1. Bill is 51 and has gone through many difficult circumstances. He finds himself in a situation with innumerable health issues which have caused him to look for a relationship with God. We met him and he has willingly learned from the very beginning. He hungers. This week, there was a night when he couldn’t sleep. He got up and went to the Book of Mormon to read. We had previously taught him to pray, and he hungered for an answer. He got down on his knees and prayed. He said he prayed for an hour, “I had a lot of things to talk to him about.” He told us that he felt something. He felt God. He felt someone place a hand on his shoulder, and felt the feelings of the Spirit. Tears filled his eyes as he told us that he wanted more.
2. Brandon grew up Southern Baptist and has converted to agnostic/atheistic. He can’t deny the existence of a God flat out, but he leans more toward scientific explanations for things. Last time we met with him, we planned our lesson to help him have an experience with the light of Christ. As we talked, he did. We spoke true things that resonated in his mind and heart, and we helped him to recognize them. The truths he learned stuck with him, and when we went back last night, we discussed them. We told him that we want to help him have more experiences like that, to create evidences in his life that the Holy Ghost DOES speak to Him, and therefore does exist. We showed him a Mormon message of a Bishop in London who tells of his conversion story. He really liked that the Bishop said that everyone can get the same answer he did. We asked Brandon if he would be willing to experiment upon the word with that goal in mind, and he said he would, and promised give it an honest shot.
3. Stephen is 64 and has been investigating the church for about 1 year. His mother is an amazing woman who has health issues that cause her to be completely dependent on him. He lives with and cares for her full-time. He is reading through the Book of Mormon for the first time (quite rapidly) and is currently in 3 Nephi 24. A couple of weeks ago, he told us that he received a very straightforward answer that Baptism is what he needs, but that he is worried about not being able to attend every week. Whenever we bring up church attendance, he remains noncommittal. Well, on Saturday night, we visited him and attempted to teach the Plan of Salvation. Nothing seemed to be hitting, and it seemed that the lesson would be wasted. Finally, I began praying that the Spirit would teach him what we could not. He brought up some issues in the world today, and I spoke up and pointed the lesson back to him and asked, “Stephen, what does that mean for you? With everything going on in the world, what do YOU need to do to be prepared?” He paused for a moment and then said, “Well, it means that I need to be on the right side. It means I need to put my name on the records by being baptized, and so I need to get off my caboose and get to church!” About halfway through his answer I guess I closed my scriptures and started welling up with tears and shaking my head. I was grinning from ear to ear. We had no idea what to say. That night, he committed to take the steps necessary to prepare to get to church.
4. Edward is 24, married with an almost 2-year-old son, and fell into inactivity after joining the church 6 years ago. Edward’s wife Deborah was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness and seems very disinterested in the church or its lifestyle. Last week when we met and taught Edward for the first time, we asked Edward if Deborah would be willing to participate in the lesson. He invited and she declined. When we returned two days ago, she again declined to join us in reading or in prayer. After we prayed, she came into the room and sat through the entire lesson. We read about Captain Moroni fortifying the cities of the Nephites and discussed how he could fortify his home and himself. At the end of the lesson, Edward chose daily prayer as his fortification for the week. Deborah had been lightly involved in the lesson, and we asked if she would pray daily as well and help him to remember. She said she would. We invited her to join us in our benediction, and she did, even encouraging her brother to join. When we set up the return appointment for this week, she agreed to be there!
5. Gertrude is 87, and a very intelligent, VERY opinionated, wonderful little woman. Normally in lessons, she has a tendency to trail onto different topics (certainly a trend in this part of the world!). In a culmination of past lessons, my companion and I may have spoken a mere 3% of the words during the lesson. Not good. Well, we were visiting with a member of our ward who we discovered had worked for Gertrude and her mother some 50 years prior. They had not seen each other since then! Knowing that there would be many things to catch up on, we prayed before we entered the lesson that Gertrude’s responses to questions would not exceed 5 minutes in length. After a (very) short reunion, Gertrude said “Now Tom, I don’t know if I can do this Mormon thing!” It caught us completely off-guard and my stomach churned a little as I waited to hear her reasons. She asked him questions she had never asked us before, and throughout it all she NEVER went over 5 minutes in a single statement. Being a convert to the church, he was able to answer her questions according to her needs, and was even the right person to answer in the ways she needed because of his careers. The Lord truly provided this reunion, and again we basically just sat back and watched the members meet the needs of this wonderful woman.
I have more, but I think that should be enough. =P That was fun though. As always, names have been changed. We are witnessing miracles, truly. We are learning incredible things. Today’s companion study was incredibly instructive in understanding why this 40-day fast from my natural tendencies is providing power in my life and in the lives of others. It all has to do with the principle of faith.
When we are disobedient, we lose the Lord’s promises. We are limited in the hope we can have for ourselves. There are two things this 40-day fast deals with: natural-man disobedience, and natural-man desires. Together Elder Stone and I have a collective list of about 60 items of obedience and sacrifice to enable the Lord to change and heal us, and in turn, to allow us to facilitate change and healing in others. It is happening, on both counts.
I have learned about 2 aspects of faith:
– Faith unto Hope
– Faith unto Power
I have come to understand that faith unto hope allows us to become, while faith unto power allows us to help others become. We realized this morning that our fast from obedience-related issues is strengthening our faith unto hope, while sacrificing some of our natural desires is filling us with faith unto power.
I often wonder if anyone reads these anymore. =P They are long. Perhaps I’ll start shortening.
I want you to know that I love the Lord. I love what we are experiencing here. I love seeing these changes in myself and particularly seeing these changes in others. We see the Lord’s hands daily, and we are becoming those hands.
I love this work, and it is work.