Wednesday, October 30, 2013

October 28 Letter

Well, transfer weeks are always fun. You are severely limited in time because you really don't start 'til halfway through the week, but then you visit all of the coolest people all in a row. So, while I don't have lots of stories, I do have some cool ones!

First, Stephen. We went over and had a really good lesson with him on Wednesday. We have struggled to help him see the urgency in knowing truth for himself, but then realized that we never really have taught him the Restoration from our perspective. Granted, he essentially taught it to us when we tracted into him, but it kind of became "There should be a prophet, there should be the priesthood, there should be order, etc." and us saying, "Yes! Joseph Smith!" This week, we went into, "There needs to be and is a prophet, there needs to be and is the priesthood, thereneeds to be and is order, etc." It went great! It's funny to teach him because he has such a deep background knowledge of everything religious. You almost get hesitant to say some things, knowing that he knows enough about history and religion to call you out if you are wrong. But, he didn't call us out! And he told us that he'd actually read up through 1 Nephi 17 and was loving it! And then he came to church on Sunday, despite not getting home from West Virginia until almost2:00 Sunday morning! He's doing wonderfully.

We also taught Draga, who is the mother-in-law of a less active lady up in the Sisters' area. Lori, Draga's daughter-in-law, always has us go up there for random things, Wednesday being one of those days. We were up there to mow the lawn, but it started raining instead. She wanted to feed us lunch, so we stayed another two hours for lunch to be ready and eaten haha. But, the Sisters were there and afterwards we had an incredible lesson with Draga. Lori said she thinks Draga is finally realizing that there have always been Latter-day Saints around her and that maybe it means something, plus she is going through a really hard time with a number of things right now so maybe she'd be humbled enough to give it a chance.

So, the Sisters started by having us all read Alma 34. I feel slightly bad, because I kind of took over the lesson... but it turned out pretty cool! I pointed out that Amulek is talking to a group of people who had been cast out of their synagogues. They thought it was a bad thing and were pretty depressed, not realizing that those synagogues were really participating in apostate worship, anyways. I pointed out to Draga that here were a group of people that at any other point wouldn't have accepted the gospel, but God had them in the perfect situation of humility right then. 

I then pointed out that Amulek himself at one point resisted the truth. In Alma 10:5-6, he says, "Nevertheless, after all this, I never have known much of the ways of the Lord, and his mysteries and marvelous power. I said I never had known much of these things; but behold, I mistake, for I have seen much of his mysteries and his marvelous power; yea, even in the preservation of the lives of this people. Nevertheless, I did harden my heart, for I was called many times and I would not hear; therefore I knew concerning these things, yet I would not know." So, this whole chapter is about a teacher who was at one point very hardened to the truth, teaching an audience who at one point was very hardened to the truth.
As we read, we talked about the meaning of "faith unto repentance," and how Christ demands discipleship, not just passive belief. This idea is echoed throughout the chapter. Really, faith unto repentance is the only way of making the "great and last sacrifice" matter to us at all and allow the laws of mercy to take effect. Right after the whole series of "faith unto repentance" verses, Amulek discourses on prayer. We discussed how prayer is how we gain faith in God and also how we really gain the strength and ability to fully repent. Draga shared with all sorts of stories with us on how she knows God is there and is mindful of her. The Spirit got super strong, and it was all incredible.
Then we got to verse 30, which talks about bringing fruit meet for repentance. I cross-referenced this over to Moroni 8:25 for her, which reads: And the first fruits of repentance is baptism; and baptism cometh by faith unto the fulfilling the commandments; and the fulfilling the commandments bringeth remission of sins."
By this point, we'd been talking forever, so we couldn't go through all of the avoiding procrastination verses and whatnot. But I jumped ahead to verse 38, which tells us to "contend no more against the Holy Ghost." I asked her if she'd ever prayed to know if Joseph Smith was a prophet. She hadn't! She's taken the discussions who knows how many times, and has never prayed to know if Joseph Smith's claims had any legitimacy or not. She definitely trusts God's answers enough, I don't know why she hasn't prayed. But, she promised that she would, and that she wouldn't contend against the Holy Ghost, and that, if God so willed it, she would bring forth fruit meet for repentance (aka baptism!)!

Then, of course the Asians. We went over to Jerry and Andrea at just after 6:00 on Friday. We didn't leave until really late. Actually, later than we were technically allowed to be out. Based on our conversation, though, I think/hope the Lord will forgive us! After we had dinner (I'm finally getting chop sticks down, although I feel I made a very good case for forks when I was able to pick up more beans with a fork than Andrea could with chop sticks, albeit in more time than it took her) we finally had a lesson. We started off by talking about Alma 32:26-27 and the importance of at least experimenting on the gospel. We emphasized that we really wanted them to not just learn about the gospel, but really apply it. We proceeded to really talk about the power of the Atonement and how it allows us to feel comforted, especially through prayer to the Father, by the power of the Holy Ghost. It wasn't much different than our very first lesson with them, but I think went a little deeper and was more impactful.

What was the coolest part of the lesson, though, was a statement from each of them. When we were leaving, Andrea started talking about a whole slew of exams that she had coming up this week. We encouraged her to pray for help, which she didn't think made much sense. Why would God care about her tests? We explained a bit about how much God wants us to succeed and especially not feel too overwhelmed, and eventually she conceded. "All right, I will pray. I like to experiment."
Earlier, we were talking to them about church, trying to help them understand the Holy Ghost. I then asked Jerry why he kept coming back to church, and about how he feels there. He probably gave the coolest answer I've ever heard, especially given that we would never have described it to him this way so it's not like he's just repeating how we told him the Spirit would feel. He said, "I feel like there is pure water running through my heart."

Well, hopefully that quenches your thirst for hearing my words ;) haha hope all is well back home!
I love you, but I don't miss you!
Elder Allen

Quick appendage: On Saturday, it was about 40 degrees, raining, with 50 mph wind gusts. Bike areas are not made for Buffalo winters.

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