I'm just gonna call everyone fam here. Alright? Got lots to catch up on this week. Let's just say we were very busy this week.. Alrighty.
I got two packages this week- thank you momma and Hunter.(:
Where to start.... Let's start with Ken on Monday. He is doing awesome. Things are really starting to piece together for him. He is sharp. His past attempts at understanding God and religion were studying physics and quantum physics.. I mean A for effort, really. Haha. He's learning all it takes is a couple 19 year old girls to find all the answers. And in reality, what we do is simplify the gospel into terms that anyone and everyone can understand. No master's degree needed. That's what I love about the gospel. It is so simple. It is only us that complicate it.
Side note, Ivan lost his job this week so keep him in your prayers as he looks for a new one. Some good news, the Chinese woman we help with her English passed her drivers test this week and got her license! We've been trying to help her pass for five months now! She is going to make us a Chinese dinner to thank us. Such a sweet lady.
Monday night we had our lesson with Bruce and Robbie, two guys from the volleyball team. It is difficult to teach the two of them together, they're both on completely different levels. Bruce has read almost half of the Book of Mormon previously. After our lesson, he told Anthony he was "really getting into this Mormon thing." Haha. We taught the both of them again Tuesday night before volleyball. Robbie had read 20 chapters since the night before. What teenager does that? Haha. Anyway, it went really well. It's so different teaching people our age. Robbie surprised us later that night by texting us and asking to meet again. He had read almost all the way through 2 Nephi already. We asked him what had changed and made him so into it, and he said that during our lesson on Tuesday night he got "that feeling that he gets right when he's about to win something." He also said he has grown up seeing elders walk past him on the streets of his neighborhood every day since he was a little boy and wondered what made them do what they do everyday. He felt like he was close to the answers. The only thing that will stop him is his parents are very against the church. We will see him next on Tuesday.
Wednesday night we went on splits, sis welch went out with sister cook and I taught Book of Mormon class. It was strange teaching by myself, without a companion. I had planned to read from Alma chapter 32, one of my favorite chapters, but Perry showed up with his girlfriend Dawn, so I felt I should switch topics and ended up teaching all about the Atonement and the Plan of Salvation. Such a broad topic to attempt to cover in a one hour class. It went so well, I really enjoy teaching. As I was teaching in the back of my head I was thinking about Dawn, who has Jehova's witness background. As we spoke about how the Atonement covers everything, I included how the atonement is infinite because it isn't limited to who it applies to, how many it applies to, etc. (Remembering the JW's believe only 144,000 will be saved.) Yeah, slipped that one in there. Surprisingly both she and Perry really enjoyed it, both nodded and agreed through the whole thing, and they both texted after and commented how much they did.
They both came to church on Sunday, they are awesome- they fit right in. I'm always nervous for testimony meeting, because you never know what crazy or irrelevant things are going to be said, but it turned out to be a great meeting. They stayed for all three hours, we sat with her at Relief Society, she really enjoyed it.
Katie's was an adventure this week. A fight broke out and someone threw coffee in a woman's face. Never know what you're going to get. This week they were searching for a man who is wanted, and I had the idea to check our teaching records, and found him! Hahah. Our teaching records are full of Butler's finest.
Bill is still trying to quit. We fasted with him yesterday, and he made it through the day. It was a rough day for him, would have been his wife's birthday. But he showed up for church. He's really working so hard, and so ready! He's been coming to church and Book of Mormon class every week since we met him in May. Dang cigarettes.
We saw Renee, our informant, who keeps us up to date what houses we cannot go to. She does her research. Found out there's TWENTY drug dealers on our street alone. Nice.(:
So we stopped by to see Joshua, our minister this week. Kind of interesting timing, he had just gotten married the day before and was leaving the next day for their honeymoon. But we got to meet his new wifey and taught them both the Plan of salvation and eternal marriage.(: haha. So... He finished the Book of Mormon. He told us he knows it is true...... But is still happy with his church. Makes no sense.. Just too involved in the social aspect of his own I suppose.
We also saw that man Gary for the first time in a while. He too had finished the entire Book of Mormon..... But no results. He said he enjoyed it but it didn't change his desire to learn more.
I always thought as a new missionary that if I could get people to read the Book of Mormon they would be begging to be baptized. That that was all it took. Both of those, Joshua and Gary go to show you can read the entire Book of Mormon and get nothing from it if you don't read it the right way. You have to really read it.
Friday we got to help Karla Clark bail hay! I'm a true Pennsylvanian now. Farming is... Hard work! They have five fields.. Which meant unloading 1,200 hay bails into their barn. Those things aren't light! But we got the experience. Tractor riding and all. Been finding hay in my hair all week since but it was good. Her husband and her brother were both there who are both nonmembers. Karla is the only member in her family. In fact, when she joined the church, she was originally disowned from her family. Her dad told her he wasn't her father anymore. But she went through with it. Since then her family relationships have been mended, and her family has seen that mormons aren't really so horrible. In fact, they enjoy us, the missionaries quite a bit. Her dad's quite the guy- engineer/ super genius inventor/ farmer/ drummer in a Polynesian string band. His heart was softened by all his Polynesian friends who are members of the church.
