Every few months I realize that I've slowly stopped saying prayers for help in different parts of the missionary work, and have fallen into the trap of running on autopilot for certain proselyting activities we do. We made sure to pray before going to a large park to talk to people. Here's what happened:
While walking through the park with a glass bottle of lukewarm Coca Cola in my hand (a reward I received earlier after helping a Latino family put up a large canopy for a birthday party barbeque), Elder Serat and I came upon a girl sitting alone at a picnic table. She was in her early twenties, texting on her phone, and obviously bored. She agreed to hear our message.
20 minutes later, she prayed with us. Then she prayed again and this time, at our request, she asked Heavenly Father if the things we had shared are true. After the prayer, she said, "Yeah, I think that's all true." So then we asked, "Will you follow the example of your Savior Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone holding the authority of God?"
She paused a moment. "Yes," she said.
I continued, "Well, we're going to be holding a baptismal service on May 22. Will you prepare yourself to be baptized on that date?"
"What day of the week is that?"
"Yeah, I think that works with my schedule."
The best part about this is that she didn't seem crazy. We'll find out how committed she will be when we tell her about the different commandments you promise to follow at baptism, but for now she's very positive about it all. Man, I got to stop forgetting to pray before each activity we do.
On Saturday evening we were reminded of the generosity of the members of the church towards missionaries. A generosity that at times can turn into fierce competition, and sometimes even violence.
To earn funds for trips for the youth, the ward put on a chili-cookoff/cake-auction. It was good chili, not much else to be said there. But then the cake auction started. About 20 homemade cakes lined the stage. About 2 minutes into the auction, Sister Hall came up to us and asked us which cake we would like her to get for us. We were grateful for her offer, and yet somehow a little hesitant to accept it. As we were talking to her, Brother Hunter comes up to us, slaps a $20 bill on the table and says, "There you go, Elders. Buy yourselves a cake." Strangely, we had just read that morning the section about not accepting money from anyone in the Missionary Handbook. Handing the money back, we decided to take Sister Hall up on the offer, saying that any chocolate cake would be fine.
The first few cakes were auctioned off at an average price of $20. During that time, 3 or 4 other people came up to us and offered to buy us a cake. Though tempted at the chance to get 4 or 5 cakes, we told them all thanks, but that the Halls were already doing that. Big mistake. Now that everyone knew that Brother Hall was trying to get a cake for us, they all bid against him, driving all the prices up. The cakes went for $30, then $40, then $50, which was the highest price they would allow a cake to go for. $50 was too much for Brother Hall, but you could see the frustration that he couldn't get a cake. Finally he shouted out "Fifty dollars!" for a German Chocolate cake. "Fifty five!" came a voice from the back.
From then on the prices went crazy. Eventually the last cake went for $130. Many were kind enough to give us a piece of their cake. Brother Hall never got a cake. The good news is that the youth will be able to afford the solid-gold clubhouse they've been saving up for.
All this stuff happened on Saturday. Imagine how action-packed a mission must be when this is only 1/7 of what really happens!
Take care everyone. I'll talk to you on Sunday. How would you all feel if we took that hour on the phone and read the Old Testament together? Anyone?