COMPANION: ELDER CROFTS
This is... It! I guess? My mission. Today was P-day. It's about. So far we have gone out with a member, taught a less active, have a meeting with the bishop in about 45 minutes, and then we have splits tonight so we can cover twice as much ground until 9. So in my last 2 days, we'll have gone out teaching with 4 different members. Trying to work to the end.
Elder Crofts is a little sad and stressed. It will be so wonderful for him to have Elder Boyson here. I can hardly shut up talking to the district about how fantastic Elder Boyson is! What a blessing having him come.
My mission. President. Six years ago almost to the day, I submitted my mission papers. Six years President. 25% of my life, and about half the life I can actually remember (because who remembers things from when they were 5? Besides you, of course.) has been completely focused on a mission. At first there was the long, long hospital stay. Then the at home recovery. Then becoming active and worthy again in the Church from having been away for over a year. Then little steps. A church service mission at the Bishops Storehouse was the first tiny step. I remember kneeling in the freezer packing produce into baskets, so overwhelmed and stressed just from the little interaction and structure I faced there, that I began sobbing uncontrollably until the tears froze to my cheeks. But I scraped them off, and stood up, and put the fruit on the shelves. And I felt like I was trying to climb Everest without arms or legs.
But I climbed. And He helped me. And the next step was to work at the regional Family history Center. And I remember the first time I tried to help a group of youth with their family history, and my mind, so fuzzy and worn out from years of anti-psychotics and anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication and everything, couldn't even recall the website I was supposed to use. And I just stood there, blank faced, until finally some little old lady came and rescued me. And I didn't even dare to pray that night, so sure was I that I was so utterly, hopelessly, beyond the reach of saving. Of a Savior. But I went back the next day. And the next.
And then I was given a temple recommend, and permitted to do baptisms for the dead as much as I wanted. So I went every day. I went so much I got swimmers ear. I went so much I knew the workers and the temple presidency by name and by shift. One time they let me do 50 baptisms all at once! And I felt like a little child, but I was happy.
And then, one day after the temple, came the phone call that I could serve a 3 month mission in California. I had all the necessary paperwork, interviews, and everything. I remember the terror of the mission home, the horror when I arrived to my area and realized I was expected to speak spanish, the pressure of trying to teach lessons I couldn't even read or recall in English. I counted the hours, and then the minutes, and sometimes the seconds, begging God to help me to give 84 days, even though it was so horrendously and obviously beyond my dwarfish capacity.
And here we are President. I have no idea what possessed me to say "yes" to the offer of a 2 year mission call. I was told again and again by my bishop and stake president that I could be honorably released from service. Going home honorably after my mini mission was also presented as an option. But there was something so devastatingly deep inside of me that revolted at the idea. That pushed through for 6 very, very, very long years.
People have asked me, "Did it fly by? Was it short?" And my answer is no. No it did not. It was lifetimes. It was eternity. Because I wanted it that way. People have asked me, "What will you do after you go back?" President, I will never go back. Never. Onward, maybe. Upward, definitely. But it was too long and too much to ever go back even if I wanted to. When I began my mission, I had never read a word of Preach My Gospel. I wasn't aware the Church even made pamphlets. I did not have a single verse of the Book of Mormon memorized. I could not have defined Priesthood, the Gospel of Christ, or accurately explained the Plan of Salvation. I was not sure what was and was not a commandment. I hadn't kept a regular schedule in my entire life, and hadn't slept 8 hours in over a decade. I was spiritually crippled, intellectually bereft, and emotionally destitute. And Jesus changed it all.
He changed EVERYTHING President! And at a terrifying cost. He doesn't just give all, He asks for ALL. At the cost of every drop of will and exertion. At the cost of exact mornings and rigid nights. At the cost of intense study, of praying until your shoes are bent and your knees are sore. Did I tell you President, that I knocked so many doors my knuckles became calloused and then one day an icy pain went through my knuckle as I knocked and my finger went numb and I couldn't knock with it anymore? But I have other fingers. At the cost of 4 pairs of shoes torn apart from walking and biking. At the cost of icy fear in my heart so intense at every single door approach for two whole years that if a dog so much as barks I jump four feet in the air and fall off the doorstep (ask my companions. They've all seen it). But you just smile and apologize and try again! At the cost of a hundred nights spend crying and screaming into a pillow, curled into a sad little bad on the bathroom floor while companions snore away, begging Father not to ask for another day, not to ask for any more.
But He does. He roots out the wicked spirit in the breast. He doesn't modify, He reinvents. A couple weeks ago I was having one of my nightly wrestling's, asking Father to, I suppose, "take this cup from me". And I heard The Voice, piercing my mind, as it said, "What? Could ye not watch with me one hour?"
I have, with trembling hands, given everything I knew how to give, President. I have spent every time, worked every moment, shed every tear, sweat every drop, push my mind until it felt like mush and tried to open my heart until it broke. I have found, taught, and baptized about 30 people, and reactivated almost that many as well. I have trained four times, been a district leader twice, a zone leader and an assistant, biked, driven, walked, and tried. And President, I have heard the voice of the Lord. I have heard Him speak to me. I have felt Him modify my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual capacities. I am a completely different human being because of something Holy and High that happened to me. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ made me something new. Wonderfully, frightfully, brand new. A disciple. Certainly the least, but a disciple.
And I have said all this, to praise His holy name for it. President... thanks be to God. And thank you, Sir. For helping them to make it happen.