Dear everyone awesome and wonderful,
Some random bits and pieces before getting to the good stuff:
-Last P-day we bought a really basic messenger bag and reading glasses for R at the Dollar Star, so that he could read his scriptures more easily and carry them on his bike. When we saw himwe gave them to him - and he had brought something for us too! Two huge, ripe, amazing mangoes... And he gave us two more :)
-And although we haven't even taught a tithing lesson, he knew from his interview that he needed to pay tithing. So he brought his 10% to church and asked us to help him pay his tithing.
-Here in Hialeah/Miami there is a phenomenon that we like to call the Cuban finger. When you're in traffic and need to get over a lane, you stick your hand out the window, point to the lane over so the person there can see you, and point down. Then you move over! It is so great. I learned how to do it this week, and have made some really impossible lane changes because of it!
-Something I just realized I forgot to share from a couple of months ago in West Palm. We were teaching a very unsuccessful lesson to an closed-off audience. When we left, one of the guys ran after us. He wanted me to look up a Bible reference. I said I would and left. It was 1 Corinthians. I about died laughing when I read it the next day.
-D and P moved to Tampa :( But we got the info for the church services in Spanish there, gave them a picture of Jesus Christ for their new house, and sent their info to the missionaries in Tampa! It was very sad leaving them, which was unexpected since we only taught them two lessons - but they were awesome. I am going to visit them when I come back to Florida after my mission.
A really wonderful spiritual experience that I had this week was in a lesson last night with our soon-to-be-recent-convert J (more about him below but I added this section later, sorry for the weird organization). We were talking about becoming like God, becoming perfect. I had been pondering earlier about what it means to do "all you can do" (as in 2 Nephi 25:23). As we talked about it I received wonderful revelation, which I wrote down this morning. I learned that doing all we can do doesn't mean being perfect. It has more to do with not giving up, continuing, and then relying on the Savior and His Atonement to make up for what we can't do. I don't know why it didn't sink in before, but somehow I realized more fully what it means that we need the Atonement. It's not just about getting rid of sins we've repented of, although that's part of it. It's also about making up for those weaknesses that are inherent in our character, as long as we are doing our part. I learned that doing all we can do is more a matter of diligence, persistence, and faith than it is a matter of strength or capacity. The Savior bridges the gap between us and perfection.
I had started thinking about how that applies to missionary work, and the first verse I read this morning in the Book of Mormon was Mosiah, which says, "... and they were baptized in the waters of Mormon, and were filled with the grace of God." Without the ordinances of the Atonement, if we wanted to return to God we would have to become perfect on our own, which is impossible. We as missionaries are spreading the good news that we can become more, and helping others to realize the fulfillment of the Atonement of Jesus Christ
We had several very cool experiences with testimony this week. To start off, R. He got confirmed yesterday! After his confirmation during Sacrament meeting, he went to the pulpit and shared his testimony. He told us all that he wanted to change his life, and he knew that he was following God now. It was amazing and sweet. The Spirit has really touched him, and although he doesn't know everything he is truly converted to his Savior Jesus Christ and wants to follow Him the best way he knows how.
We have another investigator, J. I've written a little bit about him before, but just to clarify. He is amazing. He has had a crazy life (If I didn't know him I would think he is literally crazy from all the things that have happened in his life), and is super ready for the gospel. Sister Judkins and Sister LeBaron met him probably two months ago, and he has had something insane come up every week so that he couldn't come to church (like, his coworker is in a work accidentnight, or an old injury that hasn't been a problem in years acts up come morning, etc.). He has a strong desire to be baptized, but hasn't been able to progress because he hasn't been able to come to church. Yesterday he came to church! He loved it and is getting baptized next week. We had a lesson with him last week and he shared his testimony with us. We were talking about the Plan of Salvation. Jesse told us that he wasn't sure what God's plan was, or why anything happened, but he was committed to serving God always and being the best person he could be. We were able to share our testimonies of why God has just one church (a sticking point in the past), and he understood, where all of our explanations in the past just created confusion.
One more story. Yesterday we were waiting at a bus station to talk with a man we'd met the day before. He didn't show, but we decided to talk to a random guy riding his bike past. We found out he was a less-active member who had been thinking about coming back to church. We talked about why he had become less-active. He identified that the biggest reason was because he hadn't shared his testimony. He knew the importance of sharing his testimony (in building his testimony and feeling the Spirit), but he hadn't ever borne his testimony. We're working with him now so that he can come back and be solid in faith, especially through sharing his testimony.
Finally, a scripture. Doctrine and Covenantssays, "Satan thinketh to overpower your testimony... that the work may not come forth in this generation." Our testimonies are our protection. They are gifts of the Spirit, and must be nurtured or we will not be able to maintain them. By sharing our testimonies we are able to do much good. The Lord can work through us and the Spirit can be felt. If we don't share them, they may leave us.
Every single person on the earth has a testimony of Jesus Christ. Every one of us was in the great council in Heaven and defeated Satan with our testimonies of our Savior and His plan. By sharing our own testimonies, those we share them with will be able to feel the Spirit and their spirits will begin to remember what they really already know.
I know that Jesus Christ lives, that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is His organization to administer His priesthood power. I know that it is true. I know that the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and that we have a living prophet today, Thomas S. Monson. I know that God is my Father and loves me, and each one of us.
This is my testimony, the most valuable and priceless possession that I have. By sharing it, it becomes even greater. I love you all!