Thursday, January 9, 2014

December 30th 2013 and January 6th, 2014

December 30, 2014
Singing at the Zone Mission Christmas Party, photos taken by the Mission President's wife

Nice back of the head shot, teaching a golden investigator.

Lunch, nice action shot!

Well, we already talked this week and I don't have a lot of time to write, so we'll get down to the basics: 

V, M, C, V, and M are still doing great.  M has read up to Alma 17 and can't put the Book of Mormon down.  We gave them a bunch of Church movies (The Restoration, Together Forever, Finding Faith in Christ, Joy to the World) and they watched them all and loved them.  We're going to have a family home evening with them tonight and watch The Testaments, even though it's rated R :).  (Family joke--the destruction part made Timo ask "what was that rated?")  They are more and more converted, united and happy every time we see them and they are working things out so that they can get married and get baptized.  They couldn't come to church this week because M suddenly had to be hospitalized Sunday morning, but she's fine now and they should be there this week.  

We found another golden family this week.  It's an older couple named T and G.  They contacted us on the street and told us that T works with a member who had invited him to church, but since he lives in another town he never could come.  We took their address and went to their house later.  They literally live in the middle of nowhere and are very poor, but very willing to follow Christ and recognized us as his servants from the start.  We took our ward mission leader to the lesson so he would know where they live so that he could take them on Sunday, and sure enough they came.  They shared with the branch president that missionaries had passed by their house before, but they had never come back, and that G had prayed that if ours was the true church, they would come back someday.  She told him that the prayer had been answered that Friday night when we went to visit them.  The members were all very helpful in making them feel welcome and have a good experience, and we're going to keep teaching them this week.  

I saw a really weird vehicle today--I don't know whether to call it a motor-trike with a roof or a 3 wheeled smart car, but whatever it was, I want one.

We've made it a tradition to eat chinese food every P-Day, and we've made friends with the Chinese people (yes they literally are EVERYWHERE) who work there.  They've been teaching us Chinese words and I'm really grateful they sent me to Mexico.  

On Sunday we had a great experience.  We went to visit the former Branch president of C,and we brought our Sunday School President, a 24 year old returned missionary.  He shared with him a scripture that really called my attention:

And thus they have been acalled to this holy calling on account of their faith, while others would reject the Spirit of God on account of the hardness of their hearts and bblindness of their minds, while, if it had not been for this they might have had as great cprivilege as their brethren.
 Or in fine, in the first place they were on the asame standing with their brethren; thus this holy calling being prepared from the foundation of the world for such as would not harden their hearts, being in and through the atonement of the Only Begotten Son, who was prepared— (Alma 13:4-5)
This is, to me, one of the saddest scriptures in the Book of Mormon.  We all have the same potential--to become like God--but some people, because of the hardness of their hearts and the blindness of their minds, don't ever fulfill it.  The member called them "Sleeping Giants", people who could be great if they would just wake up and realize the potential they have.  Let's all take a moment to recognize who we are--children of God, and heirs to His Throne.  We were valiant Spirits in his presence before the world was and were sent to build his kingdom upon the earth, and we have been provided all we need to acheive it--the Atonement of Christ.  When the task seems to be too much or when we feel like we have failed, the atonement of the Only Begotten Son, who was prepared, is the hope we have to help us wake up our Sleeping Giants and become who we were meant to be.  
I love you all and thank you for all your support.  This is God's work and it is His Church.  He is our Father and he loves us.  Jesus is the Christ.  Have a great week!
Elder Pew
January 6th, 2014
Great to hear from all of you.  I loved absolutely every one of your letters.  I love you a lot!

Let's get straight to the good stuff.  We had a good week, all the investigators are still progressing, and yesterday was one of the most miraculous days of my life.  

We had 9 investigators in church:  M, C, V, M, I (another one of M's daughters), her two kids N and M (I don't know his real name, everyone just calls him monkey), their cousin L, and G, the first counselor's wife. We had never really sat down to teach I and her family, but her kids had listened to us a few times with their grandma and invited their mom and their cousin to church with them.  The members were really great with all of them and they all seem to have had a good experience.  Testimony meeting was great, very powerful.  Oh, remember the inactive former branch president we visited last Sunday?  The member that came with us to that visit, M, promised them that if they didn't go to church he would go get them, and so halfway through sacrament meeting when they still hadn't got there, he left and brought them.  The whole family of 6 came, and there was a new excitement in the building when the members saw that brother in church again. In priesthood meeting the Elder's Quorum president, after giving him a long, warm welcome at the beginning of the class, started teaching about baptism and asked him how he felt the day he was baptized.  He didn't want to respond, but the teacher was persistent and that brother started crying as he explained the feeling of peace and forgiveness he had felt the day he was baptized.  The love of his fellow members and the presence of the Holy Ghost were able to penetrate his heart and remind him of the testimony he still had buried deep inside.  I really hope he keeps coming. 

Later that evening, we went to visit V's parents, who he had introduced us to a few days before.  Their names are L and R, and they felt the Spirit really strong and accepted everything we taught.  It also helps that their son is a completely different person now than he was 4 weeks ago when he met us.  They accepted a baptismal date for February 22nd.  

Afterwards, we visited V and C and taught them the Word of Wisdom. Without going into too many personal details, we invited them to take all the harmful substances that they had in their home and throw them away in that very moment.  C did so first, then V, and then M started crying uncontrollably, went into her room, and pulled out something else that she felt like she should also throw in the garbage.  Some day I`ll tell you the full story.  It was on of the most amazing moments of my mission--watching the Atonement go to work in their lives to lead them to repent, give up things that are harmful to them.  I couldn't help but think about what happened here in this same continent 2100 years ago, when the Anti-Nephi-Lehites buried their weapons of war in the earth as a sign that they had abandoned their sins forever.  That is true repentance: Burying our sins and covenanting (through baptism or the Sacrament) to never take them up again.  I am so grateful for the opportunity I have been given to represent the Savior in helping the children of our Heavenly Father to repent and come unto Him.  As their lives change, mine does also and, as Ammon described, my joy is full.  The Atonement is real.  I am living evidence of it and I have witnessed it in the lives of many others.  Trust in this truth.  

Sad news about Sister Stauffer (our neighbor passed away unexpectedly, her oldest son and Taran were good friends).  She was a great person and a great example for all of us.  I remembered this scripture while reading what had happened, I would like to dedicate it to the Stauffer family:

But there is a aresurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of bdeath is swallowed up in Christ.
 He is the alight and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened; yea, and also a life which is endless, that there can be no more death.
Have a great week everyone!  Know that I love you all!
Elder Pew