Well, let me begin by saying that yesterday was a truly touching opportunity. I had the privilege of speaking to my wonderful family on Mother's Day. There are few better moments in my short time on my mission than talking to my loving siblings and parents. The Family is truly ordained of God and the more I help others come unto Christ and see the blessings that are brought to their families, the more I love and cherish my own. Always stay close to your family. Always build your homes and lives upon the principles of righteousness, prayer, scripture study, and love and I know that your lives personally as well as in a family context will be blessed. You will feel closer connections with your parents, and more love towards your siblings. In the words of a missionary:
"Will you Love your family more this week, by striving everyday to compliment them on a strength they have?"
Yeah, that's a invitation to a commitment. Now do as this scripture says, and publish peace and salvation to your family and friends.
"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publish peace, that bringeth good tidings of good, that publish salvation; that sayeth unto Zion; Thy God reigneth!" Isaiah 52:7 compare with Mosiah 15;14-18
As you do so, your personal "Zion" will come closer together in love and unity.
Well, off my soapbox and ONTO THE WEEK!
This week was another tough week for lessons, investigators, and all that such but the blesses that came from the trials were awesome. As Ether 12:6 says, your witness comes after the trial of your faith, meaning you have to go through the bad to know of the good with faith in Christ.
We had 2 seemingly solid investigators fall off their baptismal dates of May 26. I have come to understand more that it doesn't matter how soon a person is baptized, or if they get baptized right after three weeks of teaching them but that it is ALL WHEN THEY ARE READY. I have learned that we as missionaries, called by a prophet of God or not, have the privilege to rely more on the Lord than our own talents.
I remember before coming out on my mission I would LOVE to speak in front of people in a spiritual context. I loved to speak and I knew I was good at it. However, I thought that this talent was from my own self, and not because the Spirit of the Lord was doing all the teaching. That is a lesson we all must learn in order to truly become Teachers of the Word of God. He DOES IT ALL, we are just the voice box. I like to think of it as a drive through: God is the person giving orders of what he wants and expects of us, we as missionaries are the box that God speaks through (or the Prophet and Apostles), and the person taking the orders is us individually. The spirit is the power that makes it work; we are just the vocalists. As we listen to God, he will give you blessings beyond measure. Now, that metaphor is a bit rough but I just made it up right now so cut me some slack ;)
Anyway, we had the unique opportunity to sit at the feet of an Apostle of God by the name of Jeffery R. Holland. He came to our Mission conference and blew our minds with his spirit and words of wisdom.
Of course all he talked about was missionary work. He told us of our sacred duty and calling, that we are called of God to invite ALL to come unto Christ. He talked about his Apostolic ministry and how it takes up almost all of his time, talents, and life but he loves it more than any thing else in the world. He talked to us about how we as missionaries are Apostolic, but we are Apostles with a little "a." That sentence alone humbled us all.
He also, in his usual way, raised his voice as he became more serious. He talked about how this is VERY much real life, and that we are the Universal Symbol of the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-day Saints.
"You are Not free to damage the image of Missionaries."
The room became very much still and filled with the intensity of reflection. We each knew our duty, our calling, and our job.
It was an amazing experience to say the least. As members of the ONLY true Church, the Restored Church and Gospel (or the way to return to Heavenly Father involving Faith in Christ and his Atonement, repentance, baptism by immersion, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end) we are beacons of its validity and its reality. Remember that as you go throughout your lives. We all have things to learn, things to strengthen and things we ALL bring to the table of God to share with all of His Children that are our brothers and sisters.
This week was a week of trial to teach my companion and I the nature of our calling, the diligence and faith required, and that we are not to rely on our own merits but upon the merits of Jesus Christ. When we come to realize that it is only upon the principles of righteousness that the power of the Priesthood (or authority to act in God's name), we can work in the lives of the people we talk to.
This letter is more preachy than normal so I'll move on to some miracles!
My first baptism is THIS SATURDAY! Chris Johnson is an 11 year old boy who is the oldest son of an inactive family. However, his family is AMAZING and they are coming back to church. They are coming back to activity in the Church because the missionaries before my companion and I were diligent and faithful. Miracles are brought forth by walking and publishing peace to all that receive it. So, Elder Bennett and myself had the opportunity to teach this family, and now they come to church every week and Chris's dad is going to baptize him.
On a more scary note, we have two investigators named Jameil and Alleah, who were on date to be baptized. They did not come to church this week because their 4 month old baby brother fell through the bleachers (6 feet up) and Jameil's double-header baseball game. However, there was no internal or brain damage. Infact, the only injury found on the baby boy was a scratched chin.
I know that Heavenly Father looked out for that poor infant. His life was very much in the hands of divinity, out stretched in love. And I know that that experience opened the eyes of Alleah and Jameil to the reality that there is more out there than just us as human existence ending in 6 feet in the dirt.
We were, however, able to get 5 more potential investigators Saturday and Sunday.
Well, this week was amazing despite the frustration of investigators not progressing as we hoped, but sometimes people need more time than we allow or want to allow. Patience is key, and that is tough when people's agency gets in the way.
I love you all, and I am particularly grateful for mothers and the mothers that are in my life.
Mama Whitney, Mama Gish, and my own Mama, I hope you realize your influence on me in a world where motherhood is diminished. The very nature of your calling as mothers is sacred and divine. You had the ability to make and shape a child's future decisions through YOUR wonderful examples. Just as Alma 56 says, it's because the mothers of the 2000 stripling warriors that they were as faithful and obedient as they were. Stay amazing, and if you were not spoiled out of your minds yesterday... well.... that is unfortunate and your husbands/family should recalculate and make you a big cake or buy you flowers or something :)
Hopefully I'll get my visa THIS WEEK, or next week, I am not sure. We shall see. Until next time, stay true, keep smiling, and love more deeply. Open your heart and judge not those that sin in different ways than you do.