To answer your question about how we balance our proselyting and our leadership responsibilities I would say that it just takes a little extra planning. There are usually slow times during specific days we can knock things out during but sometimes it completely interrupts proselyting and we just have to deal with it. Last night for example we were frantically making calls trying to get information on hiking a trail in the ahwatukee foothills for a zone activity for today! The plan that we had to go to a museum fell through but we still wanted to do something. We got all the information, blasted it out to the zone, and had an AWESOME experience this morning hiking a trail. I'll send pictures! (Right after getting back into Maricopa I got my haircut so don't judge me too much ;))
Also this week was stake conference! Our mission President, President Toone was there for both the adult session night and the General session . These past two weeks I've been working hard to memorize the Family: A Proclamation To The World to pass off to President Toone when he came down for conference and after stumbling through it night after the adult session I passed! Our mission has an award for anyone who memorizes the proclamation and after seeing other missionaries passing it off my competitive side got the best of me and I got it memorized. Stake conference was AMAZING though. I would like to share a story President Toone shared about events leading up to his and Sister Toone's departure to be mission presidents in Early July of last year.
As President Toone sat in President Eyring's office, he was told that his name was on a list of theirs to be the mission president in Samoa in a year. But the Lord needed him to serve in Tempe Arizona NOW. Would he be willing to accept the call? His report date was less than 3 months later. He answered that he would do anything the Lord asked of him but he had two concerns: first he had no idea how they would financially be able to make it work. Second he had promised his 94 year old mother in law who they had been housing and taking care of for the past 20 years that they would never leave her or abandon her. President Eyring responded, "To answer your first concern, Brother Toone, where's your faith? And as for your mother-in-law, we know of her situation. We have thought about this a great deal. We can assure you that she will be well taken care of." With that President Toone accepted the call to be the Arizona Tempe Mission President. A month before their departure date, just as they finished making arrangements for the mother-in-law, she quietly passed away. Truly she was now being "well taken care of". The next challenge for the Toone's was getting the house either sold or rented. No one was making any offers. A week before their departure date a stranger knocked on the Toone's door. He said, "I don't know you and you don't know me. Our family recently lost our home and we've been looking for a house to rent locally so our children can stay in the same schools. We have never seen a for rent sign on your street but we keep feeling impressed to come to this street. Do you know anyone on your street who would be willing to rent?" President Toone replied, "When do you need a house by and for how long?" The answer came back, " for 3 years". Truly a miracle story.
This was a very powerful week for me. We have two investigators that we're working with to help them keep the Word of Wisdom and they both started with a strong foot forward and now at the end of the week one of them relapsed really bad. I love this man with all my heart and it hurt to see him fall but it's a very powerful experience because we as the missionaries are in a unique position of guiding this man. It gives me the perspective our savior has for us when we make mistakes. He doesn't judge us harshly or condemn us. He offers his love and compassion. He doesn't condone the sin but he is full of understanding. So that has been our response to helping this man. It's been a big growing experience for me.
While walking to an appointment we ran into these three drug dealing thugs. Everyone on the street knows who they are and we talk to them every time we see them and they're always super rude. This time wasn't any different. As we walked up and said hello they quickly said, "we're having a business meeting. You guys should leave." Something kept me there so I offered a pass along card and then planned to let them get back to their SUPER important meeting that was right there on the street. I mean, sorry for interrupting your super private and important business meeting that you're having on the street! Anyways each of them denied the card that had a picture of Jesus on the front so I asked them if they were Christian and believed in Christ. In disgust they mocked us for what we were doing and for who we represented. They kept telling us to leave and I kept saying "No way! You guys need this!" It was almost humorous how childish they were acting about the whole thing and honestly if they had just accepted the card at the beginning we would have let them be. As I bore my testimony of Christ they kept mocking but I didn't really mind it. It was a testimony they needed to hear and I loved them too much to just let it go. As we walked away one of them called out me and said, "Weed will get you in tune with Jesus!" They all thought that was pretty funny. I thought to myself, "Really? What an inspired comment. I'll have to remember that one." Anyways, it was a pretty intense experience and thought you all would be interested in hearing about that encounter. :)
A lot of people say after their mission, "well my mission was amazing but it honestly wasn't the best two years of my life. BUT it was the best 2 years FOR my life." So far for me my mission has been the BEST 14 months of my life AND for my life!!! You just have to embrace the challenges. They usually don't go away by themselves. Once you embrace them you love them. I LOVE MY MISSION.
Love Elder Janis
Pictures from the hike this morning!