Sunday, February 23, 2014

From February 19, 2014: Phoe-nixed

Well, the day came.  The YSA (Young Single Adult) area split into two and they shipped me off to a new area, whitewashing in blind to the Riverview Ward in Mesa, Arizona.  It should be a fantastically interesting experience.  Everyone I've met so far has been really nice and there are members EVERYWHERE.  People just pull over to offer us rides and things.  A little different flavor of missionary work, that's for sure.  I've been a missionary for 7 months now.  How did that happen?!  

It was sad to leave Phoenix because I love, love, love that city.  I'll miss "J" and "S" and "K" and all of the people there who changed my life.   There are a lot of them.  A lot of times and a lot of stories and a lot of challenges and a lot of memories.  That seems to be a common theme in life, reality becoming memory before I'm ready, and then a new reality imposing itself on the one I just learned to love.  But I'm grateful for the opportunity to discover a new reality as well.

I learned so much from Phoenix.  The meaning of the word struggle, for sure.  I had a lot of experiences again in my last week in Phoenix with the homeless.  They've come to be among my favorite people.  We met a man who spoke of his struggles with addictions and his search for God.  At one point in the conversation, he asked, "Do you all eat well?"  To which one of my companions responded, "Not really...".  He pondered for a second and then said, "Be grateful to be eating."  It's easy to forget.  It's easy to forget what we have and what we have been given.  But when you meet people like "J" or "E", it's not as hard.  Not as hard when you're walking away grateful to be eating, grateful to have both legs, grateful to have had something to eat or drink that day.  Grateful to be able to pray.  That's what I'll miss most, I think.  The prayers.  The most sincere and grateful prayers you have ever heard are from those who have only what they are wearing and a new Book of Mormon.  

"J".  I keep saying that name but it's because he keeps popping into my head.  We prayed in turns with "J" behind Jack in the Box.  And his prayer was the prayer of a man who knows God.  Nearly crying in thanking Heavenly Father for His Son Jesus Christ, shaking because of all that he felt, humble and grateful before God, praying for protection to be upon me.  And then him turning to me and saying, "You're turn."  I've never heard a thank you like the one that came from his dry and cracked lips when we gave him the first water he had had in who knows how long, walking from shade to shade in the 93 degree heat.  And as we stood there, hand in hand, me, my companions, and "J", it was family prayer.  The Family of God, holding hands to pray and offer thanks for meeting each other, behind a Jack in the Box in central Phoenix.  It's easier to remember what's important in life when people are broken.  When they have nothing, when they are maimed and troubled and depressed and down and in total darkness and total despair and then turn to God and plead for forgiveness and say "thank you" and MEAN it, it's easier.  And so, I'll miss Phoenix.  I'll miss the ashes. I'll miss the un-missed and all that I learned from them.   Farewell Phoenix.  As always, it's from the ashes that beauty is born.

Be grateful everyone.  Next time you eat, be thankful to be eating.  Next time you walk, be thankful to have a leg.  Next time you're down on your luck, remember "J".  And then remember Christ.  

. . . Mesa seems like it'll be great, too!  Just haven't done that much here yet so I have nothing all too poetic to say haha.  I am going to miss working in YSA, it was a whole different kind of work but really great to see. They have a good framework to work within now too so I expect some big things to happen there :)

My new ward is probably like 1/65 the size of my old ward, if that.  I'm loving the challenge of it though. Definitely calls for new solutions that I haven't used before.  Miracles are supposed to happen here though, so we'll hit it hard and see if we can make some of those miracles happen.  Maybe I'll get to teach a family!!!! That'll be exciting :)

On Monday we went contacting with a bunch of the new missionaries in central Phoenix.  That's always a blast. My new companion's name is Elder "C".  He's been out 4 and a half months and seems great!
It was super sad to leave Elder Sw. and Elder Sh., but they'll do great things in YSA.  And we all have matching purple ties, so we're basically still together.  haha!

I got the Valentine's Day box and loved it, thank you so, so much.  Grandma and Grandpa and Grandma J., I got all your stuff, too.  You're the best, thank you so much for sending me jokes and laughs and cards and treats!  

I love you all.  Happy transfers week and I'll E you on Monday.  Consider, between now and then, what it would take to make you disbelieve that the Book of Mormon is true.  Write the answer down on that.
Love you all,
Elder Molinaro

Elder Molinaro and Elder C helping a member family in their new area!

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