Monday, November 17, 2008

A mighty change of heart

We think this is from our son, but a new and even better version!

Dearest Family,

It is currently about 35 degrees and lightly snowing! I can imagine you have snow out there by now, but I hope that the worst of it doesn't get out here. Oh well, I can't control that. I really haven't been paying attention to the weather out here, because we've taught so many lessons lately that I'm so warm inside that I don't even feel the cold. Here's just a brief recap, and believe me, it will have to be brief because there's so much I could talk about.

Current # of Investigators: 10 (Linda, Joey, Bernard, LaNashia, Anthony, Debbie, Eddie, Jeff, Aaron, and Glen.)

Progressing Investigators: 5 (Linda, Joey, Bernard, LaNashia, and Debbie.)

Investigators w/Baptismal Dates: 2 (Joey and Debbie)

Lessons Taught Just This Week: 11

So, as you can no doubt see, the Lord is abundantly pouring out blessings upon this area. I am continuing to pray for direction and am exercising my faith daily, and these are the results. We have also had some success with retaining less-actives, and a couple of them have now been given callings within the ward. We have a solid list of members that we are looking to keep bringing with us to appointments, and it's been a great asset thus far. I plan on continuing to work harder and see even more people accept our message and have a desire to learn more. We've also been planning our lessons using almost nothing but scriptures, especially from the Book of Mormon. The results have been unbelievable and our schedule is such that we have lessons we are teaching pretty much every day. So that's basically a "brief" summary of what's going on out here in Hamilton these days.

I've been somewhat surprised at how many people have been willing to listen to us, and I'm confident that it will only continue so long as I exercise my faith in the Lord. Yeah, I really cannot believe that it is nearly December, my how the time just flies by! We are planning on spending Thanksgiving at a less-active's home who apparently is quite famous for feeding missionaries, especially during the holiday's. I'm really looking forward to that. We have already booked a place for Christmas as well (assuming I'm still in Hamilton) at the bishop's home!

Heck, a lot of people around here have already put their Christmas decorations out, and Main Street is lined with wreaths on all the street lights! Poor Thanksgiving, it seems to be the forgotten holiday to a lot of people, but I know that we have A LOT to be thankful for.

I have my monthly interview with Pres. Robbins tomorrow, and I'm looking forward to discussing our investigators with him and seeing in what ways I can improve. I wanted to thank you again for that little study guide that you gave me, it has really helped me have good, effective personal studies daily. I am also teaching about scripture study during District Meeting tomorrow, and I have a pretty good idea of what I'm going to talk about. Wish me luck!

Also, I have accepted the challenge from Mom to give away a Book of Mormon before Thanksgiving, so I'll let you know when that happens. As always, I can't say enough about how much I love and miss each of you and how often I pray on everyone's behalf every single day. I know that the Lord is pouring out blessings upon you as well, and as we approach Christmas, what a wonderful opportunity it will be to let people know who the center of our lives is. May you continue to stay strong in the Church and thank Him for all things, and I will strive to do the same!

