I learned a hard lesson this week. Last week, we had a lesson with a couple of converts. To set the tone, I’ll try to describe them. Technically, the convert is the man, who is 58 or so, and his wife is an active member. Their names are Antonio and Juanita. The mother of Juanita, Juanita, is also a convert, but she is 80 something and usually just falls asleep in her chair during lessons. Antonio is a very serious guy, and Juanita is a nervous wreck. According to Elder Granda, who saw a medical slip of hers, she has almost every mental disability one can have, making her a little hard to be around, especially for Antonio, who gets angry and yells some times. They really aren’t too good of a couple, and it is a little difficult to describe them. For example, Juanita always gives us food, it always takes her 2 hours, and it always has to be perfect, with the potato chips just right and the forks lined up. I’m not complaining, it is just how she is. And Antonio goes through a lot of stress because of her, and frankly, has kind of a hard life. We asked them how they were doing with their reading, and the Hermana (Juanita) gave us the same answer she does every time, which is that she didn’t. The idea came to me that maybe she hadn’t read the Book of Mormon all the way through, and found that she hadn’t. So I launched into a lesson about the Book of Mormon and why it is important for us and our progress and how we can’t stay in the church as active members without a testimony in the Book of Mormon. Everything I said was true and guided by the spirit, but it was in the delivery that I screwed up. I remember our Bishop telling us once that with youth and with adults one needs to talk direct, but with old people and children it is better to be soft, and that was my problem. I’m very direct, and with my accent I sometimes come across as being harsh. Part of the problem was the the Elder I replaced was very gentle and easy, and I, in contrast, “give sticks” a lot. I felt the spirit until the moment I realized that she was crying, and my faith faultered and the spirit left. If there is one thing that makes Antonio mad, it is when his wife starts to cry, which happens a lot, and since I was the source of it, he got made at me. It was pretty messy.
I was dealing with that all week, struggling to figure out if I had done something wrong. Elder Granda had also felt the spirit, but I worried that we had lost trust with them. The worst was when the elders quorum president went to try to clear stuff us and ended up angry with me as well, meaning that we were losing trust with members as well.
I am reading the Book of Mormon outside of my personal study to meet my goal to read the Book of Mormon all the way through in my mission, which I won’t be able to do in personal study because I study so slow, and I read about Nephi and his brothers in the first few chapters. I’ve read those chapters a lot, but that was the first time I really put myself in the shoes of Nephi. When Nephi is standing up to his brothers, he says some pretty hard stuff to them, and they get pretty angry with him. I had always thought that he was 100% sure of what he was doing all of the time, but I realized that he was about 15 in the story, and when he wrote it he was about 30, giving him a lot of experience. I think I realized that when he was looking about all those years later, he was then 100% sure that he had done correctly, but in the moment he probably doubted himself a little, like how I was doubting myself. I’m sure his faith faltered sometimes, and it was hard to stand up to his brothers, especially when they hated him for it.
I still think I spoke correctly, but my mistake was still in the delivery. Kind of not fun, having to learn to be nice. I’m just not that nice of a person. President said in a meeting that as we draw up the God, we start to notice our weaknesses. That is very true. I feel very weak.
Look what we found in our bathroom. It was about the size of a quarter. We killed it right after I took the picture. It was hiding in the spout of the tub.