Hey, family & friends!
So you know those roller coaster weeks where everything's going right, then crashes, then everything's going right again, and then everything crashes and burns again, but you're still as happy as you were at the beginning if not more so?
Long story short, Ariel dropped us. On Tuesday--5 days before her scheduled baptism.
We had prayed and fasted (twice) during the week, and got to go to the temple (to answer your question, we go whenever we need, so it's different for everyone. The last time I went was in July, and some go every transfer). Every time, we got the answer that yes, she could be baptized this Saturday. We exercised every bit of faith we could this week and moved forward with all our plans in an effort to show Heavenly Father our faith. If we exercise every bit of faith we have, everything works out the way we want it to, right?
We weren't able to contact her for the rest of the week until Saturday itself, and we didn't get to see her in person until we invited her to someone else's baptism, and she actually came! We KNEW she could be baptized. Our district leader was there at the baptism, so he could interview her if necessary, and the font took a long time to drain... it could easily have been stopped and refilled. We knew it just HAD to happen! We had faith in the miracle--it would happen the way we wanted it to, right?? So we talked with her after the baptism.... no.
Then we met Mike, an 82 year-old Mexican man who like to "dress like Al Capone." We met with him every day until Sunday, was really excited to make his "debut" at church, agreed to be baptized in February, but when we went over to show him the way to church yesterday, he told us he actually didn't really want to go, and didn't want to meet with us that much anymore. And then we also got "no"s from a bunch of our potential investigators as well. But.... we showed faith! We worked as hard as we could! That means Heavenly Father will give us what we want.... right?
The thing is, even though miracles can and do happen every day, God cannot and will not force anyone to do anything. Agency is a wonderfully frustrating thing that way. Faith and fear influence how we and others use their agency, but they cannot force. It's just not how He works.
We as missionaries and disciples of Christ make sure we are doing everything we can to entice others to follow Christ, to do good, but we cannot force others to follow Him (as much as we'd stinkin' like to!). If so, we would be hindering their progress--is our time to prepare to meet God, and we can only prepare as we learn and choose good for ourselves. Yes, sometimes Heavenly Father gives us what we want when we want it, but we cannot force and He cannot force others to act in the way we want them. Even when we have faith that they can, it does not mean they will.
That brings us to what we're left with though. It would be SO easy to look at our or any other situation and think about how everything is careening down the plunger. It would be so easy to say, "Well, we've been working hard and haven't seen success. Let's just take it easy for now." However, as one of my favorite scriptures (Helaman 10:3-4) states,
"And it came to pass as he was thus pondering—being much cast down because of the wickedness of the people of the Nephites, their secret works of darkness, and their murderings, and their plunderings, and all manner of iniquities—and it came to pass as he was thus pondering in his heart, behold, a avoice came unto him saying: aBlessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with bunwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine cown life, but hast sought my dwill, and to keep my commandments."
Now is the worst time to give up. When we endure faithfully through trials, when we go to our extremities and then a little further, we show Heavenly Father how much we love Him. And as long as it takes, He will then bless us with more. And He's already blessed us with so much! We've been finding as quickly as people have been dropping us! We really are so blessed... we just have to look for the forget-me-nots within the bed of maybe wilting roses.
Read "Forget Me Not" by Dieter F. Uchtdorf. It's a a really comforting wake-up call.
1. We believe in giving all a chance to hear the word.
2. Also, siracha sauce.