Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Winter never ends! Here at least, once you are used to a new level of cold, it decides to get colder... some lady was telling us there are more white Easters here than there are white Christmases. It had better not be.
This week was really awesome. Things just went well, we had the Spirit guiding us, and miracles occurred. Here's one- and to me, this is just proof that God loves His missionaries, and truly knows our hearts. And stomachs. We were fasting Saturday for our investigator R, who was in Florida to discuss her decision to be baptized with her family face to face. Because of their bitter anti-Mormon sentiments, we wanted to help her in any way we could and so we decided to fast. Saturday was really cold, and wet, and we were hungry, and a little grumpy. So we had to focus on why we were doing it and what our true motivations were, and just go out and do our best with our best attitudes. This was even tougher when our dinner appointment bailed on us about an hour before. This, however, gave us time to contact a returning member's referral for her parents. We offered to shovel out their driveway and sidewalk, charming them immensely, and then they invited us in for dinner! Yeah! And we were able to share the message of the Restoration with them, and have a future visit set up as well! So we were super blessed!
Another benefit of the fast, which I didn't realize until later, was with our investigator R. I had been kind of double tasking this fast for two people, because R is just a great guy who is not progressing at all. And we had been unable to discover his "iceberg," what was keeping him from fully accepting the Gospel. Our lesson with R went really bad. There was a contentious Spirit in the family even before we got there, and he was just kind of short with us the whole time. So we were bummed. It wasn't until we were reviewing the lesson in the car afterwards that we realized R had opened up about his root concern! So our fast did help! Now that we know his big concern, we can start to treat it! And I totally would have missed how a lame lesson was a blessing, had not my mind been opened by the fast. Just my thoughts this week. Sometimes you don't figure our how a fast, or a really heartfelt prayer, is answered until later.
Another miracle: J, our investigator, is getting baptized March 7th. She had her interview and passed! She is so excited about the church, and she loves her Book of Mormon. She met with the missionaries for the first time in November, because she was dating S. At first, she was really only interested in the church because of him, but it is just so crazy to see what has changed. Now she loves the church, the gospel, and quit coffee and smoking completely! She is already in Alma Chapter 5, and she has marked up and highlighted and studied the scriptures. She is a really awesome lady. We went to Warren on Sunday to meet her parents and we had a really good dinner! And afterwards, shared an awesome lesson with the parents, J was bearing her testimony the whole time and the Spirit was really strong. The parents accepted a Book of Mormon and have committed to truly study it. So that was great! J is the one who insists we need to have bow ties, so I'll be wearing one to her baptism.
So this week was full of miracles and some funny stories… Elder B and Elder R were in a lesson this week with some new investigators, teaching the Restoration, and out of the blue, the lady they’re teaching just goes, "You know who I hate? Mormons!" The elders are like "Uhh..." And she continues, "You know, I really despise them. Knocking on your door and telling you how to live your life!" So at this point, Elder R decides it’s better to just put things on the table. "Well, not to make it awkward, but we are Mormons." It got awkward. To make a long story short, she had us confused with some other faith. But still... not quite sure how that all works. How'd she not know?
Another one... this guy was giving a talk about how the Lord is with us, opened up to 2 Kings to share a scripture about how there's a bunch of angels surrounding Elisha even though he's surrounded by an angry army. But he read the wrong one, about a guy getting trodden down outside of the city gate. Kind of ruined the mood. But another talk, about how we must develop patience, was really good! Sometimes you gotta be patient! That is what I’ve learned on my mission.
Friday, February 20, 2015
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
The twig was cancelled, sad day. It was really just too cold though! It was -15 with a wind chill of -30, and it was just bad! Things just get colder and colder here! I used to like wearing my awesome coats, jackets, and sweaters, but now I’m sick of them... Today's 10 degrees, and I have to say it felt pretty nice to walk outside. That's how extreme it is! I suppose I can't complain... I could be in Norway or Russia, or even Boston for that matter…
This week was nice! Despite being cold, we were able to still able to get a lot done. I went on exchange in Warren, PA, and Elder G is a highly dedicated walk elder. However, Warren is an area with a car because it needs one. We walked probably 12 miles to try approximately 4 people. We went all over. It was definitely the most I'd done in a while! I guess it's good to stay in practice, but it was not a super enjoyable experience at the time... We also had training on obedience with President Johnson at Zone Training, by which I take it that there have been problems lately with disobedience... Not to worry. Your faithful and obedient son is continuing on in the strait and narrow path. Cool quote though: " Obedience is heaven's first law, and order is itShoppings result," -Amalia Aubacher (President Johnson’s grandma.) It's true. As we obey, for the right reasons, things fall into place in the right way and at the best time. So yep! Keep the faith!
