This week was great! Our family of three was baptized on Saturday. It was probably the best baptismal service I've been to on my mission. We had over a hundred people show up. It was great to have that many people come to support them.
Other than that the week was a pretty normal one. We talked to a lot of people, not many people wanted to talk back. It was pretty much just the usual. I suppose there was one incident that stands out more then the rest. On Val Vista and Main there's a little shop that sells these huge bronze statues. We were with a member from our YSA ward trying to visit some people. No one was answering their doors that afternoon so we were trying to think of what to do. Behind this little shop there's a big dirt lot where they build the statues. As we looked behind the shop at this lot we noticed that they were building a huge Tyrannosaurus-Rex statue. Naturally, I was curious so we opted to drive back there and talk to them.
We pulled the blue Volkswagen bug onto the dirt and drove back to the far corner of the lot where the man had just been working. Behind the lot there's a canal. Canals run all through Mesa. It's the only water I've seen since I've been in Arizona. I'm not sure where the canals run from but I'm sure someone will fill me in someday. Anyways, a woman in jeans and a pink tank top was bent over at the edge of the canal with her head completely under the water. I would have said something to her but then I realized she probably would not hear me. So I left her to do whatever she was doing and turned my attention back to the enormous, bronze dinosaur directly in front of me.
It turns out that wasn't the only thing being worked on. A variety of life sized bronze crocodiles, a few large bronze bulls, some bronze peacocks, two bronze dragons, a full sized bronze carriage being pulled by two bronze stallions and driven by a creepy not bronze manikin dressed as a cowboy, and a small bronze terrier all rested behind the dinosaur. There was also a large grey cargo container like what you would find on a train. It was open with a blanket covering the opening. I could see a set of boots walking around inside so I spoke a little louder to Elder Clarke and the person who was with us (we'll call him josh) in hopes that he would come out. Just like I had hoped, the blanket was pulled aside and the wearer of the boots stepped out. He was a man about the age of 60 I would say. He was wearing cargo shorts and a worn out gray t-shirt to go with his boots. He had a red bandana on to soak up the sweat that dripped off his mostly bald head.
He took his sunglasses off to wipe off the dust and then very abruptly asked us what we wanted. We then began to talk about all the statues that were being worked on back there. I asked how much they cost to which he told me they cost more than I could afford. I laughed and then realized that he was probably right so I just kept asking questions. I came to find out that they were all being shipped to a man in Wisconsin. The T-Rex itself had cost the buyer twenty grand. The old man was right, they definitely cost more than I could afford. After the man got bored with us he went back inside his cargo container to do something more entertaining.
As he went inside I realized that the woman at the canal was walking towards us. She had wrinkles lining her face and a few tattoos on her arm that had faded to the point that I couldn't make out what they were. She looked like she had been attractive at one point but then life caught up with her. She was carrying a box of cigarettes in one hand as well as a bright green lighter. As we were getting in the car she grabbed josh.
"Are you leaving somewhere?" She asked.
"Yupp! I have to give these guys a ride back home" josh replied
She then got uncomfortably up close and asked josh if she could get a ride too. Josh looked at us and then back at her. She then interrupted his thoughts by repeatedly yelling the word please as fast as she could, just like a five year old girl would yell for ice cream.
Josh finally caved and told her to get in the car. Realizing that she was victorious, she let out a prolonged sigh and muttered, "finally!" before she got to the door. She pulled the handle and realized it was locked.
"Let's go, let's go, let's go!" She proclaimed, jumping up and down with her hand still on the door handle. Josh unlocked the doors and let us into the back seat of his Volkswagen. She jumped into the passengers seat and immediately grabbed Josh's hand and repeatedly kissed it. She finally let go and thanked him. She told us her name was Lea. She told us that god must have sent us and that Josh looked incredible. She quickly turned back to us and asked us who we were. After we told her our names she looked at Elder Clarke.
"You're not Elder Clark." She said.
Elder Clarke looked at her, obviously confused and lost for words.
"The Elder Clark I know is attractive" she said and then looked back to Josh, picked up his hand, and kissed it some more. I noticed that the seat she was sitting in was completely drenched from her experience with the canal. The excess water was making it's way down the seat and eventually dripping onto Elder Clarke's knees. I then noticed that Josh was attempting to get her to stop kissing his hand and tell her where we were going. She gave him directions to a neighborhood by an auto shop on main and greenfield. So we flipped the car around and headed to our new destination.
At this point I tried to start up a conversation with her. She was much more inclined to talk then the old man from the statue shop. She told us about how she grew up in Nebraska and then moved then moved to Vegas where she lived for twenty years. She moved to Arizona three years ago.
"What made you want to move down here?" I asked
"I ran away with a bank robber."
Surprisingly to myself, I wasn't at all surprised with her answer. Holding back laughter I asked, "what made you want to do that?"
"I didn't know it at the the time." Was her reply, and also her ending to that subject. We made our way to her house and parked in front of it. She then pulled out a cigarette and proceeded to lift the lighter to its tip. The look on Josh's face was one of pure horror. I thought for a second that he was going to grab the box and throw it out the window. Luckily for all of us she didn't light it. Instead she broke down in tears and told all of us how terrible of a person she was. She went on and on about it. I finally broke in and taught her about how she has a father in Heaven who loves her no matter what. I also told her about how he sent his son Jesus Christ to pay the price for sin and die for her so that she could change and come back to live with them once more.
She calmed down but still pressed the fact that she was a horrible person. She accepted however that we loved her. She complained that we didn't even know her. I replied that we didn't know her at all but that didn't change our view of her. I reminded her again that she was a child of god and of the potential that she had to become clean through Jesus Christ. I then told her how I've experienced his love in my life and no matter how terrible we think we are, we can change. All because of the love of a father in Heaven and his son Jesus Christ.
A peaceful feeling entered the car and I could tell that she understood. She thanked me, gave Josh a kiss on the cheek, and then exited the car. This time with a box of cigarettes and a lighter in one hand and a piece of paper with our number in the other.