Dear Family and Friends,
Happy October!!! I can hardly believe it...actually, I don't believe it! Time seems to go faster and faster and I don't like it one bit!!! My week was filled with sweet and tender mercies from the Lord, and I know, even in my weakness, He is aware of me and has compassion on me. A couple of weeks ago we had a neat experience with a member that I didn't get to share and I always want to remember it so, I wanted to share it with you this week. One of our members, who is the executive secretary for the branch, was feeding us dinner and while we were planning our message for him and Sister Patterson said that she wanted to share something about just going and doing what the Lord asks with courage because David does so much for the branch and especially in reaching out to less-active members. She mentioned a couple of chapters and then I said, "Well, there's the story in Alma 8 where even though Alma was rejected and it was hard to do what the Lord asked, he was comforted and went back and had success." So we looked it up and read it and decided to teach it with member missionary work in mind...that although it may be hard and people might say no, that if we keep following the prompting the Lord gives us, we will find those who are ready to hear the gospel...just like Alma went back and found Amulek! And they became one of the greatest missionary companion-ships of The Book of Mormon! Well, as we sat and talked over dinner, David shared with us his story. Wow! He is a modern day Alma the Younger. His story goes something like this: his dad, a member of the stake presidency, always encouraged him to do the right thing, but he rebelled. He didn't really like the Church and he did everything to break almost every single commandment. To everyone's surprise - including his nonmember friends, ex-girlfriends, ward, and family - he decided to go on a mission. Everyone told him that he would never last, that David could never change. He was called to serve in Chile, but before he left the MTC, he was sent home for things left undone, sins unacknowledged. His voice shook from across the table as he, very sincerely, told of the challenges and heartache he has since faced. With the most humble look on his face he exclaimed how merciful the Savior is, and how no matter what we have done (and he noted that his mistakes were under review of the apostles), where there is faith and hope, there is forgiveness. He added that Heavenly Father NEVER gives up on us, even when everyone else does. He continued, saying that even though everyone said that David would never change - he has. He is a "new creature in Christ" making amends with God and working to go back out on a mission. He talked of prayer, and of the relationship he had built with the Savior through his experiences over the past year...he has just recently been able to return to the temple, and has been wondering about going back on his mission...we immediately felt and knew that what we had to share from Alma was perfect, but that it needed to be shared in a different way....knowing this story, read these verses: Alma 8:13-20
"Now when the people had said this, and withstood all his words, and reviled him, and spit upon him, and caused that he should be cast out of their city, he departed thence and took his journey towards the city which was called Aaron.
And it came to pass that while he was journeying thither, being weighed down with sorrow, wading through much tribulation and anguish of soul, because of the wickedness of the people who were in the city of Ammonihah, it came to pass while Alma was thus weighed down with sorrow, behold an angel of the Lord appeared unto him, saying:
Blessed art thou, Alma; therefore, lift up thy head and rejoice, for thou hast great cause to rejoice; for thou hast been faithful in keeping the commandments of God from the time which thou receivedst thy first message from him. Behold, I am he that delivered it unto you.
And behold, I am sent to command thee that thou return to the city of Ammonihah, and preach again unto the people of the city; yea, preach unto them. Yea, say unto them, except they repent the Lord God will destroy them.
For behold, they do study at this time that they may destroy the liberty of thy people, (for thus saith the Lord) which is contrary to the statutes, and judgments, and commandments which he has given unto his people.
Now it came to pass that after Alma had received his message from the angel of the Lord he returned speedily to the land of Ammonihah. And he entered the city by another way, yea, by the way which is on the south of the city of Ammonihah.
And as he entered the city he was an hungered, and he said to a man: Will ye give to an humble servant of God something to eat?
And the man said unto him: I am a Nephite, and I know that thou art a holy prophet of God, for thou art the man whom an angel said in a vision: Thou shalt receive. Therefore, go with me into my house and I will impart unto thee of my food; and I know that thou wilt be a blessing unto me and my house."
