Mi quierida familia,
What a week! I got to experience my first Oklahoma rainstorm, and wow was I am impressed. I've never seen so much rain fall at one time. Literally, puddles were the size of small ponds, and small creeks would start forming in neighborhood parks. It was awesome! In case you were wondering, I was actually not stuck on a bike, my companion and I were lucky to have a car to drive around in.
However, having the car was the principle reason we weren't riding bikes... This past Tuesday was a very humbling, experience. The kind of expereince that I think every white Mormon boy from Utah has to expereince at least once in their life when they leave home. Long story short, Elder Black and I left our bikes at a member's apartment complex because we didn't want to ride our bikes home in the rain. We made the mistake of only locking our bikes to eachother (which is the first time we'd done that, we're usually not so naive:)and some lucky person got a "2 for 1" deal. Yep, our bikes got stolen! Reality check big time! People actually steal stuff. Apparently, bike-theft rates have tripled this year from last year, and there are people out there targetting guys riding around in white shirts and ties and balck name tags:)
I've learned a lot from this experience. I'll be honest, I wasn't completely discouraged. For me, the fact that our bikes got stolen was a testimony that the adversary is truly trying to slow down missionary work. Key word here is "trying". He can't succeed.
I also found some great words of comfort from the Book of Mormon in the book of Helaman. It says that if the Lord does not chasten us with afflictions, we will not remember him (12:3). I think these our great words of wisdom. I echo the words of Paul who said something to the effect of "I take joy in my affirmities...when I am weak, I am made strong." Losing my bike has been more of a lesson than a hardship. Just as I should probably hook my bike up to an "iron rod" next time, I should always keep myself anchored in Christ.
Despite our misfortunes with our bikes, we nonetheless had some great success this week. We found 5 new investiagtors in one day, using the Heavenly Gift method that I described last time, including a terrffic family. Let me tell you, we are so excited to teach this family. We were literally in the right place at the right time when we met them:
We actually met the kids a few days before outside of their house. They were trying to through away the trash when all the sudden the bag exploded. Elder Black and I rushed over to help them. We talked with the kids, gave them a high five and then left because we had an appointment later that day. However, I had the strongest impression, or thought, the we needed to come back and visit this family.
We were going to visit them on Tuesday, but that was the day our bikes got stolen (another proof that the adversary obviously wanted to delay us in meeting this family). So we contacted them Wednesday. The mother was super kind, the kids had actaully told her what happened when we helped them with the trash. She was open to a prayer, she invited all the kids to participate. It turned out very well. We couldn't enter the house because there wasn't another man at home, however, we set up a return visit for Sunday when the father was home.
So yesterday, we got to have a prayer with the whole family. We literally drove up to the house right as they were arriving home. The dad was a bit uneasy at first, but he eventually warmed up to us because of the example we set to the children. We went in, had a family prayer and we bore our testimonies of eternal familes. We feel very confident that this fmaily is someone God wants us to teach. We left them with a Restoration packet and plan on teaching them the first lesson this ext Sunday. We are willing to wait because you learn out here from experience that if you do not get the father in on the discussions at the same time as the rest of the family, it becomes very hard for them to commit to baptism. I can't wait to teach them again!!
This family (the Martinez family) has been the highlight of my week. You could tell right when when you walked in the house that it was a home abounding with love. It's families like these that give hope that there truly is righteousness in this world.
My testimony has been truly strengthened this week. Sure, I've had moments of discouragement and doubt. But it always comes back to the same principles we've been taught at the MTC: pray, read the scriptures and love other people. I believe that it's when we turn outward rather than inward that we truly witness an increase in our testimonies and better understand the Atonement of Christ. What better way is there to learn of Christ than to actually experiement with what he did and serve others?
Keep strong in the Faith!