Wow. This week has been o'timo! I've learned a ton, really felt the Spirit, and I'm generally having a great time here in
flat, still humid, still wonderful.
We've endured some hardships this week, mostly in being dropped by investigators and potential investigators. It always kills me to see these people give up on the gospel because it's new to them. I know how much this gospel can change their lives and what a blessing it will be. I just wish they would embrace it! Well, that's why we're out here. To seek those who have been prepared. We can say everything we want to attempt to convince these people that the gospel is true, but there's really nothing that we can say. What's most important is helping these people become interested enough that they find out for themselves so the Spirit can bear witness to them that this is true. It's been interesting to see how the Spirit has been working with people and how we're gaining these opportunities to teach people around here.
Wes is one prime example. Wes is our investigator on date to be baptized. We've been teaching him bits and pieces of the Plan of Salvation but one way or another we haven't finished the lesson yet and parts of the lesson haven't been covered as well as they should have been. While Elder Sutherland and I were planning this last week we were pondering about what to teach him and what he needed to know. As I was sitting there pondering about his needs I got this strong impression that we needed to talk with him about baptism. I suggested that to Elder Sutherland and right as I said "we need to talk to him about baptism because...." words just started spilling out of my mouth. I had never thought these words before or considered his needs like that before, so it was amazing to me to watch as the Spirit used me as a vessel to reveal his needs. We planned for it and said "well, alright. Let's get him prepped for baptism" The next day we went over to his house and started talking with him. We talked about how he had committed to baptism and what we know about baptism. How it's a commandment, but also a covenant with God, showing him our willingness to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and always find ways to improve our lives to bring them in line with His teachings. We talked about the testimony and belief that has to come before you're baptized so you know you're doing the right thing. The Spirit was super strong and we could tell he felt it. At the end of the lesson we invited him to say the closing prayer and to pray to ask to know if the Book of Mormon was the word of God. He responded "well I don't need to do that, because I already know it's the word of God and that this church is true." YEAH!!!!! We were so pumped. We invited him to pray anyway and he said the most beautiful prayer of thanks. He's a great kid. He's still got a ways to go, but I know he can make it. Here, you have to be clean of Word of Wisdom problems for at least two weeks before you can be baptized and he was still smoking a little before we had this lesson so he basically quit cold turkey. We saw him on Sunday and he said that it's "running him ragged" but he knows that the church is true and he's going to do everything he can to be ready to be baptized. We're super excited for him and he knows he's making the right step. It's amazing to see the blessings that can come into people's lives when they embrace the gospel and I'm so proud of him for making that step.
The other awesome thing that happened this week was Zone Conference! Yay! In general the whole day was filled with teaching and spiritual goodness about how we could become better people, better missionaries, and better teachers. The Spirit was so strong the whole day and it was amazing to receive revelation for myself and those I'm teaching. The whole day was packed with the most fantastic feelings and a strengthening of my resolve and testimony. Also, I saw a bunch of my friends from my MTC district! Elder Lash, Sister Sherman, and Sister Tenney were all there and it was great to talk to them again, in both English and Portuguese. In fact, we had an exercise during the day where we practiced committing people to be baptized and during the exercise Elder Lash and I taught each other in Portuguese. It was amazing to see how the Lord helped me to remember what I had studied in the past and helped me teach in Portuguese. I also saw Sister Bitter. Yep, Amie Bitter is in my mission. She was originally called to
but when part of Colorado Springs
she was in was put in Kansas Wichita, she got moved over here as well. It was
fun to see her as well and to catch up. The thing that really struck me
about Zone Conference though was the departing testimonies. President
Bell had those who would be leaving before the next Zone Conference stand and
give their last testimony. As people were talking most of them started
with "fastest two years of my life", "I always knew this day
would come but never thought it would actually get here", and things of
that nature. Altogether it just reminded me of swim team. Every
year I watched people get up and share their final words with the team always
thinking "I'm never going to graduate, I've got forever on the team"
and sooner than I ever would have expected, I was a senior, I swam, I
graduated, and now I'm a missionary. I know the Lord gave me that
experience so that I know that these two years will go by fast. I'm here
to work, and I don't have any time to waste. This is the Lord's work and I'm
thrilled to be a part of it. I know this gospel is true. I know the
Book of Mormon is the word of god "proving to men that the holy scriptures
are true and that God still inspires men and calls them to his holy work in
this age and generation as in generations of old." (D&C 20:11)
Joseph Smith restored the fullness of the gospel to the earth in these the
latter-days, and Thomas S. Monson leads and guides the church today.
Families are forever. Jesus is the Christ, and I stand as his
representative to share the gospel in all the world.