Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Right Place was Taco Bell

Week 1 Day 1 Transfer 3 in La Grande

Okay, so I gotta tell you about today.
Our plan was to shop, have lunch, email, and then go hiking. Well after we shopped, we went to taco bell for lunch (the ALWAYS delicious Taco Bell). We went in at the same time as a homeless guy. He seemed like a nice guy, he held the door for us, we said hi, he ordered first and sat in the corner to eat his food. We sat down and started eating and I got this impression that we needed to go talk to him. It kept coming and kept coming, so I decided "okay, we'll go over and talk to him after we eat." Well right as we finished eating, HE came over and started talking to us. He said that when he was in LA he had had discussions with missionaries, and he was excited to see us again. His name is Matt B----. He's 52, he's from Salt Lake, he went to college, and then shortly after that he just left. He's been on the road constantly since 1996. And he said that other than the other missionaries, we're the first people in years that have talked to him for more than a couple of minutes. We got to know him a bit, and Elders S---- and D----- taught him a lesson right there in Taco Bell while I called everyone I could think of trying to get transportation for him. I offered him a Book of Mormon, but he said that it would be too heavy (he travels light), but then I remembered the military size Book of Mormon that I had at home. Normally I keep it in my jacket pocket, but I'd left it at the apartment. So, Matt said he was headed to Wendy's for a frosty (he LOVES ice cream), so we told him we'd meet him there in fifteen minutes. We rushed home, I grabbed my Book of Mormon, got a red highlighter, and sat down. I quickly wrote a short testimony in the front, and circled as many verses as I could think of. It was really cool, because as I was sitting at the desk verses to highlight just kept coming to me at a million miles an hour. Verse after verse. Every few pages had at least one verse that was circled. Elder D----- got a picture of the Savior that would make a good book mark, and I clipped my highlighter on the cover so that Matt would have something to mark his scriptures with. We headed over to Wendy's and had frosties with him. Turns out, he really wanted to get baptized in LA, but he ended up having to leave right before his date. But he still really wants to be baptized, so he asked us what he would have to do. We explained everything that needed to happen. I'd already talked to Bishop K---- (fourth ward bishop) before about the ride, but I felt like I should call him again to see if there was anything he could do for Matt. Bishop K---- said he would be at Wendy's in fifteen minutes. He got there right on time and started talking to Matt about the options. Once Bishop figured out that Matt was a really sincere guy, he called a member of the ward who owns a motel and asked for a room. Bro S------(the motel owner guy) said for sure. Bishop K---- drove Matt over to the motel, he's going to help him look for a job in the area (if they can't find one here, Bishop is going to help him get to Boise. The LDS employment services there have a lot of opportunities), and we're going to go over to the motel and meet with Matt again tomorrow.
I don't think the story gives the experience full justice. Somehow, God led us to find a soul that was lost. That had walked across the entire nation, from Florida to Minnesota, to California, to Oregon. Our day suddenly switched from ordinary to extraordinary. It's amazing to me. Here I am, a far from perfect missionary (all of us are), and yet God trusted us enough to put us in the right place at the right time. And the right place was Taco Bell at 12:22!! I just struggle to comprehend it all. I needed this experience more than I can really say. It's easy to feel like a failure when you're in an area that's struggling, when you haven't had a baptism in months, and the members are luke warm towards missionaries. It's been difficult. It's been a blessing that I've been able to serve around other missionaries that have become like brothers to me. Experiences like this one today are what keep me going. God knows me, He knows the other elders, He knows Matt B----. He's got a plan for us.
There's not much left of the day, but I know it's gonna be good. I can't wait to hike Mt. Emily, especially now. I love the earth. I've been thinking a lot about how my blessing says that I'm meant to appreciate the beauties of the earth, and teach that to other people. The world is so beautiful. It never ceases to amaze me. I wish we could teach missionary discussions on mountain tops. I think that's the perfect place to ponder the Plan of Happiness.
Anyway, today has been great. Mission ups and downs will continue as always. They're just there to help me prepare for life's ups and downs, which can be a lot more dramatic. But even though I know that there will be more downs, I know that the highs will follow. That's simply the way things work. I think our lives in many ways act like a wave. (In my mind, the wave almost has become a symbol of imperfection, whereas a straight, unchanging line is perfection) We fall, but Christ provides a way to get up again, and every time we get up we try to get a little closer to perfection. Then a down comes again, and we have to keep using Christ. "God doesn't care so much about where we are, as where we're headed." He doesn't expect perfection, He expects improvement, progression, growth. He looks upon the heart, not the outward vessel.
Anyway, I love you guys. This stuff is true. I'm thankful to my Heavenly Father for putting another miracle in my life that I can draw hope and strength from when times are tough. Your are always in my thoughts and prayers.
Elder Matt Waller

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