Can you see how this is David's story?! We testified to him of the experiences that he had and that they were for a purpose, and that he should inquire of the Lord if He would have him go back....we promised him that his testimony now, would have a great effect on those he met and testified to...that there would be Amulek's of his own to find and who would come to the knowledge of their Savior because of him. We all had tears in our eyes. He said, "You know, it's kind of crazy that you shared these verses with me, because both President Little (our branch president) and President Schimpf (our stake president) have shared these verses with me in interviews. We were astonished and grateful that the Lord had inspired our minds with the message he has been trying to share with David. We just told him that meant the Lord was inspiring his servants to know exactly what he needed, and He must be trying to tell him something = ). Throughout this whole meeting, my heart was swollen with the spirit and with love as I felt like I could be listening to my own brother. I cried as I thanked him for his example, for his faith, for his testimony....and that as I listened to him I saw my brother, who faced similar things...oh how the Lord loves each of His children. ALL, experiences we are given, even the one's that feel like failures, are for our good and can be for our gain if we let the Lord lead us and heal us. I am so grateful for that unforgettable dinner appointment.
Our Branch has continued with our rescuing efforts throughout the month and I had a neat experience this last week as I went out with Sister Cooper, our 2nd Counselor's wife. We went to find a young man named Roger who has not been around the church for a while. It was dark and a pretty sketchy area in El Cajon...the house looked eerie but there were some lights on and we saw a young man at the kitchen window! We were excited to know we would be able to talk to someone! We knocked on the door and did not meet Roger, but his younger, 20 year old brother, Alan. He said Roger wouldn't be able to come to the door because he was "in a game on the computer". We talked with Alan though, told him about the branch, Sister Cooper invited him to come. We asked when the last time he went to church was and he said March. He said Roger doesn't go, hasn't gone, and won't be coming back anytime soon. He said he only felt comfortable going to church with his Dad and even his Dad hasn't been going because of some mistakes he has made. Alan told us of his struggles of overcoming anxiety and depression right now and getting off some other addictions. My heart ached for him as I looked at the his living conditions and his broken family...no mother, a struggling father, and a brother who is an addicted gamer. I asked if I could share something with him and read Matthew 18:11-14. I also felt prompted to tell him that although he was struggling to over come things that it was OK....that he was still good enough, and still worth it...that no matter what he did he could never separate himself from the love of God and the Savior...that His arms are stretched out still and all He wants to do is help us. Sister Cooper asked him to just give the branch a try. The thing that broke both of our hearts was when we asked if there was anything we could do to help him and all he said was, "I would really just like a hug..." = ( I was so glad Sister Cooper was there (cause she could hug him and I couldn't as a missionary). He asked if she would say a prayer and she held back tears as she did. He said he would give the branch a try! How important it is to reach out and rescue and strengthen the feeble knees!!!
We had an incredible miracle find last Wednesday! We were suppose to have a meeting with a less-active and he didn't show up, but he did show up to the institute lunch and we said, "Hey!! You stood us up!" He apologized and said, "But I brought someone who wants to meet you and learn more!" We happily forgave him ; ) and met Leslie! She said she had walked by the institute and saw "Jesus Christ" and always wondered what it was and wanted to come. She had passed Jr. and asked where he was going and so she came with him. We told her about our unique message and taught a quick restoration lesson, recounting the first vision. She was amazed! She said she has felt God calling her to places throughout her life and she could feel and knew He had called her here. She was holding the copy of The Book of Mormon we gave her and she was flipping through it saying how excited she was to read it and that she knew it was from God! OK WHAT?!!! She is so amazing! We love her already and met with her again and taught her about prophets throughout time and the priesthood. She had lots of questions and really loves hearing about our own personal witnesses and what God told us. We know she has been lead here and that she has been so prepared! The only thing is she only has time to meet on Mon and Wed at 11am....no time anywhere else..including no time to come to church because of school, work, and her own ministry she does....so we are having the faith that as we keep teaching her, and as she comes to know the Book of Mormon is true, she will be willing to make a few changes. She thirsts for it though...at the end of our meeting yesterday she really hated the fact that she had to end and go to class = ).
