Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Mailing Address:
Sister Macey Smith
45-345 Mealele St.
Kaneohe, HI 96744

This week has been a wild one! We have one investigator that is really progressing. He was the first person I gave a Book of Mormon to, we found him out walking, he said yes when we invited him to baptism, he has been coming to church. Really exciting things! This week we had a lesson with him and he was just not getting what we were saying. As we were teaching, I had to hold back tears because I knew that, even though he wanted to be baptized, he was not ready. The lesson ended and I felt confused and frustrated because everything seemed to have fallen into place and then, out of seemingly no where, it all fell apart.

As we got home, I went straight to my bed and laid face down and (maybe for the first time ever?) cried. 
Like a good, long, ugly cry. 
And Sister Soriao was there trying her best to comfort me. I say "trying her best" because she seemed relatively unfazed. Obviously upset that this investigator was not ready but accepting of it all. I asked her how she was so seemingly.... okay. She laughed and shrugged and said she trusted in the Lord's timing. 
Just then one of our District Leaders called and Sister Soriao explained the current state of things (I imagine something like "Oh, Sister Smith? Yes, she's unavailable right now. Emotionally and physically.... yeah... some kind of mid life crisis, I guess."). The Elder on the phone, once he heard me explain that things had gone horribly and terribly wrong, said that until your mission, you don't know true pain. Your depth of sorrow is nothing like it will become as you serve the Lord. The lows are much lower because the consequences are eternal. It's a different kind of sadness as you see people changing, being influenced by both the Spirit and the natural man. That struggle within people sometimes ends badly. And that's sad. 
Then he said "but guess what? you never know true happiness either." And in the moment, it seemed pretty cheesy. But I thought about it. That misery that I felt was because I had seen some one who was closer to salvation than he had ever been decide to  turn away from it for the praise of the world. He had it all right in his hands, but chose differently. Ugh, it was so heartbreaking and it took me awhile to get back to myself. To refocus on what my purpose was. 

The next morning in personal study, I found a scripture in Psalms 30. At the heading of the chapter- scrawled in blue ink from a borrowed pen- were the words "Flying to Hawaii 8/10/15" and the underlined scripture was:

"Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing; thou hast put off my sackcloth and girded me with gladness." 

That was a powerful moment. I can't deny that that scripture was meant for me, exactly on that day and in that hour of need. I thought back to a few weeks ago when I was anticipating all of this, sitting in my seat on the plane and finding this verse. What it meant for me then and the depth of meaning it has already taken on... It is hard to explain. 

The joy this season has brought me cannot be compared to the happiness I thought I had. And it has all come through giving my heart more and more to Jesus Christ. I don't always do it as well as I should, but it has given me fresh eyes and a more generous heart. I don't have room enough to receive it. 

This work can break your heart. But that greater depth of feeling that makes the lows lower, also makes the highs higher. 

Last night we had a musical fireside where recent converts shared their stories and then the choir (and other groups from the ward) performed. It was so special! One of the recent converts who spoke is Aunty Kealoha. She is in her 70s and in a wheel chair. She is really like a grandmother to me. She is so thoughtful and kind and I look forward to the after-baptism lesson we have with her every week because she deeply considers the doctrine of the gospel. She always has great thoughts to share and uplifting words. To have a front row seat for the beginning of her conversion has been an amazing blessing! She practiced the talk she shared and told us how nervous and excited she was.

She shared her story. About how long the missionaries taught her, what baptism was like, and how the gospel has made her more than she was before. I looked at her son, who was baptized years before her. The way he looked at his mother was moving. You could see how proud he was and how happy the gospel made them. Just to be invited into that, to feel a part of that process that was so beyond me... it filled me up. It restored me. To see her long, tan, wrinkled hands leading the choir and to hear her share her testimony gave me a new found hope. It turned my mourning into dancing. 

The sadness that I feel has been overcome by joy through the Lord. As I turned to him with my broken heart, he filled me with hope. He gave direction to a confused and discouraged heart. Time and time again, He has lifted me up and put me back together. I am so grateful to know that He is on my side. That there is nothing that could happen to me to keep me from His love. I know that that peace is offered to everyone. He can make more of us than we can imagine! 

I love you all so much! Keep going!

Sister Smith