Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Working Hard. Really Hard.

In  1833, Joseph Smith received revelation from God that would help His people be more healthy
This instruction is referred to a the "Word of Wisdom" and is summarized here.
Eliza teaches this, as it is a law and blessing the Lord requires people to accept before baptism.

Dear Family, Friends, and Everyone,

Hi! I love you all a lot! Did you get a chance to watch the broadcast on Sunday? If you didn't, go watch it. It's amazing. For us, it was like Christmas. Apostles speaking to us about missionary work with amazing stories and cool audiovisual effects? So great.

This week many things happened. I am not even going to attempt to go at them in order, so bear with me through this craziness. First of all, I created a Satan-repellant. I was reading on the second-to-last page of this month's Ensign about Islanders who had confidence in their own testimonies. So I made the following card, which I now carry around in my miracle book.

We're working with an exciting extended family nowadays, which we just call N's family (although N is the only one who hasn't accepted baptism, she's the matriarch and a strong Catholic, and wants her daughter and family to come closer to Christ since they grew up in communist Cuba and don't have religious roots...) We've seen lots of miracles with them. W, who's about 50 and has been in the states for a year, jobless for several months, got a job the day after we left a blessing with them. He recognized it was from God and so is baptism! We had a great lesson on the Word of Wisdom the other day with just N, her daughter T, T's daughter R, and R's baby. When we taught them that God has told us we shouldn't drink tea, R first started off by saying that she thought it should be okay for someone to drink tea if they were drinking it to avoid doing something bad. Then T piped in saying she agreed that all the other things (tobacco, drugs, alcohol, coffee) were bad, but that tea was healthy! R then chimed up again and told T that it was bad because it was addictive. Meanwhile N was reading the pamphlet we'd given her, and told everyone that she knew the Word of Wisdom was true because it counselled us to avoid eating too much meat! It was a crazy lesson but very fun and very effective. By the end they'd all agreed to live the Word of Wisdom.

We also had a really cool experience with meeting C, whom the English Sisters had left a harvest blessing with. We went to visit her and she told us about the day before, when Sister Schneider and Sister Biggs had knocked on her door. Right before they'd arrived, she had been sleeping, and had a dream that a woman who was a representative of Jesus Christ would knock on her door. When they knocked she wasn't going to open the door because she was busy. But a voice kept on telling her to open the door. She did, and had a wonderful spiritual experience that confirmed for her that God had sent them. Then the next day, when we visited her, she had been feeling anxious all day, just waiting for something. When we came over that went away. She told us over and over that she knew God was speaking to her, and wanted her to have our message. We're worried about her, because we haven't been able to get hold of her for a few days, but she is amazing!

A few weeks ago we had lunch with the S family, in our ward. Their oldest son is leaving on a mission tomorrow, so we gave him some advice, shared Alma 31:34-35 with him, and committed him and his family to memorize his missionary purpose. When he gave his farewell talk yesterday he recited his purpose over the pulpit, shared Alma 31:34-35, and said that our commitment had really helped him in preparing for his mission and having that missionary spirit. So cool!

Another wonderful experience we had yesterday was with a less active family. The 20-year-old son had been having problems with depression, and that was the main thing keeping him from activity in the church. We learn from Job that the way to have real hope is through gaining an eternal perspective and going forward in faith*. So we shared the second half of 2 Nephi 4 with them and then taught a lesson on the plan of salvation. It was fantastic. We committed them to creating personal plans to help them fulfill the goal of following Jesus Christ and the vision of returning to live with our Heavenly Father. It was so awesome.

Speaking of which, I received inspiration on missionary work in general. I've been focusing a lot on having visions, goals, and plans in order to achieve forward progress. But I realized that in order for our investigators to progress, they need to know what these are. The vision for them is eternal life with Heavenly Father and their families. The goal is their baptismal date. And the plans include keeping their commitments, living the laws of God, reading from the Book of Mormon, praying, coming to church, and meeting with us. If they don't understand the big picture and the role of the little things, they can't progress! Establishing expectations is super important.
Another realization for our area. Sister Smaellie and I have been working hard. Really hard. And we've been doing our best to give it our all, continue to improve, etc. But we just haven't seen the results. During the broadcast yesterday something stuck out to me: the Lord will not bless us with new converts until we take care of the people we already have. Now Sister Smaellie and I have worked to keep visiting the recent converts in our area. But our area in general, which has been a high-baptizing area, also has a history of many new converts going inactive and never being seen again. So Sister Smaellie and I are going to make a higher priority of visiting less actives and trust that the Lord will grant us success in baptisms as we do so, continuing the work of salvation on both sides of the font.

One more week of training. I will know by next P-day (Tuesday) whether I'm staying in West Palm or going somewhere else next week. I'm not sure which to hope for! I love you all a lot. Don't give up hope, and keep on loving and working with those who can't see the big picture right now. As you help them to see what we're fighting for, they will have hope and strength in doing what they know is right.

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