Sunday, April 13, 2014

Week 44--Quiet Heroes

Hi family,

So this last week has been one for the record books. It's caused me to reflect a lot on the person I am, and who I want to become. It's been a rollercoaster ride of emotion, as well as a testimony builder. In fact, I feel as if this last week was something straight out of a movie. There was a lot of things that happened, like interviews with the president, watching F-22s take off, cleaning Pearl Harbor, playing pool while watching conference, and going to the temple, but one story of them all takes the cake. In fact, and I may be a little biased on this, it may be one of the greatest missionary stories ever told. And it all revolves around one man. His name is Darryl.

Often times, there are people in your life that have a greater impact then one might ever  comprehend. They come into your life, and leave a deep everlasting imprint on your soul that shapes the very fiber of your personal character. And often times these people are ones that are of no special relevance to the outside world. There may be a handful of people in your life like this, and I like to call them quiet heroes. Darryl is one of those.

For those of you just tuning in, or have been spotty on keeping track of my hectic life, let me establish the foundation of one of the best weekends of my mission, and maybe even my life. My companion and I met Darryl roughly 2 months ago. It was when my companion and I were brand new in the area, both of us, and we were as lost as a freshman on their first day of high school. We were walking down the street, discussing why we both decided to embark on this mission thing, when a local guy in his early 30's stopped us. I had seen him following us for a little bit, and he turns to us and asks, "Why did you two decided to come out on this mission thing?" His next question was as follows, "How does one go about joining your church?" In our minds, we were ecstatic! We walk with him, end up teaching him half the plan of salvation, and then the next day we finish teaching him the plan of salvation. This guy was perfect. Almost too perfect. We were a little skeptical to say the least. He either had perfect memory, or he was a less-active member messing with us. For example, we mentioned the name "Uchtdorf" at the beginning of the lesson, then a few hours later he brought up the name again. He also knew we could only call home twice a year, baptism is where you make covenants, and other weird things like that, but he claimed he only remembered talking to missionaries once for 15 minutes, and he'd had never been to church. We were a little wary. But we kept our faith up and trusted him that he was telling the truth, banking on the fact that time would tell. Well, the next day was Sunday, our first Sunday in the ward, and low and behold Darryl comes walking in. That Sunday, he stayed all three hours, and every talk, every lesson, every conversation he had was all directly correlated with the lesson we taught him. In fact, one of the scriptures we shared in our lesson the day before, was used in the Sunday school lesson. I presumed this was the spirit confirming to me that Darryl was legit. Over the next week, we met with Darryl every single day. A former stake president by the name of President Thiim helped fellowship with Darryl. It's hard to describe just how amazing those meetings were with those two, but just keep in mind I left every time with a Spiritual overload. In fact, it's safe to say those were some of the most spiritual lessons I've had as a missionary. Over the next few weeks, a number of miracles happened that will forever remain sacred in my heart. Some of which include Darryl telling us that he was an alcoholic for 10 years before he met us; him walking to church 2.3 miles to receive the Holy Ghost and a white bird landing on his shoulder (so I will let you be interpret that one. I’m not implying anything.), and a number of other things that made me believe that this was all happening for a reason. We were so happy. We felt as if our cups were running over. We felt happier than a fat kid in a Twinkie Factory. But this is when the whole thing starts to get weird.

            We wanted Darryl to receive the Aaronic Priesthood, but we first had to wait for his records from SLC. Well, we sent the records in, and usually they are sent to the ward clerk the very next day. But when we asked the bishop that Sunday, no records. The next week, nothing. Three weeks, STILL nothing. Now we were starting to get concerned. So we called the lady who works as the mission record creator, and she told us that, “I couldn’t make Darryl’s record because it says that "There is already a convert under the same name and birthday.’” So basically, unless there was another Darryl who was born on the same day walking around Hawaii, Darryl was baptized before. Shocked, confused, devastated, we started brain storming ideas on how this could have happened. Maybe he was baptized when he was 9 years old and doesn’t remember. Maybe he was drunk the whole time and can’t remember. Maybe he was just messing with us, and is a less active member trying to spite the Church. My mind was literally boggled. A few hours later we found out that the alleged “Darryl” was baptized in the Makaha Ward (where Darryl lived less than a year before he moved to Ewa Beach) in February 2011. He was baptized less than three years ago! How could he NOT remember?! I was furious. I assumed the worst. I was absolutely sure he knew, and he just wanted to make us angry. All the things we went through. All the prayers and fasting were wasted. I imagined telling the ward members, my family, all those who I bragged to about Darryl, that he was a phony. That it was all a hoax. That all those miracles weren’t real. After talking to some very helpful people, I calmed down and realized that I better not jump to conclusions. And the fact of the matter was that regardless of what happened, I still loved Darryl and cared for him. And regardless of what happened, the ultimate reason why he did this was he wanted to be forgiven. And who could be mad at that? We all want to be forgiven. At the time, my companion and I were in no state to talk to Darryl, so two of our fellow missionaries went to go talk to him. They came back telling us that he has absolutely no idea what they were talking about, and that they believed he sincerely had no idea what they were talking about. So we paid him a visit ourselves. At this point, we weren’t mad at all, just incredibly confused. So we went to go visit him, and we asked him about it, and with all truthfulness he told us that if he were baptized, he had no memory of it every happening. We could tell he was telling the truth. At this point we knew that he wasn’t messing with us, and that his baptism wasn’t a hoax, but that still left a lot of loose ends.

