Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sister Ivy

As I mentioned in my "Catharina" post, I started out in a three-some with a Thai companion who had about three weeks before she had to go home and leave Julie Weldon and I all alone to take care of her beloved Kuching. Weldon was only three or four weeks more experienced than I, and Waew was definitely frantic in her preparations to leave the work in our hands.

The night of Catharina's baptism the two branches combined to have a pot-luck farewell for Waew. I was amazed there were so many members in that city. I'd been to Church two or three times, and both branches had no more than 30 members in attendance each week. I had many less active members to meet and also a dozen or so investigators.

Ivy seemed the least likely of all the investigators to turn into a serious prospect. She sat quietly on the couch with her children, and when Waew threw me at Ivy, Ivy seemed the least bit interested in Gospel talk. She just kept saying how sad she was Waew was leaving. I saw a woman attached to a missionary, not the missionary message.

I didn't even mention the first time I met Ivy in my journal.

Even though she is clearly the reason I was sent to the Singapore mission, when I was and with the companions I had. Ivy called Waew the next evening. Waew set up an appointment for Weldon and I to meet with Ivy. She told us how excited she was that Ivy wanted to learn about the Gospel. I think I may have even asked "Does she really?"

"Of course!" Waew reassured me. " The only reason things didn't work out before was because my companion and I couldn't bike all the way out to Ivy's house. You two are strong. You can do it. Just be sure to make it in less than an hour, mission rule. If you can't bike there in an hour, you can't teach. Elder Lawrence will let you try it a few times. No problem, lah."

We met with Ivy the next day. We had some funky desert at the nearby mall. She was in no way interested in the Gospel. She was under the impression Waew was going to be there. (there is a small chance Waew was . . . I'd have to journal check that). I realize now Waew knew exactly what she was doing. We had no investigators when she left us. Ivy wasn't interested, but if we told Ivy we were willing to bike out to her place, Ivy wouldn't pass it up. And we'd be too naive to realize Ivy had never agreed to take the lessons.

After about a month of suffering hot, Saturday morning rides out to Ivy's place, Weldon and I stopped with 5 minutes to spare before our hour ride limit was up. We decided right then and there that if Ivy hadn't read The Book of Mormon we'd have to quit. This was a hard sell on Weldon. She never wanted to give up on anyone. But I'd had enough. Fifteen miles on dusty, construction ridden, traffic heavy, jungle roads (in under an hour) had killed me one last time. I was not going to keep making that trip, just to feel miserable about teaching someone who wasn't interested in anything more than feeding us (the yummiest I might add) chicken curry (on the planet). I loved Ivy. But I hadn't come all this way for someone who wouldn't even pick up The Book of Mormon.

We said a little prayer at the entry to her place, and I felt so much peace. We had made the right decision. And much to our surprise, Ivy had read the entire book of Moroni . . . and loved it. She thought they were the best scriptures she'd ever laid eyes on (and this woman knew The Bible better than the Pope). Despite the ancient wording and the old-English language, Ivy had understood those chapters so clearly. "And you know what Sisters. Moroni told me to do the same thing you two have been telling me to do. Read the Book and then ask God if it is true. That seems easy enough. I'll read it for a few more days, and then I can ask in Faith."

The next day in Church her sweet little Crystal leaned over during the sacrament and asked Ivy a question. Ivy turned to a chapter in Moroni and pointed out the verses Crystal should read to get her answer. I was flabbergasted. How had our prayer been answered so quickly?

Ivy spent the next month avoiding baptism and referring every family in her complex to us. We'd show up for a lesson and she'd take us somewhere with 20 other people ready to listen to our message. She even befriended a Filipina woman who confided in Ivy that she was LDS. She had been baptized back in the Philippines with her family, but when she first moved to Malaysia there was no Church, no missionaries . . . so Milet fell away . . . but upon hearing about us, she really wanted to meet us. When we first gave Milet a hug, she just cried. I knew Ivy had received a calling greater than simply accepting our message. She was furthering our work.
Ivy is in blue. Her daughter, Roverienna, is in pink. The others were just a few of the many neighbors Ivy had us share the Gospel to while she avoided further commitment. I'll explain the mask below.

