Monday, May 25, 2015

Zone Conference, Exchanges, and Miracles

Dear Family,

I've returned this week from a FANTASTIC zone conference!!  I feel more spiritually rejuvenated now than ever, and I've been thankful to Heavenly Father in my daily prayers for what I've learned from this conference!  I know that as I heard the word of God, my determination  to share it with others increased dramatically.  Ever since Zone Conference, I have been sharing the message of the restoration with renewed faith, confidence, and vigor.  Just hearing so many testimonies has truly grown my faith, especially in the Doctrine of Christ as the one and only way to return to God, and as the path that I must encourage everyone to take.  I've realized again that this is a lot more urgent than I sometimes feel!
Oh, by the way, thank you so much for sending in those stories of my ancestors!  I had a vague idea that great grandma and grandpa had served in Raratonga, but I never knew about their adventures in leaving their farm and arriving at the island by rowboat and staying in Hawaii!  It was fascinating to hear, and one of the most fun zone conference activities I've ever participated in!  Man, I can't wait to get back into family history work when I return home.  Don't let me forget, okay?

This week, I conducted exchanges with Elder Lundahl-Wolford.  I brought him into my area while Elder Hanks worked with our District Leader, Elder Pierce in his area.    We had a great time, despite the fact that most of our appointments fell through.  We spent hours walking, busing, and walking some more, talking to people on the street, in shops, and at bus stops, trying to find new investigators.  Elder Lundahl-Wolford is very bold in proclaiming his purpose as a missionary, and to everyone he meets he extends the invitation to learn the gospel or to come to church.  He has a knack for becoming someone's best friend within seconds of meeting them, which is a characteristic I hope the Lord can help me to develop in myself, eventually!

I have seen several miracles this past week.  One of special importance to me was a lesson we had with a less-active sister with whom we've been meeting for several months.  I went into her home doubting that she even cared about the church any more.  Then, just as we were about to begin teaching her the lesson we'd prepared about baptism and enduring to the end, she shared her testimony of the Doctrine of Christ with us, and told us her plans to take her family to the temple next year!  I felt the Spirit very strongly, and Elder Hanks and I were able to testify to her, after a moment of silence, that her desire was righteous, and that the Lord will help her make a way to get to the temple, and open the hearts of her family members.  Maybe this doesn't seem miraculous, but the change in her heart is so evident, and the spiritual experience we shared together filled me with such joy that I know God's hand is over all things and at work in her life.

I've been inviting members to come to each of our lessons with investigators and recent converts.  Lately, we've been planning to have members at each lesson we teach.  So far, this desire of our hearts is mostly coming to pass.  There are just a few members here who have made themselves fully available to accompany us at any time of day, and others who are still trying to free up their schedules enough to meet with us.  I can see that the branch members in JB have a vision of the church growing stronger, and of sharing the gospel with others, for which I'm very grateful!  We missionaries, of course, are members of the Church, but serve with a different calling than the branch members we love and live among.  However, there must be a combination of members and missionaries if the church is to grow and the gospel is to be spread in the Lord's way.  I'm so thankful for all the help the branch members have given us, and I hope that we can continue to share spiritual and uplifting experiences with even more church members as together we share our testimonies with our friends and investigators, our brothers and sisters!

I love doing this work!  I love everything about it!  I also really love all of you!  I don't think I could ever express just how much I love you and how thankful I am to be a part of your family!

P.S.  I know it's been a long time, but pictures will have to wait, once again, until next week.  Have a great one!

Oh, and send my love to Brother Niederhauser, too!  I'm so sad to hear about Sister Niederhauser.  I was really looking forward to visiting the both of them as soon as I returned!


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