Tuesday, July 29, 2008

July 29, 2008 -- Time to Say Goodbye

This is the last time that I will be greeting you from Taylorsville. No, I am not going to Mexico, but tomorrow I will be transfered. I'm not supposed to know where I'm going until tomorrow, but because Elder Zobell is my companion and because he is an office elder and a zone leader and well-liked by president and the assistants, I have a pretty good idea of where I'm going and who my companions will be. But I'll tell you more about that next week when I know for sure.

I am very sad to leave the area. I love my companions, and I love the people I am teaching. Everything is going so well right now (well, not everything, but almost everything.) Jorge and Rosa got their marriage certificate and are planning on getting married on August 16, Ruby is already inviting friends to church and teaching branch FHE's. We have found a few families to teach and have several people who are preparing for baptism soon. I really don't want to go, but I know that President Laney, who makes transfer decisions, is called and inspired by God, and I'll go where He wants me to go.

Last night I taught what was by far the most powerful lesson of my mission so far. It had nothing at all to do with me, but I'm grateful that the Spirit was able to work with me. My companions where at a zone leader meeting, so it was me and Elder Fieldson (who is also a new missionary waiting for a Visa.) We taught the lesson to the DePaz family, a mother, father and two daughters. They are the children and grandchildren of an elderly couple in our branch, and one of the brothers of Carlos, the father, is also a member. Last night was a Family Home Evening, so we had the DePaz family, their member cousins, and their member grandparents all there in the home of their grandparents, and we taught about the plan of salvation. I felt the Spirit very strongly as I taught and as Elder Fieldson taught. I also felt the Spirit as those who were members added their testimony to the things we had shared. By the end of the lesson, several of us where in tears, including Maria, the 13 year-old non-member. My companion, Elder Zobell, challenged me this week to give someone a baptismal date, and last night I felt like it was the right time, so the DePaz family will all be baptized on August 23. I hope I can get permission to come back to see it.

That experience last night really strengthened my testimony of several things, including the importance of members in missionary work. When you teach in a member's home, where the Spirit already dwells, with the member willing and ready to share their own testimony, it is almost impossible for the investigator to not feel the Spirit.

I had another experience this week that also strengthened my testimony of the importance of members, but in a different way. Last Wednesday was a branch activity, and we invited several investigators to attend. As missionaries, we don't usually go to activities, but because there were so many recent converts, less actives, and investigators who were coming, we decided to go. Unfortunately, things didn't go well. I won't go into detail, but suffice it to say that several of the members did not behave well, and I felt like Elizabeth Bennett at the ball [in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice] where her whole family embarrassed her in several ways throughout the evening. It was so bad that the Young Woman's President, who was in charge of the activity, was in tears by the end of the night. I honestly don't know if some of the investigators we brought will want to come back to church after that experience.

Before this week, I never really appreciated how much members can affect missionary work, for good or bad.

Today is a busy day, because we have to pack in addition to all of our normal p-day activities, and we have our final zone activity in a few minutes. Saying goodbye is hard, but I guess I'll be doing a lot of that in the next two years. How grateful I am that death does not end relationships, especially family relationships.

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