Hello wonderful friends and family =)
CHRISTMAS IS IN THE AIR!
And so are BIRTHDAYS! I have so many family birthdays this month! I am excited to try to remember them =)
We have had a wonderful, miracle-filled last 2 weeks. I want to list a couple of them below!
One man, we have been teaching for about 4 weeks now. He has been pretty resistant to receiving the missionary lessons, and yet very receptive to our testimonies. We gained a great love for him and could tell that he has a great desire for good and truth in his life. This past week, we realized that we needed to discontinue teaching him if he continued to resist the lessons. That day we prayed so frequently, knowing that the desired result would be a softening of his heart, asking for the Lord to help. We prayed for the Lord to speak through us. We decided to be direct with him. The conversation began the same, but we were bold in declaring our purpose. About halfway through, 2 Nephi 29 came to my mind as a direct answer to one of his concerns. I read to him, and there was a visible softening. Our member then began to testify and invite him to consider the reality of our position. As we left, Ferdinand said that he saw that he needed to dive in and study the Book of Mormon, and that he wanted to receive the lessons and learn. Polar opposites from his statements from our last lesson!
One member of our church has been struggling. This past week, we felt impressed about 10:25 to send a message to her. We were direct and loving in a short message to her. Within the next two days we ran into her on the bus! We greeted her warmly and she said, “I’m coming to church on Sunday.” I was grinning from ear to ear. “Someone spoke truth,” she said, glancing up at us, “and I’m ready now.” She did come to church, and it was beautiful and perfect.
Ricardo is a convert who has not been consistently attending church for some time, although he has a firm faith in the Gospel and in the Priesthood. His wife is active and wonderful. A few weeks ago we had dinner with them and a wonderful conversation on temple covenants. He said he didn’t want to make more promises to God until he was knew he was going to live it, especially when he wasn’t keeping his current covenants. I gained a great respect for him that night. Last night we had dinner with them again. I asked if we could continue the conversation we had last time. I asked him if there was anything that was really keeping him from attending church. He started listing off reason after reason. We listened intently. Finally he said “Honey, go get my patriarchal blessing, I think it says something in there about ‘make sure you always attend your church meetings’. Sounds like Heavenly Father knows his son very well.” At the end of the dinner, he said that he was willing to promise to consider attending, even if just to take the Sacrament again. He said he felt it would bring some needed peace into his home.
Kakerot is an investigator with a very strong belief in Christ and in his salvation. We have been teaching him and reading from the Book of Mormon consistently with him for a few weeks. He had expressed on multiple occasions a feeling that he was in limbo, finding no joy in this world and only joy in Christ and yet having to wait here when all he wanted was to be with Christ and his Father again. He is a very intelligent man with a beautiful family, and it seemed to us that he was basically letting his life pass him by, literally waiting on the Lord. We saw him two nights ago and he looked so unhappy. He said he wanted to go into a field and stay there for two days. We decided to share what was weighing on us. I shared D&C 58:26-27, that if we are commanded in all things we are slothful and unwise, that we must do many good things of our own free will. I shared some statements on stewardship from the D&C that had been particularly meaningful to me. He listened silently. I felt the power of the Spirit testifying as I spoke. After our conversation, he said that when I had shared the first passage, he felt like he was a turtle who had just been flipped onto his back. He said that he’d never felt like that before, and thanked me. He said it had inspired great confidence in the message of the Book of Mormon. We returned yesterday to visit with him. He introduced his wife to us for the first time. He was smiling and bouncy and happy. He told us he had been pondering on the passage and that he had found its application in his life. It was incredible.
A man boarded the bus yesterday and looked directly at me before sitting across the aisle and a few rows ahead, right in front of Elder Vest. After a minute, I worked up the courage to scoot over and say, “Excuse me sir.” He turned and extended his hand. “Have you ever heard of the Church of…” before I could finish he was smiling and stood and moved to sit across from me. He was super friendly and said he had been to Salt Lake with his family. He said that he had seen us working the main street in our area pretty hard and always honked at us when he drove by. He told us he attended a Universalist Unitarian church and that he had been inspired within the past week that he needed to come up with a belief system that was truly his own, rather than adopting those of his friends. We asked if we could meet with him and he invited us over for lunch right then. Over the next hour we learned that he is nearing his first anniversary, has a child on the way, and that he and his wife really want to raise their child in church. He said he is a truth seeker, constantly seeking. As we parted ways, he accepted a Book of Mormon and agreed to hear the lessons. He set up an individual lunch appointment and an appointment to meet together with he and his wife next week!
As a final note of news, I will be transferred to Clifton Forge, VA tomorrow. I will be serving in my first Branch of my mission, the Covington Branch, with Elder Dillon Sorensen, a fantastic missionary. =) I’m so happy, and so excited!
I love this work. I will never forget Lynchburg. The members here have been such a blessing to me and to those we taught here. This ward has been incredible. I will be forever grateful to each of those I have met here. I so look forward to returning in the future. Thank you for everything!