Monday, January 5, 2015

[1/5/2015] Week 96: Googly Eyes

Hey, hello!

Super sweet Seattle Seahawks socks
(say that five times fast!) that a
family in the ward gave us for Christmas!
We had the wonderful blessing of teaching quite a bit this week, but I guess you already know that.

Since we are re-teaching Mandy all of the lessons in greater detail, we taught her the first half of the Plan of Salvation on Friday, and it was powerful. Everything was really focused on how Jesus Christ, our Savior, is at the center of all we do and all that is expected of us here on earth. We invited her to pray at the end and ask specifically if He truly is her Savior. She prayed, but she didn't ask that specific question. Fortunately, we had just given instruction earlier that day at interviews on how to correct an investigator's prayer and invite them to pray again. So Elder George corrected her beautifully, and invited her with great love to pray again. And she did! And she had no problem! The peace in the room was so powerful, but Mandy just didn't seem to recognize it. I think there is a looming concern that she isn't expressing, and I don't know how to help her beyond it. I think it might be helpful to teach her with just one other person present as opposed to the whole Schwartz family (who have been so wonderful and supportive for Mandy). I think she is afraid to express her concerns, feeling she will let others down if she does.

We taught John on Monday night, and I just have to say that I love that guy so much. He's a humble and simple guy, but he's committed to learning about and embracing the gospel for all the right reasons. We taught him about the principle of obedience and how obeying God's commandments is key in helping us discover truth (John 7:17). I felt clearly guided by the spirit in the words I used, the questions I asked, and the statements of testimony I made. I just love teaching! He committed with a "determined resolution" (Alma 47:6) to live the Word of Wisdom and to fast on Sunday with a specific question in mind. Then he wasn't at church, which is terribly uncharacteristic of John.

This week, President Bonham interviewed all the missionaries in our zone and learned about some specific challenges that a companionship has been facing. One of the missionaries in this companionship is a new missionary, and they have struggled to be exactly obedient for a lot of different reasons. When the issue surfaced with their district leader several weeks ago, he came to Elder George and I for advice. I made some comments to the new missionary (we'll call him Elder Brown) that I thought were strengthening and encouraging (seeing as my trainer and I also had struggles back in the day, but in hindsight, they were judgmental and based on my perception of this missionary's trainer (we'll call him Elder Turner), whom I had only known for a few weeks. I thought that I was blessing Elder Brown when I said what I said about my trainer (and it sounds like the meaning of what I said was a little bit mistranslated when it got to Elder Turner), but I took no thought for Elder Turner's feelings or for the good that he has been able to accomplish on his mission. I admit that I did have a soured perception of him before really getting to know him and I have allowed that perception to get in the way of granting him trust. (Those in a leader's stewardship ought to know clearly that he trusts them. This principle is illustrated in Alma 7:6.) When Elder Turner asked his district leader and Elder George and I to talk with him privately after his interview with President Bonham, my eyes were opened. Tearfully, he explained his frustrations with his own imperfections as well as with how he felt betrayed by his leaders. I saw in Elder Turner a lot of myself. He experiences a lot of the same feelings of inadequacy, fear of failure, and need for trust that I have experienced (and do still experience) on my mission. I was crushed. I knew exactly how he felt and realized that I hadn't been treating him the way I ought to have: with love, trust, integrity, and fairness. I have resolved to repent and be better. However, I must note that I love that we were able to convene as priesthood brethren and representatives of Christ, talk mildly and respectfully about the sharp words that had been said and the feelings that had been hurt, and come to a conclusion for all of us to be better. It's incredible what the gospel will do for people.

Sorry I haven't been sending pictures lately. I haven't been taking them a whole lot!

A member of the ward, Austin, whom I knew in the Silver Lake ward, drove us home on Christmas Eve in his sweet '64 Ghia. Parked next to our sick slab (the Subaru Legacy).

Austin, that same member, having too much fun with googly eyes that he received as a gag gift for Christmas.

[Socks photo] Yes, that's a bench press in our apartment. No, the bar does not fit perfectly with the rack. Yes, Elder George and his former companion picked it up off the side of the road. Yes, it has 215 pounds on it. No, I did not lift that obscene amount of weight. That was Elder Lemon's doing. He is one of the assistants and he decided to go all out while on exchange with us. And by all out, I mean all the weight we had at our disposal.

Elder Cole Martin

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