Monday, December 10, 2012

December 10 Letter

Well it's been a heck of a week! Haha tons of ups and downs, but luckily we ended on a high note.
I might as well just throw it out there from the start so that we can get it over with: Amanda didn't end up getting baptized on Saturday. There were a few little hangups, not the least of which was that she was busy on Saturday. Haha, I obviously can't say too much, but I will say that she has been a huge testimony builder to me by showing just how far the gospel can take someone and how important it is that we really recognize and understand that we are literally sons and daughters of a Heavenly King. The baptism is now rescheduled for December 29!
K, got that outta the way.
Honestly, I can hardly remember what happened before Thursday. Hopefully it comes to me as I write. Come to think of it, I don't really remember Friday either. So, the first paragraph was Thursday, now onto the weekend, I guess.
Saturday was one of those weird days when, as you look at your completely empty planner, you just say, "Crap...." and keep staring. Haha but by the end, it was one of the most fun days I've had in a long time! We ended up bouncing from one former investigator to another (or some current investigators who just have never made any progress), and we ended up teaching five lessons, sharing three Book of Mormons (two of which to people who seemed legitimately interested in it), picking up two new investigators, and setting four follow up appointments! It was so much fun to just go all over the place and essentially force a lesson. Investigators like those are fun because you don't really have a relationship you're worried about damaging. Sometimes with slowly progressing investigators, you're close enough friend you try not to be too bold because you're afraid of being off-putting. With people like we visited on Saturday, you can just be straight-forward and they'll either take it or leave it, and it doesn't change much for you if they decide to leave it.
Probably the coolest lesson we taught on Saturday, though, was to Gene, the son of Sue, who we have been meeting on and off with since I first got here. Sue is a very strong Baptist who we tracted into, who really has little to no interest in the church. We have talked all about the Plan of Salvation, eternal familes, the Restoration, prophets, the Book of Mormon, you name it. While she is never antagonistic or even openly doubting what we talk about, she has never even seemed remotely interested in it. She's always been very friendly to us, though, so we always make sure we stop by when we're in the area just to keep us on her mind. Well, this time, Sue was gone, but her son opened the door instead. He'd just moved home from Niagra Falls because "things didn't work out there." He was a pretty nice guy, probably in his twenties or so, and we talked for about ten minutes. Finally, I figured it wasn't like we had any appointments to hurry off to, so I started talking to him about the Church, especially about the Book of Mormon. When we explained that the Book of Mormon was about God's dealings with the ancient Americas, we asked if he would like a copy, and his exact words were, "Yeah! That actually sounds pretty cool!" Haha I am glad that our church is now becoming the "cool thing to do" without even trying! Haha it was a very fun day, though!
Then yesterday, we taught the first lesson to a kid named Kodie, who is dating one of our recent converts, Danielle. We met up at the church and talked with him and Danielle's dad, Terry. Now, the lesson went pretty good (we even set up a tentative baptismal date!), but I think the most exciting thing was to see how much Terry has changed. Terry had been there for all of our lessons with Freddy, Liz, and Kathy before, but it was one of those things where we kind of held our breath hoping he wouldn't say something.... weird. Haha he has always been very enthusiastic about the church, but he was a little more open about it sometimes than he actually knew. Haha for instance, one lesson before I got here, he spent five minutes explaining to an investigator that the church "can buy all your groceries if you want." It was so awesome on Sunday, though! Terry bore his testimony in all the right places and it was just so cool. At one point, Kodie had made some smart alec, normal 16-year-old comment, when we were talking about the point in praying about the Book of Mormon, because of how much it would prove if it were true, or how much falls apart if it isn't true. "So, you're saying there's basically a 50-50 chance of it being true?" he asked. "No," interrupted Terry, "There is a 100% chance that it is true." And he went on to explain how he learned the truthfulness of the book and what it has done for him since reading it. It was great!
Oh, I remember what happened Wednesday! Or at least part of it. We finally got back to meet with Amy, and we had one of our best lessons with her. I was a little bummed, because a couple weeks ago, she was asking questions that essentially showed she didn't remember hardly anything about the Plan of Salvation. But, she was very receptive to it this time around. (It probably helps that this wasn't my first time ever teaching it, like it was the first time we went over it with her.) Now, where normally it would be demoralizing for one of your best investigators to not understand one of the more important lessons, it actually is pretty relieving. We've been trying to figure out why she didn't feel ready for baptism yet and what we could do to help her. But, well, if she doesn't understand the doctrine, naturally she wouldn't feel ready for baptism! Haha, still, it is cool that she does have baptism as a goal. My favorite line from the whole day was when she talked to her 9-year-old son, Alex, and started a statement off saying, "Alex, when you go on your mission...."
We also had a way fun lesson with Krissa again. As always, she loved learning about the gospel. The problem is we really are running out of discussions to teach! But, we played off of the Christmas Devotional because she was so impressed with President Uchtdorf (who isn't?), and ended up watching a few of his older conference talks. Ha it's so cool to go over there because it feels almost like home teaching. We are able to just focus on whatever questions she has and aspects of her life, because we've gone over all the required teaching points. I just want her to commit to baptism, already, though! Haha if it doesn't happen before I'm transferred away from Freedom, I don't know what I'll do!
Oh, I found a way cool scripture this week! First, let me refer to another Book of Mormon scripture that is often controversial in the mainstream-Christian world. It's in 2 Nephi 25:23, and reads, "It is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do." People like to throw around scriptures in Ephesians and Romans, where Paul essentially says that there's nothing we can do, because grace is all up to God and our faith in Him. However, I found a remarkable scripture in Alma 24:11, that uses interestingly similar verbage. "It has been all that we could do, (as we were the most lost of all minkind) to repent of all our sins... and to get God to take them away from our hearts, for it was all we could do to repent sufficiently before God that he would take away our stain." So, what is it we can do? We can repent! We are going to make mistakes, but we need to repent, which is much more than just asking for forgiveness. It's a constant process of restructuring our lives and making them more and more in line with Christ's. I think we can all,constantly be improving ourselves, don't you?
Well, hope to hear from any and all of you soon! You're all grand, and I like you a lot!
I love you, but I don't miss you,
Elder Allen

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