During the month of September the local farmers burn the jungle to ready the fields for the next harvest. The air was so smokey we could hardly see at times. The members pleaded that we stop riding all the way out there. They would take us. But by that time Weldon and I had fallen in love with our 15 mile trek through the city, then the jungle -- to Ivy's house. We'd even started making it in under 40 minutes. We went to the pharmacy and bought some masks and continued until Ivy felt so bad for us she finally set a baptism date.

We never could put our finger on what was stopping her. Eventually I narrowed it down to two things. Her husband (the brother of the member who first introduced Ivy to Waew) did not want Ivy or his step-children joining the Church. Ivy hesitated to ask his permission for baptism, but we reiterated how important family was in all our decisions. One day she just told us she asked him and he said fine. I think even then we both knew she hadn't asked him, she'd told him he couldn't stop her.

The other thing was modern prophets. She never came right out and told us she didn't believe the whole Joseph Smith story. She knew The Book of Mormon was true, and by logic that meant Joseph Smith had translated the book with the help of God. A prophet.

But after her baptism, she stood to bear her testimony and she said with such certainty that she "knew President Gordon B. Hinckley was a prophet of God." She'd one-up-ed us. Not only was she sure about Joseph Smith, but she'd even prayed to know President Hinckley was the living Prophet on Earth today. When she sat back down next to me, she whispered "I didn't know it until I said it. I prayed and prayed to know it was true, and never got an answer. I just knew that Faith was my answer. Now I know."

Crystal was also baptized that day. Which was ironic because Roverienna was the daughter who listened to all our lessons with Ivy. Unfortunately Roverienna was Ivy's daughter with her current husband . . . the one who did not want her to join the Church. Crystal however, didn't need Christopher's permission, all she needed was to whiz threw the lessons with us in time for her mother's baptism date. It was perfect for us and Ivy. The lessons had been kind of jumbled with all the ridiculous questions Ivy asked us as we taught. Now that she was certain everything was true, she could listen to the lessons as they should be. She could even help us teach the concepts to her daughter (in Chinese or any of other various languages the two spoke together). Crystal's testimony was so sweet. She read it in Chinese or Malay or something else. But I understood one part . . . Sister Bassett and Sister Weldon. I asked Ivy what she said "Oh, just that she wanted to join the Church because she could tell how much you two loved her even though she ran away every time you came over." I loved it. Crystal really had always hid from us. She was so shy! I guess she figured we were safe once she realized we weren't going away.

Right then I realized, no matter how difficult Ivy (and the road to her house) had been. It truly was love that converted her and her sweet Crystal. Not just our undying love, but His. Spreading His love was always my #1 motivation for serving a mission, and I knew Ivy was the reason I had been fore-ordained with that strong desire. I still love Ivy more than she'll ever know.

Oh! And Roverienna was baptized about a year and half later. One of my favorite comps had the pleasure of teaching her when she went to Kuching all those months later.


Polly Blevins said...

That is a nice story. The Lord works in mysterious ways I guess.

No, Will is from GA. THey are all Winsor children and that is only about a third of them. Big families bring on bigger offspring.

Scott and Claudia said...

Loved your post sis, thanks for sharing. Do you ever hear from Sister Ivy? I did have to chuckle at one statement though. "...all she needed was to whiz 'threw' the lessons with us...". Threw as in throw! Did you truly propel, fling, toss, or throw her 'threw' the lessons with you! I am impressed! And, by the way, what exactly is it you teach? Just had to give you a hard time over that one, but thanks for making me chuckle. But more thanks for sharing such a tender story. Love ya to the moon and back. Mom

Scott and Claudia said...

And what about that funky desert you had at the mall? Just a bit confused -- I thought you were in the jungle, not the desert! I'm just trying to one up ma. I know you're an English teacher -- un Inglish teatcher frum Delda know les!
Honey I loved your story. It is great to relive your mission with you. Ivy is indeed very special. Can't wait for your next chapter! The memory was awesome, but you are even awesomer!

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