We had a good week this week but we were faced with one of the biggest problems we face as missionaries and that is agency. Heavenly Father has given us all the freedom to choose for ourselves and make our own decisions. These decisions will ultimately decide whether or not we will return to live with Him again after this life. As missionaries we are responsible for teaching people so that they can use their agency accurately and make the decisions and covenants that lead back to Heavenly Father. Well this week we experienced the pain of someone choosing completely to turn their back on the things they know to be true and not follow the path back to Heavenly Father. To make a long story short I have been working with this 21 year old woman since November. She just progressed really slowly and at times we questioned whether or not it was worth it to keep working with her but every time we got close to dropping her we didn't feel right about it. After working so hard, during a lesson she finally said that she got her answer and that she knew that the Book of Mormon was true and that the church was true. From there we kept working with her and she started to progress faster and we finally made it to the baptism interview a few days before her baptism. We decided to meet with her an hour before the interview to go over everything with her again because she is a bit slow. Anyway when she came in the room and sat down with us there was a weird feeling there and she started to explain that some of the views of the church don't match her views and that she was doubting her decision to be baptized. At that moment our bishop poked his head in the room because he was at the church building for something else. I knew we needed all the help we could get so I quickly called him in and our investigator started to explain her concerns. The trouble was that she couldn't really explain it and we struggled to follow along. She was saying something about the paleontology and how that pertains to the bible but no matter how hard I tried or how many questions we asked I could not understand what was going through her head. Bishop tried to help her but I am pretty sure that he had no idea what she was talking about. Finally Sister Doole and I just explained that there was always going to be a debate between science and religion and ultimately it is up to us to decide what we believe based on how we feel and not what others say. She then seemed to feel better and from there Sister Doole and I bore very powerful testimonies about the church and the book of mormon and it was so powerful that we were both trying to keep back tears. Honestly it was one of the most powerful lessons I have been a part of. After our testimonies we invited her to kneel and pray and ask whether or not she needed to be baptized. She did so and again the spirit was so strong. After the prayer we asked her how she felt and she said she felt a lot better about things and that she wanted to go through with the interview. We were pretty nervous but we felt comforted that we had done our best. The way the circumstance played out is the district leader (who we share a ward with) was going to interview her and the bishop offered his office and so he sat in on the interview too. Now from what I have been told it was the strangest baptismal interview that both the bishop and our district leader have ever been a part of. He said that she flew through the questions and knew everything. Then at the end he asked her if she was ready to make this covenant with God and she just said "Nope" both our District leader and the bishop were shocked and they then spent the next thirty minutes trying to make sure that she knew exactly what she was doing by refusing baptism. Despite all their efforts she was adamant that she didn't want to get baptized even though she knew that church was true and that The Book of Mormon was true. I honestly still don't understand how she said turned her back on everything especially after the incredibly powerful lesson we had had just a few minutes before. It was so sad. I am praying that she comes around someday because I think it might have something to do with her social disorder like maybe she was saying no because she thought we would still work with her or that it would bring her more attention. I am not sure but I hope that she one day realizes the mistake she made and that she will repent. Agency is the worst sometimes!
Other than that sad experience we had a good week. We spent the first couple of days in a town called Kawerau. It is a small little town that survives solely because of a paper mill there. I cannot explain how bad that paper mill smells though. The whole town just stinks! It's funny though because people always say that Rotorua stinks which it sometimes smells like sulfur due to the geothermic activity but it doesn't smell near as bad as that stupid paper mill. The sisters there are nice but they are like the exact opposite of Sister Doole and I. We like to laugh and have fun and they don't and I guess you could say that we are a little more high maintenance than them considering we do our hair and make-up everyday when they just don't. They made us feel weird though because they kept making comments about it. Don't get me wrong I loved working with them because they are great missionaries and I learned a lot however I just felt like they were judging me the whole time because of how I looked and because Sister Doole and I laugh alot when it's appropriate. At the end of the exchange with we got back together Sister Doole said that she felt the same way. It was neat to see a more industrial part of the country rather than the tourist towns I have spent all my time in.
Well that is about it for the week. We should be getting the transfer call anytime today so who knows where I will be emailing you from next week. I love and miss all of you! Have a great week!