Sunday, June 8, 2014

[4/14/2014] Week 58: Spirit and Miracles in the Work

What a week! Much of it was focused on preparing for the baptism of Aaron Simmons, who decided last-minute to become a member of the Blaine ward as opposed to the Bellingham YSA ward. The baptism went well, and the ward is doing a wonderful job of taking him in. It's crazy to think that I just met Aaron a month or so ago, and he's already a member of the Church. The Lord really does send us prepared people!

Aaron Simmons baptized!
Elder Jones and I conducted an exchange with the elders in the Everson ward (Elders Larson and Jankowski) this week from Wednesday to Thursday. I spent the day in Everson with Elder Jankowski, and boy was it a rough day. We encountered the grumpiest of grumpy left and right with very little success to be found anywhere. If it hadn't been an incredibly beautiful day, I'd have lost some sanity. Towards the end of the evening, we stopped at the apartment to grab some water, and, having openly discussed our sour feelings toward the day's turn of events, decided to offer a sincere prayer of pleading before heading back out. We asked Heavenly Father to help us keep our chins up that we might find some good in the time we had left. Elder Jankowski and I had planned to visit a former investigator at that time, so we attempted, but did not find him home. We proceeded to tract around the former, and when we knocked on the very next-door neighbor of the former investigator, the door swung open to reveal a familiar face coupled with a familiar voice: "Elders! How's it going?" If you remember, I shared with you a story from an exchange with Elder Cottle almost two transfers ago about helping a group of pastors move an enormous kiosk/desk thing into their new church building in Nooksack. Well, what do you know but we had tracted into the youth pastor from that very same church! And I just happened to be on exchange again in Everson that same day! We exchanged pleasantries and phone numbers, and he asked for a few of our "tracts", so we handed him a Restoration pamphlet and explained to him using the pictures the basis of our message. Whether it will go anywhere, I know not, but to have been received so warmly by someone not [yet] of our faith was an answer to our prayer! We knocked a few more doors and then walked home for dinner with a skip in our step. I am reminded of Alma 26, 27th verse:

"Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success."

I guess the Book of Mormon really is true!

Zone meeting this week went incredibly well. The Spirit was really, really strong and we all learned a lot during the segment of training on repentance. Elder Jones and I felt impressed to include as a learning activity an opportunity for the missionaries to reflect on their own testimonies of the doctrine of repentance and then to write a letter to a friend who had hypothetically committed some sin about which they had confided in the missionary and from the guilt of which they were seeking freedom and release. This gave us all some time to be touched by the Spirit not just as missionaries, but as individual children of God. We learned how much love we have for others and how motivated by love we must be in order to adequately teach the restored principle of repentance.

Things are beginning to really turn upward in the Ferndale zone. This week, Elder McRae spent a lot of time helping the other elders in Ferndale and I think they found a total of 5 investigators between the two areas. That's typically been unprecedented. Elder McRae's district found a total of 10 new investigators (with no help from Elder Jones and I), which is also a huge step in the right direction. Before Saturday, the zone had a total of 7 investigators with a baptismal date and one or two more with dates to come very soon. We're really pleased with the way things are going and can't wait to watch this trend continue.

This morning in Preach My Gospel, I was studying in Chapter 5 about the Book of Mormon. It says on page 104 that “The Book of Mormon is the keystone in our witness of Jesus Christ." I have heretofore considered the Book of Mormon to be the keystone in my witness of the truthfulness of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and even in my witness of the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith. Makes sense, right? But first and foremost, we learn from the Book of Mormon that Jesus is the Christ (hence, the subtitle "Another Testament of Jesus Christ"). In other words, it is a sharper, quicker, more efficient, and more powerful tool than the Bible to teach us of His example, pure love, and, above all, His divinity. The Bible works to teach us of Christ and all that He is and stands for. But the Book of Mormon works better and should stand at the center of our faith and hope in Him. A person, never having heard His name, could pick up the Book of Mormon, read nothing else, and know everything they need to know about the Savior and His gospel in order to gain salvation at His hand. Isn't that nifty?

I love y'all! Thanks for the updates!

Elder Martin

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