Monday, June 2, 2008

"The pen is better than any mind."

Quote compliments of Sis. Rancie. I'm pretty sure she was meaning to say something more to the effect that "the dullest pencil is better than the sharpest mind." oft-said quote. Perhaps it would've been better remembered if she'd written it down...

So this was cool—we were greeting at one of the shows and I saw a woman sitting alone (unusual for Nauvoo. People generally come in packs.) so I was visiting with her and she was a local (more unusual) who was just out for a walk, heard a show going on, and decided to come see what it was. For someone who’s LDS this wouldn’t be that strange but in Nauvoo, there’s not a lot of “fence-sitters” when it comes to the Church. People are either members of the Church or they’re definitely not interested in spending any time around hoards of missionaries. So I was intrigued. I thought even that maybe she’d just moved in, but no, she’s been here for years. So we got talking. She knows a fair amount about the Church and has LDS friends. She has a copy of the Book of Mormon and has read some. She kept saying how she sees what the draw is to the Church because of its focus on families and the members’ dedication to their beliefs. Her family is such a priority to her and they sound amazing. The more we talked, the more confused I was. She sounded so open yet obviously had some setbacks from being ready to learn more. What I gathered from our conversation was that it was probably the social/family pressures that are holding her back. There are still plenty of misconceptions about the Church in this area. It was neat though to hear that her LDS friends have been doing their best to break down those walls and to invite them to things. The best part was that while we were talking we found out she’s a runner and knows about some trail runs in the area. Woohoo! So the next morning we met up and went for a run around a mini lake that I’d never been able to find on my own. It was really cool. She was so stinkin sweet. Hopefully we’ll be able to do lots more with her. She even talked about doing a yogo/weights class in the mornings for the sisters. I love her and I love getting to know the locals. :)

So this was cool…Sis. Rancie and I during comp study were going over possible scenarios in teaching/tours situations, trying to practice resolving concerns that people have. We ended up, though we were talking about hypothetical situations, talking more about her own friends that she used to room with that she’d never gotten to share the gospel with in the way that she wanted. I told her that if this person was still popping up in her mind, that it was the Spirit and that she needed to get in touch with her. This was virtually impossible because she didn’t have any of her contact info other than a description of how to get to her house. But I committed her to sending the missionaries over there to meet her and Sis. Rancie, being a woman of GREAT faith, said that she’d do it. So…THE LORD ALWAYS PROVIDES A WAY. Less than a week later we met a visitor who was soon to go into the mission field to one of the several missions in Australia. Just so happened to be the mission that Sis. Rancie’s friend lived in. She didn’t think about it right away—was just chatting with him about the area. Then after she finished it popped strongly (good description, huh?) into her head to tell him about her friend. She left him with all the info she had about how to get a hold of her friend. Something so simple but as we looked back at the whole situation we could see so many different aspects of it where the Lord had His hand in the whole process. Way cool. I’m excited to see what will happen.

So I got a nice surprise in the Wilford Woodruff home. Some visitors pulled up and we can see out onto the street from the 2nd story study area we have so we can see the visitors as they come. I saw many kids piling out of a van and a boy who I recognized vaguely. As all the dots were connecting in my head I realized it was Stephanie Chidester’s husband…which meant that those were Stephanie’s children…and that she was here too! :) It was really fun to see her and so, so fun to see her kids. She has 4 stinkin adorable boys. A couple were old enough that they were like real people. It was crazy! They’re such a cute little family and such a good example of putting the Lord and His gospel first in your lives. They just finished med school with a family of 6. No small feat! It was great to see them. :)

So a few weeks ago, in that same historic house, I was sitting looking out the window and being very pensive about things. I was pondering on why people have such strong misconceptions about the Church and how so many people think that Mormons are so weird. I was thinking to myself, “why would they think that. We’re so normal.” Then suddenly I looked down at myself in this pioneer dress, perched in an upper room of a really old house in rural Nauvoo waiting for people to come so I could talk to them and I just started laughing out loud. Nothing is normal about what I was doing.

But alongside that, I know that the message we share is even less normal. Even though it’s as old as the earth (old really) it’s so powerful and unusual to proclaim that the heavens are still open, that the Lord speaks today to us individually as well as through a prophet of God. I know that’s true and that His restored church is one the earth again today and that it’s The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I’m so grateful to be able to spend all of my time trying to tell people about cause, well, it’s kind of a big deal. :)

Love you all!
-Sis Cartwright

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