Sunday, January 4, 2015

Happy New Year Miracles

So it feels like it was just barely P-Day because technically it was. We are back on our normal P-Day schedule now. Every Monday! Since it's only been about 4 days since my last e-mail I don't really have that much to report. I have an incredible story about Sunday though so I think I'll share that. In order to fully understand the depth of my feelings though their might have to be a bit of back story so here it goes.

July 3rd, 1995
I was born. 
[Okay, maybe not that far back.]

~Fast Forward~

December 12th-15th(ish), 2014 (Aka. First Week in Field)
ROUGH. As you all know. The first week in the field was a hard time in my life that I am pleased to say will never happen again. If there was a way to accurately let everyone experience what I did in that first week I would do it just so you could all understand what I mean when I say I NEVER want to go through that again. I'm sure almost every RM can agree with me when I say that the first week in the field is the most loved and hated week of their mission. Because it shows you who your true self is, what you're made of, and what you are willing to do for your beliefs. And sometimes you don't always get the best results or like what you see. Regardless, it is 100% necessary to go through, but probably one of the most miserable times of life. Now that I've established exactly what I was feeling that first week. You have an idea of why inviting people to come to church in the circumstances I was in seems irrational, but again necessary. 

~Fast Forward again~

January 4th, 2015
The first Sunday of the month. So you all know what that means: Fast Sunday. Which I have actually grown to love. This particular Fast Sunday was a little different for me though. I was not feeling good at all. The last few days of inviting had been terrible and NO one was interested in coming to church. Almost all of our investigators had dropped us at this point, and we currently had no progressing investigators or people on date to be baptized. Going into a Sunday with having no investigators come to church can be potentially discouraging but I was so exhausted from the day before that I was past feeling. I show up to church and resume my position on the piano where I begin to practice random hymns (since I don't actually know what hymns we are singing in church until about 5 min. before the meeting starts. Maybe I should start telling them which songs I can actually play?? Random Thought). Anyways, the Branch President even gives me a shout out now before the meeting starts. "With Sister Burbank on the piano!" I almost wish he wouldn't say that because of how awful it goes every week. No shame though. 555 Wow, I've gotten really distracted. Anyways, back to the point of the story. No one comes to church. Not even one investigator of ours is in Sacrament meeting. We called everyone and no one could come. It was a little depressing to be honest. There's not much else you can focus on when you are a missionary than the work, so when you try hard to get people to come to church and no one does that sucks, because you know how important it is. So by the end of sacrament, I am hungry, tired, confused (because I still don't know Thai), and just kinda sad to be honest. However, I just push all these feelings out because I know that when it comes down to it, my success as a missionary is not defined on how many people I convince to come to church. As I keep myself fixated on this thought, I can be happy and have peace in any situation. I truly believe that. But as I was having this mental battle with myself, a man walks in with a white polo shirt and sits down in preparation for Sunday school. One of the Elders come up to me and say that he is one of our investigators. I looked at him confused, I didn't recognize him at all. After church though we got the clarification I had been seeking. I didn't recognize this man because we hadn't actually got any of his information. He claims we gave him a pamphlet in passing about 3 weeks ago (hence the back story to my first week here), and at the time he was one of the many who were completely uninterested in learning about our church. Little did I know that 3 weeks from the worst week of my life would result in this man walking an hour from his house in the outskirts of Phitsanulok in order to come to church with us. We asked him if he could meet us after church so we could introduce prayer and the Book of Mormon. He agreed. Little did we know this short introduction would lead to a huge gospel discussion about the Restoration. I say discussion because it could hardly be called a lesson with how much input and interest this man gave. The short introduction led to a full length lesson which then led to a question I was never expecting. 
"So when can I get baptized?" 


That's the only word that was in my head as I struggled to know if I had misunderstood his question. I hadn't. This man who was seemingly uninterested just 3 weeks prior had taken the pamphlet we gave him and walked an hour to ask that one question. My mind was blown. 
No one can tell me that is not a miracle. I am still dumbfounded at the fact that something like that actually happened. I have heard stories of it happening but things that that only happen to other people on their missions. Not me. My companion and I just looked at each other shocked. What if we hadn't forced ourselves to invite that first week in Phitsanulok (it was miserable trust me)? What if we hadn't gone to that specific place we did, at that specific time, in order to give that uninterested man a pamphlet? No matter how miserable that first week was; miracles happen. No effort is wasted when it comes to sharing the gospel. As hopeless as I felt that first week all I really needed to be able to do was give them the pamphlet. Give them some kind of exposure because I have no idea what could come from that in the future. I probably will never know, but that isn't the point. I am not here to see miracles. That's not my goal in life. I am here to serve because I love my Heavenly Father that much. Because I am eternally indebted to my Savior, Jesus Christ, and His sacrifice which enables me to be able to repent, and become clean again. Now if my faith in God results in seeing miracles then so be it. But that isn't what I seek as a missionary. They confirm and strengthen my faith that God is mindful of all of His children individually. He knows the desires of our hearts. It is as simple, and as complicated as that. And I will forever be His witness. God lives, and so does His Son. 
I love you all! I love my mission! I love Phitsanulok! I love Thailand! 

~Sister Burbank

On the roof of the church