Monday, December 22, 2008

A Burning in the Bosom (and the oven)

Dear Family,
Well, this week has finally arrived!! I've been waiting so long, and now I will get to talk with you this Thursday!! The bishop is having us over for breakfast, they are planning on making a TON of food for us! Which is very important of course, but not quite as important as talking to your family. I believe that we will be making our calls from there, so you will hear from me sometime between 8 and 11:30-ish, I'm guessing. Oh, and that's Utah time by the way, in case you were wondering. Thanks a ton for the package you sent last week, I really loved everything that was in there. Thanks for those pictures and drawings too, and I don't mind having older photos....as long as I have photos that's all right with me! Those Ensigns are great to have as well, I'm guessing those are for investigators. Speaking of which, we have 3 who are scheduled to be baptized at the beginning of next month. Bernard Taylor and his fiance(they are living apart) Bridget will be baptized on January 3rd. Joey Riddle is scheduled to be baptized the following Saturday, so we are working hard to make sure they are completely ready when that day comes. Oh by the way, I'm in a 3-some here in Hamilton now. Elder Smith, who covered the east side of Hamilton with Elder Durling, was emergency transferred to a new area. So now Elder Durling is with us, and we now cover ALL of Hamilton, so that means more people to teach and more people to visit!! Elder Durling has been in Hamilton as long as I have, so we get along REALLY well! We've had plenty of laughs since he joined us on Friday, which you can imagine I'm very pleased with. President Robbins gave us some ideas for sharing the Christmas spirit with others, and we've given a couple of them a try. One was caroling, which we've done a little bit of and hopefully we will do more this week. The other one we experimented with was baking cookies for investigators and member families. All I can say is that the cookies didn't taste very good, because we burnt them all! You can't give those to people, so we have burnt cookies all over the apartment! Ah, the life of a missionary! It was kind of weird to see my name in the monthly newsletter, but was also cool at the same time! They need to update Elder Wilbur's information, I'm pretty sure he isn't in the MTC right now. Well, did Cal have a good 7th birthday? Of course I wanted to be there, but I'm sure he had a fun time anyway! I wish there was something that I could've sent to him, but I did send him and Ellie some candy and fruit snacks a few weeks ago. Oh and speaking of fruit snacks, Uncle Kent and Aunt Carol sent me a box of Treetops along with some drawings from the kids. THAT was pretty cool and funny at the same time to get that. A big thanks to them for it! Also, give my love and appreciation to the following for their letters, cards, or packages: The Rowley's, The Brownings, The Johnson's, The Farriers, The Heaton's, The Pulsipher's, and The Simpson's. I hope I didn't leave anyone out, but thank EVERYONE fot their love, support, and prayers on my behalf. It is, as always, very wonderful and satisfying to know that so many people are right there for me all the time. It's also great to have that knowledge that the Prophet and the Twelve, and really anyone at the temple is praying for me. Most importantly, it is the greatest blessing to know that our Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers and that He and His Beloved Son are ALWAYS there for us, and that if we but look to them for anything, the Holy Ghost will show us the way to go. I wish a very Merry Christmas to each and every one of you this season, and also to remember why we celebrate at this time of year. May the knowledge of the Savior's birth burn within us ALWAYS, that we may never forget the author of our salvation! May God Bless You All!!!!
Love,
Elder Isaac Livingston

Monday, December 15, 2008

"and mine angels round about you"

We are grateful for the Lord's ability to protect His servants, as you'll read below:

Dear Family,

Talk about an absolutely crazy week!! At least things are still going well out here, but man was there a lot of stuff that went on. Zone Conference was on Tuesday, and it was really good! The best part was when Sis. Robbins called each of us up individually and handed us these big, thick envelopes. I honestly had no idea what was in there, but I opened it up and WALLAH!! There was a bunch of mail from you!! I was so excited to read those, it made my day! I enjoyed the thoughts, feelings, and stories you had to share which I will always remember. So that was an overall good day, because Wednesday brought with it a very scary ordeal.

I don't know if the mission office told you or not, but I was involved in a car accident on Wednesday night. I was on an exchange in Hamilton with Elder Scholes, who serves up in Oxford on the Miami University campus, and we were returning to our apartment for some dinner when it happened. I wasn't driving or anything, but it still shook both of us up a little bit. Thankfully, no one in either car was hurt, but Elder Scholes was at fault because he made a left-hand turn in a lane where you can't do it. The road system out here is WAY different than what both of us are used to (he's from Idaho), but it didn't make any difference of course. The left side of our car was pretty much totaled, but luckily the car that hit us didn't fully smash into the driver's side door, it was only damaged to the point where you couldn't open it. Like I said, no one was hurt at all, and I'm so thankful that the Lord continues to watch over us....even when we're in a car accident.

