Monday, June 24, 2013

June 24, 2013 Two missionaries + the Spirit = More than 3

Wow, so I just got done watching the first hour of a worldwide missionary training meeting held in Provo yesterday afternoon. The focus is on missionary work being as one with the members, stakes, wards, and missionaries. I was highly impressed. Elder Perry announced that in the coming year technology is going to be playing a much bigger role in the work--missionaries dedicating proselyting hours during the morning using facebook, email, and probably lots of other cool things to follow up with investigators, work with church leaders, and receive and contact referrals instead of spending so much time on the street knocking doors. Yes! I´m really excited to see all the changes. The full training is on lds.org--I´d highly recommend that everyone watched it. I´m going to try to watch the second half next P-day. I´m kind of jealous that I, unlike certain people I know in the Provo MTC right now, wasn´t able to be there in a Marriott Center packed with the prophet, several apostles and general authorities, mission presidents, and thousands of missionaries getting ready to go out into the field! But it was a really cool thing to be able to watch. There is no way not to feel the spirit watching so many gathered together in the same cause I´ve committed myself to be a part of. My head´s exploding with things I need to do better at and how we can involve the members more in the work. 

But as for the rest of the week...

I´ve never taught so many lessons in 7 days. We´re seeing lots of people progress and I´ve had lots of cool experiences watching the Spirit work with us and with our investigators. I think it was Wednesday that we had our lesson with Jeffrey. The plan was to get him ready for the baptismal interview and help his parents, who have been rather reluctant to be part of the lessons, see the changes Jeffrey´s been making so that he can be baptized. He´s stopped smoking for a week now and is probably more active than half of the young men already members. So that was the plan. We got there and his dad (technically father-in-law) greeted us with "my son is not getting baptized in your church." That was not quite what we were expecting. We sat down with him and listened to him go on for a good 10 minutes about certain things he´d seen on the internet about the Church that would be enough to scare anybody out of their right mind. Elder Hill and I both said a silent prayer asking for the Spirit to guide the lesson because there was no way on earth we´d be getting out of that pickle ourselves. We decided to teach him the first lesson to help clarify some of his doubts, since he´d never been willing to sit down with us before. He understood everything perfectly and stop pushing the subject about the things he´d seen on the internet. But he did tell us when we finished, "there is no way you can guarantee me all this Joseph Smith business is true. Where in the Bible does it talk about him or the Book of Mormon? And what makes you think God would use His time to tell me if your book is true?" I felt a little bit like that missionary in Canada President Monson talked about a few conferences ago when an older man told him basically the same thing. It was a really special opportunity for the 2 of us to bear testimony about what we knew positively with no room to doubt even a little bit to be true. I´d never felt the spirit backing up my testimony so much before. And I´d never been so straight with an investigator before. It wasn´t too hard to tell Romoaldo (Jeffrey´s dad) felt something in it all, but he still went back to "well it can be true for you, but there´s no way you´re guaranteeing it´s true for me." So I told him he was right, and that if he´d ask sincerely God would give him the same confirmation he gave Jeffrey. Jeffrey bore his testimony about that experience he had next to the baptismal font and I have no idea how his dad didn´t tear up while listening to it. And yet he continued to insist he was not going to let his son get baptized. This time he went with "it´s a sin before God to be baptized two times." So we used a couple scriptures in the bible (Luke 12:50 and Acts 19 I think) to help him get over that doubt. Once again the Spirit was super strong through it all and I am convinced Romoaldo felt it. So then he went on to, "well, Jeffrey´s not ready to be baptized. He doesn´t know nearly enough." More scriptures, more Jeffrey bearing his testimony, and more of the Spirit. The lesson was a good 2 hours I think. I´ve never been a part of anything like it. Elder Hill and I both left sweating almost. We talked about it and both commented that it felt like there was a third teacher in the room every time we taught and testified. Romoaldo still refused to let Jeffrey get baptized but I am confident we did everything we could do in that moment. It´s interesting to see how much your testimony is solidified when it´s challenged and you feel something much bigger than you backing it up. Jeffrey´s dad decided to let him continue coming to church and let us continue meeting with him. So that´s a start!

Another really cool lesson this week...Celson, Maria Luiza, Gabriela and Julianna. They´re a family we found knocking doors. Actually a family Elder Hill saw in the yard a couple days before and said he felt like we should knock there. I told Gabriela, one of the daughters, who we were and she went to go get her mom. There was a nice long discussion between Celson (the dad) and Maria Luiza (the mom) before they came back to talk to us, but decided to let us in. They´ve been in the area a week now and have becoming frustrated with the Catholic church lately (makes our job easier right?). We taught them the first lesson and once again I felt like we had a third teacher with us. It´s been a long, long time since I´ve cried teaching a lesson but this time during the First Vision I did. Maybe that had to happen for them to open up a little bit. Celson said the only way he wouldn´t show up to church that Sunday would be if he dropped dead. He was there 20 minutes early (and he doesn´t have a car so he got there early walking). We visited them for the third time last night and we´re starting to get a friendship with them that usually takes a lot longer to develop with most investigators. If only Celson and Maria were married! But it´ll be a blessing to be able to continue working with them in the coming weeks. 

Jeffrey didn´t get baptized but a boy from the Viracopos branch (which we´ve been taking care of lately) did! His parents aren´t members but his aunt´s been taking him to church for the past few months. He begged us to be baptized. His name´s Wellington and he has quite the personality (you´ll be able to see that from the picture I´m about to send). He´s super smart and super small. Presidente Marcos, the branch President, took us to meet him a couple weeks ago and he and Presidente Perrotti gave us the green light to baptize him this Saturday. We sang for him and though it was a really simple baptismal service (the branch is tiny), it was a really good and spiritual service as well.

A few sidenotes really quick...Elder Cox went out on a whim and bought an $80 professional stage lighting system he saw in a store on display on Monday. He came home and showed us and it´s awesome. Awesome, really. A bunch of lasers flash around in sync with whatever sound is made. So if you play music right next to it it becomes a disco ball that goes with the beat. We turned on Called to Serve and We Are All Enlisted, turned off the lights, and had a dance-off. I got it on film on my camera. We look really stupid but it´s a memory I´m not going to forget all that easily :)
Saturday was Elder Hill´s 21st birthday so we ordered pizza and bought ice cream and brought out our laser toy again (I´ll try to send a picture of that too). I made breakfast for him in the morning. I think it turned out okay. Edible at least.

So yep! That´s a very busy week in a nutshell. Speaking of Shell´s, congratulations Brother Shell! And Sister Shell (jr.) for singing in the MTC choir during the leadership broadcast--I looked for you but there were a LOT of Sisters. Sounded great though. Really, really good.

Oh, and I taught myself "If You Could Hie to Kolob" and the beginning of Secrets by One Republic on guitar! When we get a few minutes of free time at night I like to practice.

Love you all! Falouuuu...

Elder Sears

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