Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The henna tattoo and the Atonement

SAN DIEGO — This is the last week before transfers. I have spent nine months in the Black Mountain Young Single Adult branch. It has been an amazing experience, and I have seen a lot of miracles.

Next Wednesday will be transfers. I feel like I will probably be transferred and I think Sister Kennington and I will also not be the training sisters, either. There are so many wonderful sisters here, I am so excited to see who I get to serve under.

I guess I will get the sad news over first. Sister Kennington and I were up at four this morning to drive to the airport with the Seegmillers and Sisters Burden and Haggerty. Sister Haggerty's headaches came back and is not able to stay. It has been really sad, but we all know Heavenly Father has other plans for her. Elder Seegmiller took us to breakfast, it is always an amazing experience to spend time with him.

Let me tell you something about Elder Seegmiller. He always tells us, "You always have to ask when people refer to the Bretheren, is it a bretheren with a little b or Bretheren with a Big B?" Sister Kennington and I were talking about him the other night, Elder Seegmiller used to work as a go-between with mission presidents and the Twelve Apostles. Just being in his presence, you know you are learning from a man inspired of God.

Sister Kennington and I were laughing last night because we decided Elder Seegmiller is a "bretheren with bold, italicized and underlined" Definitely not a little b and not a big B, either. Heavenly Father has blessed me a lot to learn from him. I write down his words of advice often, I'll share a couple with you right now:

"If you know he won't get invited to the meeting at Adam-Ondi-Ahman, don't say "yes!"

"When talking to the Lord, never ask why, ask what!"

"Girls should go on missions, and the guys should wait. Just tell the guy, a year and a half is a perfect amount of time to save up money, go to school and prepare everything so that when you walk off the plane, you and he can have your first date at the temple!"

Anyway, he taught me a great object lesson about my henna tattoo the other day. We were talking about the Atonement and how I was trying to take the burdens of all the sisters upon myself. He said I should never cry to watch someone be given the opportunity to use the Atonement, but it is when they choose not to that the tears should freely flow.

He looked down at my hand, the henna much faded by now, and told me that my tattoo was an example of the Atonement. I had messed up, I didn't realize what I was doing and the consequence of my mess up was a bright reminder of what I had done. Every time I would give a tour, I would shake a hand, I had to deal with questions and looks of concern or questioning. Just looking at it myself I felt like an idiot every time.

With a lot of work, and with ENDURANCE, the henna has slowly started to fade. With time, I will have a completely new hand. The skin cells will renew and not a single mark of my mistake will be left.

That is the Atonement.

Oh how I wish I could have it scrubbed off that night. Then I wouldn't have had to account to president. Then I wouldn't have had to explain to my peers. But that is not how it it meant to be. I have never been more grateful for the slow and steady process of the henna fading. It has taught me a lesson: just like my hand, with endurance, hard work, and patience, I can use the Atonement in my life to become a completely new person.

As I was thinking about tattoos, my mind has completely 180'd to a really funny story that happened this week that I think you will appreciate. Since Sister Haggerty has been sick, we have been going on exchanges with her companion, Sister Burden, to cover her area as well as ours. We went to stop by a man named Dave in the ghetto of El Cajon. Just to give you an idea, he is a big African-American man that would scare the pants right off of you if you didn't know that inside he was a big teddy bear.

We met him in the parking lot of his apartment complex, and honestly he was being a little rude, washing and waxing his car and not really listening to us, even though he set an appointment. He made his nephew come listen, which was really great, but I was getting frustrated with the situation as we had promised both Dave and Heavenly Father that we would teach him the Restoration.

Well those of you that know my spunky great-grandma Dinah, I have inherited a diluted portion of that spunk (gumption?). I left the conversation with Sisters Kennington and Burden with Dave's nephew, and marched right up to Dave's car, took the wax and the rag from him and told him I would shine his rims, and he would walk over to the sisters and listen to something that would make him really happy.

(Now to give you a little perspective, we were all in pencil skirts because we had to go to our ward that night and be flight attendants for a FHE activity).

So here I am in a pencil skirt shining a guy's rims, all the while, more of his friends are coming up to watch and laugh at why on earth a little white girl is shining Dave's car. I wasn't paying attention very well. All i could think to do was pray with all my might that he would listen. But looking back on that, I can imagine how funny that must have been.

Oh, the crazy things we do as missionaries! It is so great!!!!

Before I go, a quick update on Cameron. He is doing so well. He hopefully will move his baptism date up to the end of April. He went to church again and we are meeting with him to teach him the Gospel at the temple tonight. Keep him in your prayers!

The work is moving forward on my end, I hope it is on yours.

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