Unfortunately, this week isn't nearly as exciting to report on as last... but it still definitely had some perks!
First, I want to reiterate the appendage I put on last week's email. I was on exchanges with another missionary from our district on Tuesday, and we went over to see if Elizabeth--the former investigator we had been trying to see when we met with Andrew the first time--was home. She was, but quickly told us she wasn't interested. Just as we were leaving, though, she asked, "Are you the two boys who were helping Andrew in his front yard last week?" Later that week, we were out tracting in the same neighborhood and found a man loading up a bunch of old wood and some really old tires into a trailer to haul away. Elder Richardson and I walked up and started helping him load things into the trailer. Not long into us helping him, he said, "You two must be the same boys who were out helping Andy last week!"
I'll take that reputation! If the whole Village of Delevan sees us biking around and thinks we're the two who helped Andy and Matt (the man loading the trailer), that's hard to complain about! Plus, even though he wasn't super excited to talk about religion, Matt told us we could come over any time we needed a drink or needed to get out of the rain. Even more, his 13-year-old son, Marcus, agreed to come play soccer with my companion, me, and one of the young men in our branch sometime. It's quite the "in" with that family!
We also made awesome progress over at Kelly's this week! Her husband, Jim, definitely doesn't like religion. I think I said that a week or two ago, but it is important to notice in this story. Kelly's told us that a few months ago, he essentially told her she couldn't have missionaries over anymore, but was willing to give us one more chance to come when Elder Inkley first showed up. Luckily, Elder Inkley was likeable enough that Jim let them keep coming as long as they didn't talk about religion to him. He actually has thrown missionaries out of the house when they did try to talk religion with him. I'm just saying this so you can realize the miracle that I'm about to explain.
Saturday, we got a call from Jim asking him if we could come over and help him keep building their barn. We went over and helped for a few hours, but then had an evening appointment and had to leave before dinner. The next day, though, we had a voicemail from Jim saying, "Hey missionaries, if you want dinner, come over by seven or I'll kick your *****." Already that's incredible that two days in a row we got a call from him wanting us to come over. Even more crazy? When we were about to eat, he said, "Hey, hurry and bless the food before I get to the table." Compare that to what he told us the first evening I was in Freedom: "I made the food, not God, so cut that out." He definitely isn't anywhere near coming to church or anything, but this is some incredible progress! Keep in mind, Kelly met with the missionaries for nine years before she was baptized. Nine years steadily meeting with them, too, not just on-and-off. We are making some real progress with Jim.
We are finally making some progress learning how to tract and utilize Facebook, too! We were tracting in Franklinville on Saturday evening, and were able to actually teach three separate 5-10 minute lessons in just an hour, plus leave two pamphlets to follow up on. We've struggled in the past at getting anywhere. Preach My Gospel advised that we don't ever say, "We have a message about Jesus Christ that we'd love to share if you have a minute..." or something along those lines and instead just jump right into testifying, but you have no idea how hard it is to just come out right away with gospel-related things. Finally, we were able to pull it off this time around, though! It was quite exciting. This week, we were also able to teach six lessons via Facebook. I don't know how well I've explained it, but this mission has started using Internet proselyting using sites like Facebook to find and teach people. It's been difficult, but we are definitely getting the hang of it finally.
Thank heavens we finally started getting fed by members this week! Apparently a missionary about six months ago had them stop passing out a sign-up sheet because he was too picky of an eater. We finally got that going again, and at four of our six meals at member's houses. Unfortunately... I'm going to get fat now. Meh, oh well. Eating at members' houses is really awesome, because it makes it so we can get some branch-fellowshipping in even during our "free" time. At our Saturday meal, we actually got five referrals from Brother McCown!
Now, Paul Ryan is hands-down my favorite American politician in the country. There is no one who is a more straightforward speaker and legislator. As the House Budget Chairman, he has proposed the only realistic solutions to the budget, Medicare, Social Security, and other issues. Plus, he is fair; he recognizes that spending on supposedly "conservative" programs hurt the economy, too. There is no one who has a better grip on free-market macroeconomics.
