacock and said, "that is a weird looking chicken". Our perception of others can be so skewed, when we don't know much about someone or their situations. We don't know why people necessarily act the way they do. Certain experiences cause people to act a certain way. So to me, charity is really giving others the benefit of the doubt.
I feel like my mind has been slowly enlightened these last few weeks. I read a talk by Bruce C. Hafen that really changed my perspective. He talked about 3 levels of people. There are advantages and disadvantages of the first two levels. The first level is categorized as the "ideal". The second is the "real" and the third are those who can merge the both of them. Y'all have to read the talk or none of this will make 100% sense. We trained about key indicators at ZTM on friday- (side note: ZTM as so great. It was very uplifting and spiritual. We felt excited and peace about our trainings as we prepared them together. Elder Jacobsen and I work well together and we left a good vibe amongst our zone. We got a few texts later on Frida, thanking us for bringing the spirit. People felt empowered, which is great, and just what the charleston zone needed!)
Back to key indicators, we used this subject of real vs ideal to train on it. Before the mission, we had idealities of missionary work. I thought I was going to baptize every week. I thought we would have success like none other. I thought every day would be a blast. (Don't get me wrong, it is a blast). I thought everyone was obedient. I thought P-day would be all day. I thought people would respect the missionaries. I thought I would have a huge teaching pool. I thought that once my tag was put on, I would automatically change. Those seem negative, but I also expected to have so many spiritual experiences, grow my testimony, grow a love for others. I experienced the realities of this work real fast. Doors slammed, appointments cancelled, people hiding from you, investigators who were once golden became uninterested, commitments not kept, mental exhaustion, spiritual experiences, testimony builders, planning and goal setting, administrative side of missionary work, listening to people's concerns and relationship problems. It is my responsibility to understand the realities of this work, but to still have the faith to reach the idealities. That is where the success comes. If I just focus on the ideals, I will fail to see that there is any problems with my current place. Thus, being no room for improvement form that view. If I focus just on the realities, I may become pessimistic and let skepticism take over, lacking faith. There is no improvement there either. As I understand the real and focus on the ideal, I can better use my faith and the atonement to improve....Key indicators in missionary work, connect the gap of real and ideal.
Another example: Jesus Christ is our ideal. He is what we want to become like. However, there is a problem. From the foundation of the world, Heavenly father understood that we would sin, thus keeping us from returning to him. That is the reality. We are human and make mistakes. Jesus Christ came down, and atoned for us. He had to understand the realities we face, and step down below us all, so that he could help bring us up to reach the ideal, which is him. He connects the gap of the real and ideal. The cool thing is that this third level are improvers-rather, problem solvers.
Last example of this is in Alma 4. Alma had at this point baptized thousands into the church. What a great time for that people. It talks about in the chapter the peace they had. That is the ideal- conversion to the gospel all taking place in great abundance, which brings about peace. However, alma saw the realities. He saw people becoming prideful with their riches, and vain things of the world. There came about contentions and strife and malice. The wickedness of those in the church became a stumbling block to those outside of it. The poor and the needy were rejected and alma became very sorrowful. Because he saw both sides, he understood that he needed to do something about it. He decided to give up his political power to serve a mission and bring people to a remembrance of their God. If Alma saw all the success at first and didn't acknowledge that a huge problem was arising, he wouldn't have stepped down. If he saw only all the iniquity of the people, he would have been distraught and maybe would have lost all faith in the people, thus doing nothing on his end to help them. Because he understood both the real and the ideal, "the Spirit of the Lord did not fail him" and he was guided to how he could best influence others. Well, thats my little shpeal on that.
We were so busy this week. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we did not work, because we had meetings and we were planning for ZTM. So the next 4 days were super duper busy. We had so many appointments and we managed to get some pretty good key indicators still. We found some really cool new investigators as well. I love it when you walk in to an appointment, introduce the Book of Mormon and they really get pumped to read it. BEST FEELING EVER! It was a great week. President Turner had some sweet tracings in MLC, and overall I was very uplifted.
To end the week, Sunday evening Uncle Mark surprised me- thanks to jorge and mom... Uncle Mark is a pilot and was in Charleston on a layover. I felt kinda bad, and could've been more warm at first, but I was so surprised and thrown back to see him here. It was great to see him though! He got a warm welcome from Jorge and other Spanish members, so that is good! He said I got taller too---heck yea!
(side note from mom: Uncle Mark served in Portugal, but while he was awaiting his visa, he was in Arcadia, CA for a few months. It was only about an hour from our family home, so when Brayden was 4 months old, we all went and visited Uncle Mark on Christmas Eve. So this same uncle visited Brayden on his mission almost exactly 19 years later. Karma:)