Hello dear friends. Guess what? Guess what? Guess what?!! Beatrice got baptized!!!!!!! Who is Beatrice?! Well I'll tell you. One of my investigators? No. One of my old investigators?! Also no. She was a woman who got baptized into the Spanish branch on Saturday. I found out about it this morning and that's why I'm all bouncy about it. 'Cause I do have a connection to her. I totally randomly knocked on her door when we were looking for a less-active member on the records who apparently had moved. Beatrice said "Not only am I not that person, but I totally don't speak English either!" I replied "Well, we're missionaries and I'll try to speak Portuguese which I really don't speak well enough for you to understand. Here's what's going to happen--other guys in white shirts and worse ties are going to show up at your door and save your soul." And then that actually happened! I referred her to the Spanish Elders and presto, 7 weeks later she entered into the covenant of baptism by the proper priesthood authority of God. Moral of the story: you never know who is going to accept the gospel so try to talk to everyone, even when you are linguistically incapable of doing so!
So that's my fun, exciting, fact/news/thing pre-blurb Email. Enjoy.
And then the rest of my letter . . .
First, a gospel insight on divinity, carnality, and mortality as they relate to the fall and the Atonement. That's right: personal study yesterday was a blast. Basically, the price of divinity for mortality was the mortality of divinity. I could go on for days. It's something worth studying. It's like the coolest thing ever! Oh my goodness like I can't even explain it to you but for the 5th time on my mission I finally think I understand more about the Atonement. Which means I really probably don't but I'm getting closer! And if you really want a deep swim, study "blood" and what its significance is. Wow.
Okay so here's what's up. The end of Joseph Smith history, where Oliver Cowdery has his little blurb is the coolest blurb of scripture ever! Page 59 in the Book of Mormon. He talks about seeing while others rest upon uncertainty, he speaks of fiction and deception fleeing, of doubt sinking no more to rise. It's truly inspiring. And it comes back to a simple and fundamental attribute that too often we dismiss or misunderstand: reverence. It is easy to get caught up in the mundane things we do as missionaries. Knocking on empty doors, even teaching lessons. It's easy to lose the vision of the grandeur and majesty of God. Because truly, it is so glorious and so important.
We are children of a loving Heavenly Father and heirs of divinity if we will give up carnality by embracing our internal potential for divinity. And there is so much glory to be had, so much power and miracles to be seen. They are everywhere. And they are real. And when we recognize our smallness and fall to our knees in humility, we come to understand that the work and the glory is worthy of reverence and that everything we do should be done in worthiness and in reverence. Something to consider. Think covenants.
The week was one of some real ups and downs. Tuesday was basically the worst day ever. Our planning died and our time was ineffective. And that is the worst feeling in the world: feeling ineffective and like you are wasting time. And we went contacting on a college campus. Which let me just say is SUPER WEIRD. It's like... I don't even know. They're all your age and it just feels like college and there's no reverence and it's a fascinating experience. But ya' just have to talk to them. Ya' just do. And when you do, it all turns out all right. Tuesday was bad with all the appointments falling through and stuff. Then on Wednesday we had a mission tour from Elder Teh of the 70. What a stud. That was a spiritual feast.
And then we met T. He is amazing. He was a referral. And he's a miracle. We knock on the door and he's like "Yeah, come in" and we go in and he loves hockey and he's turning his life around and we're like "Hey, want to be baptized?" and he says "Yeah, I really do" and we say "Great! Let's do that!" and he just GETS it. So he's fantastic. And loves hockey.
Our investigators all started progressing this week though so that's awesome. Not all of them are ready to accept a baptismal date but they are sincerely seeking and it's amazing to watch. We also had a lesson with a man, C, who has been investigating for a very long time. And I felt like I needed to promise him an answer THAT NIGHT if he did a few simple steps. No word yet on if he did them but we are praying for him.
We've also had lessons this week where people have decided to live the word of wisdom. Gone with the coffee, gone with the tobacco, gone with it all. It's truly humbling to see people change their lives pursuant to following Jesus Christ.
We have met a lot of really prepared people and we are just trying to help them see how prepared they are. I'm grateful for all of you and I'm grateful to be here. The church really is true. There is no way to get around it, whichever way you try. And if you haven't sincerely checked it out, you're missing the purpose of your life. So, you know, get on that. Live the gospel. Share the gospel. Be reverent. And seek to understand. As Hebrews 11 tells us, through FAITH we understand. So try to understand, read your scriptures, and recognize that God wants a relationship with you even more than you want a relationship with Him. Don't deny Him or short him on that.