(Please take a water break/bathroom break before it starts getting crazy)

Alright we’re back. So my companion and I decided to do some investigation of our own. We call the missionaries in the Makaha Ward, and they were like, “Oh yeah. We know Darryl. He definitely got baptized.” And we called the bishop of the Makaha Ward, and he told us that Darryl got baptized in the Makakilo Ward, and was shortly transferred into his ward. He then called us a few minutes later and talked to the Ward Mission Leader in Makakilo Ward, who said that he physically baptized Darryl and has pictures. So now we know for a FACT that it was Darryl and he got baptized. So the next day we had a meeting with Darryl, and we were going to tell him what we found out. Our meeting was scheduled for 10:30, but he calls us around 10:00 and was like, “Hey guys. I had a super spiritual experience last night and I can’t wait to tell you! I wish I could tell you right now, but I know you’re walking so I guess I will see you at 10:30.” And he hangs up the phone. My companion looks at me and we just kinda shake our head, not knowing what to expect. When we show up, Darryl is all smiles. He looks at us and declares, “Let’s start with a prayer. Elder Gleave, will you say it?” And after the prayer, he dives into his story. I will do my best to give his story justice, but it’s no replica for what actually happened. Anyway, his story went a little something like this:

“Last night I was really bugged by the fact that I couldn’t remember why I was baptized. So I called around to all my Aunties and friends in Makakilo and this what I’ve put together. Now remember all of this is what I’ve been told, but I know the people who told me and they are telling the truth. I did in fact get baptized. In October of 2010, I had a friend named Dirk who had two little girls. Dirk asked me to move in with him so I could help watch his daughters while he was at work. One day, while I was watching the girls, two missionaries knocked on my door and taught me about the gospel. A few months later, I moved to Makaha, but still took lessons, but this time by Sister Missionaries. So in February of 2011, I was baptized by this guy, Brother Franco, because the Sister Missionaries couldn’t baptize me. The next day I was confirmed and given the Aaronic Priesthood, Apparently, during all of this, Dirk say the change in my life and wanted to follow the same path, so shortly after my baptism, I baptized Dirk and his three little kids. In fact, I guess I was a pretty great person. I guess I took a lot of my family to church. One time, the missionaries took me to a guy who was contemplating suicide, and I don’t know what I said, but I talked him out of it and three weeks later I baptized him. (So the whole time I am just wonder how he doesn’t remember this!!) And this is when it gets really interesting. I guess at the same time I was also engaged to a Mormon girl from Laie. (Darryl is single right now)”.   This is when Darryl began to cry. It was apparent he was filled with frustration and pain as tears streamed his face, “I was engaged to this girl and I don’t even remember. But apparently one day we were doing service by the harbor in Waianea, feeding the homeless. The first time we fed them, we ran out of food, so I ran back home and grabbed more. We still ran out. So I ran back home and grabbed more, and ran out again. This time the homeless people were angry that I ran out, and five guys came and jumped me. I guess they beat me to the point to where I was sent to the hospital. It was so bad that I lost of all of my memory. It was too much for my fiancĂ© to handle. She couldn’t take seeing me like that, so she broke up with me. Apparently that was so traumatic for me, that my brain forced out EVERYTHING that had to do with the church and the last 5 years. I remember none of it.” So everything made sense. Finally. Darryl had a mixture of happiness as well as frustration. Happy he had answers, frustrated he couldn’t remember. I can’t even imagine what it would be like, to know that 5 years of your life was gone. He took it in good spirits though, saying “Man those homeless guys musta been pretty angry to fight me for not having food!” It was just nice to get answers.

A cool thing about the story is that we talked to the Makaha missionaries, and Darryl went almost through the same exact process of conversion with us, as he did in Makaha. Even to the point of all the lessons in the same order and relapsing drinking right before his mission. Now this could be Gleave doctrine, but I firmly believe that Darryl was baptized again, even though he was a member, because Heavenly Father wanted him to remember his baptism for the rest of his life. There’s some many lessons to learn from this story, but I think the thing to take away is how much Heavenly Father is aware of each and every situation we are in. He knows us, and he main desire is to help us come closer to him and happiness. I’m excited to see what Heavenly Father has in store for Darryl, because it’s pretty obvious that he needs him in his church. I’m sure he’s up there chuckling, saying, “You can’t get away that easy Darryl.” Think what you will, but I would say this is a miracle and nothing less. ALSO, Darryl told us the reason why the name “Uchtdorf” stuck with him, is because old Darryl had the opportunity to sit down and have an actual conversation with President Uchtdorf. I wish I knew what they talked about, but pretty amazing regardless. Darryl will forever be a quiet hero.

It’s safe to say that it was a rollercoaster of a weekend, filled with anger, crying, laughing, forgiveness, and love. One that I may never forget in this life or the next. But besides that, last week was pretty normal. Stay tuned to find out what happens this week!

Elder Gleave

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