A story about earning member trust as a LDS missionary in maine.

Green Pools and Revelation. A story of Serving in Gardiner Maine.

Green Pools.

Our story starts on a warm August evening in Maine. Fall was definitely starting. The leaves in Maine had started to change colors. Soon the hills will look like someone had painted them with gold and amber. I was serving with Elder Edmil Gassant. We had been working in the picturesque town (it felt more like a village though) of Gardiner, Maine. Gardiner sat on the banks of the Kennebec River. 
We had been working diligently to find people to teach or who would be willing to allow us to serve them. We had chopped wood and worked many hours in the hot summer sun helping with a food bank garden. But tonight we were stopping by members of the Gardiner Ward (Congregation), seeking to minister to them, serve them, or to see if they might be able to help us as we taught people.

Our adventure that day led us into the small towns of  west of Gardiner. We had been visiting people all day. We started making our way back into town, because that evening we had meetings at the Church. As we were driving we stopped at a members house. They were always super friendly to us, and gave us rides all the time. We offered to help them, they said that they were OK. We talked about our activities, and they offered to show us some of their property.

During the tour of their property I saw something that totally fascinated me. There was a pool that had turned green… I did not even know they could do that. I saw it and was like that is awesome! It looks so cool! So I told her, “That looks awesome!” The member shrugged it off saying, that’s my sons not mine. (So I thought they did not want to take credit, and wanted me to pay the remark to their son).

We continued on to the church. When we walked in I saw the person who had this green pool. I wanted to tell them it was one of the most awesome things that I had ever seen. So, I told this good sister in front of 4-5 other ladies, “You have an awesome green pool”…. Well, ignorance can cause damage. And in this case, I did not know what I had done. So, I carried on, and when I saw her husband who was the Bishop (Pastor), I told him the same thing. “You have an awesome green pool”… Still ignorant I carried on.

We had our meetings and life continued as normal, until I found out what I had done. In my lack of pool experience and knowledge calling someone’s pool green is apparently super offensive. I had basically insulted the pastor and his wife in front of the members of the congregation! All I knew was they were not happy, I did not understand why. So, I called the missionaries that worked with him the most. They explained that he took offense at calling his pool green. Still not understanding why he would, I was prideful, and I was like well, I meant no harm! They should just get over it.

My District leader promptly replied saying, “You were offensive and rude.” I was not happy with him, so pridefully I hung up… Afterward, I went into the other room, knelt down, and started to pray seeking revelation from God, and guidance on what to do.

Revelation.

At first I was mad. I knew I should not be mad. So I asked Heavenly Father to help me not be mad at my leader for trying to help me. I also realized ignorance or not, I had done something wrong. I did not understand, but I knew that I made a mess, and I needed to clean it up.

As I was praying, I asked my Father to help me to know what he wanted me to do. I told him, I’ll do anything you want to make it better… And I experienced something that has never happened before or after this. As I was praying, it was almost like I was in a dream. I could see myself in the Bishops office, Elder Gassant, Flake, Neilson and Sisters Cloward and Wray were there. And I saw myself ask Bishop for a Priesthood blessing. Then it ended… 

I thought to myself, how could I do this? Could I ask a man who was not happy with me to minister to me? As I pondered, I realized that even if Bishop was upset with my actions, he still loved me as a son of God, and would be willing to help me if I needed it. I was scared to death though. So, I made a deal with God. I told Him, “OK, I’ll ask for the blessing, but to confirm it is Thy will, I’ll only ask him if I get called to go District Leader.”  I was rather sure I would not be going District Leader. Mostly because I never brown nosed the Zone Leaders, and I would disagree with them sometimes.

So, life went on. I tried to do everything in my power to mend the relationship. The first thing that was needed was information on what I did. So, I asked members about green pools, very quickly I learned how offensive I had been, and I realized that I had basically called this family that sacrificed so much to help others, poor stewards… When I realized what I did I was mortified. That I had been so mean, and rude not even knowing it. To me that was a knife in my heart, I had been striving to always love everyone, and to learn that I had unknowingly hurt some of the people I had loved, and was so thankful for I had hurt. 

I was so thankful that when transfer calls came, we did not get one. It gave me a chance to humble myself, and continue in prayer, in efforts to fix the mess I had made. What was worse was I had inadvertently caused more damage as I asked members about green pools because some of them got mad in my defense, and things escalated.

Over the next six weeks, I had a chance to give the Lord my all. We were running (quite literally), we were seeking the Lord’s hand in our lives. Miracles started happening, yet always running in the back of my mind was a need to fix this problem that I had created. The opportunity to help them presented itself. They had to replace their deck. So, we went and worked hard. We spent almost nine hours in the sun. We made massive headway, but another day was needed.

The next week we went again to help (this being the day of transfers calls). We worked for eight hours, hurried off to a lesson that night, and in the middle of the lesson our phone rang. I looked down it read “President Stoker”. I told them we had to take this call. We went outside and listened as President Stoker told me, “Elder Goff you’re being transferred. Elder Gassant, you’re staying, Elder Goff you will be serving as a district leader in your new area.”
My heart sank, I knew it was time. The thing was, I did not want to go. As we came back inside the little girl we were teaching said, “You’re leaving us aren’t you Elder Goff?” I said, “Yes, how did you know?” She replied, “I watched you out the window and I thought you were going to cry.” It was hard leaving Gardiner, I felt that I had given it my all, and this was the first area on my mission that it did not feel like I had seen many fruits of my labors. 

Conclusion 

Sunday came, and as usual the Lord was good to me. We had so many people we were visiting come that day. It was a tender mercy from the Lord. After seeing all the members of the church that we had found, and were helping to come back, I felt peace. I may not be leaving this area with any baptisms, but I knew I had made a difference in the lives of at least some people.

But one issue remained. Was this mistake finally cleaned up? As I sat in the office of the Bishop I looked around me. Elder Gassant, Flake, Neilson and Sisters Cloward and Wray were there. I knew what I needed to do, I was just afraid to do it. Finally, I asked him,”Can I get a blessing?” As I sat there, in the middle of the room, just like I had seen, I received one of the most powerful blessings in my life. In which I new the Lord had a plan, and loved me. And that things with this family were now healed.

I am so thankful that the Lord allowed me to have this experience, and to serve in Gardiner, and then in Cornish Maine (I was Transferred to Cornish that following Tuesday). I am thankful for prayer, and the Spirit leading me, and humbling me. I am so thankful that I did not leave that area with enemies , but with friends. And I am so thankful for that blessing. Had this not happened I never would have asked him for a blessing. But I needed that blessing, it helped me endure to the end, with giving it my all to the very last day.

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