Sorry that it is Wednesday before I get to you, but on Monday we had a mission tour by Elder Perkins of the Quorum of the Seventy… and I decided that took precedence over writing to you. I still love you all lots, though!
The problem now is that I have to report on an extra three days of goings-on, and absolutely nothing is coming to me…
Oh! This is big! I don’t know if I’ve talked about Jacob at all, but he is an investigator of about a year. A while back, he randomly showed up to church, and has been coming every couple weeks ever since. He got really close with Elder Tanner, who left the area about seven transfers ago (each transfer is six weeks… I’m too lazy to do the math), but really has never progressed. Sometimes he’d read the Book of Mormon, sometimes he wouldn’t. Sometimes he’d come to church, sometimes he wouldn’t. Even more, he has a really rough personality. He definitely wants to be a better father… but he has a lot of stuff to get over. To add to it, he might be going to jail for four months in a few weeks.
For the past few weeks, Elder Inkley and I have been trying to figure out what our purpose was in going over there. We have gotten really close to his four and five year old daughters, though, and we couldn’t handle just bailing on them. Plus, we hoped maybe even if Jacob never progressed that maybe his fiancé, Amanda, would. But… it was slow, seemingly helpless work.
But of course, Heavenly Father had some plan for us that wouldn’t let us leave! On Thursday, we went on splits with two ward missionaries. I told Nate Owens, who I was with, that it was his job to try to bring up the gospel; Elder Inkley and I had essentially gotten to the point of a normal friendship, and gospel talks were hard to come by. Luckily, Nate is a beast. He started just throwing stuff out there about eternal families, marriage, and all sorts of stuff (pretty brave for a 19-year-old single guy, eh?). Then, out of nowhere, the older lady who lives in the other apartment of Jacob’s house said, “You know, I’d go to church if Daniel would take me.” Daniel is that lady’s 18-year-old grandson who lives with them.
Now, this story has rambled on a long time… but I just want to show you the mysterious way that God works!
Daniel, out of nowhere, got super excited. When we asked him if he would drive his grandma, his answer was, “Should I wear a tie?” Haha, we hooked him up with a tie, and suddenly were in a super deep religious conversation with him! We were talking all about agency and repentance and it went on and on. I left him a Book of Mormon and asked him to read 2 Nephi 31. That night, we got a call from him, where he explained that not only did he read it, but he prayed about it and was told that the path in the chapter (the Doctrine of Christ) was the path he was supposed to go on.
Well, long story short, he’s getting baptized a week from Friday!! He came to church, we’ve met with him two more times, one of those times with Brother Jordan from the branch. Brother Jordan really latched onto him, it was incredible. Now, on Saturday, Brother Jordan is taking all of us to Palmyra. Basically, Saturday is going to be incredible, and the next Friday will just one-up it!
Now, for less exciting (but still exciting) news….
We met with a referral for the first time yesterday. We had just tracted for about three hours, so were kind of worn out. But, we went there, explained who we were, and when we said we were Mormons, she was like, “Oh, like Brian McCown?” “Ha… yes ma’am, he’s actually the one who recommended we come talk to you.” Now, I won’t say the conversation was anything that is a step from baptism, but there are two statements she made that contrast beautifully with each other and I’m very excited to see where we end up going with this family.
At the beginning, she kind of precluded the whole conversation with, “Brian told me about the church a little bit… and it’s kind of weird. I’m a Catholic, but really it isn’t much different than Lutherans, Methodists, and Baptists. Mormonism seems pretty different, though.” Interesting start… but we talked for literally two hours. In that time, we read the Introduction to the Book of Mormon, about four scriptures in it, about half of Doctrine and Covenants 137, and the entire Proclamation to the Family. We talked about families, especially eternal families, grace “after all that you can do,” baptism, the Apostasy and the Restoration, and who knows what else.
As we were about to leave, I invited her to pray to know if the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the Roman Catholics were true. Now keep in mind the quote from the last paragraph before you read this one: “You know… maybe they’re both true.” She then made some comment about how she really disagrees with Born-Again Christians. Now, look at the difference in those two statements! Hopefully she’ll keep reading the Book of Mormon like she said she would and continue to be touched!
Unfortunately, it’s not looking like Justin will be baptized this week like we’d planned on… It’s ridiculously frustrating. He texted us about two months ago saying he wanted to get baptized and wanted a refresher on the lessons so that he could before Summer was over (he’s taken the lessons three times, so there’s only so much more we need to flat out teach him). But, he’s only met with us twice since then. He’s still smoking ten cigarettes a day. He hasn’t come to church once in those two months. It’s the never-ending frustration, because he has some clear issues to overcome—smoking is the big one—but he won’t even meet with us to allow us to help him. It’s so irritating some days.
Amy hasn’t been to church in a while either, but hers is for a VERY different reason. Apparently not only does she have a broken back, but she also has Crohn’s, which has acted up so bad that she’s had an in-home nurse the past two weeks. This Sunday, though, she invited us over to give her a blessing, and it was such an awesome experience! The Spirit was so incredible. I feel like she is definitely converted now, based on how much she talks about wanting to meet with us again and how badly she wants to go to church. We also talked to her son, Alex, about how his Book of Mormon reading was going—he was on page two hundred-freaking-fifty-one! We met with them the first time four weeks ago! He is a faster reader than I am, and I have four hours of studying every morning!
Shoooot, this letter is getting too long! I’ll try to quickly wrap things up!
First, I have an invitation for every one of you. Elder Perkins (the Seventy that came to visit us) talked about how to receive personal revelation during meetings like that. He had us all write down two questions we wanted answered, one of them a personal question (about family, staying focused, getting along better with our companion, etc.) and another about proselyting (having people follow commitments, finding people, etc.). He told us that expecting revelation without asking any questions was essentially daring God to help us; we bear no responsibility in that situation. Want to know the miracle of his invitation, though? At the end, he asked us to stand up if at least one of our questions were answered. Not a single missionary was left seated.
Now, my invitation to you is to do the same in three weekends, for General Conference. We will have the ability to hear Heavenly Father speaking through dozens of people to us, personally. Don’t dare him to give you revelation! Write down 2-5 questions you really need answered, and be thinking about those answers. Revelation may not come by the mouth of the person speaking. My answer was RIDICULOUSLY roundabout. Elder Perkins’ wife had made one comment, which made me think about something at home from last year, which made me get really confused, and suddenly I realized that it was my answer! If I wasn’t looking for an answer, I wouldn’t have thought anything of it. Yes, we usually have a talk or two that hits us really hard in Conference. But, allow God to answer the questions you have by simply writing them down. Pleaaaaase :)
I love you, but I don’t miss you!