Wednesday, February 18, 2009

"All Because A Boy Went Into The Woods To Pray...."

This has been one of those weeks where I know why I'm on my mission, and know without a doubt that there is nothing that I'd rather be doing besides serving a mission.

We started off last Wednesday night with some crazy finding, spending an hour or so doing that, being able to teach about fifteen people, and getting five new investigators. As I went to bed that night, I felt satisfied with the work I had done, and felt the love and peace of the Lord that he was well-pleased with my efforts. On Thursday, we went on exchanges with the Zone Leaders. Elder Tuckfield and I went over to the Figueiredo's (my recent convert family), and had a wonderful dinner with them. After the meal, we set down with them to review the Restoration as part of the new member lessons. We took the approach of teaching them by asking questions, and they answered them beautifully. Alex, the little nine year old, recited the story of the 116 lost pages in decent detail, so that really surprised us. We then asked Simone what she thought a prophet was, and she said something along the lines of "a prophet is a man who helps us to keep a direct line of communication between God and His children." Boy, was I blown away! I don't Elder Tuckfield or I could gave given a better definition. As we went along, Luiz recounted a story where he was able to help a less-fortunate member in Brazil while they were there over Christmas, and Simone told us about how Thomas and Alex has fellowshipped their neighbors there so well, that, as they were about to leave, the neighbor asked how she could continue having her kids go to the Church! The best part of that whole night was being able to tell them the story of the First Vision once again, and to recite the Prophet Joseph Smith's testimony. As I said those words, and as they listened, I knew that what I was telling them was true. It was a wonderful feeling that I have not yet forgotten, and that has continued to help me throughout the week.

On Friday, we spent about two hours contacting, just standing and stopping people to talk to them. It was tiring as it was extremely hot, and there were times that I just wanted to sit down and rest. But, every time that happened, someone would walk by, and they would be a good contact! We had our appointments cancel that night so we spent more time finding.

Saturday was wonderful because we were able to attend a member's wedding at the chapel on Valentine's Day! Well, it was a solemnization family, but it was still way fun. We were able to talk to one of the groom's good friends, and he said that we could contact him again sometime! The officiator, who is also our Stake Patriarch, gave some wonderful counsel and advice about being sealed for time and eternity. It was a good reminder of the goal that all of Heavenly Father's children should have. After planning, we headed over to Clementi to meet up with Raja. He was very open, and really listened as we taught him about the Restoration. After the lesson, he treated us to dinner, so that was way nice of him. The best part is, he came to Church the next day, stayed for all three hours, and accepted a baptism date as we talked with him after Church! We are so excited to see him progress! We spent Sunday afternoon chasing down Elder Palfreyman's Dad's MTC companion's ex-colleague. We live in the west, and so it took awhile to get to the east. Had a decent lesson with her, headed home, did our personal studies, then rushed off to another appointment but that didn't work out. Didn't have time for dinner, so I was slightly cranky. But, our next appointment, Anandan, showed up, and we had a great second lesson with him about the Plan of Salvation. And.... he accepted a baptism date too! We had Tun Niang, a wonderful member from Myanmar help us.

Monday was normal. Had reporting and all that, did our work at the office. Headed for an appointment that didn't show up, so we did some finding again, then headed to our next appointment, whom we weren't really sure whether he would show up. But, when we got to the assigned meeting place, Velmurugan was already there! We took him to the Church that was just a couple bus stops away, and taught him the Restoration. Elder Palfreyman was inspired to ask him if he wanted to be baptized about five minutes into the lesson, and I was pleasantly surprised when he said "Yes, I want to follow Jesus Christ." Woot! We showed him the Restoration video, and set up another appointment with him. So, we now have three baptisms set for March 29th! Hopefully we can move a couple forward though. On the way back home, I talked to a young man on the bus about the Plan of Salvation. As I tried to explain it to him, what he kept saying was that he controlled his own fate. I said that I agreed to a certain point, but there was something more than that to life, to finding lasting and inner peace in this life and in the life to come. Sadly, he didn't really think that could be had, or just didn't want to listen, so I left him with a pamphlet, my card, and my testimony.

