Mi querida familia,
Just when you think it couldn't get any better...I had another awesome testimony building week. I don't know whats going on, not every week is supposed to be amazing, but while looking back... I had some INCREDIBLE experiences this week.
This week, we focused a lot on visiting less active members of the church. It was quite humbling to visit homes that weren't active in the church. The homes were nice enough, but you could definately feel the contrast between being in a home with active members. It just goes to show that even though you may be baptized, that doesn't mean the Spirit will be with you at all times...you have to keep doing your part by reading the scritpures, praying, and attending church. And you have to do all three of those things, not just one or the other. We met with two families this week and they both had a common denominator...neither had been visited by home teachers in the past months. This one goes out to you Dad, bishops and all those Elders Quorums out their. Hometeaching is essencial for member retentions. I remember when I was an Elder's quroum president at BYU and hometeaching was the hardest thing to have people do. But the difference was the same. Those brothers and sisters in my BYU ward that weren't active in coming to Church were the same ones that hadn't been visited by home teachers. In a way home teaching really is a type of missionary work... in fact it is missionary work.
We also learned about this one inactive family that the reason the wife didn't attend church was because she was offended...once. We can't underestimate the power our words have on other people. True we shouldn't choose to be offended, but we also need to be careful what we say.
Then there were a lot of less actives that weren't livving at the given address anymore. We actaully visited this one guy and we met his mom and brother at the door. Turns out, this member is in jail (we had no idea). However, this contact turned into a pretty sweet experience since the mom and brother weren't members. They ended up becoming new investiagators. It's amazing how spreading the gospel is more effective when you work with people who have had experience with members of the church before.
This week has also been kind of hard in keeping in contact with our investiagators and setting return appointments. The people who work out here NEVER have fixed schedules. Every time we ask "What time would be best for you?" we get the common "Oh any time is as good as another, no tengo un horario." Its so hard. We have three baptismal dates and we didn't get any time to teach those specific people lessons this week. Because they simply aren't making the time to hear our messages. It especially interferes with getting investigators to come to church. Work is like an addiction out here. People just don't want to stop working. It's good that they want to provide for their families, but at the same time it's hindering the mission. But ultimately I think it comes down to the desire.
Ok I have a few more specific experiences I need to share. First, this week was my first time being "dropped" by an investiagtor. This means, the investiagator tells us that they aren't interested anymore. Elder Chapman and I went to visit this lady that previously had a baptismal date. We asked her if we could set an appointment to come by and teach. However she seimply said that she didn't think the Mormon Church was right for her. Our hearts sank. Her concerns were doubts about living prophets and the idea of three kingdoms and that even the sinners will recieve a place of glory. Everything else felt good, but she simply wasn't ready. Her marriage was also a bad situation. She kept telling us that her husband was a lost cause and always made fun of her when she did good. It was sad. However, she had not read the Book of Mormon. this was the only flaw in her desire. So I shared with her two of my favorite scritpures Moroni 10:4 and 2 Nephi 33:10,(perfect scritpure combo for anyone who doubts this church is true and hasn't read the Book of Mormon) and bore my testimony that this book truly testifies of Christ and teaches men to do good that that next to a wtiness from the Holy Ghost is the strongest evidence of its truthfulness. "ask God having faith in Christ if this things are not true...if ye shall believe in Christ ye shall believe these words for they are the words of Christ." I could feel the words flowing easily from my mouth, there was power when I quoted those scriptures and I haave no doubt that the Spirit was backing up what I was saying; our investiagotr had no response except that she would continue to read and pray.
Now, before this experience I had never cried during my testimony. I've always known the Book of Mormon was true, but had never been so sure, so positive in my whole life until this moment being dropped by an investiagator. We left her on good terms, she continue to read and pray, but she will contact us when she feels ready.
In contrast, I had another experience. We were at a restaruant with a member for dinner and while my companion and I were in line for the HIbachi grill, we were apporaced by a lady who asked if we were mormons. We said yes and that we were missionaries. She smiled and said that that was cool and that she had a friend who was Mormon who served a mission as well. My companion and I are both thinking "Wow sweet, this might be a golden contact." Then she started asking about whether had heard about Heavenly Mother. There is this new church in Oklahoma where people are teaching that the gospel has been restored by God....but they believe God is a female. It's an interesting belief. Anyways, then she said that we didn't believe in Jesus Christ but rather Joseph Smith and it just went downhill from there. She wasn't attacking, but rather trying to preach to us. She kept citing revelations and saying that Christ has already come again, and that he came in 1948 when the state of Israel was formed. It was crazy.
But here's the thing. I remember distincly that my mind was at a blank while we were talking with this woman. I had no comeback, no words were coming to mind, not even a testimony. And then after she left, I suddenly realized all the flaws in her argument and my mind was opened to a ton more things I could havbe said to to this woman. I asked myself, "Why didn't I think of these things while I was actually talking with her? Why did the Spirit not give me the words to speak in the moment?" and then I realized something... that mind blank that I had druing that conversation with the lady was infact the Sprirt giving me a "stupor of thought" as the scriptures put it. The Spirit was in fact directing me to NOT say anything. She was obviously not open the Gospel and if I had tried to reason with her, it would have been to no avail and it would have turned into a fruitless argument. Sometimes, we aren't meant to correct people who are tryin to prove us wrong. Silence is often the best tool. The Spirit works by giving us the words to speak, and also by stumping our thoughts so that we don't get into a needless argument. The ones that want to argue and satisfy their intellectual gratifications are not the ones us missionaries should be focusing on. We still invite them to come unto Christ and to read and pray, but there is a line drawn when it comes to Bible bashing.
Ok I've saved the best for last. This weekend, Elder Chapman and I decided to visit a former investigator who for one reason or another had lost contact with the missionaries. We knocked on his door and a man answered who introduced himself as Jose. He said he was the brother in law of this former investigator. So we offered to have prayer with him. He was very excited to invite us in and have a prayer. He invited us to sit down. We talked for about 45 minutes about God and some struggles that had been going on his life. This man has been working in Oklahoma for the past year and has only seen his family 12 days out the year. He loves his family (first sign that he's open to the Gospel) and wishes he could be with them more. He then told us how he'd been very said lately for the death of one of his co workers and how he hoped the man had a chance to accept God (2nd sign that he's looking for something more). He talked for a bit about how he wasn't sure about what happened after this life. He aslo mentioned that he wanted to go to church again. GOLDEN CONTACT! This man had been prepared. We had a prayer, shared our testimonies and gave him a Book of Mormon. He graciously accepted the gift and we invited him to church.
The very next day, he came to our sacrament meeting. We had met Jose once. He came, and during Gospel Principles we talked about Missionary Work. He got up and bore his testimony about how grateful he was for meeting the missionaries, and he said it with tears in his eyes. He truly believes we were sent from God to teach him. It was incredible! And the cool part is that Elder Chapman and I literally did NOTHING to convince him to come to church... except being obedianet and by bearing our testimonies and inviting him. The Spirit did everything
But what pleased me the most was how well the ward fellowshipped him that day. He was brand new and I think he shook everyone's hand at least once. He was having full on conversations with members as if they were already friends. Jose has been prepared by the Lord.
The more and more I serve out here, the more I witness the Lord doing his "marvelous work and a wonder" through his servants. I really can't describe what it feels like to be tool in the hands of the Lord. You have to experience for yourself. But I can tell you that I've never been happier in my entire life.
Until next week. I can't promise it will be as exciting, but I promise that what happens is exactly what the Lord has in mind.