Monday, August 3, 2009

A Run In With the Authority's Wife

Today our Relief Society is in charge of feeding 125 people at the missionary zone conference. We learned about this last week. It was a little hectic, but I think all went well. No one in the presidency could make it (can you imagine me feeding missionaries while holding Sammy and Callie? I don't think so.), so hopefully everyone who said they could go, could, and hopefully everyone was well fed. I did, however, drop off the dessert. Icecream sandwiches. A simple hit. I even bought extra so hopefully some of the greedier ones could indulge themselves today at lunch and go for seconds. The icecream had to be delivered around lunch time because our stake center has one room for 180 icecream bars.

When I got to the stake center, I decided to go in and ask some elders to help me bring in the icecream. However, upon entering, I was greeted by a senior missionary couple and another woman who was well dressed but without a name tag. I assumed she was helping out for the day. They willingly came and helped carry in the icecream. The nametagless woman introduced herself as Marie. We got into a little conversation where I learned she was over the Hungary Mission (where I served 2001-2002) in 2003. I found out that they were just visiting for the zone conference. Great. Visitors. I didn't think much of it, thought it was nice that she was visiting. She left saying it was nice to meet me. What a pleasant woman I thought.

Callie decided to take a plastic baggie full of Kix and dump them on her carseat. While we were cleaning that up, Marie came back out to talk to me. She asked me what it was that gave me the motivation to keep going during my mission. What was it that gave me the drive to push forward, to continue teaching the gospel everyday? Good question. I shared an experience with her that I had in Szeged. I was having a particularly rough time. My district leader gave me some words of encouragement -- and whether he told me this specifically or something he said sparked it, I don't know. But I began to read the New Testament along with Jesus the Christ. This was a turning point in my mission. I quickly, probably within a week's time, felt a change in my attitude. Within about 3 weeks there was a definite change in our companionship and in the work we were doing. My focus entirely changed as I gained a relationship with my Savior -- as I began to know Him, not just know about Him. She thanked me for that. We talked some more. She asked me some more questions. I told her that I felt a mission is a crash course for life -- you learn so much during that short period of time that prepares you for experiences you will have down the road. I personally feel like my mission prepared me for Samantha and Callie. A mission wasn't necessary, but it certainly helped tune me into the Spirit and recognize the Spirit in my life -- so when we had some rocky times, I was able to more quickly turn to the Lord and feel His comfort. Ok...moving on from that sermon...

Before we parted ways again, Marie asked me my name. I asked for hers again. "Marie Hafen. My husband is Elder Hafen." "Ooh!" Then I probably said something stupid like, "That's great." We talked a little bit more about Hungary, and Elder Jensen who was my Area Authority while serving in Hungary. Apparently Elder Jensen and Elder Hafen were mission companions back in the day and then overlapped a year in Frankfurt while they were serving over the Eastern European Missions. Wow. She thanked me for my insight as she was speaking to the missionaries after lunch and decided she wanted my perspective. Well gosh golly gee.

On the way home, it occurred to me that there was a man who had come out to help bring in the icecream and I panicked thinking that perhaps that was Elder Hafen and I had just waved a "thank you good ole buddy" wave to him. When I got home, I looked up his picture. Nope. Not him. Phew. Not that he'd expect celebrity status of any kind I'm sure. But his wife sure was a sweet woman and I was glad for the opportunity to talk with her for 20 minutes in the parking lot. You never know who or when you're going to meet someone...oh...of a special nature I guess you could say. I'm glad I didn't say something stupid to her. And I'm glad that I didn't snap at Callie for dumping all the Kix everywhere. Today I was reminded of the need to be good, sincere people. Because you never know.


Heidi said...

Yeah, I had a very similar experience today while serving at the zone conference! :-D When Marie introduced herself to me, I almost asked her if she was related to Bruce C. Hafen but I figured she got asked that all the time, so I didn't. When she came through the lunch line with him later, I figured it out.

Vanessa Swenson said...

heh heh.

My favorite part about this is how she sincerely wanted to know about your experiences. One thing that I love about the leaders in our church is their desire to listen to everyone and learn from everyone.

Almost 9 years ago now my mission comp, Lisa, was at the Shakespearean Festival in Cedar City. She was at some dinner sitting next a women named Colleen. The woman asked Lisa what she was doing with her life and Lisa told her about her prep for a mission and what a mission was and what it meant for her to be able to do something like that for her church. Colleen listened happily. Later in the conversation she leaned to Lisa to tell her that she was Elder Maxwell's wife. Lisa was pretty embarrassed, but I'm positive Sister Maxwell just wanted her to have the opportunity to talk about the gospel.


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