Mormonism 101: A Missionary Story
A Late Night Phonecall
Just yesterday night, a late Sunday evening at about 8:00 PM, the phone rang. My Dad picked it up and announced the call was for me. I wasn't expecting anyone to call, so curious, I took the phone and answered the usual "Hello" A voice on the other side responded, it sounded familiar, though I couldn't quite place it, until the person identified themselves as "Sister Clements".
A little bit of mormonism background with Missionary set up: When a person is called to serve, they are assigned an "Area" in the "Field". The field being place of work, the area the boundaries, though they differ per area. For instance, in Florida, there are eight areas that cover various parts of the state. In Minnesota, there is one that covers all the state, a sliver of Canada, some of South Dakota, and parts of Wisconsin. This Area is called the Minneapolis, Minnesota Mission. Every Mission area is designated a Mission President. A mission president oversees the work of the mission for that area, and there are other missionaries called under him to help with that.
It is a kind of triangular structure:
Mission President and his Wife on top, Assistants (a companionship of Missionaries), Zone Leaders (A companionship of Missionaries who cover several districts), District Leaders (A companionship of Missionaries who cover a district, made up of several fields), which fields range depending on concentration, population, and other factors. A field is usually covered by one set of missionaries, which are rotated in and out from time to time. A field could also be made up of one big city, part of a city, or a couple to several cities
Back to the Story
President Clements was the Mission President of the MMM, or Minnesota Minneapolis Mission, Sister Clements is his wife. God called me to the mission field, and I was called to leave for the training center in February. I arrived in Minnesota on Leap Year, and started the first of March. I had managed to the end of September, a little over 6 months of my 18 month call, before God had a surprise for me, and I was called back home to finish my work as a Service Missionary. Though I couldn't well understand why this was, I felt confident it was the right thing to do.
Now, three months after returning home, and keeping very busy with service work, I get a call from my Mission President's wife. Aside from wondering how things were going and how I was doing back home, she had some exciting news for me.
An In Field Experience
Part of being a Missionary, is something no one really likes: Tracting and contacting. That part of the day when there are no appointments, and its just dead time. Personally I'm not the kind of person to walk up to a complete and total stranger and engage in conversation, let alone gospel conversation. Missionaries are always encouraged to "Talk to Everyone", because God will put people in our paths that need our message, or are seeking for truth, we just need to find those people and put forth that effort.
Just so happens one fateful afternoon late in August, my companion and I headed to a local park in the city of Anoka where we'd had a lot of success: The Atkin Riverside Park. The Mississippi River runs through Minnesota first, and there is one particular river that feeds into it, called "The Rum River". The Atkin Park is built just off its shore and is a popular place for boating, fishing, and feeding ducks and geese. My companion and I began our work, heading down its trail that paralleled to the Rum River. We talked to some folks along the way, and as we continued walking we spotted a man fishing with some kids at the River's bank just off the path.
Our first thought was the man seemed busy and pre-occupied, and perhaps we'd better not disturb him. It would be easy enough to pass by without him noticing us, and he probably wasn't interested anyway. Though my desire was strong to pass by, I felt we should try to talk him anyway, and so we approached the man and introduced ourselves.
We learned his name was Scott, and we talked with him for a good couple of hours. We talked about his fishing experience, his kids and family life. We learned that the kids (or more precisely the Teenagers) with him were a combination of his own blood, and some step and integrated. He told us how lately he'd been searching for stability in life. He felt a strong desire find purpose, and he was exploring every aspect of every religion and faith he could. He told us in his endeavors, "Mormon" just kept coming up. He shared with us a story about how he went to a relatives house and dug through a desk to find a Book of Mormon he knew they'd had so he could read it. The more we talked, the stronger the spirit we felt. We exchanged contact information, and he told us he'd be busy and out of town for the next couple of weeks, but we secured a day to call and plan for a visit.
A Small Downer
Remember how I explained boundaries that separate fields into districts? These boundaries can vary on where the line is drawn. sometimes its geographical with city borders, lakes, rivers etc. sometimes they can split a city right in half, and sometimes even cut streets in half. Such was the case with Scott's address. you see, the very street he lived on was split between two districts. even numbered houses was in one district, odds was in the other. To our slight dissapointment we found out that Scott was on the opposite side of the road, just out of our district, so we couldn't teach him. But there were missionary Elders in the other district that we referred him to, and they made contact with him. The following District Meeting (once a week, the District leaders will gather the missionaries in the district together for additional training, inspiration, reviews etc) the Elders teaching Scott told us about excited they were and how ready and prepared Scott was. They told us when they called him, Scott said "You don't have to convince me, I already know its true"
We didn't hear much more of his progress after that, and continued with our work. In the middle of September it was brought up that perhaps it was time for me to leave the in field mission, and a service mission would be better suited for me (due to various complications). This had been mentioned before, but was always put off because God knew I was still needed in the field for certain people. This time, however, there was a different feeling about it. It became more of a choice, than an option. I thought, prayed and fasted over this thought for a long time. I had trouble deciding which was right, but in the end came to the conclusion that yes, it was time for me to leave Minnesota. I returned home on the 26th of September, and am continuing my Mission from home, building up the church in many different ways not many people of when they think of Missionaries.
The Phone Call
As you can imagine, after being away from Minnesota for three months, hearing from Sister Clements was a shock, and wonderful surprise. Sister Clements wanted to call me to tell me about a baptism that happened the day before. Shortly after I returned home, Scott was baptized a Member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, along with is wife and her 19-year old daughter. A month later he'd been ordained an Aaronic Priesthood holder, and the baptism Sister Clements attended, was that of his adopted 14-year old son, which Scott himself performed.
That day at the park, that little bit of courage it took to go out of my way to talk to the man fishing at the river side brought four baptisms. I do not take pride in my own actions, but I take pride in the Lord. Because of his influence, his spirit, and his support in helping me to overcome my fears and make that step. I was filled with such joy last night when I heard that news, it was unlike anything I'd ever experienced. I wanted to shout it out to the world to hear! All my cares and worries vanished, and I felt a love unlike anything I'd felt before! I know that feeling was the spirit of God, testifying to me of a job well done. It affirmed my feelings that I didn't give up when I left Minnesota. I left because I knew God was calling me to finish my work down another path. I'm so glad I had the chance to serve for those six months. Though I may not be aware of how all my actions have affected those I've come into contact with, hearing about Scott has brought me such happiness, I can't contain it.
Doing the Lord's Work
Have you ever served a mission, proselyting or service?
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