So that was pretty crazy, but on the plus side we got a new investigator that day so it wasn't all bad. In fact, we have 3 new investigators now in addition to the 4 that we are currently teaching. It isn't all shiny and golden though, as we have decided to push Joey Riddle's baptism back to January 10th. He was going to get baptized this Saturday, but we have too much to teach him and too little time, plus his schedule is pretty crazy. We will be meeting with him this Thursday, and quite possibly his grandparents as well. Joey's family is Catholic, but his grandparents are not very happy with what the Catholic Church is doing, so they've decided to take the discussions from us. So that was pretty cool to find out, and I'm sure Joey will be a big help to us since we've been teaching him for over a month now. In other exciting news, Bernard Taylor is scheduled to be baptized on January 3rd, and he is definitely ready for that. If I could, I'd have him get baptized THIS week, because he's been taught almost everything and is very prepared to make these changes. We are going to review all of the stuff with him, though, and make sure he understands it all. We are reading out of the Book of Mormon with him from the beginning, and he is fascinated by the fact that Lehi and Nephi saw the Savior 600 or so years before He was born! I thought it was good timing in sharing that story with him, since this is the season of the year where we celebrate the birth of Christ. We're having FHE with him and a member family tonight, I think Bernard is really excited for that! So to sum it all up, this was yet another very productive week for our area.

Looks like winter has hit both of us, but then again, all the snow we got last week is gone! It does get pretty cold, though, especially at night!

Also thank everyone that sent those letters, I'll try and respond to them as soon as I can. Especially thank Uncle Michael for those CD's, I absolutely love them!! Your thoughts and prayers on my behalf have made every moment so much better, and I hope mine have for you as well. I am confident it will continue. Hope this week is a good one for all of you, and it's my prayer that each of us will find ways to share the one-of-a-kind message of the Savior's birth with anyone we see.....'cause you never know who the Lord will prepare! Best wishes to you all!

Love,

Elder Isaac Livingston

Monday, December 8, 2008

The fruits of work

Isaac was blessed to stay in Hamilton for at least another transfer (meaning until the middle of January.) Here is the latest from him:

Dear Family,

Sounds like you had a very good reunion, and of course I wish I could've been there. That's all right, though, because we are all being blessed as Britney and I are on the Lord's errand. So, winter has officially hit Ohio!! We got a decent amount of snow, and the overnight temperatures combined with some freezing rain make for driving on a virtual ice rink! All's well so far, no accidents to report. I know that the Lord is watching over and guiding us in His work. This was a fairly good week, not as good as we've had but you can't have 10+ lessons every week!

Elder Ficklin and I are putting our ideas together to bring about more success in this area. 4 of our investigators are progressing, and we have a very good possibility of seeing 3 of them get baptized later this month (if all goes well)! We also could have 4 new investigators AT LEAST this week, so it's shaping up to be another good one! We were also able to attend the Ward Christmas Party on Saturday night, and that was a lot of fun, especially when 2 of your investigators are there! We had a great fast and testimony meeting the next day, and a lot of things are really starting to fall into place. By that I mean that we are getting more appointments with members, less-actives and investigators are coming to Church, and we're able to speak with a lot of people and get to know them better.

I've got a great story to tell about one of our investigators, Jodi Goins. Her son Wayne is a member who we work with quite regularly, and he is working on eventually going on a mission. He was in the military for a couple of years, during which time he joined the Church, received the Melchizedek Priesthood, and also got his patriarchal blessing. However, he became less-active shortly after that and lost his way in life, so to speak. We first met him at October conference, which was when he told us all of that stuff. At the end of last month, he invited us to start teaching his mom the lessons, which of course we consented to do right away. We left her with a Restoration pamphlet and DVD, both of which she just loved! She told us during the first lesson that she just always knew there was something more than the Bible. At the end, she turned to Wayne and told him to baptize her! She's been doing well since then, and we plan on teaching her the second half of lesson 2 today as well as the Word of Wisdom. The coolest part, however, is this. She works full-time as the baker at Wal-Mart and is unable to get Sunday's off. Wouldn't you know it, there I am standing in the foyer greeting people, and in walks Jodi! She told us that she called in "sick" for the sole purpose that she could attend Church! Now if that's not someone who's prepared, then I don't know what else it could be! I absolutely marvel at the way Heavenly Father prepares people to accept the gospel, and it's really fun to see the different ways the He does it.

A fitting conclusion to the week was the First Presidency Christmas Devotional last night, which I thoroughly enjoyed! I love and sustain them, the Twelve, and all the General Authorities who work hard to build up the Kingdom of God on the earth. So like I said earlier, this is promising to be another good week, starting with Preparation Day today of course. A member is going to have us try SQUIRREL later today, that should be rather interesting.

Tomorrow is Zone Conference, which is probably my favorite because of all the missionaries I get to see, as well as President Robbins. Well, I don't know if there's anything else to add, so I guess I'll be signing off for another week! May God's choicest blessings be given to all of you!!