January 23, 2017
More than a piece of plastic
Wow, this past week was full of miracles!! Pretty much all of our lessons were with new investigators. We found so many people who are prepared and we are so excited about them!! We aren't really sure what we have been doing differently to find the elect, but we are going to keep it up :) We have noticed such a difference after changing the music we listened to, maybe that is part of why the Lord is putting so many people in our path. We are trying to be more consecrated and sanctified. I know that there are always things I can give up in order to more fully feel the Spirit. The Spirit is what makes the difference in this work, not anything I do. When I do all I can to have the Spirit with me, that is when the miracles happen.
Miracle investigator #1: Samuel. We have been trying to get a hold of Samuel since my first day here. He ordered a Bible online and expressed interest in a copy of the Book of Mormon as well. We had called him but weren't able to set up a time to come see him. The past couple times we have stopped by no one was home. We were on his street on Thursday to go teach another investigator (who of course was sick and couldn't meet then). When we drove past Samuel's house, we finally see someone outside! So we stop to talk to them and find out that Samuel is actually home for once! We go around to the backyard to talk to him and oh my goodness he is so prepared! He is trying to come closer to God and is looking for a church that is closer than Clayton. Lucky for him our church is only about 10 minutes from his house :) Samuel told us that he hasn't drank or smoked in 8 years. When he first moved to NC, he just decided that he didn't want to smoke anymore. He prayed for the desire and strength to quit. His first day he smoked 1 cigarette, the second day he smoked half of a cigarette and hasn't smoked at all since that day. A similar thing happened when he decided to quit drinking. How awesome is that?? He is also currently living with his girlfriend, but is planning to be married by this summer. He even has a ring already. I have never taught anyone who already has a definite plan to get married in any time period, let alone within this year. His girlfriend also seems open to meeting with us, especially after we offered to come help with yard work any time she needs us :)
Miracle family #2: the Kearns family. The Kearns family was someone our bishop told us about. The parents are members but at least 1 of the kids hasn't been baptized. The family hasn't come to church in at least a year, since they moved from California but they weren't really active there either. The mom has met one of the ward members through football and they clicked really well. We took this member out with us to see an investigator who then cancelled. So we decide to drop by the Kearns and it was perfect!!! The mom was just walking outside and we were able to talk to her for close to an hour. She has been feeling prompted to come back to church a lot recently, especially since her son is on the high school football team and she is worried about the influences he is around. Sister Kearns told us about how she joined the church and some of her struggles connected to coming back to church. She really really wants to come back and she wants her whole family to go to church together. The member we had brought with us was absolutely the perfect person to bring. They both grew up Catholic and have had very similar feelings as new members. Our member bore her (very powerful) testimony about how staying in church has strengthened her family through some very difficult times. The whole time we talked to Sister Kearns I kept getting promptings to share Conference talks with her. Being a low-tech missionary, I had to borrow our member's phone to look them up :) I am so grateful for the promptings of the Spirit, I know that the talks that came to mind were inspired. They are the words of prophets and I know that Heavenly Father brought those specific talks to my memory to bless this sweet sister. Her youngest daughter came outside near the end of our conversation and mentioned that she would love for the missionaries to come and teach them again. They had had the missionaries over when they lived in California and the kids really enjoyed it. I already feel so much love for this family and I am excited to help them find the comfort that comes through living Christ's gospel.
Miracle/funny story #3: We were knocking one of the few apartment buildings in our area (oh how I miss all the apartments in Durham. Houses are not always a missionary's best friend, apartments are better.) and saw this teenage boy and girl walk upstairs. We said hi but they kind of ignored us. We had thought we would just take note of which apartment they went into and knock it another day. Well, we get to the floor where they were and couldn't remember which apartment they went into. So we decide to just knock every door anyway. We were a little worried about what was going on behind the door and that it might be awkward for them to open. Well, it wasn't. We knock on the door and the boy answers the door. He was really open and wants to come closer to God. It definitely strengthened my testimony of knocking every door. As a missionary, everything I do is awkward and I've just learned to embrace it. Once I realized that it was way more awkward for the people answering the door than it was for me, it made tracting much easier :)
I don't remember why, but the topic of getting released from our missions came up when one of our members was out with us. She has had a couple kids come home and she was talking about what happened when they got released. One of her kids apparently described the feeling as 'having an immense security blanket being removed' when they were asked to take off their tag. Needless to say, that was not one of my favorite conversations. It's hard to explain the way it feels to wear my missionary nametag. Being a missionary is not something I expected to be doing, and sometimes it still surprises me that I am actually a missionary, but it is the best decision I have ever made. I am immeasurably grateful for the opportunity that I have to wear this nametag and its silent testimony of the Savior. This little black tag means so much to me. Wearing it is more than a habit now, it has truly become a part of who I am. Wherever I go, people can immediately recognize that I am someone who believes in Jesus Christ. It serves as a daily reminder of Him of whom I have been called to testify. Not only is His name printed on plastic over my heart, but He is also writing His name on my spiritual heart. I know that Jesus Christ lives. I know that this is His church. I know that the work I do is not my own, the work I do is the Lord's. I get to be His missionary for almost 19 months, but I also get to be His disciple for my whole life. I dread the day I am asked to take off this tag, but I know that that will not be the end of my mission.