I love being a missionary!
I am so grateful to be serving in the Covington branch, and this Clifton Forge area! We have seen wonderful miracles as we looked to the town organizations to find ways to become involved in the community. We met unexpectedly with a member from another ward in our stake working at the local community college. He shared with us an incredible desire to see the Gospel brought onto the campus. He took us around and introduced us to his work associates, all of whom were so kind and friendly, and they seemed really positive about having us serve there and even excited to see us bring Family History and other programs onto the campus! There are wonderful things coming for this part of the world.
Yesterday, during church, I started feeling symptoms of some kind of 24-hour bug. It was super-duper painful. I asked for a blessing from my companion and the other Elders in our branch. Before they blessed me, I knelt and prayed alone and asked for counsel as to whether I should work or rest. In the blessing I was told, in essence: "Heavenly Father knows it’s difficult to work while you’re sick, but he will strengthen you." So we worked! Around 4:45 we came back to our apartment. Our appointments had fallen through, and I said "Elder, can we just take a dinner hour now?". He obliged, and I set a 35 minute alarm and whimpered myself to sleep. When it went off, I woke up, changed into proselyting clothes, woke up my companion (ha ha) and we headed back out for the night. We were unexpectedly invited to a flute recital of one of the young women in our branch, so we went and were able to fellowship and I got to meet some wonderful new people, including the mother of a young convert in our branch!
As we were driving home from the recital, Elder Sorensen and I had a great idea! Mom and Dad sent me a box of little gift things to share with people, "kinda like a Santa", my mom said. =) So that’s what we did. We made gift bags for a few of the young kids that we know, and went around to deliver them. It was lots of fun, and not too strenuous. As we walked back to our truck at 8:55, I said "well Elder, we made it alive". This morning, we woke up early and I was surprised to find myself filled with more energy than I have on just about any morning of my mission. I started getting ready and was about 20 minutes in when I realized that I had been miserably sick the night before, and was not feeling a single symptom this morning.
Although small and simple, this experience was very meaningful for me. It was another moment of refinement. As I’ve pondered back on it today, it has already changed the way I view certain things in my life, and I know that in not so small ways, it has changed me for the better. How grateful I am for an all-wise, all-knowing, loving Father in Heaven, who lets us experience these trials.
I need to change pace here.
My dear friends, family. My heart is broken. I have something that I sincerely want to ask each of you. Do you know the converts that live in your ward or branch? Do you know who is alone in their journey into the church–those who don’t have family in the Gospel or those who don’t have friends, or a calling, or positive interaction, or even those who may not yet know how to pray or "feast upon the words of Christ"? These people need you. They need you desperately.
Will you, each of you, please consider who is young in their conversion to the Gospel, and prayerfully consider what level of support you can provide for them? Will you then, please, act on what you feel?
To close my letter, I want to include a portion of a talk given by President Hinckley in the May 1999 Ensign:
I received the other day a very interesting letter. It was written by a woman who joined the Church a year ago. She writes:
“My journey into the Church was unique and quite challenging. This past year has been the hardest year that I have ever lived in my life. It has also been the most rewarding. As a new member, I continue to be challenged every day.”
She states that “Church members don’t know what it is like to be a new member. … Therefore, it’s almost impossible for them to know how to support us.”
I challenge you, my brothers and sisters, that if you do not know what it is like, you try to imagine what it is like. It can be terribly lonely. It can be disappointing. It can be frightening. We of this Church are far more different from the world than we are prone to think we are. This woman goes on: “When we as investigators become members of the Church, we are surprised to discover that we have entered into a completely foreign world, a world that has its own traditions, culture, and language. We discover that there is no one person or no one place of reference that we can turn to for guidance in our trip into this new world. At first the trip is exciting, our mistakes even amusing, then it becomes frustrating and eventually, the frustration turns into anger. And it’s at these stages of frustration and anger that we leave. We go back to the world from which we came, where we knew who we were, where we contributed, and where we could speak the language”.
Please, don’t forget them.
The Lord bless each of you, and keep you always.
All my love,