Last night was the best Tuesday ever leading up to our Preparation Day. First off, we had a Missionary Council with President Skelton, so that we could all talk in a more informal setting about the work and what concerns we might have had. We worked through a few things, then he talked about the key indicators that we had to focus on to really improve, such as investigators at sacrament meeting, and the teaching pool that we're building up. As we ended up the meeting, President bore to us a wonderful testimony of hard work, about having no regrets about out mission, and making sure that every moment on our missions are "shining stars." He talked about missionaries who, at their exit interviews, felt that they had failed because they hadn't given their all for the two years. So, he challenged us to give our hundred percent, our all to the Lord, to keep our focus on the things that really matter: bringing Heavenly Father's children back to Him. That night, we had our usual Tuesday night lesson with Angelina. But, the lesson was any but usual.

We started going through the Restoration lesson (seems like this was something that the Lord wanted Elder Palfreyman and I had to review!), because we had covered parts, but had never completed the full lesson. We did an amazing job teaching in unity, trading back and forth, and really had the momentum going, and I was once again able to recount the story of the First Vision. My, I felt so loved because I once again felt the Spirit testifying to me that the story was true, that God has provided his restored on this earth once more. I have never felt the Spirit so much in my life in a week, not even at EFY. As I ended off, and Elder Palfreyman continued, I felt at peace. Something that surprised me was the ability I had to tune out the noise around me as I taught. Everything tuned out as I focused on the message, and as Angelina listened intently. As we traded off, I heard the background noises again. But, that focus came as the Spirit helped me to teach and testify. Towards the end, Sister Jocelyn, one of our members, told us about an experience she had on her mission, where an investigator was having doubts about Joseph Smith. She asked the investigator if it was alright if they could each kneel down and say a prayer, one after another, to receive an answer. The prayers were said, and the question was answered in the affirmative. That prompted Angelina to ask if we could each do that. So, six of us, Elder Palfreyman and I, the two members, and Brother Yong and Angelina, each took our turns praying on our knees in a circle. It was a wonderful experience. As we ended, Sister Jocelyn asked Angelina how she felt. Frankly, I wasn't sure how she would respond. I was bracing for a "I still don't feel anything" answer. But, to my utter delight, she said that she had felt the Spirit. As Elder Palfreyman went on to ask her how she felt about her baptism date on the 15th, she said "I'm so excited!" It was an answer to the many prayer that Elder Palfreyman and I have been asking for, from the doubts that she had herself, and to those that her father has been throwing at her. To top the night off, she asked if we wanted ice cream! As we left, Sister Jocelyn was telling her how to keep that Spirit around her, and her response was, "it hasn't left yet!"

We have been diligent in finding and contacting this week, and it has really paid off, not really in the way that we expected it to, but in the many little blessings that the Lord has given us. For me, the greatest blessing that he has given me this week is the courage to talk to anyone and everyone! Granted, I've been rejected many a time, but I can feel the Spirit right beside me, and that's all that really matters.

In last week's email out, I was talking about how I had been having a pretty hard week with self-reflection. My favorite BYU professor emailed me a short note, saying "The closer we get to Christ, the evermore present become our shortcomings. Thus the need to rely on His holiness over our own." As I've been thinking about it, what he said really is true, and I'm grateful for it, because it just makes me want to change, to be a better person, and to be a happier person as I do my best to be "even as He is."

As I have taught the message of the Restoration over and over again this week, I have come to appreciate it more and more, and have also come to understand my Heavenly Father and His Son. It is amazing just how much love they have for us, and how all the commandments and teachings that we are given are solely for our eternal happiness. I am so grateful for them, and for the Prophet Joseph Smith. Who knows where I'd be right now, and what the world would be right now without this Restored gospel. I'm very much who I am today, "All because a boy went into the woods to pray...."


Tasha said...

2 baptisms set in one week! that is great! congrats!

Jared and Laura said...

Hey buddy how are you doing? I thought I would comment on your blog. You are looking great from all of the photos I have seen of you. I am sending you a letter so I do not want to spoil it by divulging everthing now. Keep up the good work, you are in our prayers.