Sunday, June 8, 2014

Disciple. The Best Thing I've Been Called On My Mission So Far! - found in the drafts folder, posting it late now!

From 10 February 2013

 A last-minute self-taken pic of Sister Orton and me in the clerk's office..

Dear Family,

Every time I get on email my brain falls apart. So, sorry for the discombobulation. I really can't help it. It's a basic part of normal missionary life...
I can't believe you got my release information already! I still have plenty of time! (ok, 15 Sundays isn't a ton of time, but hey, it's enough!)
Where to even begin this week with...
This week we saw amazing miracles as we followed the Spirit. This truly is the Lord's work!
Starting on Wednesday. We were waiting for our amazing investigator D, who was late for an appointment. We saw a man and his son taking some things (a mattress, a wheelchair, etc.) from their apartment and so we offered to help them. DW had seen Mormon Ads on TV and wanted to know if he could get one of our books. So we gave it to him and set up a time to come by the next day. Just then D came up and we started teaching him. His mom came out (we were sitting on the steps by the apartment) halfway through and asked us if we could talk to her after we talked to D. He told us that she had called us angels of God. After we had finished teaching both of them (great lessons!) we saw DW coming back to the apartment, this time with a shopping cart full of bags. We helped him carry them up the stairs and he told us that we were truly disciples. That is the best thing I've been called on my mission so far.
(P.S. D prayed about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon and he got his answer! He told us he had to explain to his little niece that sometimes people cry happy tears :)
Fast forward to Friday.
We had an appointment at 4 with our investigator E. It was 3:40 and our visit to a less-active member near her house had just fallen through. I had a headache so Sister Orton suggested I take a 5-minute nap in the car before we headed over to Elma's house. Just then we heard the sound of a phone ringing - somehow our phone had dialed Elma's number. Her phone was off, but we hung up the phone and took that as a sign that we needed to go to Elma's house immediately. We headed over and had the most impressive spiritual experience that I've had on my mission.

The day before we had briefly met E's friend C, but he had brushed us off and left. When we got there C was outside with E, about to leave. As soon as we walked through the front gate he asked us what we had done. He said he felt completely different, like he was a totally different person, and he asked us what he needed to do to keep that with him. We taught them both a powerful lesson about the Holy Ghost that helped E to resolve some concerns keeping her from baptism and brought C almost to tears. We kept on having inspiration for what scriptures we needed to use, and at the end of the lesson neither of them wanted us to leave. C had been about to leave when we had walked up, just in time to catch him. What a privilege it was to help them feel the Spirit so strongly! How amazing is it that such a little impression could have such great results!

Directly afterward we offered a gratitude prayer. Sister Orton needed to use a bathroom, and on the way to our next appointment was a Burger King that we had stopped at several times that week. We decided we needed to buy something if we didn't want them to kick us out, so we used their restroom and got ice cream cones. The lady at the register asked us about our church and wanted us to come to her house to leave a prayer. Then we offered a card to a family that was about to leave. The mom S (with 6 kids!) wanted to know what we believed about the second coming of Jesus Christ, and set up a time for the next day that we could meet with her to tell her more.
Right afterward I felt strongly like we needed to harvest on a street really close to that area. We drove up and parked. At the first door we knocked was a woman who asked us through the window who we were. She opened the door as soon as we said we were representatives of Jesus Christ and told us she needed a prayer. She and her two daughters (ages 9 and 10) accepted baptism and before we could set up a return appointment K asked us if she could have our phone number to call us if she had questions before her baptism.
Best day ever!
On Saturday everything fell through. Everyone canceled on us. We needed to use the bathroom again and really wanted ice cream... and we were right next to the Burger King of the day before. But the conflict in our minds was that we would be wasting time, and we should try to go visit someone else. We prayed about a few places we could go and felt strongly that we should go into Burger King... We couldn't figure out why but decided to follow the impression. As we walked up we saw our former investigator J about to leave! We taught him about church and the Book of Mormon. So cool.
Later that evening we still weren't having any luck with plans following through. I remembered that earlier in the week I had thought about visiting a former investigator, B. But B lives at the far west side of our area where we don't go often, and she had dropped us pretty thoroughly, so I'd ignored the idea. When the idea of visiting her repeated I had those thoughts and so I told Heavenly Father that I was willing to see her, but it wasn't practical and the prompting wasn't very strong, so I would visit her only if everything fell through one day, because otherwise I would be putting our priority people on the back-burner when we needed to be seeing them first.
I realized that everything had fallen through so we needed to go see B. Miraculously I found her apartment without having the address and we went to knock. We heard people inside but she didn't answer. GAH. So frustrating! We decided to try and visit another former investigator who lived a few doors down, but on our way over we saw a man outside on his porch, so we stopped to say a prayer with him. He asked us if the whole family could come outside for the prayer! So cool. They loved the prayer and accepted church and baptism as a family.
Finally amazing miracle of Sunday. A, who we have been teaching for several weeks (I sent you a picture of him a while back), finally came to church! He has always been great but very slow-moving. We've taught him several of the lessons over again to make sure he really gets them. He came to church and is excited to be baptized next Sunday. And he has been alcohol free for two weeks now! He told us we didn't have to come over anymore because now he knew where the church was and would be here every week... :)
Phew. Long story. Lots of miracles. We loved them all. (Oh, and BTW, Sister Orton is just about the kindest person ever, so that's fun too :)
However, the frustrating thing about agency is that sometimes people make wrong choices. They don't call you back. They lie to you. They don't show up to appointments. They choose not to come to church... I'm still working on resolving the gap between the amazing spiritual miracles we saw this week and the lack of people who came to church or with whom we were able to follow up! It is so sad to see the people who've received a witness but let the world or their own priorities get in the way of receiving greater blessings. Sometimes I feel like Nephi, whose brothers had an angel appear to them but still refused to change. All the spiritual experiences in the world can't take away agency or opposition, I guess. We just keep on rolling, loving the Spirit and praying for people to have a change of heart.

I learned in the Book of Mormon this week about true gospel leadership. Alma 17:18 reads, "being the chief among them, or rather he did administer unto them." Later on in the verse it describes what administering is: "having imparted the word of God unto them, or administered unto them." I loved it. Truly as leaders in the gospel (in our companionships, homes, wards, with our investigators, or in any other leadership position - we all are leaders in some way or another) we can only lead by being instruments in the Lord's hands, forwarding His work, not our own. We teach God's commandments using His word and His Spirit and we will have success.
I also noticed for the first time in Alma 17:30 that Ammon calls the wild, ferocious Lamanites his brethren. I often think of Ammon as one of the great missionaries of history. And I realized today that his chief characteristic - which led him to perform courageous feats, listen with patience, share his testimony, see the potential of others, serve unceasingly, and make brothers of his enemies - is love, or charity. What an example!
OK, out of time and out of brain. Have a wonderful week! Send me some mail!

P.S.  Look at!  Fort Lauderdale Temple is on the home page!

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