This last week looked pretty slow on paper but I think we're starting to get something significant going in the area. We're hoping to meet with a lot of the auxiliary leaders this week so we can really be coordinated with them. We're also trying to get know the members on a personal level so they can trust us to teach those they care about. Unfortunately, it's a little difficult in this area because the two wards meet in separate buildings at the same time.
I had an interesting experience yesterday though that at least helped one ward know me a little better. Originally we were going to do a double exchange so one of us could go to each ward (myself going to Heritage again) but things fell through so we both went to Timber Creek. The talks prepared for the meeting didn't quite fill the time so they said, "We'd like to have the new Elder introduce himself, bear his testimony, and maybe tell us why he came on a mission if that's alright." I was pretty red in the face according to Elder Raratoga but I went up there and shared from the heart. I guess that involved expressing some of my struggles, my testimony of God's plan, and how the Atonement has changed me recently. I can't remember exactly what I said. Anyway, I definitely made myself vulnerable before the ward. Afterwards, the relief society president mentioned that she has a son who's a priest and is hesitant about a mission because of some anxiety. He wasn't there but she said she wished he was. I think if nothing else in this area, I can help this priest understand the affect the Atonement has on missionaries and those they serve despite--even because of--their weaknesses. That's something I'm eager to share.
I used to think, "how can God possibly use us because of our weaknesses? Isn't there a better way for an all powerful being to accomplish his work?" I've realized that that work includes me and that as far as God is concerned, my mission is a tool for my personal growth and a gift to me in that it allows me, imperfect as I am, to make things happen with eternal consequence. For that I'm already so grateful. Kinda gives me hope for the rest of my mission. I kid around a lot about funny stuff that happens on my mission but in all honesty, I'm changing so much. I almost feel bad that y'all aren't around to see it.
On another note, I started reading the Book of Mormon again this week. I've read it a few times already so this time I decided to imagine what someone reading it for the first time would think and feel just like was suggested in General Conference. A lot of the time I've ended up thinking, "Wow, I wonder what Amy was thinking when she first read this verse," or "that must've been pretty profound for Joseph Smith to read." Right from the beginning you can see how important the family is to God's plan. That's something I didn't realize the first eight chapters of the Book of Mormon taught so well until this week. One thing's for sure, every time I read, my testimony of Jesus Christ and His Gospel is strengthened.
Your funny story for the week is quite simple. I was riding my bike in the rain and this guy in a big truck came up alongside me. The next thing I knew, there was large wave engulfing me rather forcefully. Yep.
Here's to drier days for all of us!
Elder O'Brien (the younger)