Well, where to begin? The question troubles me every time I sit to put ink to screen. There's so much that goes on in a week that it's impossible to describe everything. First, the area. If my first area is one way, this area is completely the other way. Gone are the homeless interactions, the barbed wire and creative vocabulary of the streets, and here are the homes and the nicely-quaffed hair.
The area is large. Excessively large and spread out. So I'm in a car. That means planning and knowing what is going on is even more important... and so much harder. My days are spent riding and planning and trying to organize and clean and teach occasionally. All that travel time gives me ample time to work on the Christ-like attribute of patience. It's still missionary work, it's just much slowed down from the last area. My new companion is Elder S. He is a stud. We work nicely together.
The ward is really on top of it, which is wonderful. We are focusing a lot on finding but the investigators we have are great. Aaaaaaaaand... I TAUGHT a LESSON IN PORTUGUESE!!!!WHOOOAOAOAOAOAOAAAAAA! Craziness, right? He's Mr. W. and he was hesitant to speak it at first because he's working on English immersion but we had a really good chat about his concerns and what he needs to do to get baptized and it was terrific. We may be seeing him again tonight. He's an all-star. That was the biggest high ever because I study the language each day but I never get to talk to anyone who speaks it and it turns out that I'm learning a language that actually exists. Who knew?
We are also teaching a few people who say they know all of these things are true, but they aren't quite ready to take the leap. All of them are so special though; we love them. The obstacles we face in such a large area are foreign to me. Miles restrictions (missionary's are only allowed to drive a specific number of miles in a given time), planning difficulties because of how spread out everyone is... it is a different type of success than I came to expect, but I guess that is why Chapter 1 (entitled: "What is my purpose as a missionary?") of our handbook, "Preach My Gospel," exists. A lot of the people we work with have challenges coming into the church. They'll live the gospel, but not be baptized. We are working on pushing them over the edge and into the water and helping them to see the blessings that come from baptism.
Being in a singles ward is something akin to being "in the ward, but not of the ward." It's so weird sometimes. The people are awesome, it's just that there's this thing where when we go to someone's house for dinner it feels EXACTLY like I'm back at Justin's apartment at BYU and I have to curl into a ball in my head going "it's not college it's not college it's not college." Haha It's fun but you definitely have to be ready for anything. Teaching people my own age is a strange experience, too. But I suppose we just have to follow Paul's advice: "To the Greeks I become as a Greek, to the Romans I become as a Roman..."
We've had some great lessons with great people this week. I used my little whiteboard to teach the plan of salvation in terms of problems God faced and solutions He used to solve them. An interesting point is that the Fall (of Adam) is a solution and not a problem in that presentation. It was the first time I had ever tried teaching it that way but it makes so much sense in my mind. God's plan really was a set of solutions to achieve His purpose of enabling His children to have all the blessings He himself enjoys. There's something else I'm learning. Think in terms of solutions, not in terms of problems. Identifying a problem is not a solution. We need to solve the problems, not wallow in them. Languishing is no fun. Progress instead!
Prayer. Major cool thing about prayer. When we pray we are to represent the mind of Christ. What does that mean? It means that we are to pray to the Father in His name as if it were Him praying for us. What He WOULD ask for us is what we SHOULD BE asking for for ourselves. Cool, right?! For some reason I think that's so amazing! So try that out! Pray as if you were someone who loved you praying for you. What would they ask for or about? What do they think you need? It's a great exercise to try and makes prayer more effective.
God works in small ways and by small means. And the cool part is that we get to be those small means sometimes. We texted Sis. L. to make sure she was coming to church and it turns out she had just had a really hard time and was wondering if the gospel was still true. And getting our message cheered her up and got her back to her set position of being so extremely prepared. Three investigators came to church this week. It's an area with so much potential and so much to be done. It's exciting and exhausting, which is how it should be.
Some recent highlights:
* We went from 2 investigators to 22 in 3 weeks (yea for organization)!
* The Word of Wisdom (doctrine regarding the latter-day saint health code) really makes a difference. Alcohol ruins so many lives.
* Told a guy at a bus stop this was the most important moment of his life because our gospel message is true and asked if he was going to let God into his heart or blow us off. He blew us off.
* Cried saying "bye" to Brother W., the most awesome and prepared Pentecostal ever to walk the face of the world.
* Said a tearful goodbye to a family who was too drunk to say "bye" or to understand I was leaving. I love them very much and miss them. They're gonna be so great one day.
Love to all! Pray in the mind of Christ! See the Bible dictionary's definition of prayer. Don't be Laman and Lemuel and be past feeling. Return, repent, and do it all over again. CTR ("Choose The Right" - a latter-day saint acronym) backwards is "Return To Christ." Something we all need to do.