Where to begin with my crazy week...
To start off I will let you know how I have been doing. I have been doing pretty good. My companion and I get along great. Our personalities are very different, but they compliment each other very nicely. He is a very quite Elder, and I am not. If he talked as much as I did, then there would be just way to much talking. We are quickly becoming great friends. We both have very similar interests in cars and motorcycles. Music... not so much, but we don't need to talk about that. I love finding things that I can talk about with people. I love showing people new things, and learning about new things. With Elder Shelley I have been able to do a lot of both of these. He is a great missionary and really understands the gospel. I learn more from him every day.
We have been running every morning. He isn't a big runner (and neither am I) but we are trying very hard to push ourselves in the morning. We both want to be healthier. Elder Shelley's mission is quickly coming to a close, and he wants to look as great as he can when he gets home. I hope to be as fit when I come home as when I came out... I am doing a pretty good job of it so far.
Okay... Now time to get to what has happened this week. We went to Shaun's house to check up on him and see how he was doing. As we were walking to his house we noticed a black table out by his mailbox. As his house came into view we noticed that there was charred furniture all outside his house. The windows and doors were all boarded up with blackness spilling from their seems. There was a fire. The house was completely destroyed from top to bottom. The house was made of brick so a structure was still there, but everything else was burnt beyond recognition... We quickly tried to call Shaun but his phone was out of service. We left a note on his mailbox saying that we are there to help, and that we love him. We still have not heard from Shaun... We don't know where he is, or if he is okay. Please pray for his safety, and that we will be able to contact him.
The event that I was most excited about this week was going to see Maxene. I was so excited to teach her again. We got along so well every time we talked and I just felt comfortable talking to her. The words I was supposed to say would just come when I was around her. I was so confident that us meeting Maxene was meant to be because I felt so connected with her. I would pray often for her, and I was quite sure that the lesson that we were going to teach was going to really speak to her.
As we walked up to her front porch she opened the door before we even knocked on it. She had her Book of Mormon in hand and said, "Hello Elders." As we said our greetings to her she handed me the Book of Mormon and I said, "Do you not want this anymore?" and she said, "No. I don't want to study with you anymore." and I said, "Did something you read concern you? Can we talk about this?" and she just said "No, I don't want to talk about it. We just can't meet anymore." That was the extent of our conversation. We shook her hand and told her that if she ever needs anything that she can call us anytime. She thanked us and went inside.
I did not know that I would feel the way I felt after that conversation. My heart was crushed. I don't think that people realize what they are to us missionaries, or at least to me. People are not a number to me. They are not a statistic. We are not there to increase the membership of the Church. We are there to bring people closer to Jesus Christ. We are there to love them, and be their friends. We are there to help them in every step it takes to get to baptism. I was not sad that Maxene denied me to teach her. I was sad that Maxene denied the blessings that I KNOW this gospel can bring into her life. I KNOW that the teachings of this Church can strengthen her family, because I've seen it in my own and others. I KNOW that this Church and the Book of Mormon can bring her closer to Jesus Christ, because I have experienced it! I KNOW that the knowledge of the plan of salvation could bring her hope in times of trial, because I have felt that hope in my life. These are the exact thoughts that went through my mind as I realized what was going on as she handed me that Book of Mormon. She wasn't handing me just a book, she was handing me the only way to find out if what I told her when we first met is true.
I love Maxene and all of the people that I teach. I see the truthfulness of the gospel manifest itself in the people's life. Christ's atonement, if used, will change people's lives for the better. I have seen that in the lives of the members and investigators that keep commitments and feast upon the words of Christ.
There are quite a few other things that have happened this week that I would like to talk about. I don't think that they would add much spiritually to this letter though so I won't put them into this letter. I love writing letters and telling people about my experiences. So ask me in a letter.
I want to leave you with my testimony that I know that I am not perfect. I know that because of Jesus Christ I can have hope to one day become perfect. I can hope to be married in the temple for time and all eternity to the woman that I love. I can wake up each day with the knowledge that I can try again, and I can overcome my weaknesses. Without him I would be nothing, and I could not hope for these things. He took my weaknesses upon him so that I may become strong, and I love him for that. I will try and live my whole life to prove my thankfulness for his sacrifice.
I love you all.
-Elder Ryan Romero