Monday, November 7, 2011

How's Everyone in Sunny STG?

I had a great week this last week. Firstly, because now all the snow is gone. Hopefully it stays away for a little longer! It's getting cold fast. But, having a car now is super nice! We're going to be able to get out to areas that are just too far to get to by bike and hopefully talk to people who haven't seen missionaries for a while. I'm stoked to get it going! The work is going well too. We had another super awesome lesson with Dan. Last week, we taught him the Plan of Salvation, and I committed him to review the pamphlet for it and pray after it to find if it's true. This week, he came and reported that he had read and prayed, and he felt a peace and happiness come over him that told him it was true. It's so cool to see revelation come through prayer and the Holy Ghost! It works every time! This week, we taught him about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and committed him to pray about it like last week. He told us he wants to be baptized and will pray about a date for it to happen. I'm totally pumped! He's an awesome guy, and I love seeing him grow closer to the Savior. Other than that, the week has revolved around working with less-actives and recent converts. They're getting us referrals, and that's how we're doing a lot of our work. Tracting really isn't effective here because it gets hounded by Jehovah's Witnesses, so we rely on referrals and to find our solid people to teach. It's going well!

So I had a funny experience this week. I went to a salvage store to look for some good glove liners, and I got talking to a Mainer lady who felt pity on me for not having endured a Maine winter before. She gave me some of the most interesting advice of my life. "When you're in a pinch, cross-dress." No kidding. Apparently, lady nylons make for great insulation, and she has her husband do it all the time? Yeah. Pretty sure I'll freeze before I go that far haha. So yeah. I thought that was pretty funny.

I had some really spiritual experiences this week. On Thursday, we had Zone Conference down in Augusta, Maine. The main focus was on the Book of Mormon. We talked about how the book can address concerns, not only for investigators but for us as well, how a spiritual witness of it is the keystone of every converts personal testimony, and about how we can use it more effectively in lessons. I also found it interesting that we had a little training on how to respond when people encounter anti material. They gave us the advice to refer people to Matthew 16: 13-18. Jesus asked his disciples, essentially, what anti was going around to explain who he was. Once they answered, he told them to disregard that and ask themselves what they thought the matter personally. Peter responded that He was the Christ. Jesus acknowledge that this knowledge had come from the Father, not from man, and that that pattern is the basis of how his church would be established. So, moral of the story: It doesn't matter what other people say about the church- either for or against it. What really matters is what answer you've received from the Father about it. That's how you can know the truth.
Towards the end of the zone conference, we devoted two hour to having a missionary testimony meeting centered on "how the Book of Mormon has affected your life or the life of someone you've taught." Holy cow. That was one of the most spiritual testimony meetings of my life. I had an opportunity to bear my testimony, and I think I'll share the essence of what I said. It applies to what I said above.

"It's really cool to think that in this room are dozens of young men and women who have traveled thousands of miles from home, having left everything back home, from families to education to jobs to friends, for 18 months to two years, to come to a strange new place to do a difficult work, all for a book. That's pretty special if you ask me.  My entire life, I've always thought in my head that the church was true. But I never really knew it solidly in my heart. Because it was a logical belief, I was subject to doubts as new things came and left about the church. But a month or so before my mission, I decided I needed to really find out if this was something I was willing to devote my life to doing. So, I submerged myself into the pages of the Book of Mormon. I dived deeper into that book than ever in my entire life, and something amazing happened. I felt a peace I had never really felt before. I felt a hole that I never knew existed, filled. And it was because of that peace I felt in my heart that confirmed to me that this was the right thing for me to do. Since I've left on my mission, I've since taken my logical testimony and delved into it all as I did with the Book of Mormon. I pondered it, prayed about it, and felt that same peace in my heart. I can now say that, for the first time in my life, I know completely in my heart that this church is true, and I've never experienced such a peace and joy before. And it all started with a book. I know that the Book of Mormon is true." It was one of the most powerful testimonies I've ever born, and as I sat back down with my companion, I found tears of joy coming to my eyes and I realized I was smiling. The Spirit was witnessing that what I had just said was true. The church is true. I know it is.

I had another spiritual experience yesterday as well. We had stake conference up in Bangor, Maine. Among the speakers were the stake presidency, the president of the Boston temple, and my mission president, President Wilkey. The talks were all amazing. When it came time for President Wilkey to talk, he realized that the meeting was going over, so he'd have to cut down his talk. The main message he shared in those few minutes was to "open your ears, and open your mouth, and let the Lord's work be done." He then had all the full-time missionaries stand (there were about 24 of us in the audience) and had us come up to the stand. He then had us sing a special third verse of Called to Serve that is our mission song. It goes like this:

"Called to Serve the people of New England,
with the Gospel of a loving God.
Teaching, preaching, unto true repentance,
holding to the Iron Rod."

As we sung, I felt that same unexplainable smile come across my face. I looked into the audience and realized that a great number of them were crying. I was taken by surprise. I looked to my sides and saw that all of us missionaries had that same smile on our faces. As we moved onto the chorus, I felt an incredible fire of gratitude and desire to be a missionary. That night, I went over the words of the song line by line, and realized what an incredible duty and honor it is to be able to proclaim God's love far and wide. We all know it, now we just need to share it! It was a great experience for me.

So yeah! I had a great week. Great spiritual upliftings, opportunities to help others come unto Christ, and good memories made. I'm loving being a missionary. I know I'm called to serve the people of New England, and I love who I'm becoming because of it. Thanks for all your love and support. I love you all!

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