My religious journey has progressed so that now rather than meeting up with missionaries each week to have lessons, I am going out with the missionaries to meet other people who are interested in the gospel. Now I am learning how to teach others about the joy, peace, and spiritual fulfilment that comes with understanding our interpretation of God. Because everyone has a different interpretation of God, I thought I could never accept God to be man. Yet I’m here, testifying with every fibre of my being that God lives and loves every one of us and I’m here sharing this message so that we may all have the option to follow this path.
Yesterday we taught three individuals entirely unique and entirely interesting. The first one, I will call Gary. We walked into his bedroom that was adorned in ACDC posters, a desk covered in paints sat in the corner and a gentle purple butterfly duvet cover was made on his bed. Gary was a short man, slightly hunched with shoulder length soft brown hair and stubble. I missed his eye colour; his gaze refused to hold mine as he spoke whilst perched on the corner of his bed looking towards the wall talking about ancient civilisations and religions. A cat leapt down from the top of his window-frame and crawled around our legs. As Elder Andrews and Elder Reynolds taught Gary about God’s plan for us I noticed that his forearms stretched down into tennis-ball sized disfigurements over his elbows. His fingers were bent like claws and he mentioned he had a disability. His beliefs were primarily based upon Paganism but he was willing and open to learning more. Although he had this interest in learning, he was also more interested in talking through the lesson. I recognised how God reaches the sick and afflicted, how this pain gives us an opportunity to seek God, but that we have to be willing to listen to God and His multiple ways of communicating with us.
Next we were to meet *Rachel. She had called four times because she was early and waiting in the cold for us to meet her so already we were anticipating the lesson with caution. Rachel was Indian with long thick black hair and large glassy brown eyes wearing camel-toned workman boots and joggers. She greeted us with a tear trickling down her cheek and distress oozing from pores in her dishevelled face. She said she had diabetes, had left her money at home and needed food and sugar straight away; the missionaries took her to a cafe to buy her food and sat down to talk. I joined them as Rachel told us she could see spirits, that she had good thoughts as well as evil thoughts trying to take over her mind. She said she felt good and strong and faithful, sometimes. On other occasions the darkness crept in and took her sanity as though she owed it for her sins. Spirits told her to get baptised, to be cleansed of her sins, and she wanted to. She needed our help and we had been sent to her. Months ago I had prayed to God asking, how can we stop this depression? How can we feel God’s love through depression? Is schizophrenia an attack from the opposition? Is a relationship with God enough to heal these illnesses? Is a relationship with God the solution instead of drowning in numbing medication? I was intrigued by Rachel’s life and her story and I was desperate to discover if the Lord could be almighty enough to heal this woman.
The missionaries and I took a break for lunch; they went to their flat to prepare hot food and I went to the library with a hot chocolate and my packed lunch. I walked up beside the park to re-join them and sat upon the entrance gate waiting. I gazed out at the stretching snow covered fields, wind whipped my hair and a flock of dark birds glided left then right then landed and shot up then dived then swept left and landed in synchronisation riding the current. Everything worked, everything harmonised and everything mattered. We approached *Tony’s flat where we climbed stairs to a damp scent and carpet blanketed in coarse, white dog hair. The lounge was cold as Tony had no wood for his fire resulting in regular early retirement to his bed where it was the warmest place in the house. Tony was an older gentleman with a blonde ponytail and beard, yellow teeth, wearing a colourful abstract jumper. His living room walls displayed Led Zeppelin memorabilia, an empty ashtray was on his coffee table, and his beautiful husky visited each of us as we sat down on cream leather sofas. Our purpose this lesson was mostly to listen as Tony told us how he gave his time to charitable causes by helping the homeless. Through his past addictions he was able to share experiences and be the example to the people he helped that a positive future was possible. Giving his time pro-actively was admirable but he could not retain his negative thoughts about society. He saw so much of the destruction, the lack of gratitude, the lying, the neglected, but in a brief moment I explained how connecting with God helps you to overcome these thoughts and focus on the positive so that you’re able to contribute with peace of mind, so that God is always on your side and so that your head is clear for your heart to love. A busy mind prevents the heart from loving, and that’s the reason we are all here. To find God, and to love.