So I can't remember if I told you this, Brother H, a member in our area, is a martial arts and weaponry master, and he's started teaching us basic principles and fundamentals of self-defense on Pday. (There is nothing else to do here.) Gotta say, I am really enjoying it. Learning a ton. Here's some food for thought. He was teaching us some techniques, but made this observation. Learning a bunch of rote techniques for highly specified situations will get you nowhere. Better is to learn the principles, the way things work, and then allow that absolute truth to govern how you react in a situation. Ex. rather than mastering a specific parry/punch combination for every attack, understanding how force and energy work in the body to redirect and then counterstrike in the best way. The gospel parallel is this- rather than memorizing all the rules and then living them to the t, understand the gospel. Understand the fundamental truths as to how things work, and then allow this knowledge and the Spirit to help you to make the best decision in any given situation. The most annoying missionaries are the ones who live the white handbook perfectly but fail to really show compassion, charity, or inspiration. The way to really live the gospel is to understand, then act. And I think that goes for social interaction, or business, or really anything. If you understand how, and why, something works, that is way better than memorizing routines or steps. It's leadership vs. management. Food for thought.
Friday, February 13, 2015
Monday, February 9, 2015
I'll tell you a bit about my Saturday and Sunday, since that was ward conference for us. On Saturday we were down in Westfield, which is about a 30 minute drive, where a lot of the people we visit live. We have started doing service at the library there, I’ll take pictures next time because it is the nicest library I've ever been in: Marble floors, large ionic pillars, the children's library downstairs is bright, engaging, and well-stocked. Also, it has a much simpler sorting system than Dover’s library. Plus, Elder S enjoys the library service, as opposed to Elder B, who suffered through it.
We then drove to Jamestown for the Saturday night session, it was nice. We split into smaller groups and had breakout sessions where we discussed tender mercies in our lives. Then came back together and had some more discussion. It was unusual, not really sure what I was expecting, but there was a very nice spirit to it. Also J and R, two of our investigators, came, which was a great thing for them. That night we spent the night in Jamestown, due to the long drive back to Fredonia, which was fun, I got to talk more with Elder B again. He has this little magic trick called Sherbinkam which he drives his companion crazy with, I was in on it, so that was kind of entertaining-he couldn't figure out the trick.
Ward conference was very inspiring. Stake President M had a little anecdote, a simple formula: C+O=H. Commandments+Obedience=Happiness. "If you find yourself lacking in happiness, simply increase the amount of your obedience."
Also in Priesthood meeting the stake presidency counselor gave a very well-done lesson on the plan of salvation, he touched on three things that will allow us to remain on the path and progress to return to our Father in Heaven: Prayer, Scriptures, and Service. As a missionary, we tend to teach all our less-actives that the Big 3 are Prayer, Scriptures, and Church. And while that is true, I have realized that there are a bunch of "active" members who do those things but are still, for lack of a better word, jerks. But truly altruistic service is a thing that lifts us beyond our own and makes us closer to others and the Savior. So that is true! Service! But don't stop coming to church!
L is still doing really good, his mom bought him a suit and so now he looks pretty spiffy coming to church! He is on track to get baptized the beginning of March, which is awesome! Unfortunately, his cousin D, has hit a roadblock. He told his dad that he wanted to get baptized and his dad won't permit it until he is 18. He is fine with him coming to church, but doesn't feel like his son is capable of making a big decision like that. Which is really frustrating. But he's still coming to church, and he bought himself a suit! So now he looks pretty spiffy! Just 2 1/2 years and then he can get baptized!
Well that's the week. Love you!
P.S. This last week was ward conference, so no twig! I miss it! Back to the twig this week.
Thursday, February 5, 2015
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Yeah the work is going great here! The snow just keeps coming, though. Pretty over it at this point.
Church in Jamestown yesterday was awesome! Fast and testimony meeting was probably one of the most spiritually powerful meetings I have attended in my life. R got up and bore her testimony about how though even her baptism has been postponed; she still knows this church is true. Then J, another of our investigators, bore her testimony of how the gospel has changed her life. (She also gave a shout out to us, calling us "my missionaries"). Sister W, a returning member, bore her testimony for the first time in her life! Plus several other members from our area got up to bear their testimonies about missionary work! The Spirit was powerfully present there, and I could feel it so strongly. The fire alarm actually went off in the middle of several testimonies (some crazy kid kept pulling it or something), leading Elder B to quip, “Well, the second hymn in our hymnbook reads "The Spirit of God like a fire is burning'". That was a really special experience. The church is true!
Last week, we tried to do the repentance object lesson with this guy named K that we found. Anyway, don't know if you know this object lesson. A bowl of water is you. Every time you sin, you sprinkle pepper in the water and it looks yucky. The power of repentance is dish soap. You put a drop on the tip of your finger and touch the surface of the water and the pepper blasts away. Anyways, back to the story, K doesn't have any condiments in his cupboards. Nothing in there but beans and squid. :P So Elder S. tried using ground-up coffee, which doesn’t work, because it sinks and disperses in the water. I was about to scrap the idea but found some canary food, which worked well enough for the purposes of the lesson. I still think it maybe went over K's head though...
At this point, we have a lot of investigators, it's a pretty tough process just leading them and helping them get through their individual problems and concerns and get to baptism. One thing for sure is, the devil does not let up on them! As soon as you start moving towards baptism, you are out of neutral ground. Multiple investigators are facing massive family backlash. Some are struggling financially, with health, whatever. It is really frustrating. And really hard to see. But that is the missionary life. And overall, despite all that, it’s a pretty good one.