Friday, March 13, 2009

Day 100: Fields of Gold, Chapter 9

My first morning in Switzerland, I woke up at 5:00. Too excited and anxious to sleep. I got out of my (insanely comfortable) bed with it's down comforter and crossed over to the window. Quietly, I opened the windows wide. The sun was just rising, and hundreds of songbirds were singing in the nearby woods. I could smell the earthy tones of wildflowers and trees on the slight, cool June breeze. Then, from the city of Zurich below, morning church bells began to ring.

Be still my beating heart--I was living in The Sound of Music.

Rarely does a place live up to your expectations of it. I can say, without hesitation, that Switzerland lived up to mine. In every way. Surpassed many of them. I found myself, later that same day, pulling my suitcase down a narrow Swiss street behind my "trainer"--the friend that would mentor me and show me how to be a missionary.

Now, I know that most of my friends who read this blog aren't Latter-day Saints. I know that you have had run-ins with the Mormon missionaries in the rain. Or peeping through your windows. (You know who you are.) We've talked about this, and I've laughed and cringed with you. But let me tell you--it was just as hard for me, as it sometimes is for you.

One of the things that we did a lot of (a LOT) was trying to talk to people on the street. In German. Or Swiss German. Or English. Any number of languages, really. I am not a shy person, and I've spoken to strangers all my life. But it was unbelievably difficult for me to approach people on the street and talk to them about my religion. Some days, I would stand frozen in place, crying great tears, because I *wanted* to tell people about this faith that I have and that I love. I wanted to talk to them, and tell them how happy it makes me, and that I want them to be happy, too. But there were days when I just couldn't, and that tortured me. They rushed past me, and I stood rooted to the spot.

When I had taken all I could of failure, we would go and knock on doors to try and talk to people. We did this, sometimes, for 12 hours at a go. For months and months at a time. In the rain, snow, and sunshine. People threw forks at us. People answered the door naked. (Why??) People yelled at us, cursed us, and called us words that I, thankfully, had never come across in my dictionary. Other people, though, would let us in. We would sit, and we would talk to them. Sometimes we would share a message. Often, I would feel that I just needed to express that God was aware of them, and loved them. When that happened, I was perfectly happy.

And let me tell you, the highlight of my life as a missionary was coming home after doing 12 hours of street contacting or knocking on doors to open my mailbox. There was always a hope that there would be a letter from my family. An even more distant, but delightful, hope was a letter from Dave.

One November afternoon I was walking home for lunch, and I was thinking about Dave. I hadn't heard from him in a few months, and he had been on my mind a lot that week. The last that I'd heard, he had broken up with Mary. I wondered what he could be up to now. I didn't want to wonder. I didn't want to waste precious time as a missionary focused on this guy. I was irritated with him for being in my mind so much, and irritated with myself for not being able to shake him. Suddenly, almost out of no where, I realized I was in love with him. Smack dab IN LOVE. How terribly, awfully inconvenient. I bowed my head as I walked and asked God, with all the faith I could muster, to either help me forget Dave or send me a sign.

Arriving home, I opened the mailbox.

Inside was a package from Dave. The first, and only, that I received my entire mission.


Christina said...

eek! more, more, more!!

...and I'm laughing out loud. You know why.

jani said...

Once again, you are fantastic at leaving me hanging and wanting more!!

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

Congrats on 100 days of posts!

I remember you spoke at Stake Conference once and I felt like we were kindred spirits. I tried to say something, but it felt forced and awkward. Now, two years, two thousand miles, and two blogs seem to have filled the gap.

I wish we could go out to lunch and talk about our missions. :)

SuzyQ said...

I'm dying a slow and agonizing death here waiting to see what happens next....I love it! Suzy

RaT Babies said...

I'm here looking for Chapter 11 and day 101 ... and you leave me hanging for another day!

Maree said...

Yes, you're very good about leaving your audience hanging! More! More!