I have been doing a lot better about talking with everyone and remembering to ask for referrals from everyone. This is something I have been working on and while there hasn't been much direct success just yet, I have faith! Plus, it just feels good to be doing the right thing. When we were walking out of a dinner appointment on Monday, a man walked across the driveway holding a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other. It was too great of timing, and so we talked to him. Turns out he lives just down the street from the members whose home we were exiting and knows them fairly well. He said we could "come on by any evening so [he] can pick [our] brains". We have tried a few times and not caught them home, but it won't be long before we're in there and teaching!
While on exchanges a few weeks ago with Elder Stack, we tracted into a lady named Tracy. She was immediately positive in response, but was busy when we knocked on her door. She said to come back the following Friday (we couldn't make it because of interviews). We set up another appointment which also fell through; she wasn't home. The other day, we were headed to a dinner appointment and I felt impressed to stop at Tracy's house and see if we could set another appointment. We did and after setting the appointment, I was prompted to ask her a few questions about why she was so receptive to having us over. She expressed that her cousin had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer and so she became curious about God and things. I testified of the power and strength I've received through the gospel of Jesus Christ during hard times. The Spirit was definitely there for those few moments. It was like a test-drive of the Spirit for Tracy!
On Tuesday evening, Elder Julius and I had a peculiar experience. It was about 8:40 and we decided to visit a less-active as our last-ditch effort for the evening. We knocked, dogs barked a while, and finally a man answered the door. He introduced himself as Harvey Chamberlin, the father of the less-active we were looking to visit. He asked where we were from and responded with Houston and Phoenix. He said he'd been to both of those places several times, but that he doesn't really get out much anymore. He likes to go to the gym, but hasn't even done that in a while. He had trouble remembering the name of the gym. Then he asked us where we were from. We said Houston and Phoenix, and then he said he'd been there several times, but that he doesn't get out much anymore. He tries to go to the gym, but not too often anymore. We taught him a little about the Book of Mormon and about the gospel. Every now and then, he'd ask where we were from and the same conversation would ensue. He used to be a criminal defense attorney and had a near-photographic memory. One day somewhere around 2000, mid-trial, mid-sentence, he froze. He stood stone-still as if for dramatic effect until the judge finally decided to call a recess. He had had a major stroke and has suffered severe short-term memory loss ever since. He was happy enough to see us and invited us back any time. We are still going to try teaching him. It'll be interesting maybe, but the Lord can do anything!"
Brother Robinson admitted this week that he knows the Book of Mormon is just as true as the Bible; "that it can't be no other way." He also figures "if Joseph Smith was a seer and a translator, that just as well makes him a prophet, don't it?" And he "wouldn't have joined the Church if [he] didn't know it was the one true church of Jesus Christ." He claims he was just puttin' us on--that he knows all this. Well, Elder Julius and I suspect he may have just changed his mind and is trying to save a little face. We'll take it! On Saturday, we visited him again and talked a lot about temple marriage. He and his wife have had a great marriage of 60+ years and he suspects that won't change after death. But they were only married civilly. We kind of pushed the issue too hard and he closed up on us a little. He is still happy to have us over, but he doesn't want to talk about the temple for a while. We think there is something else going on.
After dinner on Wednesday, we asked for referrals, and that sparked a conversation about a less-active family, the Smiths, up the road. We learned a lot about their history and concerns and decided to go ahead and visit them right after dinner. We dropped in, shared the story of Nephi and Laban with the kids, and then they went to bed. Then I felt prompted to ask about their upcoming weekend. I did and we got into this fantastic conversation about why they haven't been coming to church - he is a youngish return missionary for crying out loud! They really want to come back especially for the kids. We talked about what we can do to help. They were just so open and humble about it. Sister Smith talked a lot about her conversion story and how she hangs onto that when her family attacks her beliefs. I really felt them start to trust us a lot that evening. We've definitely kick-started some momentum in their reactivation.
On Thursday, I had my retinas checked and that took a good amount of the day. When headed back, we were inspired to go visit another less-active we hadn't met yet. We did, found them home, were let in for a great discussion, gave them blessings and dedicated the home, and invited them to come to church. They are really great people who want to come back! But they're afraid of not knowing anyone or being judged. We've already gotten the Relief Society president in there and they have made a great connection.
After lunch on Friday with our bishop, we headed back to finish our studies. But on the way home, I was prompted to visit Brother Lothyan (another less-active return missionary) on the fly. After a few U-turns, we made it over there and found him outside checking the mail. Without mincing too many words, we asked if he'd be willing to accompany us to a few appointments with some ladies in the area. We had struggled all morning to find an adult male, and here was the answer to our prayers! Turns out, we were an answer to his. He tearfully told us that just as we showed up, he had been suffering some intense temptation to break sobriety. Instead of that, he had an opportunity to go do the work of salvation! I am so humbled that Heavenly Father inspired us to drop in at the right time so we could provide an escape from temptation for Brother Lothyan. That was truly an amazing experience.
I can't believe Brandon is headed home soon! Aggghhhblahblah! Haha. That's so awesome. Maybe I can be as awesome a missionary as him one day!
Dad, just last night at dinner with a member, we shared a spiritual thought about just that: preparing ourselves and our family for the latter days. In my personal study, I came across Alma 48:7-10 and I thought about preparing for the perilous times ahead. There is a shadow and a type in this thing!
How is Seth doing? I got Mom's letter/M&M's. I don't worry as much for his physical well-being these days. I know he will be fine. But I am concerned for his testimony! Hosanna is a really great place, but it is not the restored gospel of Jesus Christ! You cannot be overwhelmed by the amazing, cleansing spirit of the Temple at Hosanna. You cannot exercise the authority of God and perform saving ordinances for your children at Hosanna. You cannot heal the sick or raise the dead at Hosanna. You cannot feast upon the words of modern-day prophets or ancient prophets of the Book of Mormon at Hosanna. At Hosanna, you can feel the influence of the Holy Ghost and worship Jesus Christ, but that's about it. It's passive. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints allows for active, progressive, and eternal worship, service, and learning. That's what it's all about!
Can you tell I'm learning how to be a bold missionary? :p
PS: Here's another thing. We just moved into a different apartment a little while ago, and the water heater is acting up. I had to take TWO cold showers this week. Ugh. Can you believe that, Brandon? It was awful. Keep me in your prayers.
PPS: So Brother Robinson is actually a master bike mechanic and he had this totally rad clown bike just chillin' in his garage. Had to try it out.
PPPS: Also, also.
I had my eye checked this past week for retinal detachment. Everything is fine. He actually said he didn't find any latticing or anything, like Dr. Hovis found. I donno. I'm still gonna keep an eye on it..
Also, also, also. When Christian puts in his papers, try and time it so that he gets his call before Mother's Day. That way, you can wait and open it on Mother's Day when we all webcam! Yay! :p Haha, that would be really cool if we could do that. I understand if it doesn't work out though.