It's been a great week out here in Oklahoma. No snow, but last night was probably one of the coldest nights we've had out here. Elder Morrell and I are the only ones in our District that have a car, but we decided to bike last night anyways because we felt like it. I prefer biking to riding in the car any day. There is just something about sitting in a car that makes you lazy and less excited to get out there and work, But when you're biking, your blood starts pumping, the suit coat blows in the wind behind you, the wind bites at your face, you can wave at everyone you pass by and give a big warm smile even though you're freezing....and most importantly at least for me, I feel more like a missionary when I'm biking.
And I think biking outside it the bitter cold humbled me a little more than usual and I felt more in tune with the Spirit of my calling. There was one house we passed by and I remember the specific thought coming to mind to stop at this one house. At first I ignored it, but then the thought came again. I then reasoned that if I didn't stop at this house, i would feel guilty about it in about 10 minutes. So we stopped by and met a very nice lady who was home alone. We couldn't go inside, but we were able to have a prayer with her at her doorstep. After Elder Morrell said the prayer, she said amen and we could see her wiping away tears. She then expressed how grateful she was for us to stop by to remind her how much God loves her and is still watching out for her. It was very touching. She mentioned that she already went to church but she was interested in having missionaries stop by later that week.
Now with this said, I've had many experiences like the one mentioned above and after about a few weeks, these potencials slowly start to fade in interest due to work and other excuses. The only way for an investigator to progress is if they keep committments. You can have all the spiritual encounters you want with someone, and they won't be any more converted than when they were before you met them. The ONLY way to become converted to the Gospel is through "excersing faith unto repentance". The word "exercising" is important. Unless we act and do the things we are commanded, including going to church, reading and praying, then our testimonies start to dwindle. You can receive no revelation of any spiritual truth if you are constantly breaking commitments.
This is why Elder Morrell and I were devastated when this family that we've taught and come to love (Celia, Luiz, Dayana, Kairo, Melany) didn't come to church yesterday, when they committed to. The more weeks that go by without coming to church, experience has shown me that investigators start to digress and lose interest, and forget the Spirit they felt when they were keeping commitments. We've made very specific plans to help this family realize that they need to come to church this Sunday.
In other news, Elder Morrell and I are really starting to grow as missionaries. I can tell he wasn't the same guy I knew back at the MTC, and our teaching together has improved as of late. And the reason we've seen improvement is because we've set goals and made plans to practice teaching the concise principles of the Gospel. We were out with a member this week and said we really need to focus on teaching the Gospel simple and concisely and allow the people we're teaching to find out what it means to them.
Another fun experience we had this week happened while we were...yet again...riding our bikes. We were stopped at an intersection when a man in the car next to us rolled down his window and asked if he could talk to us. We gladly obliged because we had 5-10 minutes before we had to leave to our next appointment He was genuinely curious about some of the things he's heard. Soon enough after we were talking, a third man drove up and joined our conversation. Now before you get excited and start thinking that this is one of those miracle stories where the men get baptized 3 weeks later-- let me explain that this experience was not one of those. The men were definitely not interested in learning about the gospel. In fact third man that walked in was one of those people who thought organized religion was wrong. He went as far as to start preaching to us that in essence we should denounce the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith and simply preach about Christ. He must have said the same thing over 50 times in the course of 20 minutes. He then starting showing us these pictures he drew and how they were revelation.
It was weird And honestly Elder Morrell and I just sat there in silence and let him talk. Once he finished, I felt impressed to simply my testimony. I didn't argue, or try to prove him wrong (even though I could have cited scripture about to contradict everything he said).
And as I spoke, I could feel the words flow as if they were I part of me for hundreds of years. I know Jesus Christ lives and is my Savior. I know Joseph Smith was a prophet of God called to restore Jesus' church. I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God.
I could feel the Holy Ghost testifying very simply and very calmly. What I said didn't change these men's opinions about anything, but there was a difference between our testimony and the man's urge for us to forget Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.
What was the difference? The Holy Ghost testified as I spoke rather than when he spoke.
We parted ways, and nothing else happened. We invited them to hear more, but they declined. I'm reminded of the great and spacious building and how it represents the wisdom and pride of the world. We need to rely on wisdom from God rather than wisdom from the world. I recommend reading Alma 37 and Mosiah 2 to learn about what it means to have wisdom.
Anyways, that was a great experience for me this past week. I'm loving the mission right now and the growth that I can see happening. I am so excited for Alexandra to serve a mission and I can't wait for both my brothers to serve as well. In fact, I can't wait for all my siblings to serve. You have no idea what's in store for you until the moment you enter your field of labor. I do the best to explain what I'm feeling, but you must actually come out here and commit to serve until you can truly understand what it means to be a representative of Jesus Christ.
When you start to feel inadequate, the only solution is to get out and work. It's only when your out there doing something that the Holy Ghost manifests itself to you.
I love this Gospel and I know this work is true. and when I say its true I mean that literally God is preparing the world for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and that he is gathering his sheep.