Well, actually it wasn't. Remember that time when I wrote about trials and how God was trying me? Well, that week was child's play. But seriously. That week was like passing your spelling test in 2nd grade with the words, run, bed, fun, and smile. This week was like taking the AP Calculus test. But it was rushed so you only had a few hours to learn all of the material before the test.
Compare those two tests. And put the second grader in the Calculus test. This is my week this week. For the first time in my mission. I have nobody with a baptismal date. Nobody. As we went through our key indicators I wanted to punch something! No daters! WHAT?!
The mission's goal for this month is 4 baptisms per companionship. Which basically translates one every week. Which is perfectly possible and even easy for this mission now.
The interesting thing is, that my work hasn't changed at all compared with previous areas. I'm doing it the same. I'm doing it the same as other Elders who are baptizing like crazy. I honestly can't figure out what is wrong. What am I doing wrong? If anything I have become more efficient since that month we got 7 baptisms. But what happened? We're sitting with a big fat zero for our baptisms. And for our goals. And nobody has a date.
This morning in the shower I imagined walking into transfers meeting, after the entire mission had hit the goal, every companionship with at least 1 baptism. Most with 4. And I have to stand in front of everyone else thinking, "I am the only one here who didn't baptize anyone in July." Everyone would know that there was one companionship who didn't get even one baptism, but nobody would know who it was. But I do. I know who it was. It was me.
I was getting a little down on myself a few days ago. Around Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday the Zone Leaders drove six hours to come on a switch-off with us. I went with a very powerful missionary for a day. We didn't get the chance to teach anyone. Because everyone who we set up bailed out or forgot. So I got sunburned as we stood in front of the post office. At the end of the switch-off the other Elder said that I worked hard and I was an impressive missionary. He consoled me and said that sometimes -- no matter how hard we work -- you don't meet success.
Since last Sunday, in the evening hours -- which are our favorite and most effective contacting times -- it has rained. We bike to the place just to meet an incoming tropical storm. And at the first drop of rain everyone scatters. So we invite those who stay a little longer. After our time is out, we bike back to the church. Arriving completely soaked we find that the three people we set up all are not answering our phone calls. We wait for a couple minutes, hoping they show up, and go back out.
Another interesting thing is my contacting, regardless of the fruits of my contacting, has improved drastically. I've never found so many interested people while contacting before. 9+ almost every day. (compared to my last area of 1 or 2)
One of my personality traits is to analyze every situation and find out what God is trying to teach me. So I've been doing a sort of personal sanctification and consecration process. Perfecting myself so as to get rid of anything that could be hindering the work. I can see the improvement, but yet the numbers, everything, just continues to drop.
Recently I concluded it must be my faith. But then upon more examination I found that I believe and expect miracles even more than ever.
My prayers? Maybe. Improve my prayers. Then notice that things continue to degrade.
Is it my charity? my studies? my obedience? my patience? my hope? my diligence? What is it? Through a week of soul-searching my searches came up blank. I'm not perfect, but there's not something so wrong as to upset the work. What is wrong?
My companion says it's agency. Yeah, agency does play a role, but it can't be the issue. That's just an excuse. Agency accounts for an individual failure or rejection of truth. Agency cannot account for an entire area going down the drain.
I know He is teaching me something. Pushing me. Stretching me. But is it worth all of these people's salvation?
This spiritual P90-X can't be worth all of these souls.
Another thought I had this morning: Is God trying to teach my companion something? Maybe... Maybe he is teaching my companion a life lesson and I get to sit along for the ride and be perfected in the process. There are so many possibilities for what is happening. I will be honest, I have no idea what is wrong.
I feel like I have failed, I have missed the mark, tripped in front of the finish line. But somehow I'm still kicking, if anything, harder. I am not satisfied with mediocrity, nor just okay. Or even great. I have high expectations and I will meet them. There is not a fiber in my soul that says, "give up, let in, slow down."
As for how I feel. I feel peaceful. Disappointed. Sad. A little frustrated. But surprisingly peaceful.
I feel a little like Job. "The Lord giveth. And the Lord taketh away." The Lord has given me success before, lots of success, and lots of joy in that. But now the Lord hath taken away. Yet I still feel gratitude and love for Him. So I will say, "Blessed be the name of the Lord".
My heart and my head say "keep pushing, the blessings will come." I'm waiting patiently for the blessings to come. As long as I keep fighting, keep perfecting and sanctifying myself with His help; as long as I am more diligent, more obedient, more patient, the blessings will come.
So I will work harder.
I will wait longer.
I will love deeper.
I will teach with power.
I know that before my mission I was a very week 18-year-old. Now I'm a less week 19-year-old. I'm not quite to the point of strong. So I feel humbled. My spiritual coach is just showing me what I can't do (my imperfections) to show me where I must improve. Then he throws on the weight. The really hard part (the trials, the lack of success). Then, with that boost of humility and a lot of reliance on His grace. I'll walk out stronger. Maybe not perfect yet. Definitely not. But better, stronger.
That is a summary of my life right now. Happy, but not. Successful, but somehow not.
Don't worry about me. I'm getting along fine.
Here's a picture of a river. :)