Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Landscaper of Oz

Oi familia!  

Well, the biggest thing to report is that we had a HUGE storm here last Monday at about six and another storm hitTuesday night at 9:30.  The storm monday was reported to have pouring rain and wind speeds of between 90 and 100 mph.  I was shocked but apparently these things are fairly common in Kansas.  Tree limbs were knocked down, some trees were even uprooted, there was damage to houses and all sorts of stuff.  On Tuesday, we had lightning flashes about every half second, pouring rain, and golf ball-sized hail.  Basically, anything that didn't get taken out by the first storm was taken out by the second one. Argonia got hit the worst, and of the houses in Argonia, the one where I live got massacred. So, my companion and I got lots of service hours in this week! It was just like landscaping all over again. We'd pick up branches (or halves of trees) and carry them out of the yard to our dump pile, or we'd carry huge things of firewood to one of Bro. Brundage's piles, or we'd cut up trees so we could carry them, the list goes on.  There was a ton of stuff.  On Saturday, Bro. Brundage told us that he took 8 truckloads of those branches to the dump.  This wasn't a small truck either.  It was a bed about 5 feet high, 6 feet across, and ~14 feet long.  My companion and I helped dump a load and when we did, I just climbed out of the cab and hopped in the bed.  When I jumped in I thought, "This is going to take forever to unload by hand."  Then right before I could pick anything up, the bed started moving.  Turns out it was a dump bed and the next thing I knew I was 15 feet in the air, clinging onto the side for dear life. Then Bro. Brundage dumped the pile, I slid out of the bed and we went on our merry way. Those dump trailers are slick though.  Really nice way to clear the material quickly. But the thing I really learned about that is how the Lord protects his anointed.  The storm on Monday hit Argonia just about an hour after my companion and I left to head to Wellington, and the storm on Tuesday hit right at 9:30, the last possible minute my companion and I could have returned home.  Wow.  Power in obedience.  

The work is progressing.  Wes (our person set on a baptismal date) is doing really well.  He's really absorbing the gospel when we teach and he enjoys reading the Book of Mormon with us. He's down in Oklahoma right now working a construction job, but little by little, I know that he will come to know of the truthfulness of the work.  We have another man, Richard Strickland, who we tried to get on baptismal date.  He said he wouldn't commit to an actual date, but that he would strive to find out if this message was true.  Beyond that, we've seen more and more less actives begin coming back to church.  One man, Bro. Slaughter, was really struggling for a long time but my very first week we went over and invited him back.  He said he would and he's been back two weeks now (didn't make it this Sunday, but he was taking care of his wife who was sick).  There's another lady, Sister Shaw (I think I mentioned her before) who was also struggling, but we went and visited her as well and she seemed really excited to come back.  We've seen her at church the two weeks since! We've met with a lot of people who have expressed a desire to return to church, but many of them are scared to come back or have other conflicts on Sunday.  With everything we can we're continuing to testify to these people that attendance at church is truly the best solution to their problems.  Coupled with prayer and reading the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon, all things are truly possible.  My companion likes to call it the CPR for our soul.  Church, Prayer, Reading, will keep us alive spiritually even when everything in the world says we won't. 

We also had an interesting conversation with a man named Arsine.  He was out trimming his lawn on Saturdayand we went over to talk to him.  He seemed interested in our message, but honestly he just wanted to try and show us how wrong we were.  At the end of our conversation he said "Now I want you to go home and think long and hard about what you're doing and make sure it's really what is right and what God wants you to do."  Though he didn't sway my testimony, I certainly have thought about what he said.  When I left to serve a mission, I had a decent conviction that the Book of Mormon was true, that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that the fullness of the gospel has been restored to the earth by our Father in Heaven.  While I definitely knew it then, I know it even more so now.  Before, I could tell you with all the conviction of my heart and soul that this work is real, that Jesus is the Christ, and that I've been called by a prophet of God to share this message.  But now, my testimony is so much more.  Now, I feel as if the gospel is ingrained in every fiber of my being. I KNOW the fullness of the Gospel has been restored to the earth again.  I KNOW that the Book of Mormon is true.  I KNOW that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that Thomas S. Monson is the true and living prophet today.  I KNOW these things. I really can't quite express how strong this conviction is inside of me, but I just KNOW it.  This is God's work.  I am His servant.  I bear testimony of the truth each and every day. I KNOW, that our message is true.

Hope everyone has a good week. The joy of Oz will continue!

Amo voce^s!

Elder Trent Evans

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