As we were leaving a members house this week, the dad walked over to one of his daughters who was playing with their big, white dog. He asked, "What's on her (the dog's) head??" His daughter responded, "mud." He then asked, "How did the mud get there?" (there were two parallel lines above the eyes), and her answer was "I was trying to make her like Simba on Lion King!" :) It made me laugh.
Since we've been whitewashed in the area, we have been working hard to do most of our work through the ward members. One way we have done this is contact the home and visiting teachers of those that we are to be meeting with. We had one example of success with this on Monday when a Sister from the ward set up an appointment for us to meet them. They had been invited by the ward to take the missionary discussions in a hope to fuel their testimony and help them return to church, which they at one point accepted, but their eagerness to meet regularly had been fading before we arrived here. But we went over and had a great time getting to know them and the Visiting Teacher re-invited them to take the discussions from us. At first they were a little hesitant to commit again, but by the end they were willing. They are an older Hispanic couple (the husband is from Mexico and cannot STAND illegal immigrants or people who are on welfare. He was getting all fiery talking about those who don't work or complain and then get even more mad as he brought up politics and healthcare). haha! They have quite a few children, only one is active in the church and she lives in Utah.
We had an awesome lesson with the Jimenez family as well. Met with all of them and had a great discussion on how the gospel blesses our lives. Sister Jimenez was in tears as she told us how she's been visiting mormon.org and lds.org everyday to help bring the Spirit back into her life and how much that has been affecting her. She is determined to start working on getting her life Spiritually back on track and eventually wants to start coming back to church and have the gospel more in her life. She knows it's true, and has just struggled (as I think most do) at how discouraging it can be to consistently make mistakes and have to repent. We talked about how we grow and learn and the love that God always has for us and our families. I'm grateful we CAN repent, and as it reads in Doctrine and Covenants 58:42, "Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more." We love that family, and the youngest son (he's 14) and his cousin (who goes to a ward down south, out of our mission boundaries) both came to our ward on Sunday!
We have been teaching a man named Dave for a little more than a week, and have been struggling with him. Sister missionaries tracted into him 8+ years ago as he was going through a divorce with him wife. A few weeks ago, he called Salt Lake to ask for the information of that Sister missionary - because she was so nice. They talked him into meeting with us instead, and so we received notification and went over. He has many, many medical ailments and battles with severe depression, and because of so could probably open up his own pharmacy with all the pills he has. He lives in government housing and doesn't have a job and borrows his father's car when he needs to go somewhere. In our last lesson, he had just gotten back from the doctors who told him he couldn't have the medication he was asking for quite yet because they needed to do some follow-up appointments. This upset him greatly and he was so deep in his anger and depression that his receptiveness was very weak. And we were also trying to talk to him through the cloud of cigarette smoke around him (like pig-pen from Charlie Brown - I'm not kidding). So it was a sad lesson... He told us that he had prayed before he went into the doctors office and had "full faith" but that God fell through and didn't give him what he wanted. We talked about what faith in Christ means, and when he didn't seem to be listening, we put in the movie Finding Faith in Christ so he could just watch the tv. It seemed to work, and afterwards we invited him to pray differently. I remembered in a talk by Elder David A. Bednar when he used the story in 1 Nephi 7 to explain that we must not pray to have our circumstances changed, rather pray for strength to change or overcome our circumstances. When we left he was still stewing in his depression and has hasn't answered his phone since. But things will work out - Heavenly Father will help happen whatever needs to happen.
Tuesday we went over and did some service for a less-active woman who is battling cancer. We mowed her lawn and did some hard-core weeding. The coming Thursday she would be going in for her 4th treatment (of 8 total) of chemotherapy. She was very touched by the service and we were able to share a message afterwards similar to Dave - that God will hear our cries and prayers and provide us with the strength necessary to make it through the trials that are put upon us (Mosiah 24:9-16).
We did a lot of other little things here and there, but Sunday I had the coolest thing happen! We were in the foyer at church, greeting the members as they came in and for a moment I had turned my back to the doors to talk to someone behind us. When out of the corner of my eye, I see a couple walking by and I briefly glanced over and then did one of those dramatic double-takes to see it was a couple from the North Olmsted Ward: the Schroth's! He was baptized a few months before I had been tranferred there and I was privileged to teach him about keeping the Sabbath Day holy while on exchanges with the Assistants. He would come out teaching with us often and Sister Schroth (who I swear is a twin of Joyce Smith (her name is Joyce too!)) works very closely with the Mayor of the city (I talked about some of the stuff we did with them back in November-December probably). But so we worked through her a lot to be more active in the community. They would also feed us the best dinners ever - she's famous amongst the missionaries for her cookie pies :) But it was so fun to see them and visit with them. They have a condo up in Catawba (the pennisula above Sanduksy) that they come to periodically, and when they do they'll come to the Sandusky Ward for the Sacrament. When I was being transferred I was never able to get a hold of them to stop-by and say goodbye, so it was a tender mercy to see them once last time before I go home.
And that's the recap of another exciting week in Norwalk! These next few weeks are pretty busy... Friday we have a Cleveland Zone meeting, then the next week we have Zoned Out (which is half of the mission getting together for a fun p-day), the next week is our Mission Conference (Elder Perkins, a Seventy, will be coming to tour the mission), and the next week is...well, it'll never come so we don't have to worry about that ;) But the work moves forward and it's all still true! So have a great day and week! Love you all!
Brother and Sister Schroth