President Mendoza has taught us that there are three factors in a person’s decision to accept the gospel or not. They are the quality of our teaching (which in itself includes many factors), the person's agency, and opposition from the enemy of all righteousness. Missionary work is wonderful. It brings the greatest joy. But with the greatest joy comes the greatest pain. With the risk that today's letter might be a little depressing, I want to talk a little about the opposition I have seen lately.
About two weeks ago, I received a phone call from my "tutor," Elder Gonzalez. I was thrilled to hear from him. I was also thrilled because he was calling to give us "an excellent reference" of the daughter of one of his investigators. Our first lesson with Laura was a very special experience. She started to cry during the opening prayer and she listened attentively to everything we were saying. I felt very strongly that she would accept the gospel and become a faithful member of the church.
That Sunday she was going to come with us to church, and we had planned to stop by her house with a member [who would drive us] in his car. The brother who was going to help us with transportation that day, however, showed up at our house over an hour late, and so we no longer had time to [pick up] everyone whom we had scheduled and make it to church in time. To make a long story short, we called a member who lives in her neighborhood to stop by her house and invite her to church, but her husband was extremely offended that a man stopped by to invite his wife to church.
Several times this week we stopped by her house, but she didn't answer, even though the signs said that someone was home. Last Saturday when we knocked on her door, her husband answered. He obviously had been using drugs and he obviously wasn't very happy. He asked us to "stop bothering" his wife. He told us that he knew what "the Mormons" believe and that we were not welcome in his house. He said he didn't want us "brainwashing" him and his family. For me, the saddest part was when Laura came out and, crying, said "they said really bad things about you, really bad things. They say that it was your church that molested young girls in Texas."
As much as we tried to explain the truth, they wouldn't listen. I was devastated. Laura is such a good person, and we have the way to give her the happiness she seeks. But because of her husband and the lies of other people, her view of the church is such that it will impede her salvation.
For me, it is especially saddening when it is a family member that gets in the way of the happiness and salvation of another. For example, we have been teaching a 17-year-old in the house of a member family. But this week we had to stop because her mom said no. [The mother] said she didn't want her daughter to be a part of any religion.
There are a lot of hard things in missionary work, but for me the hardest part is having to stop teaching people even though they have, or once had, the desires to learn and receive the blessings.
But not everyone gives in to the opposition. For example, in the Montoya family (the family of 9 of my 10 most recent converts) there is an anti-Mormon. When she found out that her parents and siblings and nieces and nephews were joining the church, she brought her pastor and a bunch of anti-Mormon literature to try to destroy their testimonies. But it didn't work. Eddi stood up to the pastor and bore his simple testimony of the restored gospel, a simple testimony that the learned pastor could not defeat.
The other day in my studies I found a scripture that gave me courage when things get tough. It is part of a letter from Mormon to his son Moroni. They were the only two rightoues people left on the face of the earth, when all the rest were extremely hardened and wicked. Here is what he said, "nothwithstanding their hardness, let us labor diligently; for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whist in this tabernacle of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness, and rest our souls in the kingdom of God" (Moroni 9:6).
There will ever be opposition, but the glorious gospel truth will go forth until all have had the opportunity to hear and accept it.
P.S. I am very sorry to hear about Jennifer [Blaylock Carroll, who unexpectedly passed away last week at the age of 25]. I received a letter from her just last week. . . . Let us take comfort in the great plan of happiness.
[P.P.S.] Thanks to everyone who has sent me letters or money or packages. I no longer have time to reply to every letter (although I wish I could). But I have sent a thank you note for every package I have received. If someone didn't get a thank you note, either the note or the package got lost.
[P.P.P.S.] Transfers are this week. I am very nervous. I love this area and the people here with all my heart. But if the Lord sends me, I will go.