So, this week was an odd one. On Wednesday, one of our bikes got stolen. (Note to self: When serving in sketchy Buffalo, bike locks serve a greater purpose than they did in Freedom.) Luckily, we had a couple extra back home. Why? Not clue. But we did, so things worked out. Buuuuut, the one in the most workable condition needed a new tire. Since we don't have a car and now didn't have a bike, we had to walk to Wal-Mart to buy one. When we got home, we started putting it on.... annnnd popped the inner tube. So the next day we walked back to Wal-Mart, got a new inner tube, and walked back home. We got it put on in just enough time to bike to our next appointment. Unfortunately, we didn't tighten the wheel enough, so within a quarter mile, the tire was pressed against the bike frame and wasn't rideable. So, there was a huge chunk of three days gone either walking or trying to get bikes back in working condition. Now, good things DID happen this week, but if it doesn't seem as many as normal, cut me a little slack! Between three days of bike frustration and an all-day temple trip , our proselyting was cut down considerably!
One of the great lessons we did have, though, was with Guy. We went over to his place with Brother Desrosiers (Deh-ROSE-ee-ay) who speaks (blast... I just tried to spell that "speeks") French so we had a bit of a translator, even though Guy wanted to do most of it in English. It was cool, because we really took the time to lay out our lesson plan with each other. We really went in depth on how prophets do and always have pointed us to Christ. We first talked about how Moses didn't split the Red Sea - God did, by the hands of Moses. That really rang true to Guy right away. We were then able to go through prophets of the Old Testament and Book of Mormon, emphasizing 2 Nephi 25:26:
And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.
Then we moved on to Joseph Smith, whose primary duty as the Prophet of the Restoration was to translate The Book of Mormon..... ANOTHER TESTIMONY OF JESUS CHRIST! We then read Doctrine and Covenants 76:22:
And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him [Jesus Chirst], this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!
Finally, we talked about how there's been a prophet ever since Joseph Smith, and then read the last part of President Monson's concluding talk of April's General Conference, which was his testimony of the Savior and how He can bring peace in these troubled times. It all just clicked so well!
But... then we started talking about baptism, and he said, "It is impossible to be baptized twice." So, we know what we are planning for this upcoming lesson haha.
We also visited Stephen again. Even though I spent the vast majority of the time (we were there three hours because of this) talking to his neighbor who is fairly agnostic and believes the Bible to be "the greatest story book of all time." It was cool, though, to see him keep on trying to trap me, and yet the restored gospel really answered all of his questions, whether he accepted them or not. He tried to get me on a hell without end. He tried to get us on parts of the Bible being lost or hidden for political purposes. He tried to get us on people not ever hearing the gospel before they die. It was pretty cool! Of course.... it was definitely a poor decision on my part to allow us to go into a political conversation afterward. In his words: "Paul Ryan? PAUL RYAN!? I bet you $1000 to $100 [yeah... we still aren't sure what that means] that if we held an election for Janitor-in-Chief, Paul Ryan wouldn't win! JANITOR-IN-CHIEF!!" Haha, on the bright side, he said he would read the Plan of Salvation pamphlet we gave him haha.
But Stephen. Stephen was who I was going to talk about! He has been reading a little out of the Book of Mormon, and apparently last week he actually asked his wife if they could come to church with us! He didn't, and he didn't come yesterday, either.... but still. The thought is there! We were talking about him in our ward missionary correlation meeting yesterday, and Brother Smith, our ward mission leader, said, "Wait he is married? And has kids? All with the same girl? And he is going to college?" Haha gems like this are hard to come across in Buffalo!
We were able to finally have our dinner with Zy and Demetri! Demetri was the man we helped move a month or so ago, and Zy is the member from Lockport Ward who works with him at the Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Zy is a stud of a member missionary, though. He has been talking to him tons about the church, and has already set up times for Demetri to come to church and General Conference. Meanwhile, us missionaries have built up a better and better friendship with him. Essentially, the whole situation is just ideal. They are seriously one of the greatest families I've met my entire mission. He has a very stable job, is fairly religious already, and is a big time family man. She works with teachers, helping the Buffalo schools achieve higher standards of success. They have two hilarious sons. They're just all great!
We taught a few other people... but nothing too huge to report. But, I wanted to share some random thoughts I've had over the past week or so.
First, I was really frustrated yesterday in church. Even though we had four investigators at Sacrament meeting which should have had me thrilled, none of them were the ones who had committed to being there. We had five or six people commit to being there and yet weren't. It had me ticked. Then, Bishop Payne got up to speak and said something along the lines of, "As we serve in any calling that the Lord has put us in, one of the main goals of our service is to learn to love a little more like He loved." Suddenly it hit me, and I honestly can't tell you a single thing Bishop said after that because I was thinking so much. There may be nothing worse on a mission than someone committing to coming to Sacrament and then not, usually without reason, apology, or notice. But it hit me: How many times have I committed - covenanted, even - that I am willing to take upon me the name of Christ, always remember Christ, and keep the commandments Christ has given me, and then not? How many times have I renewed vows made before God, angels, and witnesses... and then not thought about them for days? All the while, I am making and renewing these promises at the very meeting I get upset at others for missing. "As we serve in any calling that the Lord has put us in, one of the main goals of our service is to learn to love a little more like He loved."
Then, I was reading an article about redemption from a General Conference or two ago, and I got to thinking. Often, we look at sin as just another step in the wrong direction. In that way, repentance and forgiveness just get us right back to perfection, and we should be good to go. But I was thinking about it, and I often point out to investigators that if we left Heavenly Father's side in premortal life, then the goal has to be more than to just go back to Him. Mortality would be futile if that was our only goal. Really, we are trying to go back better. So, as I was pondering, I created a little analogy:
Imagine you are shipwrecked, and off in the far distance, you can see an island. If you swam with all your might, you could probably just barely make it to land without drowning from exhaustion. But, for some reason, every few strokes, you take a cinderblock, and you tie it to a rope that is then tied around your waste. Obviously, you simply will not be able to keep swimming to your destination with ANY hope of reaching it.
Those cinderblocks are sin. They don't put us back a few steps, they completely debilitate us from advancing forward. Eventually, they can wear us out completely. They will pull us down to our own destruction. With even one, we cannot reach the island of refuge.
Now consider the scripture: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you... for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
If we allow Him, the Redeemer will swim up behind us and carry the blocks. It's not that we are then without responsibility. We still have to swim. But it is possible. Our growth will increase exponentially. Our potential remains potential.
It would be very hard to work on your investment portfolio if you were constantly stressing about your debt.
Now I had a few other thoughts when I was in the temple.... But I have talked enough. I hope all is well with everyone back home!
I love you, but I don't miss you!