Wednesday, July 3, 2013

[07/01/2013] Week 16: Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these...

Hey, hey!

My family painted the house.
Wow, the house looks awesome! This new wave of DIY-dom is so exciting! Keep it up! Mom, thank you for mentioning that it was a great missionary opportunity. Those are the details I like to hear. ;)

Seth, I'm glad to hear that you're working hard and helping out the family at the same time. That is extremely mature. You've a little suh'm suh'm comin' your way in the mail soon...

Margo, always stick to those standards. Even when it seems like it's okay to make an exception because of whatever circumstances, when you allow no breaches to your firm foundation, you will only grow stronger in your resolve to follow Jesus Christ and represent Him as a member of His true Church.

This week was full of service. Our bishop moved out and we got a new one, so we spent a lot of time helping pack up his house and tear down fences and transport alpaca and whatnot. Our ward mission leader, Brother Jarvis, also moved this week, but only to another house within the ward. Whew! He's too great to lose!

As far as finding and teaching, it was a pretty successful week. Elder Benedict and I worked very hard and taught a lot of lessons. Well, thirteen, which is a lot for us!

We visited our recent convert, Jordan, on Tuesday and Thursday of this week. On Tuesday, we spent some time in Mosiah taking turns reading one verse at a time, and then the reader of that verse would break it down for everyone else. This was Elder Benedict's idea, and it was highly effective! We made a lot of progress with Jordan's Book of Mormon comprehension and rekindled a slightly dimmed flame for feasting upon the world of God. On Thursday, we returned to find out that Jordan had had a fantastic personal study on his own where he understood perfectly everything in Mosiah 2. He received a lot of personal revelation while studying that helped understand what he read. I even received my own revelation as we went over it with him! Elder Benedict pointed out that Jordan's study skills have improved exponentially since he was baptized and received the gift of the Holy Ghost.

After leaving Jordan's house, we both felt prompted to stop at a former investigator's house nearby. Ryan let us right in and invited us onto his back porch (this has never happened to me). He told us he had some questions he wanted to ask (I must admit I braced for anti, but Elder Benedict had faith!) and we dove right in! He had come across some terms in the Topical Guide that sparked his interest. We addressed his questions concerning "count", "countenance", and "counselor". The last term initiated a discussion on the Holy Ghost. We read with him in 2nd Nephi 31 about the need to be baptized and discussed having the proper authority. Conveniently, this has always been Ryan's hang-up. At one point, he expressed that he knows he's felt the Spirit and been guided by It, but not consistently in life. We testified of the gift of the Holy Ghost and the authority necessary to receive it. I think he had a lot of concerns addressed that night. We invited him to be baptized, he firmly declined a date, but we lovingly came back and soft committed him, expressing that we don't make these invitations because we want him to join the Church, but because we know the priesthood and the Holy Ghost will bless his life. He was very receptive to that and even invited us to go crabbing with him sometime soon!

We met a guy named Caleb through Derek who is returning to activity and he told us his life story. The short of it is that he and his younger brother were out skateboarding seven years ago and decided to skitch (or hang onto while riding) on the back of a friend's pickup. Caleb encouraged the driver to go faster, his younger brother hit a sewage grate, and then suffered immense brain damage. While he wasn't expected to live, his younger brother is actually walking, talking, and almost fully functioning today. Apparently, though, his reasoning skills are severely affected. It was a sad story, and Caleb is just now recovering spiritually from that, but I can't help but notice how many people I've come across with neurological disorders or severe brain trauma and for some reason, it makes me really feel like that's where I want to go in life. I want to be able to solve those seemingly insurmountable problems.

We visited Farlan on the fly on Saturday and he almost didn't let us in. But then he decided he had no reason not to. We sat and talked for a while about his concerns. He struggles with a lot of little things and, I think, an overall lack of drive to progress. It's hard. We will continue to pray for him. He promised he would be at church yesterday, and then he wasn't.

Speaking of, I spoke in church yesterday! I shared a story from Christian's and my experience in Austin during our senior year:

(From my email to Christian last week)

Do you remember when we were in Austin for History Fair and stopped
for lunch at Chipotle after our event? It was a good lunch, a good
time. We emerged from the restaurant with carryout boxes and full
drink cups, satisfied and high on life. After rounding the corner and
while waiting to cross MLK Jr. Blvd in downtown Austin, a downtrodden
and disparaged homeless man rounded the corner and walked in our
direction. One hand was carrying a small amount of leftover food -
some sort of beans and rice or something - and his left ear was
swollen and covered in a soiled, filthy bandage badly in need of
replacement. Before he could reach us, he tripped over a poorly laid
slab of concrete that jutted up at its border with an adjacent slab,
and went down hard, his meager portions splayed out on the hot Austin
sidewalk. You and I immediately rushed to his aid, grabbed him under
the armpits - which emanated a stale odor - and helped him up. Though
the rest of our group stood and watched inertly, our reaction to go
and help was instinctive. We assisted him in picking up the food he
had dropped and returned to our group. I remember looking down at my
cup of Dr. Pepper and your styrofoam box containing half a burrito and
suggesting that we didn't really need our food as much as he did. You
gladly consented, and we gave him what we had. He thanked us
profusely, with lots of 'God bless you two gentlemen. God bless you,'
and we crossed the street.

I don't know if I ever told you, but immediately following that
experience, Matthew 25:40 rang in my mind: 'Inasmuch as ye have done
it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto
me.' Isn't that amazing? Christian! Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was
an hungered and we gave him meat. When I teach this principle, tell
this story, and testify of the Spirit I felt that day, it is
unfailingly powerful. It almost always brings me to tears.

We also had a lesson with Ellen, who suffers from severe epilepsy, on Saturday. It was a powerful message about the Restoration that we geared towards how the gospel blesses families. What's funny is that Elder Benedict and I didn't have a chance to plan anything for the lesson because of service, but we both felt the Spirit guiding us to relate our message and testimonies to the family. It was so awesome! Ellen agreed to be baptized on the 3rd of August.

On Saturday morning, we attended the funeral service for Sister Kam. She died suddenly from a brain tumor last week. Her husband, Wally, was broken up for a while, but the service was overall very uplifting. The ward misses her very much. The last thing she said before going into surgery was, "Please get my Primary class covered."

We got ourselves a new mission president today! Whoop! We'll meet him tomorrow afternoon. Should be exciting!

Elder Benedict and I have disagreements somewhat often. They're not usually a big deal, but sometimes it gets a little bristly. We've developed a very valuable skill of being open about our disagreements, discussing it, and working through it to find a solution. Every time, we're able to come to terms and are united more securely as a result. It's something I feel many people my age are not well-practiced in. That is, working out inconsistencies with other people face to face and flushing out those negative feelings before they eat you up.

I love you all, and I pray for you daily. Stay true to the faith. As Brother Kam once told me, "The Gospel will and must be your strength."

Elder Martin

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