Did you all see the amazing Relief Society Broadcast?! It touched my heart to hear from our beloved prophet, and there was a great spirit there. I was so emotional as I looked at the Sister Missionary choir, and remembered all of my feelings when I was watching an Elder Missionary choir 3 conferences ago, and waiting to open my mission call....and knowing I was about to be a part of the Lord's army....and to serve during such an amazing time with a great hastening of the work, and Sisters filling the field. As we stood to sing, "I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go," my hand raised to my chest, where I clenched my name tag...words cannot describe the gratitude I felt in that moment, that I went where the Lord wanted me to go. Oh how glad I am that I did. His path is always the best one...not always the easiest, but always the best = ). Afterward, a recently re-activated sister from our branch (the one I got to use her beautiful voice and sing in sacrament), came up to us with tears in her eyes and she couldn't speak...we knew immediately what she was feeling....she had gotten a confirmation to go on a mission! Just before the broadcast, our recent convert, Kelsey, said she really needed to talk to us and was freaking out....again, we somehow sensed what she wanted to tell us...we had just had a lesson with her a couple days before about missionary work...we just smiled and told her we thought she knew what it was. She asked what we thought and we just pointed at our name tags and smiled....she said, "Oh my...how did you guys KNOW!?" There is no sweeter feeling than to realize that we are having an influence on these amazing young women, and to see them taste of the Savior's love so deeply, that they can't help but want to go and share it!!! Yay for missions!!!!
I just wanted to share one more tender mercy...we were on campus doing a booth just yesterday and I was having a terrible day...woke up with a headache and was feeling light headed, had Satan throwing some guilt in my face like he likes to do, was going crazy getting a million things ready and organized for our "Come Listen to A Prophet's Voice" booth, having a bunch of members waiting and asking about what to take to set up. etc...trying to give attention to 2 investigators, a potential, and a recent convert all at once....finally getting up to the booth, realizing a potential who wanted to help with the booth got over looked and left behind....tried to have the institute director catch her but she pulled out of the parking lot before he could....worrying I had offended her....pretty much I was overwhelmed, not feeling good, and feeling like the worst missionary ever. I decided to text a guy we met at the booth to invite him to our branch's family home evening activity at the battalion and searched and searched everything and could not find his number....I began to cry as I was feeling again like a complete failure....as I looked through my planner again, saw no number for Justin, and put it down defeated...I heard my companion say, "oh hey Justin!" I looked up to see this golden potential walking right by our booth!!!! Wow...thank you Heavenly Father for solving my problems! We talked with him and he is planning on coming to a conference session...and I shorty after was able to get a hold of the non-member who had driven away and all was well. I love that even in my weakness and imperfections, this really is the Lord's work, and He is in control!
Last thought for the day! I read an amazing talk by President Hinckley that changed my life! Here are a few of my favorite thoughts from the talk "The Miracle of Faith":
"As it was then, so it is today. This precious and marvelous gift of faith, this gift from God our Eternal Father, is still the strength of this work and the quiet vibrancy of its message. Faith underlies it all. Faith is the substance of it all. Whether it be going into the mission field, living the Word of Wisdom, paying one’s tithing, it is all the same. It is the faith within us that is evidenced in all we do.
I was asked at a news conference on one occasion how we get men to leave their vocations, to leave home, and serve the Church.
I responded that we simply ask them, and we know what their answer will be.
What a marvelous and wonderful thing it is, this powerful conviction that says the Church is true. It is God’s holy work. He overrules in the things of His kingdom and in the lives of His sons and daughters. This is the reason for the growth of the Church. The strength of this cause and kingdom is not found in its temporal assets, impressive as they may be. It is found in the hearts of its people. That is why it is successful. That is why it is strong and growing. That is why it is able to accomplish the wonderful things that it does. It all comes of the gift of faith, bestowed by the Almighty upon His children who doubt not and fear not, but go forward.
It is so with our missionaries wherever they might serve, whether it be right here in Salt Lake City or in Mongolia. They go and serve with faith in their hearts. It is a phenomenon of great power that quietly whispers, “This cause is true, and to you there is an obligation to serve it regardless of the cost.”
Again, people cannot understand it, these thousands of bright and able young men and women who forgo social life, leave school, and selflessly go wherever they are sent to teach the gospel. They go by the power of faith, and they teach by the power of faith, planting a seed of faith here and another there which grow and mature into converts of strength and capacity.
Faith is the basis of testimony. Faith underlies loyalty to the Church. Faith represents sacrifice, gladly given in moving forward the work of the Lord."
WOW! I am so thankful for faith! As I read I thought of all the ways I have been showing my faith! Then, I thought, "Wow! How did I have the faith to serve a mission!?" But it is just as he said...I believe in this cause! I believe it this work! I believe in my Savior and I love my father in Heaven!!!
I love you all so much! Have a wonderful week!
I am off to the temple!!!! Yay! It's been so long!!!!! And I get to see what everyone's been so excited about ; )