Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Things are going well here in St. Marys. We had a record breaking day of 67 yesterday, and we were missing some of our regulars, so that was really good! We are really feeling good about how the work is going out here. We had Zone Conference this last week, and President Vellinga has put a huge emphasis on Family History work and Church Attendance. We are supposed to invite everyone to church, and we were able to see some of the results of that yesterday. For example, Isaac came, but rather than calling to tell him we got him a ride, we went over and invited him and the rest of his family, so he brought his daughter, son-in-law and son with him. We also invited Cierra, who is a fairly recent convert, but stopped going to church soon after her elders left. She came and brought her baby boy with her, and she really seemed to enjoy it.
We had a neat contacting experience yesterday involving Family History. A member of the branch, Brother B, is confined to a wheelchair after a really bad stroke he had a few years back. He is a smart guy, and is frustrated with his slow speech and lack of mobility. Anyway, because he can't get around well, when people knock on the door all he can do is say, "come in." He gets a wide variety of individuals in his home because of it, and it drives his wife nuts! Anyway, they had a boy come to the door, and he swears he looked just like an elder with a tag on. He was trying to sell him something, and they ended up talking about Christ instead. The boy, Samuel, told them his story of having gone to 3 years of catholic high school, and then went on for another 7 years to become a priest. At the very end, after he finished, he decided that it wasn't what God wanted him to be doing. Sister B had walked in at the end, and happened to have served a mission herself when she was younger. She really felt like he should be a member of the church, and testified of the importance of families centered on Christ. He left a business card with her with no other information than his name, and the office phone number he worked for. So after the B’s told us this story, they passed the card on to us. There wasn't much we could do with it, so Sister Jenson offered to look him on Google. Isn't that so creepy? What is creepier is that it worked! So we went over and "tracted" into the address she gave us and met his dad. He is one of the most humble men I have ever met in all my life. He is very strong Catholic, and doesn't seem to believe the Catholic doctrine fully, though he didn't say that out right. We talked about how the adversary is attacking this world at the family level, and he really believed that. We talked more about what we were doing out here, and asked if we could come back and share the Family Proclamation with him and the rest of his family (they have 11 kids). He agreed, and seemed interested to know what the proclamation would say that would tie into what he believed and knew to be true. So cool!
|S Bakker, E Baker, E Barker|
Another cool story from this week. So I don't know if I ever told you about getting my shoe repaired up in Wapak, but we got to talking to the shop owner, and he was really impressed with us, and said we could come over. Well we had our first lesson with him and his family (Dale & Julie and their boys Jacob-20, Austin-16, Nick-14) on Tuesday. It was great to testify boldly about the further truth we can add to their already strong faith in Christ. Their son Austin was the most interested in hearing all the things that we knew, and how it differed from what he believed. We are going back tomorrow night.
There have been a couple of other really neat things that have happened this week, and great lessons we have experienced. All in all, St. Marys is growing like a weed that can't slow down! There is so much work for Sister O'Banion and I to do here. I know that this truly is the time for the hastening of the Lord's work. I know that we can either choose to be apart of it or not, but it will go forward regardless. It is exciting to be a missionary at this time.
I love you all, and am so grateful for your support and examples.
Monday, May 12, 2014
It was so great to see you yesterday! All is still going well here in SM. I pretty much gave you the update on all of the great things that happened this week, so if I repeat anything I said yesterday... well I am sorry:)
So this week, the best news of all is that the F's set a date for Heather's baptism. Dane will be ready to baptize her by May 31!!! SO AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!! They really are doing so great. Last time we were at the F's, we told Dane that they didn't need us anymore. That they were solid and ready to go. He agreed, and then quickly added, "but don't think that means you aren't comin' over here anymore." He was pretty serious. So we will keep teaching Heather the lessons, and I guess the F's will keep on feeding us. Probably not the greasy groundhog, though. I think their cats already ate him.
We had an interesting encounter with one of the less-actives in the area named Allan. He is originally from Silicon Valley, and it shows! He owns a computer repair shop in downtown St. Marys. We went into the shop and had some fun conversation with him about what he does, and his opinions on certain computers. Past teaching records didn't really seem to match up with what who we met that day. He was very pleasant, and inviting. We are hoping to go back and teach him some more. We asked him last time what had grabbed is interest initially in the church. He told us it was the church's "wonder bread values." I think he still believes in the church, but just needs to work through some things. He told us next time we come over, he is going to show us how to build a computer smaller than a deck of cards. I am pretty excited. He made this gadget that turns of all tvs in a room. All he has to do is push a button. Not surprised at all that he is from Silicon Valley.
We had an awesome lesson with Karen and her boyfriend, Nathan. Nathan seemed to have his interest peaked as we were talking about the Book of Mormon. He picked up the one we gave him, and quickly remembered where things were, and how to use the footnotes. Karen is doing awesome. She has a concern about following a prophet, and how that could seem like a cult. So the lesson on the Book of Mormon was perfect for her. She has a strong desire to know what is true and to follow our Savior. She is eager to get into the Book of Mormon to begin reading and praying. For all those who are thinking about going on a mission as a Senior Couple, the Jensons have made all the difference in these lessons. Sister O'Banion and I do most of the teaching straight from Preach My Gospel, and then the Jensons testify boldly. The work out here wouldn't be as successful as it without them, I know that for sure. Karen really respects Sister Jenson a lot, and I don't know if she would have ever investigated without her.