This week Karla was really upset because she received a letter from her visiting teacher. The letter included the assigned message of the month- keeping the sabbath day holy, and she said her visiting teacher told her she needed to be a better example of that for her kids and this and that, (she doesn't come to church much.) The ward has not done much in the way of reaching out to her or getting to know her, her mom told her to leave the church when she read the letter. But, she decided she "doesn't go to church for _______." (Visiting teacher.)
I wish more people had that attitude. We meet so many people who have decided to walk away from the church, and the gospel because someone offended them or did something stupid. My question is what does this one person have to do with the gospel, or the church as a whole? It's as simple as this- the gospel is perfect, the church is perfect, but it is made up of very imperfect people who do a lot of stupid things. Nuff said.
My highlight of the week was watching Lamont pass the sacrament for the first time this week. He came to church in one of the multiple suits members had given him, and he couldn't help but smirk as he passed it to the two beaming smiling sister missionaries. Proud momma moment right there. Haha. We gave him a whole bag full of ties that the Elders in my district gave us for him- he's set up real well. Today he officially signed up for seminary, next week he will be baptizing his youngest sister, Shekera. He is so excited. We are taking him out teaching with us this week- to get a taste of missionary work! He's going to do good things. He's always had a good heart and a desire to help people. This week I read a talk which included the speakers very own story of coming back to the gospel that reminded me of Lamont. He said:
"So, was it worth it?
Was all the effort over all the years, worth the effort to have just one boy be baptized?
Whenever the gospel is shared, it is never “just one boy.” Whenever conversion happens or someone returns to the Lord, it is a family that is saved.
Oh yes, it was worth it."
This week we met a really awesome guy named Troy. Many times the people we meet just can't be described adequately. Kind of a "you had to be there" thing, but he is so prepared. He, like our many others, has had quite a rough life. He had quite a promising career in hockey, in fact he had a walk on scholarship to Duquesne university, which he lost due to his struggles with his addictions. At only 30 years old, he is now single, but supports five young children in his home, only two of his own, the other three he has taken in so that they have a father. He has always known there is some kind of higher power, and he shared that he really thinks this is where he will find it.
It is so hard meeting such amazing, promising people all the while knowing I will be leaving long before they will reach the end- I will never see the fruit of our labor. I guess that's why they say you're constantly planting seeds. There are many "gardeners," that carry on the work for you.
I have about a month left here in Butler, but I really am not ready to go. There is so much to be done here. This area has been back-breakingly built back up from the ground. The work does not seem close to finished here, and I can't imagine packing up and just leaving behind all the people I have come to know and help here. I guess I'll just have to trust all of them with my trainee and her successors. I just wish I had more time. I also worry about the many Spanish speaking investigators, like Ivan and Nefdali, when there is no longer a Spanish speaking missionary here. Nefdali is doing well, he's been coming to church every week. I translate sacrament meeting and teach gospel principles duo- language for him. A member in the ward who served a Spanish speaking mission translates for him during priesthood.
It may seem as if not much has been accomplished here due to a lack of baptisms, but that is not the case. The work progresses slowly here, but surely. And much of the work I have been a part of here is more than "find, teach, baptize." Working with those struggling with addictions is not an overnight process. It took me a long time to get over the discouragement and realize that my true purpose was to better people's lives through the gospel, and for many it may not include baptism now, but down the road we will never know the impact.
This week President called again, a member from the quorum of the seventy is visiting the mission, and he wants me to share some of the efforts here in our area- specifically Lamont. Speaking in front of a seventy.. No pressure, huh? We don't know who the visitor will be yet.
Last thought. The past six months I have had the chance to bear my testimony to numberless people, all of which I have promised the joy the gospel can bring them, and how it can change their lives. To which many ask, okay, how? So I've been able to think about this question for a long time. How do you explain to a person how much it can influence them, in every aspect of their lives?
I remember all growing up sitting in sacrament meeting Sunday after Sunday hearing people say "I don't know where I would be without the gospel in my life." And I always thought, "Probably at home watching tv and napping?" Haha.
Now I can see that being active in the gospel is so much more than how you spend your time on Sunday. It is everything. The way you think, the way you live your life, how you treat others, everything. I can see so clearly just what it can do to a person's life. Only problem is nobody can take my word for it. They have to see that for themselves.
"The Lord does not call the qualified, he qualifies whom he calls"
The church is true!
Sorry for the rant.
Obedience to the Ten Commandments (3:10)
Obedience to the Ten Commandments (3:10) As children of God, we have been given the wonderful gift of choice. The truest happiness and peace we can have comes by choosing to obey His laws.