Memory can be a very unreliable resource. It can, however, make for some interesting stories. I thought that it would be fun to record some snapshot memories of mine. They may or may not be exact history, but this is how they exist in my brain as of the time written.
The Meeting: Part 1
We had but one chance. Luckily, we both rose to the occasion. I had only been home from my mission 2 1/2 weeks. The Young Women leaders asked me to teach the lesson that Sunday for them since the topic was missionary work. I decided to give a basic Visitor's Center presentation complete with referral cards and an invitation to refer somebody to the missionaries. I spent some time explaining to the young women the importance of getting out of their comfort zone in order to make missionary work simple. Things we say and do on a regular basis can spark questions and inspire conversations that lead to opportunities to share basic gospel principles. It can be as easy as sitting next to someone we don't know. Sometimes they start the conversation and it's a piece of cake from there.
The presentation went very well and I even received one referral! It felt good to be teaching the gospel again with confidence. My boldness was short lived, however, as I entered my Sunday School class. It was for young single adults in our ward and was taught from the "Preach My Gospel" manual, which I had grown to love on my mission. That was basically my only reason for attending the class. Everyone in there was much younger than I was. They had all just graduated from high school, the boys preparing for missions. I had already graduated from college and just completed my mission. We were totally opposite, including that there were several of them and only one of me.
Since it had taken some time to gather my materials from the previous class, I wasn't the first one in the room and was now faced with choosing a seat among the few youngens already there or entering with me. In a split-second decision I jumped back to the old me and sat off to the side by myself. I was content being separate and different from all of them. As I began to pull my manual out, a twinge of guilt knocked me on the side of my head as my own words penetrated my ears. Hadn't I just exhorted the young women to leave their comfort zone? Hadn't I specifically mentioned sitting by people you don't know instead of alone? My eyes darted nervously around the room, landing on three girls who had just been in my class. What a hypocrite I was! Could I not practice what I preach? Desperately I searched for someone who was not involved in their group conversation with whom I could talk. Hopelessness began rising in me as I realized they were all in the same discussion. There was no way for an outsider like me from a different world to jump in late.
Suddenly, my eyes depicted a form. A boy who I had never seen before. He had snuck in somehow, unnoticed by me in my distress, and had sat down behind me. My mind raced as I tried to identify him. Was he someone I knew from the ward before but had changed so much in my time away at school and the mission that now I did not recognize him? Had his family moved in and I had never seen him before at all? Could he be like one of the other kids in the class so young and so different from me? My eyes darted back to the chattering girls from the young women's class and I decided that I needed to teach by example, whether they noticed or not. Without a second thought I flipped my head around and introduced myself.