Tennessee is so WEIRD!!!
I have never ever ever dealt with people on so many levels of extreme. I go to prayer circle where there is no question of doubt in anyone’s minds that the Bible is truth and God lives and is a God of miracles. I find even more extreme people (/less realistic people) who feel like they’ll be condemned just for reading something about other religions that isn’t the Bible… like, that it’s not even something they could explore just to learn about other religions. Half the time those people are the ones who don’t actually read the Bible enough to know what’s in it though, haha.
So it was kind of refreshing to find someone who was on the opposite extreme a couple weeks ago. We tracted into a guy named Skyler, he’s probably 24ish and he’s engaged and he’s smart. He grew up in a religious environment (#biblebelt for the win) and in his later teens realized all the contradictions and loopholes of religion and the Bible and God. So it’s fun because I feel like I’m talking to myself or Kyle and it’s always a good break from… others. Sister G and I literally have to argue every time after lessons with him about whether or not he’s a “progressing” investigator, haha. She thinks he’s not because he doesn’t believe in God, but I think he is because he continues to meet with us and he reads what we tell him to read and he is probably way closer to a balanced truth than a lot of our other “progressing” investigators (minus the Spirit). I have been really trying to figure out where we need to go with him. It has been cool to rethink my own journey from going in circles for months over whether or not God exists. We are just trying to back things up for him….no we’re not trying to convince you that the earth is 7,000 years old, or that the sexism in the Bible is good, or that God is portrayed completely accurately in the Old Testament. No we’re not trying to convince you that the reason we believe in God is because we pray and half the times our prayers are answered, so it must be God. I think the differentiation we need to make here is the difference between seeking signs and seeking revelation. Seeking signs is like…we pray we’ll be able to find something and half the time it works. We could pray to a milk jug, and the same thing would happen. Seeking revelation is seeking answers to questions and prayers, but the difference is the kinds of things we pray for, the condition we are in when we pray, and the way those prayers are answered, through the Spirit. We qualify for that by purifying ourselves and developing charity and seeking revelation.
Occasionally we’ll find someone who believes in the Bible AND will talk to us like we’re human! We found a guy named Ben who sells tools. He talked to us for 45 minutes and gave us Bible riddles and in the end said he could read the Book of Mormon and tell us within 6 months whether or not it’s scripture.
We dropped in on Judge Charles Herman (our Catholic friend from the food pantry) the other night. His wife Evelyn has gone downhill with her cancer in the past couple weeks as well as mentally, so he’s pretty stressed about it. We asked if he wanted a blessing and he said he did so the Elders came on over and gave him one. He was blessed to love his wife the best he can and that his wife will feel and recognize that love, and that as he listened to the Sister missionaries, the gospel they bring will bring him peace and he will undoubtedly know what God sees that he can do and become. That was kinda big because we haven’t taught him at all yet, just been their friend.
We went to Mass with Judge last week. It made me miss my roommate Danielle!! Shoutout to you wherever you are!! We were also invited to a Baptist church by our friend, the police chief, Jeffries. My first real Southern Baptist experience!! We’ve gone to a couple actually. I love the music, the yelling is interesting, and the people are lovely. I think I will drop in on Baptist churches for the rest of my life, at least for the music.
The other week at prayer circle, Cormac was going off for 20+ minutes to me about the usual. I stopped him and asked why Catholicism is important and special to him. He talked for another 10 minutes about his belief in God and how John 17 is really special to him and had a big impact on his faith when he was a young man, and then he said “All right I hope you have a wonderful day, we’ll see you next week!” I said “Wait! You didn’t let me talk, at all. You don’t listen to me at all.” He tripped over his feet and said “Oh I’m sorry, were you going to say something?” haha. I told him that if I wanted to learn about Catholicism and why it is special to people who are Catholic, I would talk to those people and listen to them. OR I could read an anti-Catholic book that talks about corruption and massacres and the evils of Catholicism and on and on and on and assume that anyone who is Catholic is ignorant of its history and brainwashed. I told him we could have very similar conversations about our religions’ histories and how we have to account for different events and actions and policies. We could also talk about how our religions have policies and beliefs that are very different today than in the past. And about how they might improve in the future. But he won’t let that conversation happen because he won’t listen to me. He said…well he didn’t really say much after that, so I asked if he would be willing to read something noncritical about the Church to understand why it is special to such a large group of people. He said he’d read whatever I gave him… I haven’t given him anything more yet, so more on that later…
Pretty much missions are like high school basketball…the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Except it’s not as fun and a lot more boring. haha. I remember being so mad at everyone who told me to go on a mission or said they felt like I was going to go. And I was mad at everyone who was going on missions because everyone was making a big deal about it and making them seem like they were so cool and righteous. I hope no one feels like they’re not cool or righteous for not going on missions because I felt like people felt that way about me for not going sometimes, and now that I’m on a mission I realized I’m not cooler or righteouser than before.
So in case anyone had the idea that I’m a perfect missionary… after lunch on Saturday, Sister G and I decided to fast for Francis Kurowicki that she could make it to church so she can get baptized on her date. We had a team up with 13-year-old Kaitlin and pulled up to Sonic to get ice cream together and then remembered we were fasting…and then looked at each other and said “eh…we’re eating ice cream, she’s a lost cause.” haha. SOME DAY i will be a perfect missionary. maybe. p.s. she didn’t come to church haha
Might be able to send pictures today. Thanks for the love and emails and support and letters!! 🙂
– Sister Hale