Monday, April 20, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009 -- I Miss Mom's Bread and Spaghetti

The first week of my eighth transfer has passed. And what a week it was. We are now once again four missionaries living in the house (as it was when I first arrived.) It is interesting to see all the changes that there have been in the ward and the area in the six months I've been here.

On Saturday afternoon our Ward Mission Leader (who has been off his mission for two months now) called us with a special assignment from the recently-reorganized bishopric: my companion and I were to speak in church the following day. As the call came Saturday afternoon and we have church at 9:00 AM on Sunday, we didn't have a study hour to prepare our talks. We had to use the little time we have between planning and going to bed and waking up/getting ready and going to church. But the talks turned out all right. I borrowed from Dad's talk on developing Christ-like attributes. I used the example of Mom's bread. [Just as the best bread dough isn't finished until it's baked, even if it has all the right ingredients, so also is our discipleship unfinished until we do more than "go through the motions." We must try to be like Jesus.] In fact, I described in great detail how much I love Mom’s bread, and now half the sisters in the ward have asked for the recipe. (Mom, if it isn’t secret, could you send me the recipe for your bread and also for your spaghetti sauce? Every time someone asks me what my favorite food is, I say, "My Mom's spaghetti. One sister here offered to make it if I get the recipe. Maybe Uncle Mike can help you translate it into Spanish because I still don't know a lot of the words that have to do with cooking.)

Anyway, I talked about some specific attributes we should all develop and how they contribute to missionary work. One attribute I mentioned that we don't often think of is reverence. Reverence is an important Christ-like attribute and also plays an important role in missionary work. As Sister Lifferth taught in the past General Conference, reverence invites revelation. We missionaries invite investigators to church to give them an opportunity to feel the Spirit and receive a testimony. But it will be hard for them to do that if the members (and their children) aren't being reverent. Anyway, our talks turned out all right.

* * *

This week my companion and I have been improving in what Preach My Gospel calls "talk to everyone." We intentionally don’t sit next to each other on the bus so that we can talk to people, and we have tried to talk to literally everyone in our path. With more contacts, we have received more rejections, which often really hurt, especially when they rejected us for reasons that aren’t true. Sometimes I wonder -- if I had talked to them about eternal families instead of living prophets (or vice versa) would they have accepted? All I can do is follow the Spirit and do my best, and the rest is a matter of their agency. Really, they never reject me, but reject the message of the gospel, which is rejecting Jesus Christ.

But not all of our contacts have ended in rejection. We have also found some great new investigators. Some of our best investigators currently are a young, single mother; a man and woman who are 20 and 19, respectively, and have been legally married for three years; a man who studied three years with Jehovah’s Witnesses, but was disillusioned by their belief that miracles no longer happen; a man who has lost his job because of the economic crisis; and many other people from all walks of life. The gospel of Jesus Christ is for everyone, and I am not ashamed to share it with everyone I meet.

It is interesting how many miracles happen every day in the life of a missionary, and how many inspired promises come to pass. For example, President Mendoza recently taught us that we deceive ourselves if we say we are only going to knock on the doors which the Spirit inspires us to knock. He told us we should choose a street (seeking the counsel of the Lord) and knock on every door on that street, without exception. He promised that there are people in every street waiting to hear about the gospel.

This past week my companion and I knocked every door on a street. We set a few return appointments, but they really didn't look that promising. When we returned, however, we couldn't find the house we were looking for, and I couldn't find the address in my planner, even though I was sure that I had written it. We ended up knocking on the house we thought it was, but we were mistaken. It ended up being one of the houses that we had knocked the other day, but no one had answered.

This time, someone answered. Her name is Sue (which is a really weird name for a Mexican—she was born in Nebraska). She is a single mother who lives alone with her daughter. Her best friend is a member of the Church. She invited us in and we had a great lesson. I feel very strongly that she is going to be baptized.

There are lots of stories that happen everyday. I don’t have time to tell them all. I just hope that I remember them all after my mission to be able to tell them to you.

Following the Spirit isn't just for missionaries, it's for everyone.

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