But I know I can't neglect this, at least for me! The writing I do all day is a completely different style than one I guess I've always been working towards. It's a complete reversal to a middle-school level of writing that ironically sounds the most clear on television. My editing effort goes towards chopping up long sentences and dumbing down vocabulary to sound smoother to the ear. It's funny.
Anyways, I have another story about the Fuhrer. An endless fount of glorious memories, I tell you. But in all honesty, this has been quite cathartic to get them written down.
Before I do, though, I just have to express how I take pause every day marveling at my freedom from a mission. Every day at some point I get flashbacks to the rules, how you go about your day, or what you can and can't do on certain days and this feeling of gratitude comes over me for my independence. I can do whatever the hell I want, whenever I want, and it is not something I take for granted since my mission experience. Even mundane things like going to the store to pick up just a few items--sometimes I'll catch myself going, "Wow, this would not be ok if I were on a mission. I couldn't 'just do this' or 'just do that', or take breaks from things or just take a break from people. I couldn't just be spontaneous like this, or deviate from an original plan of action. The other day I was lingering a while longer than I kind of planned to in the library, and I just thought, how nice is this that I don't have to worry whether someone else is wanting to leave or that I'm staying too long here. I was in a LIBRARY, and I was so grateful I wasn't on a mission right then. It really happens every day to some degree.
The worst, though, is when I start judging people for their use of time and re-affirming to myself that how they do things wouldn't fly on a mission. It's a horrible little game when it turns into this superiority game, faulting others. It's a good thing to be reminded not to take things for granted until I inevitably cross the line of remembering how unpleasant it all was for me.
Anyway, so the Fuhrer and I were tracting machines. Any time we didn't have a lesson to teach we were tracting. I learned with my next companion that this is not how you HAVE to do things. You can do service, for instance. Or go fellowship some inactives. One day Fuhrer and I were driving by a local soup kitchen by a trailer park, and I asked her if we could maybe sometime possibly maybe go volunteer there. I was pretty sure I saw something in the white handbook about that…after all, weren't missions supposed to be about practicing charity?
She just stared straight ahead at the road and said with a scrunched up face, "Why would we do that?" (It was the same response I got later when I asked if we could go visit some inactive people sometime. Wasn't she great?)
"Well, I think it'd be a nice thing to do for the community, and we'd maybe meet some people there, too."
"Yeah, maybe," she said, unconvincingly and slightly annoyed (per usual).
I think I might have brought it up once again in the next week or so, but she just kind of brushed the issue aside and we never talked about it again. I just assumed that doing service was just a waste of time, what with all the really successful, not to mention efficient, tracting we were doing all the time! (That was sarcasm).
We taught a few lessons here and there, but never any second lessons. Maybe it was the way she made Preach My Gospel into a formal "Discussion" like format, so we'd practice going rigidly section by section. If there was some little detail I'd miss, she'd make sure she said it during her section. And how she'd quickly say what we did wrong after we walked out of someone's door, that I said too much or too little etc.
However, more often than not, we'd be at some person's house who was chatting their ear off to us the moment we walked in the door. Southerners LOVE to talk, it's probably the truest thing I learned out there. Sometimes we felt like therapists just listening to their problems, so we would try to steer the conversation back to religion and kind of jump right in with the message we had planned for them, bypassing an opening prayer. Oh well, right? I mean, we always had a closing prayer, but sometimes just not opening ones.
Well, I quickly learned otherwise from Fuhrer as we were tabulating our numbers for the day. I said something like "Oh yeah, we taught so-and-so... so we had 2 lessons today!"
Shaking her head, she corrected me. "No. We can't count that."
"We didn't say two prayers. We have to say two prayers for a lesson to count. President said it."
"Oh! Ok then."
Our numbers were consistently super low and at District Meeting, the Elders would tell us to do better, and I would sit there racking my brain trying to figure out just what ELSE we could have done?!
(It wasn't until I was on splits with another sister who counted a lesson where we didn't say two prayers that I knew something was fishy. The sister even counted a mini-abbreviated (but nonetheless sincere and thorough, covering all the main points) lesson we gave at someone's door with zero prayers! I was legit shocked, and relieved. #spiritofthelaw)