I don´t know how much longer I can take the anticipation. The email sessions have been getting more and more emotional lately. I don´t think it´s helping that today I have had a head cold and been feeling crummy. I´m not that affected by the impending homecoming during the week, but the Monday emails really hit me like a ton of bricks. This will be my penultimate email since in two weeks I will not have P-day but will be in meetings all day. That means only one more email after this one.
Let me tell you about some real difficulties that I have been facing recently. I have found that at the end of all things, everything gets a little bit more difficult. You would think that at the end of a mission, you would know exactly what to do, what to say, how to act, how to react, and how to be a perfect missionary. Unfortunately, I have found that it has become much and much harder recently to be patient, charitable, loving, and totally involved with people´s needs. It isn´t so much with investigators as it is with members. I have been facing a whole new type of problem that I have never faced before. When I got here, the members had some anti-missionary feelings. It´s not that they try to be rude to the missionaries. It´s just that the missionaries that served here in the past several months didn´t work. They liked to break a lot of rules and weren´t that much into fulfilling their callings. That includes to some degree my current companion. Now I am here and people are holding onto the old image of the past missionaries (including my companion). I got here, they heard that this was my last transfer, and they immediately assumed that I would be a bust. I can tell you it has been one of the most frustrating experiences. I can´t say that I haven´t complained. I can´t say that I haven´t murmured a little bit. I have been searching deep inside of me for whatever patience and charity that is there. My deep desire in these last few weeks has been to turn around this terrible feeling that I have towards the ward and they have towards me. I feel like even when we do all that we can in bringing people to church and setting baptismal dates and visiting less-actives, our efforts are desprezados. Yesterday we had a ward council meeting. When it came to our part, everyone was more anxious to criticize how our work has been going than fix the problems. It was all I could do not to snap. I looked down at my planner and the picture I put there of our house in autumn. On the photo I have written Alma 43:45. I thought of my ´better causes´. Luckily it brought the peace and patience I was needing to endure the meeting. I pray that I may be able to do as 2 Nephi 31:20 (my ´favorite´ scripture) says,
"Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life."
I need to press forward with steadfastness in Christ. I need a perfect brightness of hope. I need to love God and all men. I know that I will only be able to do this if I feast upon the word of Christ. Please pray for me to be able to have more charity these last few weeks.
Sorry so much to have to write about hard things. Things have been going marvelously here as well. Our dear Flavia is continuing to progress. We decided to delay her baptism a little because her son went out of town, and she want shim to be there for the experience. I will still be able to be there for the baptism, so I am happy. Flavia is really having a thorough conversion. She loves hearing about the temple. Sometimes I think she has the faith of Nephi from 3 Nephi whose faith was so strong that he received angelic visits daily. It seems that every day Flavia has another story to tell us about some miraculous spiritual witness that she had. These witnesses are giving her the strength to withstand the buffetings of the evangelicals all around her telling her that she is joining a cult. She always testifies to us that she has finally found the True Church. It makes us so happy.
You all make me so happy. I hope that this email makes you happy. Don´t worry about my situation. God loves us so much that He gives us challenges that make us grow. You should be happy knowing that I will be striving until the end of my mission to be my best self. I love you all!
Love, Elder Parker Ayer