"The Church is like a great caravan—organized, prepared, following an appointed course, with its captains of tens and captains of hundreds all in place.
What does it matter if a few barking dogs snap at the heels of the weary travelers? Or that predators claim those few who fall by the way? The caravan moves on.
Is there a ravine to cross, a miry mud hole to pull through, a steep grade to climb? So be it. The oxen are strong and the teamsters wise. The caravan moves on.
Are there storms that rage along the way, floods that wash away the bridges, deserts to cross, and rivers to ford? Such is life in this fallen sphere. The caravan moves on.
Ahead is the celestial city, the eternal Zion of our God, where all who maintain their position in the caravan shall find food and drink and rest. Thank God that the caravan moves on!"
Good stuff. Anyway, the area president quoted this in ending his talk, but before he did, he said that there would always be troubles. He said, "There are mountains to climb, and rivers to cross..." which I kid you not, are exact lyrics to this LDS youth song that I dislike. I'd like to say that I just sat there without saying anything, but in my shock, I opened my mouth without thinking and said in the darkened room, "Are you kidding me?" which earned a laughing "shhh" from my roommates. I mean, I understand that he didn't have to be quoting the song "Mountains to Climb" but the only other source I found with those exact words was "Wheeler, Maria Walker, My history", and it was four words in a very large trail excerpt. So which is more rational, I wonder?
I found it very funny since I had just said days before how little I liked the song. The Elders were teasing me all the way to Colonial Grill for dinner, and they continue to even now. They say things like, "Sister Green, this is just your mountain to climb!! YOUR RIVER TO CROSS!" So that's why my title is what it is. We've also taken to saying "The caravan moves on" whenever we leave a building.
I finished my journal this week. I wrote every single of my mission so far, filling a book with only a little over three months of material. I started the new one that Tiffany sent me with the goal of writing some major adventures in it.
Another funny moment this week was when Sister Jaya and I and all the Elders were at a Family Home Evening activity at our Bishop's sister's house. We were gathered around the television to watch a mormon message, but when the screen came on, the DVD menu for "Breaking Dawn" came on. Immediately, all the elders were like, "Wow, wow, yes!" As the family frantically tried to change the screen, Elder Wilcox comically added, "Breaking Dawn, Breaking Rules!"
I watched a movie this week called, "The Mountain of the Lord", which is about the struggle of 40 years to build the Salt Lake Temple. It really reminded me how grateful I am to have the blessings of the temple and since I won't be able to go to the temple for another fifteen or so months, I've really been remembering how lucky I was to live only forty-five minutes from one back home. I love the temple. My testimony of them has grown so much and I can't wait to go again. I want to buy a map when I get home and track every temple I go through throughout the world. I want to see them all!
Our senior missionary couple was helping Sister Jayasekara with her college applications, so while Sister Nelson helped her, Elder Nelson gave me a run-down of basic finance, since I am a five year old who knows nothing about money. He explained interest and house-payments and credit cards to me, so hopefully when I get home from this Neverland of sorts, I'll be able to grow up a little.
We had another dinner appointment last night at the Bigtas' home. When we came up to the gate, their big black dog came barking, so Keisha, the 14-yr-old daughter, came out saying, "Sirius! Sirius be quiet!" and I just grinned so big and asked, "Your dog's name is Sirius?" and she just grinned back and later we talked about how awesome it is that her dog is named after Sirius Black. I love finding fangirls.
We had some interesting experiences this week. We taught Jon Maldo again, the argumentative tatay, and we brought with us four members to back us up. Even with the six of us testifying, Jon Maldo refused to just listen. He didn't mean to be antagonizing, if anything, I think he honestly enjoyed the conversation, but he challenged us on the Godhead again, saying, "It says in the Bible that Jesus and God are just one person." When I whipped out a bible scripture (I came prepared) that proved the existence of three separate beings, he blinked at me and then completely changed the subject, choosing then to question plural marriage, convinced that it was still a practice in the church. By the time we got out of there, all the members were breathing sighs of relief. We don't know if we can keep teaching him - he seems to only be interesting in contradicting us, not listening. Oh, Jon Maldo.
We finally taught Shampoo Lady (Mariline) again. After a month of being blown off, she finally talked to us. She hadn't read the Book of Mormon assignment, and she said that her church forbade it. Basically, she told us she was sorry. We bore our testimonies as much as we could. I just remember thinking, over and over, "We can't lose her." After reading some scriptures to no avail, Sister Jayasekara bore her testimony one last time. She started to cry, which to my surprise, made Mariline start to cry too. They sat together, holding hands, crying, while I sat not knowing what to do. Mariline, though, felt the spirit of our love testifying to her and she promised us that she would try to read the Book of Mormon, since she had committed to and she didn't want to break her promise. She just kept crying and saying, "Pasensya po, Sisters, talaga." It was incredible, in it's odd way. She prayed, she hugged us so hard, she gave us a snack, and then we walked away. I don't know if she'll progress. I don't know if anything will happen. But I do know that Mariline felt the spirit and she knows how much we love her.
I met three interesting woman this week. We had planned a first lesson with a woman who's fruit stand we frequent, and we had planned to meet her at the church since she couldn't see us at her house. When this older woman walked up to the church, she had brought two friends! We were more than a little surprised, but we led these three nanays inside. We taught them, and they listened politely. I love them. Like, they could be a sitcom. They're all over sixty, and her friends unfortunately aren't in our area. Yolanda, our investigator, is bubbly and girly and happy. Then Cynthia is quiet but friendly. And then Miriam is a little stony, she sat in back and somewhat frowned at us during the lesson, though her frown softened as she immediately whipped out her reading glasses to read the Restoration pamphlet. I've decided to call them the Odd Sisters, though they remind me of Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which, and Mrs. Whatsit from "A Wrinkle in Time". They said they'd come to church next week to get the "full affect", as they said.
Before my mission, at ASU, my church calling was Ward Missionary. Not really knowing what that calling meant, whenever the missionaries texted me, I never went out with them. Now, when I go home, I will beg my bishop for that calling. Ward Missionaries are SO important. We can barely do any work without them. If you are a ward missionary, strive to magnify your calling! Your testimony can make the difference. If I'm ever called to be one again, I'd be the hardest working one in the land because I know how much it helps!
Sister Jaya and I were eating lunch today and I was so excited to email so I was bouncing, waiting for her to eat her chicken, and even though her chicken was only bones, she was still picking at it, getting every last possible bit. I said, "Sister Jaya, there's nothing left, just leave it!" When she looked up to see my impatient expression, she just smiled at me, shrugged, and said, "Never give up!", She's a sassy one, my companion.
I hope you all have a magical week, and that you climb your mountain and cross your rivers. Remember, THE CARAVAN MOVES ON.
Love love love,
"Smooth Criminal" - Michael Jackson (A house we tracted was blasting it and I was singing it under my breath all day. I love that song. I thought of Lindsey Hale.)