|...notice the vulture behind us -- over Sis. Ford's left shoulder|
So, because it was P-Day we had to hurry and get everything done that we could because she wanted to pick us up at a quarter to 2. We drove out in some hollers for a while till we came to a little country church. We park and hike up a dry creek bed until we get to some big rocks with an opening for people to crawl through. She hands us flashlights. I make her reassure me that there aren't any bats or spiders or bugs in there. She reassures me that they don't like this cave because of the climate inside it or something like that (LIES! I don't know why I believed her! Don't ask me because I know I'm an idiot and I'm already mad at myself about it.). So we start walking around in there. It's cold and you can't hardly see a thing. It's not like in the movies where there's an easy path to walk on and the whole cave is lit up. You have to shine your flashlight on the ground so you can see your feet and try not to slip on the muddy, loose rock as you climb up and up and then go back down. The whole time you're slipping and the large rocks are sliding. I hated it. Then you have to constantly be watching your head and stooping over and then crawling and then literally crawling on your stomach because the space ceiling is so low. And this is through cold, muddy water. At one point we were climbing up some rocks and Sister Ford gasped and I jumped and asked what is was that she saw. She was speechless and Lainy said, "There are some crickets in here sometimes." Sister Ford was like, "Yeah. Crickets." I instantly wanted out of that place. Lainy told us we were only a little ways away from the other side of the cave.
So, we come to the other side and we can see sunlight again and I'm excited to get out of that place and then Lainy's like, "Ok, let's go back through." I was like, "Uhh... we have to go back through? Can't we just walk around the cave in the sunlight?" She said we could try but she had no idea how to get from there to where we had parked. I was still oriented enough to know which way we should walk but she insisted that if we walked that way she wouldn't get back to the car in time to make it to work. I was pretty mad, but I went back in. She was like, "Do you want to explore in here?" Neither of us wanted to. We just wanted to get out of there. We'd come to a fork and she'd be like, "Do you want to take the short way or the fun way?" "The short way." I felt a little bad but then again, I didn't because she knows me well enough to know that I would be miserable in there and then LIED to me to get me to go. No bugs? Bologna. Those "crickets" it turns out was the biggest spider Sister Ford had ever seen and S. Ford only lied because she knew if I knew what it was that I would have freaked out completely. No bats? What about the bat that flew AT MY HEAD? Ew. I was so upset. AND, as we were driving away Lainy pointed out where the other side of the cave comes out and it wasn't far from the car at all. She knew that whole time that we could have just walked back to the car in a few minutes. Why do people enjoy making me miserable? I don't enjoy it. We left there cold and muddy and I was angry and we were tired and we still didn't get to go to the Amish store like I had originally wanted to on my birthday. Woe is me. I hope everyone feels sufficiently sorry for me.
After the caves we got back a little before 6 and took quick showers and got ready and went over to Adam and Maelyn's. They had made me a country dinner and some cake. They had joked that they were going to get me trick candles but I told them with the way my asthma's been lately that that might send me to the hospital trying to blow them out. So, they said they'd get regular candles instead. LIES! Trick candles! They were actually pretty funny because I honestly didn't expect them. Adam was cracking up. He even tried to help me for a little bit and Maelyn was like, "You're the one who bought them! You should know you can't blow them out!" We still tried. And then everyone got to eat cake that I had essentially spit all over as I tried to blow out their hilarious candles. Then, an even more hilarious thing happened: for Sister Ford's birthday her mom sent her a new outfit: skirt, shoes, sweater, everything. Well, she was wearing the whole thing that day and we were at RaJean's holding baby chijuajuas and the one she's holding pees all over her sweater. Then we head to Adam and Maelyn's and we're sitting talking and one of their dogs starts coughing like it's dying. We both look at them and ask if he's ok and they say he's fine and that he does it all the time. So, we keep talking through the coughing and then Sister Ford starts yelling in disgust and I look over and the dog has thrown up what looks like blood all over her skirt! So Maelyn starts screaming and jumps up to get a towel and Adam and I lose it. We were laughing so hard. Sister Ford couldn't be mad because she's a missionary and you aren't allowed to be mad as a missionary but as soon as we got in the car she started gagging and cursing that dog. Haha. Don't worry. It all came out and the dog is still alive.We added a few new investigators this week. One of them is named John and he's 8 and he's awesome. His Halloween costume this year is an Indian Zombie.
Our next door neighbors that are taking the lessons had their little puppy get run over by a car this week. It was really sad. They seem to be making slow and steady progress though. Except that I've been both of them with cigarettes in their hands since our last lesson! I hate tobacco.
The ward had a Fall Festival on Friday and Adam and Maelyn showed up and we all played corn hole. (Remember corn hole? It's that really popular/awkwardly named game that's like horse shoes with bean bags). The set they had this time we played was "Transformers" and it was the Autobots vs Decepticons. It was awesome. They had a pie making contest and the bishop had his counselors be the judges. These two guys were sitting next to Sister Ford and I trying to decide on how to rank them all and they were cracking me up. They're both in their late 70's/early 80's and can't hear too well so I imagine they can't taste too well either. They couldn't remember which ones they had tasted and then would like one so much that they'd eat the whole piece and then wouldn't have any left to compare with another one they liked. When they did make their decision they were afraid people would throw pie in their faces if they didn't like the results. They were both sincere and honest when they said that next year they hope they don't have to judge again because it was stressful and hard on them.
