This week consisted of a ton of driving. Literally, if you could weigh driving, what I drove would weigh 2,000 pounds. Rochester and back three different times, plus Palmyra and back once. Jeez, it was absurd! But, a fantastic week nonetheless.
On Tuesday, I picked up my new companion, fresh from the MTC (my first-born child, as we call them). His name is Elder Jones, and he's from Virginia, though lived in England for 11 years and has a sick accent. Haha he's the first person I've ever met that, as we drove through Arcade, said, "Wow, this is a lot bigger than home!" Haha, he's from a small part of VA, where he raised 200 pigs on about 80 acres! They have them free-roaming, and it just sounds crazy. Sometimes, he says they'll just feed the pigs whole deer! He says they will eat the whole thing, except little bits of the spine. He says they are really tame and you can pet them and everything, but you'd just better not pass out in the fields, because they will eat you if they think you're dead. Hahaha anyways, he's a nice enough kid, and definitely is striving to be a good missionary. You can definitely tell he's not used to talking to random people, though, and he is verrry nervous. What is training for, I guess, though, eh? Haha
Well, like I said, we spent a lot of our time just driving around, so my stories won't be as numerous. Most of our time in Freedom also just went to introducing Elder Jones to all of the important people in the area. BUT! we still had some very cool experiences.
One of the funniest for him was tracting, we knocked on a guy's door and started talking to him. When the guy said he was a Seventh Day Adventist, Elder Jones started to kind of give in and close the conversation. I interjected and asked the man about what Seventh Day Adventists actually believe, even though I already knew from all the other Adventists we've met up here (it's really pretty interesting, actually). And, what do you know, he let us in the door to talk! Actually, he was looking for a church about six years ago pretty earnestly, so he already had a Book of Mormon. We ended up giving him the whole Restoration discussion, which is remarkably easy with Adventists since they already believe in an apostasy, a restoration, prophets, and the priesthood. We're planning on going back sometime this week, but I think it caught Elder Jones off guard that in our only hour of tracting this week, we got in the door!
On Saturday, we took Amanda to Palmyra. She's been struggling really understanding the Restoration, so we decided to take advantage of our strategic location and teach her in context! (Oh the joys of the New York Rochester Mission!) Well, the Sister Missionaries did a very good job, and between the Grandin Building, the Hill Cumorah, the movieJoseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration, and the Sacred Grove, I think she finally gets it! As we were walking towards the Grove, we talked about the sequence of things leading up to Joseph Smith becoming a prophet, and the clear lack of coincidence. Then we compared it to the sequence of events that finally lead us to meeting with and teaching her. It's cool the things that she picks up on and finds important, especially given her incredibly rough past.
Then yesterday, we went to Krissa's house to watch the First Presidency's Christmas Devotional with her. Of course, between the First Presidency and a golden investigator, it was a great experience. But the best part of all was when it finished up! We started talking about Christmas traditions, the meaning of Christmas, and so on, when Matt came out from the other room and started talking with us! He told us all about his family's Christmas traditions, the church services he would go to with his parents or grandpa, and the reasons he stopped going home much for Christmas after a while. For someone who usually books it into a different room as soon as anything churchy gets brought up, this was awesome! Then, we invited him to the Dec. 23 Sacrament meeting, and I think he's actually considering it! Finally, we had to leave, but asked if we could have a prayer first. I really expected him to say we could, but leave the room himself. But no! Instead, he asked Marcus (Krissa's son) to come in, took off his hat, and even called on someone to say the prayer. I was ecstatic!
Now, for a cool scriptural thought that started off as the subject of a discussion with Krissa and will soon become a blog post!
So, in 3 Nephi 11, we all know the story. It's the climax of the Book of Mormon; the resurrected Christ comes to the Nephites. God didn't forget His chosen people, regardless of where they lived. Jesus can teach His gospel no matter where they are. It's a marvelous story. But, I picked up on something new this time around.
Often times, I kind of breeze through the first few verses until I get to verse 7, where Heavenly Father announces His Son, then Jesus descends, etc. Well, I need to stop that!
K, so in verse 3, it says the Nephites were conversing with each other, when "they heard a voice as if it came out of heaven... it was not a harsh voice, neither was it a loud voice; nevertheless, and notwithstanding it being a small voice it did pierce them that did hear to the center." All right, what do we refer to as a "small voice," or rather a "still, small voice"? The Holy Ghost. So the Holy Ghost is saying something, but no one understands it. (Anyone who remembers my rant about Luke 24, also note that verse three says this voice "did cause their hearts to burn.") In verse five, the voice came again, but still no one understood it. Finally, in verse seven they understand the voice, saying "Behold my Beloved Son..." (The whole thing is great, but you can read it yourself.) Soon, Christ comes down, declares himself and His divinity. He also invites the Nephites to come up and touch His scars, and leads into one of the most beautiful sermons on His doctrine in the Scriptures. Then, after Christ leaves, 4 Nephi 1:15 says "Surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God."
Ok, my point is this: How often do we not understand the small voice whispering to us? How often do we not understand Heavenly Father's instructions to us? It's only when we really do understand the Spirit that we can truly see Christ, and even feel Him! When we do, we will understand His doctrine, and we can be among the happiest people every on the face of the Earth. Who wouldn't want that? No one! We just need to constantly listen and heed the whisperings of that small voice!
You know, sometimes, I question the soundness of my own testimony. Not necessarily if I have one or not, or if I believe it, but just how sturdy it is. I realized something a while ago, but really thought about it this week. Whenever I come to really love someone, I naturally want them to accept the gospel. Whether that is investigators out here or friends back home, it seems that it's the people I've come to really know and understand that I have the easiest time relating the gospel to their lives and showing why it would help them. Now, if I didn't believe what I was sharing, would I do that? Psh... that would be pretty ridiculous. But, since I know how I fit into the Plan of Salvation, I really want people I care about to know who they really are: sons and daughters of a King. Hopefully someday soon I can develop the love and charity enough to feel that way with everyone; I'm working on it. But for now, feel really lucky if I try hard to help you build and develop a testimony!
I love you, but I don't miss you!