Monday, September 14, 2015

Lessons Learned as a Solo Missionary

All I can say, friends, is that miracles are real.

Sister Fairchild stayed in the hospital all week. She has a disease carried in Arizona's dust storms, Valley Fever it's called. She has it pretty severe. For a while there, it looked like she wasn't even going to be well enough to go home on Tuesday, as she is supposed to.

She told me the best thing I could do was keep working in the area and keep it alive. That was a big challenge for me. For all my learning and growth and change over the past 17 months, I still struggle to feel confident in my abilities. So it was with trepidation that I faced another week solo. Again, I was going out with members each and every day. 

So here are a few lessons I learned as a solo missionary:

It is not requisite that a man runs faster than he has strength. I felt the need to be so busy while I was out with my members - I always had to be working, knocking on doors or visiting people or teaching, because that is what they expect when coming out with a missionary! But I would be so busy doing that that I wouldn't have time to arrange splits for the next day. I would arrive home at night and a feeling of dread would fill me when I realized I had no one for the next day. After a couple of mornings of waking up having NO idea who my companion was going to be that day, I read Mosiah 4:27. That scripture encouraged me to do things in wisdom and order.... so I found a member who let me use her desk for a couple of hours and I arranged all my splits for the rest of the week. :) After that, a load of stress was taken from my shoulders and I realized that I did not have to kill myself trying to impress the members.

Don't panic. When your member doesn't realize that she can't leave you ALONE with a bunch of teenage boys, stay calm and hide in a side room until she comes back downstairs. (I'm not sure how wise that particular decision actually was... but it was pretty funny.)

People are amazing. I was constantly, constantly amazed by the sacrifices everyone was willing to make for my benefit. Once, I made a member family late for their movie because they couldn't leave me until my ride came and picked me up. They had no problem cheerfully waiting. :) Furthermore, people jumped to come out with me. At one point I had two girls with me on the same night. Both of them were preparing to serve their own missions, so I felt like a mama missionary with her little ducklings that night. :) I was so proud of them when they taught the 10 commandments to our golden investigator Amber! Even one Friday night, when I could find no one to come out with me, a nearby companionship of sisters came and picked me up so I could go to dinner with them and trio with them for the rest of the evening. On Sunday, I even had a member come with me for 9 hours of church AND stay with me for the rest of the evening! (She's going straight to the celestial kingdom, folks. ;)

Appreciate the little things. There is a trio of sister missionaries serving in the south end of our mission. One day, they took the time to come up to Gilbert (again, amazing sacrifices by others) so that one of them could be my companion for the afternoon. It felt so good to have a missionary as a companion again, I just kept hugging her with relief. My members have been amazing, but to have someone by my side who was in the same walk of life as I was felt so good. I never realized what a blessing that was. We tend to take the little things for granted.

Miracles happen every day. More so, I feel, when you're going through difficult things. What miracles did I see, you ask? I cannot list them all, but I'll name a few. I've grown to have amazing relationships with my members. One of the girls who has been coming out with me all the time even gave us a referal for a dear friend of hers, who we are now teaching. We got 3 new investigators this week, found two part-member families who weren't on the records, knocked on doors only to find that the people inside had been praying for an opportunity to speak with us. We got antied by someone, and I heard words come out of my mouth that I didn't even think up as I testified. A huge miracle is that I was okay, I never fell apart. I felt the enabling power of the Atonement and I know it is real. I could not have done this week. I wasn't capable of it. The Savior can make us capable of doing things we aren't naturally capable of doing. That is the beauty of the gospel - we can do hard things.

I can do hard things.

But the best miracle of the week has to do with Sister Fairchild. While all this was going on she was in the hospital. I got to visit her a few times and kept in contact with her mostly through text. When I would see her, she looked very weak and sick. It was hard to see her like that, so I never stayed very long. She had a member staying with her every single day. I knew she was taken care of. The best I could do was to pray for her. Every night and morning, she was the first person I prayed for. And it wasn't just me - I swear all three of our wards were praying for her to get better. Everyone asked for updates whenever they saw me. Even our investigators, former investigators and less-actives promised to pray for her. It was incredible to see the surge of love and petitions to the Lord on her behalf. 

It didn't look like she was going to get out of the hospital in time to go home, so on Sunday - yesterday - I fasted for her to be well enough to go home on Tuesday

3:00 came and I got a text - she was discharged from the hospital and had the okay to fly home. I wanted to shout for joy, but we were in the middle of Sunday School so I decided against it. 

Late last night, she finished packing up her things at our apartment. Well, she is still very sick so mainly we packed her things while she directed where to put them ha ha. But it was then that I learned the extent of her illness. She was very near death as she laid in that hospital. The doctors weren't sure she was going to live.

Every single prayer sent up to heaven for her was heard. Every single one of them. And I know it was the power of those prayers that kept my companion alive. Miracles happen. And I witnessed a huge one this very week. We had to say goodbye to her last night. It was a difficult goodbye. My emotions were all out of whack after learning how close we came to losing her. But one of the last things she said was "The one thing I want you to remember about me is that I know the Savior lives. I know He lives." Her brief and simple declaration then was the most powerful testimony I have ever heard anyone speak. I know that she knows He lives. There was no doubt in her voice.
I, too, know He lives. I've seen His hand this week, in my life and in the lives of everyone around me. I do not know all the miracles that happened around me this week - there were so many seen and unseen powers at work here. The entire week has been the most incredible experience I have ever had. I know who I am, and I know who He is. Because of Him, I never have to be alone. Because of Him, I can do hard things. Because of Him, we have miracles.

If I want you to remember anything about my companion Sister Fairchild it is that she knows the Savior lives. She was a great and noble soul. I was blessed to work at her side for 3 months. I've never known a stronger person, in spirit and heart. This week, I will get a new companion! And she will be wonderful too. This week is the beginning of my last transfer, and I have never been so determined to work so hard. I've seen the Atonement at work, and I cannot bear to waste a precious moment of this precious time.

Thank you for your prayers, everyone. I have never been so blessed as I was this very week. <3

All my love, Sister Ball

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