We had an awesome teaching experience this week with a recent convert named Sister Butler. She is so stalwart and devoted and wants to badly to everything perfectly and understand everything right away. Her prayers are the most humbling, awe-inspiring I've EVER heard. When she talks to God, she's talking right to him like he's in the room with her. She loves Him and respects Him and trusts Him completely. Anyways, she was telling us how she doesn't understand why she's doing the same things she's always done to be close to God but she feels farther away from Him lately but she doesn't know why. It instantly resonated with me. Sometimes I wonder why my prayers seem to go ignored or put off for so long and I struggle feeling close to Him as strongly as I do at other times. I wanted to comfort her and tell her why those phases in our life come through no fault of our own. I wanted to so badly because I understood her plight. But I didn't know the answer myself. So, I asked her what she thought and hoped maybe she'd be able to come up with the answer for both of us. I said, "Why do you think that sometimes we don't feel Him as strongly even though we're doing everything we can to feel Him?" I was praying like crazy as I asked it that she would have an answer and that she wouldn't turn it back on me. She said, "I don't know. Why?"
And then I saw flashes of a memory and started telling the story of that memory: I was living in China at the time. It was late at night and my friend and I were out in the big city for our last night. Our flight left the next morning for America. The fishing village where we lived was about 40 minutes or so outside of the city. The buses were closed for the night so we took a taxi home. It was foggy that night. The closer we got to the village the thicker the fog got. We we came up to the turn that would take us to our village when the taxi driver stopped the car and told us to get out. We were shocked and told him we couldn't see through the fog to get home and he said he didn't care and to get out because he wasn't driving through any more fog. So, we got out and he drove off. We looked into the fog. Nothing. I couldn't see my friend. I couldn't see my feet. I couldn't see my hand unless it was about 6 inches from my face. No matter how many times I blinked or waited for my eyes to adjust, my vision didn't get any clearer. We had been left there and our only options were to stay where we were and freeze to death or start walking, even if we couldn't see.
Oooh, it was scary. But what could we do? So we linked arms and started walking in the direction we knew home was. The road to our place was about a mile and a half or two from where we were dropped off. We walked slowly so as not to fall. We stuck close to each other. And then we used the light. We couldn't see worth a spit but we could tell if the fog was lighter or darker in certain spots. We knew that there were lights lining the road back to our apartment so we clung near those for dear life. We would see the light and walk towards it. The closer we got to it the brighter it got. But, once we were in the light we didn't have any idea where to go from there. So, we could stay in that light and freeze or we could venture back out into the darkness. The only way home was to walk back into the darkness. So we did. We would walk towards the light and then pass it and have to walk back into the darkness until we saw the next light and walk towards it. Once we reached the next light we'd have to walk into darkness again to get to the light just beyond that one. Every time we stepped beyond the light into the darkness, I was scared, terrified really. But I couldn't stay in the comfort of that light and still make it home. So, we'd walk in the dark until we saw the next light and be flooded with relief when we saw it and as we approached it. I was so grateful for those lights being placed periodically so that we could make sure we were on the right path. Those markers, that light, is what got us home that night. It took us over an hour and believe me there were tears along the way and there were times we got so scared we were paralyzed for a second or two. But those lights saved us. Without them we couldn't have found our way. If the light had been constant, we wouldn't have known where to go or how far on the path we were. So, the darkness helped us, too. We eventually made it home, over an hour later, and the relief of being in our apartment and being able to see again and breathe again and knowing we were going home home the next day was overwhelming.
Sometimes we have spiritual lulls or spaces of darkness to encourage us to find more light, to find the light that's even beyond the light we already have found. The light comes in and out of focus. The guidance seems more and sometimes less bright. But it is always there, marking the path. We sometimes have to step out into the darkness to prove to the Father that we'll keep going, even if we can't see, even if we feel lost or without direction. Moving forward like that despite our fears and despite our cloudy vision allows us to move along the path. And the light always shows up again if we're looking for it and adjusting our course once we find it. The path is still there and we're still on it, but sometimes the path has to get dark so that we can be guided by the light.I stopped talking and the spirit was thick. Her question had been answered and so had mine. It was so cool. She came up to me in church yesterday and gave me a big hug and an even bigger kiss on the cheek and thanked me and told me how that story had opened her eyes and made her feel peace in where she is right now with the Lord. If only she knew that her question had helped me get an answer to one of my own that has been troubling me for so long. I should be hugging and kissing her. The Lord works in marvelous and mysterious ways. It was such a miracle and tender mercy that He answered two of His daughters in such a special way. It's one of the only experiences on my mission where I can truly say I had no idea what to say and it was literally put into my mouth the words and the ideas that I should share. As Otis would say, "Our God is an Awesome God!"
Extra Blessings: Aunt Suzanne, Gr'pa Buck, Otis, Hayley x 2
Quote of the Week: "I know I don't snore. I stayed up all night once just to make sure and I'm tellin' you, I didn't snore once!"
I hope everyone has a safe Halloween. Can it hurry up and be daylight savings yet? I'm dying in the mornings! Love you all! The Church is TRUE! Share it!