Saturday, June 9, 2012

Back to Ogden....

This.. Has been one of the CRAZIEST weeks of my mission so far. I can't even begin to comprehend all that has happened.

I'll start with an experience that happened last Saturday.. This was the first time I have TRULY felt that I'm absolutely certain the Lord is placing people in our paths. So Friday night, we were planning for the next day and we felt prompted to go visit a 9 year old recent convert named Gracie. She's at the far northwest end of our area, and it was kind of out of the way.. But we accepted the prompting, and planned for it. It was probably about 4:40 P.M and we went over and set up a lesson with her and her mother. We then felt we should go visit another one of our potential contacts named Dave - which we thought was strange because Dave's rarely home on the weekends. We went and visited him.. And he wasn't there. Confused, we started walking to the far end of our area. It was 5:00 P.M. now, and we didn't have a dinner appointment.. So we'd have to walk to the complete other side of our area to our apartment to eat dinner and then come back for Gracie's appointment.. We were walking down Washington Street and heard a faint whistle from across the traffic. We kept walking, and heard it again. When we looked over, there was a guy waving us down and beckoning us to come over.

We sprinted across the street to talk to him, and realized we were now in another set of missionaries area. The guy asked us right away "Elders! Do you guys have dinner tonight?" When we told him that we didn't, he offered us a free meal and invited us inside. He's the owner of an upscale Italian restaurant; and he simply said "There's someone that you need to meet." Confused, we sat down, ordered, and the guy brought in this kid. He was wearing a bandana, aviator sunglasses, a superman jersey, bling, baggy jeans, and was covered in what looked like tattoos all over his body. He introduced himself as Bryce, a 19 year old kid who loved the missionaries. Right from the get-go he seemed a little bit.. Strange. But he was extremely polite, and was very eager to share with us a few scriptures from the Book of Mormon. He just seemed to be radiating with the Spirit. As we continued talking to him, he started explaining some of the symbolism of the stuff he was wearing (the superman symbol turned upside down looks like a temple, the headphones draped around his neck symbolized the shepherd's cane that Christ had, the tattoos all had different meanings representing the power and glory of Christ) and told us his life story. At present, he was on the run from a newly abusive father who was trying to stop him from going to church and serving a mission. He then challenged us to keep up in the work, and invited us to hear his testimony.

He lead us upstairs in the restaurant to a ballroom-esque room. It had a glossy checkerboard floor, huge white roman columns, and chandeliers... And a pulpit. We then sat at the back of the room as he stood at the pulpit and read a 5-page discourse/testimony that completely encompassed his experience and understanding of the Gospel. Some of it was pretty ramble-y, but the Spirit in that room was so strong. I can't even explain it fully - but it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. As we went downstairs, we finished eating and the owner of the restaurant offered to give us a ride to Gracie's appointment. He then told us all of the story - Bryce had just been released from a mental hospital 2 days before, and all day he had been driving his stepmother (who worked at the restaurant) crazy. He was about to have a serious mental breakdown from all the medication he was on, and right when things looked hopeless, he saw us across the street. I now KNOW the Lord is placing us in people's path - and the Spirit is guiding us where we should go and what we should do.

Want to hear another crazy experience? We went to the Jehovah's Witnesses church on Sunday! It was also Stake Conference that day, and after it was over we decided to go see these two girls who invited us to the J.W. church. They told us that if we went to their church, they'd go to ours! So we did! And it was.. Educational. Kind of. I'm not going to lie to you guys - as soon as the meeting started and they started preaching, I just felt this.. Presence. A very negative and evil presence was in the room. All of the doctrine and teachings that were taught were so shallowly interpreted and skewed that it was almost like they couldn't be proven wrong. It was way funny though - everyone was so stunned to see the missionaries walk in and after the meeting ended they like SWARMED us and asked "What did you think? Did you learn anything? Are you coming again?" It's like they thought that one silly sermon would convert us! It's not preachers that convert. It's the Holy Ghost - and the Holy Ghost was DEFINITELY not present in that meeting. It solidified my testimony of the truthfulness of this church. I just didn't feel comfortable there. Everyone was so welcoming and so kind. But the only way I could possibly describe it is I felt a presence there that was not of God. Fun fact/Jehovah's Witness teaching for the week : "The Almighty Jehovah God decided to send Jesus Christ to the earth only because he trusted him to reveal his word. How did he trust him so much? Jehovah-God and Jesus Christ spent over one billion years sitting in an empty room talking in what is called 'the bosom position.' It signifies respect and trust." How does that even make sense?

The work is going extremely well here. At stake conference a 32 year old man who was baptized last transfer got up and bore his testimony - and it was insanely powerful. We're teaching that guy's 62 year old mother (who is a non member) for the first time tonight, and she's been going to church for months with him. After he was baptized, she was calling all of her relatives saying "My boy got BAPTIZED!" She's seen the changes he's made in his life, and she wants them in hers. So I'm way excited. We easily have another 60+ potentials who we need to get in contact with. We're still considering getting bikes - but biking makes contacting on the street that much harder. If someone rides up on a bike and starts talking to you, it's almost threatening. PLUS we have to wear helmets.. Which makes it way awkward to talk to them too. So we'll stick with walking for now - my legs and my lungs are far more conditioned now than they were when I first got here, and while I still come home at the end of the day exhausted, it doesn't bother me. I just know that we're working as hard as we possibly can, and if we're doing all that we can do, we SHOULD come home exhausted. I still love Elder Daly - I think he's my favorite companion that I've had. My work and study habits this transfer are just worlds above where they have been in the past 6 months. We're working harder than I ever have before, and I love every second of it. I also drink a TON of water because it's been pushing 90 degrees.. And even though it's not humid, you still start sweating pretty badly.. So I'll adjust. :)
I explained about biking. Walking is much preferred for street contacting. Evan's turning 15? I swear he was turning 14 o.O maybe I'm a bit behind.. Are you sure!? Tell Annie congratulations for me! I thought about that just the other day.. It's so weird! I'm glad to hear you're enjoying nursery time. I know you'll be able to benefit from lack of preparation and snack time.. Haha. How are there so many non-members? Ogden is basically the roughest part of Utah. There are a TON of non-members here. Especially the west side of our area.. It just gets more and more broken down the farther we go.

Dad - I guess (after re-reading it..) I put a lot of thought into the last letter. I hope you appreciated it - I guess the more I go back and look at my journal entries and letters home, the transformation thus far has been so gradual that I haven't noticed.. But it's real. I have felt differently and closer to Heavenly Father these past 6 months than any other time in my life. It also amazes me how much the Spirit accelerates comprehension of Gospel principles and teaching skills. I still need to get around to burning off those talk tapes onto a cd.. Sorry about that. I'm getting there - we've just been so busy doing .. well everything else. Best of luck at girl's camp.

I love you guys. I love it here in Mount Lewis. Keep praying for me - I need all the help I can get :)

"Pray as if everything depended on the Lord... And work as if everything depended on you!"

- Elder Tyler Grant :)