I love being taught patience. =)
Last week was wonderful! I wasn’t left with much time to write because Elder Stone and I had been asked to help pour a concrete foundation at a private school here in Salem. It was awesome! The driver of the concrete truck was from Haiti and came to America 33 years ago. He said he’d been driving a cement truck for 29 years. This was my first time ever working with cement, and I loved it! I still haven’t gotten to go back and see the fruits of our labors, but they said it looked great.
Last weekend I was also very blesed to get to call my family for Mother’s day. =) It was great to have the whole family together and get to see everyone. Capri is so pretty! And Tatum is so tall!! And Josh has wicked facial hair! 13 months in the mission last week. =)
Elder Stone and I have had an amazing couple of weeks. We have learned to a greater degree the value of planning and accountability. Our priorities became a little confused last week, and we felt the results. Our work and the Spirit took a hit, and we recognized it quickly. At least twice a day now, we discuss what we can do better. When we identify something, we ask each other “Are we committed to this goal?” We then make plans and goals to change and write them in our planners and then we DO THEM! It’s been fantastic. This past week was the best week I have experienced in this area! The Lord is leading us to his sheep. We are becoming more worthy of His trust. =)
Last week, Elder Stone and I were led to the house of one of our former investigators *Brandon. We found him out back with his wife *Jessica. They welcomed us and we sat down and began to talk just like we were old friends. Our last interaction had been less than ideal, and I was surprised and grateful to be welcomed so warmly. Brandon told us that he and Jessica were working to quit tobacco and alcohol. We talked about everything they had been going through, and discussed the importance of the atonement in overcoming our weakness. We shared with them the pamphlet for the Word of Wisdom and taught them about the Priesthood. Jessica asked if we would give her a Priesthood blessing. Elder Stone anointed her and I began. The peace that I felt as I pronounced that blessing was so profound. The Lord told her of her potential, of her relationship to Him, of His love for her. After the blessing, Jessica said that she knew that it had been from God, that I had said things I couldn’t possibly have known about her. Brandon had been moved as well, and asked if we would bless him. Following the blessing he just said “Wow.” He told Jessica that he had felt a Spirit fill him that he hadn’t felt since 1997. We asked them to write down as much as they could remember. When we went back early this week, Brandon had memorized parts of his blessing that were important to him.
Another family we began teaching this week, we actually met two or three weeks ago. We met *Frank and *Holly when we were out walking and promised to stop by and drop off a Book of Mormon. When we went last week, they said they had been waiting and wondering when we would show up (good and bad to hear that! =/). We didn’t have much time to talk then, but promised we would come by again. Last Monday, during the short time we had to email, I was sitting next to a young girl named *Krystal who was really excited to talk to me about everything she was doing online. I smiled and talked with her as I typed. Before I left, I gave her a card to give to her mother. Then on Wednesday, Elder Stone and I were out with a member and stopped at a gas station. After a few minutes I walked toward the restroom and found our member talking to a young boy named *Harry who was asking him questions about religion. He told me we had given his dad a Book of Mormon, we found out that he was the son of Frank and Holly! He was super intelligent and we had quite a conversation. After a while, he asked us if he could be baptized and get the priesthood. We told him he could, but we would have to talk to his parents. He asked us to come over and talk with his dad, and we agreed to. When we did, we found that Krystal was his sister! We stood on the porch smiling and talking with his entire family: Father, mother, 2 boys, 1 girl, and granny, and they invited us to come over the next day to a birthday party they were having for their other son. I wished I could step out of myself and look at the scene. It was awesome. Yesterday, Harry and Krystal came to church, and loved every bit of it.
I wish I could share everything… I cannot write even the hundreth part of the things of this week.
I want to share one thing that I’ve learned in my studies recently. I came across the story of Alma’s people in the land of Helam shortly after his conversion.
26 Now it came to pass that the brethren of Alma fled from their fields, and gathered themselves together in the city of Helam; and they were much frightened because of the appearance of the Lamanites.
27 But Alma went forth and stood among them, and exhorted them that they should not be frightened, but that they should remember the Lord their God and he would deliver them.
28 Therefore they hushed their fears, and began to cry unto the Lord that he would soften the hearts of the Lamanites, that they would spare them, and their wives, and their children.
29 And it came to pass that the Lord did soften the hearts of the Lamanites. And Alma and his brethren went forth and delivered themselves up into their hands; and the Lamanites took possession of the land of Helam.
13 And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.
14 And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.
15 And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.
16 And it came to pass that so great was their faith and their patience that the voice of the Lord came unto them again, saying: Be of good comfort, for on the morrow I will deliver you out of bondage.
As I read their story, I wondered how Alma could have led an entire city of 450 people into this kind of humility and patience. Maybe I will leave you to ponder the same thing. =)
I am so grateful to be here, to be in Salem, the Salem ward, and this companionship.
I pray that all is well for each of you. I know that the Lord knows you, each of you. May I leave you with one of my favorite scriptures–parting words from Alma to his son Helaman:
32 …Teach them an everlasting hatred against sin and iniquity.
33 Preach unto them repentance, and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ; teach them to humble themselves and to be meek and lowly in heart; teach them to withstand every temptation of the devil, with their faith on the Lord Jesus Christ.
34 Teach them to never be weary of good works, but to be meek and lowly in heart; for such shall find rest to their souls.
All my love,
*As always, names changed. ; )