G'day Matey Potaties (as an Elder in my district says),
This week has been one of much pondering and enlightenment, as well as many many blessings.
To start off with, I had this moment during one of our classes where everything seemed to click to me. We were talking about celestial marriages and how to better our marriages or prepare for one (since we are not married yet, of course). As I sat and listened to the experiences being shared, I had many moments and examples of celestial marriages pop into my mind that I had observed over my childhood years. I also thought much about my experience as a missionary with a 24/7 companion. It seems to me that missionary work is called to be two by two for the purpose of having two witnesses of Jesus Christ as it is stated in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine & Covenants, and for our protection and safety. However, I also had the feeling that this was for another purpose which purpose is and will be to prepare us for the marriages we will have eventually. I was relating to these married men more than I had ever been able to in my life. The principles of marriage are experienced HEAPS as a missionary. The idea of communication, talking, compensation, and honest and sincere kindness are elements needed not only for a happy companionship, but for the support and comfort of the Holy Ghost in our lives as well as in times of teaching. I have never in my life had more realization of the wonders of a mission than I do now. My desire to become as loving and patient as I can branch off of the experience that I have gained thus far as a servant in the Lord's work. I think often about how I can be more humble, caring, and calm in situations of frustration and contention. I cannot begin to express the IMMENSE help Heavenly Father has given me in my time of need both in teaching as well as in our flat together as companions in the work. I know the principles that are taught as a missionary in the spiritual, emotional, and mental case, are not only for the blessing of others but for the growing and stretching of ourselves for the future we hold. The opportunity to grow has never been more abundant, and I say I love every minute of it knowing that once the ups and down are said and done that the molding and refiner's fire will be worth it.
ON to the week! So, we had the opportunity of witnessing the baptism of a man named Steve! He was baptized by Elder Sheward and Elder Whitehead of the Launceston West Ward. It was such a powerful experience witnessing Elder Sheward first baptism.
As for the work that Elder Hosman and I did this week, we have come across some amazing potential people. I will tell you of an experience in which I know we were blessed. We went on exchanges with the Elders in the West Ward. Elder Whitehead and I were dropped off at a random street and told to go give out some copies of the Book of Mormon and get some people to baptize! Not exactly in those words, but close enough haha. Anyway, we were tracting at the intersection of Claremont St. and Abbot St. when we knocked on a door to a house. We knocked three times in hopes that someone was home, but to no surprise at on a , no one was home. We turned around to find two college age girls ( or girls in high school) who happen to be exchange students living at that address. They showed up the moment we turned around to leave and to our surprise were extremely warm and friendly. We discovered that they were named Gesie (pronouced Jay-Z like the rapper) and Stephanie who were both from Brazil. They are learning English and were VERY impressed that we were so open to share our beliefs with them. Gesie told us about her life and how she is the only member in her family that reads the Bible and prays and that she receives heaps of persecution for it back home. Stephanie had a similar experience and both were keen to read the Book of Mormon. We have a return appointment with them and I have the feeling that it will be a powerful lesson, if we prepare for it of course. The joy the came from witnessing the warmth and enthusiasm they expressed for our message was something that brought great peace to my heart. In a time where struggles seem to be at there highest, and patience and diligence seem to be faltering, we had two daughters of God put in our path for the purpose of sharing our message with them. I can tell they are prepared, and I can sense that the truth we have to share will be something they will find fulfilling.
We also tracted into a woman named Monica from Mexico. She was a sort of reserved lady when we first introduced ourselves, and explained that she was atheist. We then just began to BRT, or Build Relationship and Trust, with her for a few minutes at the door. She then told us of how she was actually very open to the idea of religion but never had found one that answered all her questions. She explained that she was in Australia doing intense studies to learn English. Everything she did was English, English, English. She refused to speak any Spanish or read any Spanish for the next two months of her studies before her test. I am not quite sure what her test was for but that is beside the point. She gladly accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon, and a Restoration pamphlet. The same warmth and joy filled my heart as she closed the door with a promise to read and to call us. It sounds crazy, and maybe it is, but I know she will call. She said that in all honesty she has very little time for anything besides her studies (which seemed like a true as statement considering she had bags underneath her eyes the size of water balloons), but I felt sincerity in her voice and saw it in her eyes when she said " I will call you. I want to learn more."
It seems to me that people all over the world are, from every walk of life are looking for honest truth. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that the work in which the Lord is head of is hastening onward. That the servants of the Lord's vineyard, full-time missionaries and members alike, are all NEEDED for this period of time. There are those honest seekers of truth who are searching for answers, whether they know it or not, and I can tell from the feelings I experienced that they are ready for the message of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In a time where the army of the adversary is larger than ever, and the voices of the world are more confusing and dark as ever before, the light, truth, and knowledge of the Church of Jesus Christ will not be denied. Light ALWAYS prevails over dark. Everyone we teach knows in their hearts this message is true. Those who are penitent and honest seekers will find the greatest joy and peace in and through Jesus Christ and his teachings---His Gospel.
I love the work. I love the hard times. I love the growth, the pain, the frustration, and the struggles, because at the end of the day we all must go through our own Gethsemane. Many ask why life is hard and why we have to experience so many trials that seem endless. I can honestly say that this work was never meant to be easy because the things that Jesus Christ himself went through were not easy. Why should our life be cake to reach our fullest potential? Why should we think our struggles are more than that of our Savior and Redeemer, or our friends and family? They are not worse nor are they easier; they are ours for the purpose that Heavenly Father knows. Some things must be taken by faith alone without understanding the 'whats' and the 'whys' of what we go through, but the question 'how' should be asked. How can I do more? How can I help someone else? How can this help me? When we do this, the burden will be lighter, and our tree, plant, or seed of Faith will grow and be nourished. It is promised time and time again. So when the times get rough, count the blessings that you have. Don't be jealous of the success of others, but find joy in the success and pleasure you have in your life. It's there. The arms of Christ are and will be stretched forth to lift us up in our times of darkness, whether through answers to our prayers or the people we come in contact with. I have seen it in my life and I know it will continue to come true.
Well, we're off to play some sport with some recent converts/investigators/YSA and have a BBQ. And no... no "Shrimp on the Bar-B."
Love you all heaps!