It's been a great week and it seems like a lot happened, but my short term memory loss is kicking in so of course I don't remember it. I have grown a lot spiritually as Elder Taylor and I have noticed we need to put more into our study time. So I started praying more specifically before morning study, then I would feel impressed to study a certain topic and get to it. One of the main topics I studied was the Pure Love of Christ. It is such a beautiful concept, especially as a missionary, because almost every day we get the chance to serve, or to try to serve as the Savior Himself would. I had studied charity the day before and Desire the day after. Then on Saturday, Elder Taylor and I got to serve at a soup kitchen downtown that serves lunch to the homeless or needy. As we prepared and served, I was praying to feel the love that the Savior feels for these individuals. Then I made eye contact with a few of them. The eyes, not to be cheesy, truly are the
gateway to the soul. I'm not going to say I saw their souls, but I felt of their spirits, and their needs. I was touched as I thought about the Savior and His love for each of those individuals. I thought of those moments He spent in the Garden of Gethsemane, praying for and suffering for each of us. And all He asks us to do is to reach out and rescue those who are lost. I was so happy that I was blessed with such an experience after putting forth the effort to study and grow closer to the Lord.
On Friday we went on exchanges with the Zone Leaders (pretty much missionary leaders over a stake-sized areas). My comp was Elder Fennel, no joke he is 6'10", red-head, skinny, but slightly intimidating considering he is a full story taller than most of the population. He reminds me of Jared, quiet until you get to know him. But insightful and a good missionary. A member from his ward drove us around to different houses to stop by, all of which but 2 were not home. We went to a trailer park in the Newark area. And being a trailerpark, it was already pretty sketch, but the member we were with said that he didn't have a good feeling about the place. The person we were looking for, of course wasn't home, so we left quickly. Later I asked him why it was such a creepy place. He explained that with his last comp, they had an investigator (gator) there who was really into it all until one day they returned and something about him had changed. He had been
reading a book and was pretty much possessed and verbally attacking them. Needless to say, they left in a jiffy and had to get help from a Priesthood leader. This may seem irrelevant, but I have realized the importance of recognizing that Satan is very real. He is out there and like Prophets have said, he is well seasoned and has practiced and knows our every weakness. I love this quote though, "Satan trembles when even the weakest person gets on their knees to pray." A simple prayer weakens him immensely. I love it, I love knowing that we can work together to wage an "all out war against Satan" and who will win? God and His people. Love it.
On a lighter note, we went to teach Frank, our miraculous investigator on Saturday and taught him the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was amazing to see his understanding grow through the Spirit. We explain that we are not perfect teachers, but that as he pays attention to those feelings from God and as he asks questions, we would be able to help him understand. We had invited him to keep the word of wisdom and he did! for two days.. but two days is better than nothing. He has gone 8 months before, so we know he can do it. Before we left, I invited him to be baptized and he said "Yes, absolutely! Im going to need a bit more time, but Yes!" Words cannot describe the joy that fills your heart when someone accepts that invitation. And yes we recognize the challenges that lie ahead in getting him prepared and hopefully teaching his wife as well, but I know that if it is God's will, there WILL be a way.
We were told by our Zone Leaders at Zone training last Thursday that we Elders are not allowed to teach women alone even if it is in public, on their front porch with other males a few feet away. There has to be adult males in the conversation with us. So that makes teach lessons a lot more difficult for us, but if members are present or non member males, then there is more fellowshipping and a chance at potential investigators. I apologize for all this missionary lingo, it's kinda boring sounding and confusing, but it's hard to get around. We were also asked by President to pray to be guided to God's elect, or those whom He has specifically prepared to hear and receive the gospel, then act in faith to find those individuals and hopefully families.
We were walking back from a lesson to our car, along the dirty (like cigarettes, urine, trash, glass, everything kind of dirty) streets of Wilmington and we passed the Afro-American version of the Hulk. He nodded at us as we said hi. Then we got to our car a minute or two later and he walked towards us. Elder Taylor rolled down the passenger window and the man asked to talk to us and if we could do so in the car. We promptly said, No we'll get out and talk on the street. So we did. He asked us what we're all about, and told us to give him our shpeal. We taught him the Restoration then he lectured us about seeming to tense. I mean what would you do if a black man twice your size with guns the size of cannons was telling you to relax. Then he told us his situation and yet we still didnt get what he wanted. $13 for a train ride to another city. I agreed to pay because he had been drinking, didn't want him to kill me and I told him i wanted to help him not
by giving him money, but by teaching him the gospel and helping him change his life. He agreed, I slipped him a 20 and off we went with a return appointment. Elder Taylor was sooo shook up by it. Almost in tears. I was a little scared, but I don't know, I just shook it off.
Other than that, the ward is doing better, helping out more here and there. Hope all is well at home. How's the writing coming dad? Is work pretty slow mom? Does Tyler ride his bike nonstop? Miss that kid. Actually all of you. But I am more than happy to be doing what I am doing. Changing this city one person at a time. I pray for you all. Recognize the miracles God puts in your lives.
Alma 5:26--> "Have ye felt to sing the song of Redeeming Love?" Have you been touched by the love of the Savior and felt a desire to share that with those around you? "Can you feel so now?"
What are you doing each day to grow closer to the Savior and strengthen your testimony?
Love you all,