Love Always,

Elder Isaac Livingston

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Conversion Process

Dear Family,
….some FANTASTIC news!! We have 3 people who have committed to baptism, and a good chance of at least 1 more this week!!!! It will be a little while before they are actually baptized, but all we have to do is set a date with each one and we're all set. The first one is an 18-year-old kid named Joey Riddle. He's a real nice guy, but he's really quiet so you have to ask him a lot of questions. He is being fellowshipped by a family in our ward whom he spends a lot of time with. We're going to sit down just with him this week and see how prepared he is. The second one is Bernard Taylor, 29, who the other Hamilton elders saw walking on the sidewalk while they were out and about. It has been nothing short of a miracle. He lives in our area, and we were able to teach him 3 days in a row this past week. From our first appointment with him, he made it clear that he has been trying to do what's right in life and find answers to questions that have been bothering him for a while. We cannot believe how prepared he is to make these changes in his life, and you can hear the sincerity in his voice. He actually cried during our first lesson, and expressed to us that this is exactly what he's been looking for. He had no idea that God had a plan just for him, and is very impressed by the Book of Mormon. We left him a DVD copy of "The Restoration" and he watched it as soon as we left. He told us that he was really surprised that Joseph Smith had the same questions as he does. We didn't even have to extend a baptismal commitment to him, as he asked us straight up what he needs to do in order to get baptized. He also told us that he really needs to find a job so that he can pay the rent for his place and also get his divorce papers finalized. He has another girl that he plans to marry but has to wait until those papers go through. Oh yes, and that's not all. He spotted the picture of the Mt. Timpanogos Temple on my binder and asked what it was all about. I told him, and he got real excited and said that was where he wanted to marry his wife!!!! I've been pretty much flying high this past week, and he had a lot to with that. Make sure you pray for him as well to find a job, and also to receive a spiritual confirmation that this Church is true. He believes that it is, but has yet to pray specifically for that witness. I know he will get it because he is so humble and willing to change. So, the third person that wants to be baptized is an 11-year-old named LaNashia (not sure about the spelling) who lives with her grandma who is a member that we visit every week. We had no idea that she hadn't been baptized yet, since she comes to Church on a regular basis. Anyway, she told us this was something that she wanted, so we're going to teach her the lessons twice a week starting tomorrow, and hopefully set a date around the beginning of December. We were also thrilled to see one of our investigators at Church yesterday for the first time. Her name is Linda Neff, and she is a very smart lady and really willing to learn. She is kind of shy, so we had to earn her trust at first, but everything is just dandy now. She was actually investigating the Church years ago, but her family convinced her to stop taking the lessons for a while. I had been here about 3 weeks when we received a call from Sis. Hobbs (a member of our ward who helps us out a lot and is fellowshipping Linda) that Linda had consented to take the lessons again. She just finished reading the Book of Mormon on her own, and as I mentioned, she was at Church yesterday for the first time. She partook of the sacrament and was reverently pondering its significance. We informed Bishop Hazelton prior to sacrament meeting that she would be there, and so when he announced the sacrament hymn and all that other stuff, he explained why we partook of the bread and water and it's significance. I know that Linda understood it, and so our plan this week is to commit her to baptism and prepare her for it around the beginning of December as well. So to sum it all up, I have been thanking the Lord every night for the success we've been having and also praying on behalf of each of our investigators. I am glad that you are willing to pray for them also; I would really love if you would do that! I really don't like asking for too much, and I know I already mentioned pictures from you guys last week.... but if there is anyone in the ward (well, both the Manila 2nd and SC 2nd) who would like to send some as well, I would love it! I've been looking for something to deck out my wall with, and I am sure that pictures would be the ideal choice. I love and pray for each of you everyday and throughout the day, and I just know everything will be great until I return. May God continue to bless each of you!!
Elder Isaac Livingston

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Learning what matters

Dear Family,

We are very close to having a baptism, and we are planning on extending a commitment this week to an 18 year old we are teaching. He says that everything we've shared with him makes perfect sense, and he is very good friends with a family in the ward who is fellowshipping him. We also have another investigator that just finished reading the Book of Mormon on her own, and we have an appointment with her next week, in which we are planning on committing her to baptism as well. Other than that, we have a handful of potential investigators that we have received through headquarters and, more importantly, from the members. Their desire to do missionary work has increased a lot, and they are putting together a calendar so that priesthood holders can go out with us to our appointments. They're also creating a dinner calendar, which should be very nice because frozen dinners get tiring after a while. Guess I was just spoiled eating prepared food most of the time back home.

So the weather for this week is supposed to be really nice, like what it's been for you all back in Utah. Then on Saturday, it's expected to drop into the 40's, and I seriously doubt it will get much higher than that for a while.

Oh, and could you please tell Cal and Ellie to quit growing so fast, sheesh!! I might just grow a beard watching them sprout like that!

Zone Conference last week was very good, and Pres. Robbins spent some time with Elder Bednar and none other than Elder Jensen! We didn't get to see them, though, but I was still excited to tell President that Elder Jensen was in our ward back home. Well, this week promises to be yet another good one. Then again, I don't think there is such a thing as a bad week in a mission, as long as you have the right attitude and bear your burdens with cheerfulness. President gave a good training about that at ZC, and I remembered that scripture you sent me in Alma 7:11-12. I wanted you to know that it has really helped me tremendously, and has kept me from feeling discouragement and doubt, and especially homesickness. Don't get me wrong, I think about you all everyday, and it has been a source of strength and motivation rather than a time for me to feel sorry for myself.

Hope that this week is filled with happy and memorable experiences for both of us, and I'm looking forward to announcing that I will have a baptism in next week's e-mail!!!!!

Sunday, November 2, 2008