Week 70 - Quail Creek, Oklahoma - October 30, 2013

Mi querida familia, It makes me happy to see missionary work happening in our home ward. Congratulations to Sister Place! We also had a baptism this weekend for a man named Mike. I don't think I've mentioned him that much in past emails, allow me to relate the story: Mike had been dating a member of the ward the past few years. She had resolved not to marry anyone who didn't hold the priesthood. At first, Mike didn't really want to investigate the church, he had been baptized as a Baptist before and wasn't to interested in Joseph Smith being a prophet. Then one day, he had an awakening where he realized that he was fighting the promptings of the Holy Ghost. He decided to investigate and has been converted ever since. I came into the area on the latter end of his conversion. But it was amazing for me to see and hear his testimony. This last week we had a few lessons with him and his newly wed wife, and he was really nervous for his baptism. He requested a priesthood blessing and so Elder Kennedy and I ministered to him and the Spirit truly touched his heart. On Saturday, he was baptized, and his mom also came (though not a member). She was fully supportive and enjoyed the service. It was one of the most sincere services I've ever witnessed. He took a few minutes to bear his testimony at the end, and the spirit was so strong coming from this native Oklahoman. Simple language, without eloquence but with power. We ended the service with "How Great Thou Art" (a common hymn that most all other denominations cherish) and it was just great. We also had D'Quan come to church this week. He is progressing so well. During Gospel Principles, he participated and offered an insightful comment. He is starting to feel comfortable with the ward and the members are really reaching out to him. I've said it before and I'll say it again, it feels so good as a missionary to see the ward take one of our dear investigators under their wing. That way, the baptism belongs to the ward and the Lord, rather than just the missionaries. Those were the happy experiences this week. We had a few more interesting experiences. First of which, we visited the Stavinoha family this week. We had a great lesson where we read from the Book of Mormon. I had sort of an epiphany. A lot of times, I think as missionaries we fall into the trap of just assuming that people will read the Book of Mormon and recieve an answere to its truthfulness that we forget that the Book of Mormon is not always easy to understand the first time around. Bro. Stavinoha mentioned how he didn't know who was Nephi, who was talking or why Jerusalem had to be destroyed all from the first chapter. This things he didn't understand, restricted him from feeling the true spirit of the Book of Mormon. During our lesson, we explained the details, and as we discussed it with the family, you could see the Spirit working with them and they understood more. Another interesting experience we had on Saturday. We met with an inactive member. I was shocked and amazed by this experience. He invited us right in. He was so kind and loving, I honestly thought we were mistaken and was actually active. But as we talked, even though he was kind, it became evident that he had lost his testimony. This man had served a mission Australia. He loved his mission. But he had lost his testimony of the Book of Mormon, and even worse, he lost his testimony of Jesus Christ. He wants to be back in church. He has a desire at least. But right now he has all these doubts in his head. I just wonder how things like this can happen? I know the answer, but it still just amazes me how someone can lose a testimony if they aren't careful. I worry about myself. what if I become like that after the mission? So many less actives we meet treat us as young men who don't seem to know anything about life, and that if we had more knowledge we would see more clearly (at least that's the feel I get). Nonetheless, I have more than a testimony. I'm converted to this Gospel. The next morning at church I was assured and taught by the Holy Ghost. I realized that I need to stop measuring conversion by activity in the church. Sure, activity is important, but church activity is a manifestation of our faith in Christ, willingness to repent, how much we understand the sacred convenants we've made, and how much we listen to the promptings of the Spirit, and stay obedient. If there's one thing I've seen on my misison is that doubt is replaced by faith when we turn to the Lord. Doubt doesn't have to weigh us down if we don't want it to. We will experience doubt because we must know opposition. but these moments will help convert us if we turn to God in prayer and keep the commandments. I love my mission. It's like panning for Gold. I don't see the effects immediately, but little by little I get those flecks of golden spiritual moments, that have added up over the last 18 months or so. Have a happy Halloween everyone! Con Amor, Elder Powley

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