Well the new year brought new life, and Elder Goulding has been transferred to Virginia. It was a great transfer with a companion I needed very much, and I am so grateful to have been blessed to work with him. My new companion is Elder Payne! He’s 19, and his birthday is 3 days after mine. He’s from Hillsboro, Oregon, a city outside of Portland, and he is the MAN! He runs marathons and wins basketball games with his huge strides ridiculous wingspan. He also loves the Gospel. He is a convert of 13 months prior to coming on his mission, and he brought power and inspiration into the Winfield area that is going to be an incredible blessing in the lives of the people here. He loves Jesus Christ and knows the Gospel. I am very grateful to have him here.
I want to share something I’ve been learning with you.
For some time I have been pondering our agency, and the effect which the Lord and His Spirit can have on individuals. It was brought on by the idea of setting goals that require the agency of others (i.e. 2 baptisms, 3 member presents lessons, etc.), things that are not fully within our power to achieve. I recognize that it is not possible for the Lord to answer a prayer requesting that a person’s heart or will be changed. For example, if I prayed that a person would choose to serve a mission, God cannot grant my petition as asked.
What I have learned is that the Lord CAN influence every circumstance outside of a person’s own agency. For example, He can send an angel to Alma the Younger and the Sons of Mosiah to command them to turn from their ways, He can send a thought or impression into a person’s mind by the Spirit to guide them to where He needs them (He can even send it 3 times if they don’t listen the first time), and He can cause an engine failure to stop Elder Holland from leaving town. This is where faith and prayer come in, although to what level I am still pondering and learning. As missionaries, we cannot pray for someone to choose to be baptized, but we can pray for the Lord to send powerful witnesses again and again to help to influence that person to make the right choice, and we can pray for the circumstances holding them back to be eased and removed. These are prayers that the Lord can grant, and does, often.
I have learned through all of this that there are goals and desires we cannot control, (like how many people we baptize as a missionary, or whether our children join or return to the church), and there are things we can control through our faith, prayers, diligence and worthiness, like how many people we share the message of the Gospel with.
As we faithfully, prayerfully, diligently and obediently exercise our duties as missionaries, friends, coworkers, parents, spouses, and children, we can influence everything up to the actual turning of the agency of the people we love, and that is our duty.
Moroni 9:6 And now, my beloved son, notwithstanding their hardness, let us labor diligently; for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness, and rest our souls in the kingdom of God.