In a lesson we had recently, there was a moment in which our ward member (who is probably one of the most eccentric Korean women I've ever met) asked our investigator, "What is the greatest gift that Heavenly Father has given to us?" at which point our sweet investigator paused for a moment and then timidly responded, "Faith??" Almost as immediately as she had answered, our member exclaimed, "DANG!!" (which, in that particular set of circumstances meant, "wrong") before she proceeded to answer her own question, "It's agency."
Conveniently enough, that's what I've been spending a lot of time thinking about lately. It's really ironic, actually, being a missionary and teaching people about the gift of agency (or, the ability and privilege that God gives us to make decisions throughout the course of our lives) because far too often we find ourselves a little upset by the ways our investigators choose to use their agency. (It's silly, right?) We just love them so much and we want them to be happy. We share with them all the secrets of how to lead a happy and successful life... and they choose to not accept it or to not act on the feelings and promptings they receive. We all have our agency and God will not take that privilege away from us. He sent us here to our various homes and circumstances, He continuously sends us the tools we need to find the right path back to Him, and then He waits with open arms for us to choose to follow the plan that He created for us. He's given us the opportunity to become like Him but we choose whether or not to accept that opportunity by the way we choose to live our lives.
I think one really awesome way we can use our agency is to choose every single morning, as we wake up, that we're going to have a good day. In all honesty, I don't believe in "bad days." Of course, bad things happen all the time, trials come and go, and sometimes we just feel like being a grumpy-face, but when it all comes down to it, there's ALWAYS going to be more reasons to smile than there are to frown. We don't always have control over circumstances, but I know we always have control over our reaction to circumstances. There's no such thing as a "bad day," I believe, because in every day there are at least a thousand little blessings and miracles that pour down from Heaven-- the trick is learning to recognize those little blessings rather than getting all caught up in the things that are difficult. I know that blessings always outnumber trials.
Happiness comes in so many forms; even though there were some hard this week, I found more than enough happiness to compensate. I found happiness in teaching all the young women how to play soccer for a youth activity and then going head-to-head against all the boys as a "girls team." (Just seeing those girls who initially didn't want to play throwing the young men into the wall and stopping goals was such a great moment for me.) I found happiness in the warmer weather, giving a ice-cream bar to the man working at the convenience store, waking up to sunshine and our pine-scented dish soap. I found happiness in our ward "family" (because the people here really are family) and all the ward "gatherings" we got to participate in this week. I found happiness in the determination and diligence that the ward members here are putting into missionary work. I found happiness while teaching an entire English class full of elderly people the song "Over the Rainbow" and singing it with them repeatedly for the course of an hour. I found happiness in the hazy sunsets and looking out into a world full of fog. I found happiness in watching our ward members and investigators interacting and becoming "best friends." I found happiness every morning within the pages of the scriptures. I found happiness while holding the hand of a grandma we met on the street while we trekked down towards a subway station. I found happiness EVERYWHERE this week! I think Heavenly Father just wanted to remind me that there is happiness in everything we do. That doesn't mean it's not hard-- the difficult times just make the sweet times sweeter! And I am so grateful for all those sweet moments.
I have another funny story this week! But you better buckle down because this is a really good one. We had an appointment with one of the women in our ward this week. We hadn't been able to visit her since I got to this area because she struggles with her health so it's not exactly easy for her to invite us over-- especially because everyone in Korea feels like they have to feed us when we stop by to visit. This lady is seriously SO AWESOME. She's got so much spunk and she's just... very blunt. The first time Sister Brocious tried to sit next to her in sacrament meeting she told her that she needed to move because the smell of her shampoo made her want to vomit. That being said, we weren't really sure what to expect upon our arrival at her house, but what happened definitely wasn't anything we were prepared for. We sat and chatted with her for quite some time. Every now and then she'd ask us semi-interesting questions that were relevant... but also not relevant at the same time. She kept asking us questions like, "Do you have boyfriends back at home?" and "Do you think you could live in Korea for the rest of your life?" and "Do you find Korean men attractive?" We weren't really sure how to answer the questions at times, but we kind of just blushed and giggled it off. It wasn't until she said, "Well, let me tell you why I invited you here today..." that we finally discovered her real intentions for inviting us over. Straight up, she offered up her son as a marriage candidate for Sister Brocious. It took every last drop of my will-power to refrain from bursting into a fit of hysteria... and Sister Brocious refused to make eye contact with me because she knew if she did she'd start laughing and wouldn't be able to stop.
Seriously-- it was awesome. But now we're just trying to figure out to politely decline someone's offering up of their child for marriage... the only thing coming to mind is the story of Ammon: "I'm not here to marry your daughter, I am here to be your servant." We'll likely use a similar method for our set of circumstances...
In other news, we've set some high goals for the missionary work in our area-- in order to prepare, we worked on cleaning out the font this past week. (It was terrifying... ) We ended up having to douse everything in vinegar because the mineral build-up was so bad. But it was quite the adventure and we had to get really creative. Also, we may have gone a little crazy just because of all the cleaning supply fumes. (Hence all the crazy photos...)
Anyway, as always, I'm happy to be here and I'm happy to be a missionary. We only have so long to serve as a full-time missionary for the Lord. I'm grateful for the time He has given me.
I love you!
Good luck to Jade this week-- I hope you find your mission call in the mailbox SOON! I'm excited for you and so anxious to see where the Lord will call you to serve! (I hope we'll get to be serving at the same time!)
p.s. sorry, all the pictures I have this week is of us cleaning the baptism font and the game we played with our nine-year-old investigator and her mom while we were teaching English. :) haha