Thursday, November 15, 2012

Faith and Hope

I'm not sure when I first learned about the Prayer of Faith.  I know I was on my mission.  I know that when I learned about it, I was excited and determined to try my faith and the promises of the Lord to make miracles happen in my area.  I know that my companion and I knelt and plead with the Lord and then we got up and went to work, hopeful that things would work out.

What was the result of our prayers and our faith?  As far as I could tell, nothing.  I chalked it up to lack of faith, lack of effort, lack of understanding the Lord and His purposes and sadly, soberly moved on.  It still nagged me, though, for years afterward.  

I think that I learned about the Prayer of Faith while I was serving in Beitou.  Beitou was my hardest area, my darkest days of the year and a half service period.  In fact, I was there from October to February so those literally were the darkest days of my mission thanks to winter daylight hours.  To describe the work in Beitou, here is a theory one companion and I came up with.  You know how some people lay the foundation of  great work to come?  Well, we figured that someone had to dig the ditch (and the pit really) to lay that foundation.  We were those people - the ditch diggers.  It was hard and often a thankless task but someone had to do it.  So we worked and worked and worked.  And in the meantime, we did all we could to keep up our spirits.  

One week, my companion and I were particularly concerned about making this Prayer of Faith work out.  We had no one to teach and a full evening of just knocking doors.  So we prayed and went to work.  And then?  We went home, unsuccessful.  Even though I was senior companion and often felt the need to be optimistic and hopeful, I let myself show my true feelings and simply threw myself onto our couch and cried.  My companion stood a few feet away and watched me awkwardly, unable to say anything to cheer me.  What was there to say?  We had no answers.  

This week, I was sitting in Institute when the Prayer of Faith was mentioned by our teacher.  She wanted us to consider the possibility of the power our faith could bring.  I thought back to my previous experience with the Prayer of Faith.  While everyone else figured out the blessings of such faith, I sat in silence.

Suddenly a memory came to me - a cold rainy, evening when my companion and I were heading to an appointment.  We stopped and talked to a woman who gave us the same sorts of reasons why she couldn't meet as everyone else we ever talked to.  Nonplussed by the "rejection" we continued onward, in good spirits.  It's a vague memory and not particularly unique in the experiences of missionaries.  The only reason why it is worth remembering at all is that several months after I left that area, some missionaries working in that area met me in the stake center.

"We have a story to tell you.  Do you remember Miss Chen?" (note: I do not remember her name so we will use Chen)  I shook my head.  "Well, she remembers you.  You're all she talks about.  Apparently, she met you sometime and she couldn't meet with you because she was busy.  Well, she called our phone number, looking for you.  She said that she was available to meet.  She started taking the discussions, started reading.  The members in the ward all love her and she was just recently baptized.  But all she ever talks about is 'Sister Reed' and what an impression you made on her."


The missionaries continued, "Well, she's here today with us and we want you to meet each other."
"Sure!"  I followed the missionaries over to the new member.
"This is Sister Reed," her teaching missionaries explained.  "Sister Reed, this is Miss Chen."

Miss Chen looked at me and then looked at my companion and then over at the two other sister missionaries next to me.  There was no recognition in her eyes at all.  She even looked at the missionaries as if to say, "Why are you introducing me to this random person?"  I smiled at her, shook her hand and said, "The sisters told me that you just joined the church in Beitou.  Congratulations!"  She gave me a polite response and then moved over to my companion to receive her congratulations as well.

The missionaries looked at me in surprise and I shrugged.  "I guess the Lord just used my name to help her find you.  She seems like a really great person.  I'm glad to have lent my name to the cause."

I had never made the connection before but now I could see it.  Our Prayer had worked after all but it took a few months to make it happen and took me nine years to realize it.  There is something we mustn't forget and that is the timing of the Lord.

When Enos prayed in faith that the Lamanites would accept the Gospel, when Enoch prayed that the Earth would find peace and rest, they had mustered all of their faith for blessings that they would never see in their lifetime or even their children's children's children's children's lifetime.

So, what do we do while we wait for our prayers of faith to be answered?

We hope.