Did I tell you we have another family in the branch who has goats? Marty and her husband have one cow, two horses, and about 12 goats along with chickens, turkeys, and ducks. The first day we met her, we were out in the barn collecting eggs, and helping feed. She really seemed grateful for the help. I remember Uncle Ralph telling me that he wishes they would just do away with tracting, and that missionaries would do more service. I understand what he meant so much more here in St. Marys. That really was a huge key to softening Dane and Robin's hearts, and I think it will help Marty and Grace's husband, John. We have had more success serving people than I have ever had knocking doors. Besides, working out in the barn is so much fun! (I really don't want goats that bad, but it has been fun for me working with them out here... I could see doing chickens though. Just not meat chickens. Those things are U-G-L-Y)
I love you all so much. I know that I needed to serve my mission. I know that Heavenly Father gives choices and agency, and sometimes when He doesn't answer our prayers directly, it is because He trusts us to make the right choice. I am so grateful for the things I have learned here.
Tuesday, May 6, 2014
My new companion is named Sister O'Banion. She is from Billings, Montana and has been out for 5 months. She served in up north by Cleveland for the first part of her mission. She is a little nervous about being in the middle of nowhere so far away from the mission office, other missionaries, and pretty much everything else. She is right. We are isolated out here. I told her my opinion on it... President would only send missionaries here if he trusted them to be so far away. I think she will warm up to it all soon. She was shocked at our little branch. She said in a pretty worried voice, "Was today a slow day for church?" Little did she know that 47 was a good number for us... It will take some getting used to, but I am really excited to serve with her. She has a lot of energy and is majoring in Musical Theatre up at BYUI. She is 23, and converted to the church when she was 17. She has a strong testimony, and a real desire to be here, which I love.
Sister Chapman had a hard time leaving here. It was pretty sad to have final lessons with people we have been working with for so long. The F’s especially. Heather is almost done with all the lessons, and is still way excited to be baptized. We have been teaching Heather the PMG lessons, but using a primary manual to help her understand it more on her level. She seems to be understanding the material and retaining it a lot better since we started doing that, and our lessons are way more fun.
We had a great day at church yesterday. Josh came for the second time, and hopefully will make this a permanent change. The Jensons also invited Karen (one of the newer investigators we have been working with) to church. Karen's husband didn't come, but Karen had a lot of courage. She went to a completely new church for the first time and brought her three daughters with her (the youngest is not old enough for nursery yet). She came to all three hours, and really felt the spirit. We were able to give her a tour of the building before church started, and we were able to talk about the baptismal font a lot. She really wants to be baptized. So cool!!!!
Sister O'Banion and I have been stopping by people that Sister Chapman and I didn't get a chance to go see, and have been having really cool experiences! One was with Ron, who we have yet to meet still... Sister O'Banion has a family connection with Ron back in Montana, and decided that we had to go see him. So we got in the car and drove down to Celina, and knocked on the first door... Nothing. Well street addresses here are sometimes confusing with where the North and South boundary for the street, so we tried the South address. We knocked and waited. Knocked again. Nothing. So we started to walk away and go to our next plan, but then a woman answered the door. There stood a really cute Marshallese woman named Robinda. She was holding a baby, and a bunch of other kids were running around. She didn't hesitate and invited us to come on in. So we did (you don't often get such happy invitations as a missionary, so we take what we can get). We told them who we were looking for. They looked at each other and said there was no Ron there. So we told them who we were, and that we were missionaries from the church. She looked closer at our name tags and said, "Oh my brother is a member of your church!" So she sent another kid up to go get him. It took us a while to figure out that they refer to each other as family, like all the kids running around were her "grandkids" even though they aren't technically related. So the man coming down wasn't really her brother, if that makes any sense. So there is a bunch of Marshallese living together in that house who were all in and out of that main room and they were all talking to us while we waited. Finally, her "brother" came down. He shook our hands and was so excited, you could just see it in his face. He said, "I am Isaac, and I knew someone from the church would find me." He just came here from the Marshall Islands about a month ago with one of his daughters. He was a member of the church there, and another one of his daughters just completed a mission to the Philippines. Long story short, Heavenly Father knows each of us perfectly. He knows what we need, and how to help us. He often sends others to be His instruments. I have never felt so aware of how much He truly does know me. He knew Isaac. He knew that Isaac did not speak very good English, and had a hard time finding the church without specific guidance. So Heavenly Father sent us. That was so incredible!
St. Marys is a branch full of miracles and is just pushing to become a ward. I know it will get there soon. I feel so lucky to serve here. I love my mission, and am so grateful for all that I have learned, and will continue to learn. I know that the atonement is real. That no matter what we do wrong, as long as we are willing to repent and become better, we can be forgiven.
I love you all, and am so excited to talk to you on Mother's Day!