Monday, March 3, 2014

Feb. 22, 2014 Insights from mission tour, Inspired discussions, Excited investigators

Gotta fly, so I´ll start with the mission tour with Elder Evans. Really, really cool. He spoke for a solid 3 hours straight with questions mixed in throughout the whole thing. Everything, everything was focused on the family. He talked a lot about the qualifications for baptism and made sure that everyone understood that our objective as missionaries is a lot bigger than merely baptism. One of the key phrases I wrote down: "so many recent converts are falling away because missionaries are teaching just to baptize, and not with endure to the end in mind. Endure to the "end"owment and temple sealing." So that was super good instruction. I started thinking of some of the people I´ve taught (especially Lena and Reobe) that need to get back on track towards the temple. One of my weekly goals this week is to mark a visit with them and the missionaries from Vila União. Others notes/impressions that I took down:
-Sister Evans: "I believe you made covenants between you, Heavenly Father, and your mission president before coming to this earth."
-Elder Costa: "I know with perfect knowledge that Jesus is the Christ and that Joseph Smith is the prophet of the restoration"
-Elder Evans: "We need to teach repentance so that investigators understand that it is not just a list of administrative tasks like stopping smoking and getting married; it is a change of heart that prepares people for covenant keeping"
-Elder Evans: "The greatest gift of God is eternal life, and eternal life is only available to families. We need to bring families into the Church."
-Elder Evans: "Our stand for the family is what will separate us from the world going forward; it may cause some to fall away, but because of it thousands and maybe millions will join the Church." 
--> then he read through The Proclamation to the World and talked about the nature of our eternal family, emphasizing the fact that we have heavenly parents in whose image we were created

It was a really neat experience of personal revelation for me, because I came into the mission tour with 2 questions in mind. I´d read in Alma 23 about the people of Ammon and how they never fell away and wanted to know what missionaries need to do better to help recent converts stay strong. Elder Evans answered that focusing on families and the temple in our teaching. I also wanted to know how to help me and the mission have greater success in terms of people being brought to baptism, and Elder Evans quoted Elder Nelson promising that there are thousands, even millions of people waiting to be drawn to the Church because of it´s focus on and defense of the family. God always answers questions. It´s impossible to serve worthily for 2 years seeking His help and not come to that conclusion. 

Other cool things that happened this week--coming home from a family night with Elvis, he himself started talking about baptism and said, "you know the only reason I haven´t gotten baptized yet is because I want to participate more during Sunday School and Priesthood." "Seriously? Well then are you willing to participate this Sunday?" "Yeah." "And afterwards do you think we could mark your baptismal date?" "Fine by me." It was so out of the blue that I just kind of laughed to myself at the way God manages to touch people´s hearts. Elvis went on to tell us that he knows the Church is true because he felt it during that lesson that I marked his baptismal date on his birthday and it´s a feeling he can´t deny. Boom!

And a quick excerpt from my journal: "I´m feeling good. I think I was able to turn a page with my level of commitment over the last week and I´m managing to lose myself in the work. We had a super good exchange with the zone leaders from Zona Campinas. I stayed with Elder Riquerme in Castelo--plan A through G fell through I think but we had 2 super good, spiritual lessons at night. Our first was with an inactive couple named Junior and Larissa that have been going to the Catholic Church for the past 5 years. It became clear really fast that the key to getting them back to Church would be focusing on eternal families. They were a bit iffy on the fact that family relationships can continue after death. A few questions came to mind that I asked them--" Who is the only perfect Father? Who is the only perfect Son? Did Christ cease to consider God His Father after His death? Isn´t He the perfect example in all things? Why then would He continue to be His Father´s Son and we not continue to be our father´s children?" It was a line of reasoning that wasn´t my own, and Junior and Larissa just looked at each other and had nothing to do but agree. They said they´d come to church on the 23rd."

Oh, and that lesson with Rogério and Andreia...we brought with us a small tupperware, some rocks and some sugar all measured out. The sugar represented worldly priorities, and the rocks heavenly ones. We explained that their goal was to fit the sugar and rocks inside the container and be able to close the lid. That represented the goal of eternal life. When they tried to put the sugar in first, the rocks didn´t fit. With the rocks first, everything did. Then we applied that to marriage--how a party, money, friends, popularity and all that were good reasons to get married but they were earthly priorities that would wind up slowing them down from keeping a commandment. They seemed to like the analogy and accepted to go to the cartório with us this week. Unfortunately we found out Rogério´s involved in some pretty heavy stuff and we may have to stop teaching them. We´ll see....in that sense this week´s been a tough one. Igor and Daniela went soft on us too. They´re not keeping commitments and are planning to visit family this Sunday instead of going to church. People are frustrating sometimes. But it´s all good. We´ve got a good teaching group and I´m excited for the transfer.

Love you!


Elder Sears

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