Selecting Ryan as his running mate made it so that Romney refocused the election on the economy. Obama can try all he wants to make the election about gay marriage, immigration, or who knows what else, but this just reemphasizes that the election is about the economy. Romney's microeconomic, real business experience combined with Ryan's macroeconomic, legislative experience is going to make for a mean combination.
Ryan also brings the youthful energy that Obama too often steals. He is just in his forties, and is among the most charismatic politicians out there, albeit in a bit of a nerdy, awkward way.
Just watch these videos and fall in love with this man!!!!
Plus, this is what really excites me. I have been hoping for some time that Paul Ryan would run for president in four or eight years, but was a little doubtful that he'd be willing to, or if he'd be satisfied with being Speaker of the House. His acceptance of a VP nomination, though, means that he is willing to step up to Executive offices! If Romney loses, Paul Ryan will automatically be THE leader of the conservative movement (if he isn't already). If Romney loses, Ryan is naturally the front-runner in the 2016 election. If Romney wins, Ryan will be a clear replacement for him in 2020. Either way, I am excited to see what this economic powerhouse combo can do! This is SUCH a better pick for VP than Rob Portman or Rand Paul would have been!
I had a cool church-politics combination experience this week. Our branch president asked us to come with him to a presentation a few villages over by the author of the book The Mormonizing of America. Haha, clearly, we were a little apprehensive about what sort of a take he would have on things. However, it was actually VERY well done! He did a lot of his research for the book at BYU and by speaking with bishops and the church advertising coordinator and normal members--including Mitt Romney--so it was legitimate stuff. He was not only fair to the Church, he was honestly a little bit more generous than even purely historical. When talking about the First Vision, he flat out said, "From the time that Joseph entered the grove behind his house, the only account we have is his own. So, that's what we'll go with..." and proceeded to talk about the Restoration. He talked about the priesthood and its restoration, about prophets and apostles, and just about everything. He understands it all better than the majority of our investigators!
He also made a couple of very interesting points. He was talking about our influence, and pointed out that members of the Church only make up 2% of the U.S., yet have significant influence in the media, pop culture, business, and politics. He pointed out that there is not a single business model that hasn't been changed based off of Stephen Covey, a Mormon. Something that I hadn't realized, he also said that there are actually more LDS congressmen than there are Catholic congressmen; that there is crazy! He said that Pew Research has done a lot of studies that show that more than 40% of the population still think we practice polygamy ("It hasn't been part of their religion for 120 years, for heaven's sake!" he said about that), but that people are almost ALWAYS more supportive of the religion as soon as they know a member. I wish I could tell you all about his presentation, but I don't think most of you care enough about it.... if you do, though, write to me and I'll tell you all about it!
I came across a scripture this week that I really like, because it kind of amends what had always been one of my favorite scriptures, 1 Corinthians 10:13, which reads:
"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." (Emphasis added)
Now, when I was reading this week, I found this scripture in Alma 13:28:
"But that ye would humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, and thus be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering;" (Again, emphasis added)
Clearly, the parts I italicized are almost identical. What stands out to me, though, is the part that the Alma verse adds on. In order to not be tempted beyond our capabilities, we need to "watch and pray continually" and be "humble... before the Lord." Then we can be "led by the Holy Spirit" in a way that can help us overcome any temptation that might hit us. These are prerequisites! It's not like Satan is going to soften up against people who are already following him just so that the game can be more fair! That is why sin is so addicting. However, if we make a habit of always striving to get closer with God, then can we be sure to overcome any temptation that might come.
Well, that's bout it. Except of course my all for you to write to me!!! 12100 Countyline Rd E-19, Arcade, NY, 14009!! DO IT!!!!
I love you all, but don't miss you!