Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Monday, January 26, 2009

The power of pure testimony

Dear family,

Last week went pretty well, we were able to teach some solid lessons and are continuing to help Tommy progress. He should be ready for his baptism on the 26th (one month away!) of February, and so our focus is on making sure he reads from the Book of Mormon daily. Well, Elder Lundquist and I had the privilege of blessing the sacrament yesterday, always a very special and sacred experience. It was another sign to me of how different it is going from ward to branch, but also something that I will embrace because I really believe we are on the verge of great things in Wilmington. The branch has 3 full-time missionaries serving right now, and a fourth just got his call to the Utah Provo Mission, speaking Spanish.

Despite frigid temperatures, and another big storm is on it's way here, the work continues to move forward uninterrupted! Perhaps you've had a glimpse of what my area is like, and I'll just say that it is huge! We cover ALL of Clinton County, which has several small little towns which we are currently "thrashing" one at a time, you might say. A large portion of the people we talk to are very nice to us, but it's still hard when they tell you that they belong to a church that they are happy with. Pretty much all we can do at that point is bear our testimony and invite them to order a copy of the Book of Mormon. As it says right in Preach My Gospel, "The Book of Mormon, combined with the Spirit, is your most powerful resource in conversion." Clearly, bearing testimony of the gospel and of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon is the best way we can open people's hearts to our message.

We had an experience with that just the other day when we were tracting a little trailer park. We started talking to this guy named Howard who went to a Pentecostal church in one of the small towns (New Vienna, I think) and said he was happy there. I started bearing testimony of the Book of Mormon and how it's intent is not to take away from our faith in Jesus Christ or the Bible, but rather to give them more knowledge and more faith in Him....really to give us more EVERYTHING! Well, good things of course. I then asked him if he felt that it would something worth studying, and his whole mood changed and he said he'd be happy to read it. We presented him with a copy and made a return appointment for this coming Saturday. It was simple, I just shared my testimony....but that was enough for him to open his heart and change his mind. We have several potential investigators, all of whom we have given a Book of Mormon and set return visits with. I'm earnestly hoping and praying that they will become new investigators and start on the road that leads to eternal life.

I could think of nothing better for Kenz than presenting a Book of Mormon with her testimony written inside to her friend. It's clear that she likes a lot of things about the Church and is curious to know more, and if she reads and prays about the Book of Mormon then I know that she'll act on whatever prompting she receives. In reading Kenz's e-mail it's great to see that she is planning on doing just that, and I'll be praying that she receives a witness that it's true. Also, our goal with the members is to set up Family Mission Plans and invite them to prayerfully set a date that they can find somebody by for us to come teach. We feel that a good way to increase members' excitement to do missionary work, and also to decrease fear is to give them copies of the Book of Mormon to give away with their testimonies written inside; AND making sure that EVERY members' home has a Preach My Gospel manual, so I was excited to read that information from Elder Neuenschwander, I think it will help.

We have to remember that the cover of that book also says above Preach My Gospel that it's a guide to missionary service. Not just full-time missionary service, but ANY missionary service. If members aren't sure how to do missionary work, the first step is to get a copy of Preach My Gospel and STUDY it, not just read it. I'm thankful that you introduced it to me early on, and that my understanding of how important it is has not wavered.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


This just in! Elder Livingston has been transferred to Wilmington, Ohio, population 12,000 (12,001 if you count the new missionary!) Here's a link to some info about his new area. More to come.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Why it's called work

Dear Family,

This was a good week, but a tough one. It almost kills me to be writing this, but Bernard did not get baptized this past Saturday. We knew that he had a felony on his record, which was from several years ago but still required that he be interviewed by President Robbins. It was discovered that he is still on probation for some unpaid fines, and will not be eligible for baptism until April. I was almost as crushed by the news as Bernard, but I was determined not to let it hold me back.

President Robbins went out of his way to take Bernard to the government building in downtown Hamilton to get some paperwork so that he can find some kind of job (he's been unemployed since August), and then took him out to lunch and then back home. Bernard was going through a really hard time, his relationship with his fiance was almost finished and of course he isn't working right now. We went by to see him after President Robbins had dropped him off, and he was feeling 100 times better and that he wanted to patch things up with his fiance. He told us that his only family right now is the Church, and he will do whatever it takes to stay on track for baptism. He even told me that he's been thinking hard about moving out to Utah instead of going down to Florida. That would be cool if that happens! So he is still doing well despite the setback, and we continue to see him on a daily basis.

I've mentioned previously that Joey Riddle's baptism was scheduled for this Saturday, but he told us a couple days ago that he doesn't quite feel ready yet. He is a very quiet kid, but a great kid nonetheless. That's hard, though, because we aren't sure what his needs are and we want to find out so we can proceed with his baptism. He doesn't know the other two elders very well, so the Ruiz family (his fellowshippers, and he is dating one of their daughters) has asked me to sit down with him one-on-one and get to know him and find out what he needs help with. I have been praying for guidance and inspiration to know what I can do to best help Joey; the Ruiz's believe that he will only open up to me, so it's a pretty big test for me but I am up to it.

I am confident you already pray for me and for my investigators, but maybe pray today and tomorrow for me and for him since we're seeing him at the Ruiz home tomorrow night. It was really hard to come so close to my first couple of baptisms, only to see them fall through for the time being. I was feeling pretty low when we went to Church, but the fast and testimony meeting brought much needed strength and resolve to push forward no matter what. Our investigators are still doing very well, they are all on track to be baptized before too long, we will be reviewing the first 3 lessons with most of them this week.

You are perhaps aware that one of my favorite set of verses in the scriptures is D&C 121:7-9 when the Prophet Joseph is pleading to the Lord to deliver the Saints from their trials and persecutions, and the Lord responds with words of comfort and peace. I read through that again during sacrament meeting on Sunday and it helped me tremendously. Once again, that knowledge that so many people are praying on my behalf sets me on fire with enthusiasm for this work!

Today should be a really good P-day, we are having a big basketball game at the Church, almost all of the zone is coming down so that should be cool!

Thanks a million for your love, support, prayers, guidance, and everything else that you so willingly give me while I serve the Lord here in Hamilton. This is the last week of the transfer, so hopefully I will be able to talk with you again on Tuesday, but as always, I have no way of knowing where I will be a week from now.

I remain comforted and at peace that I will be wherever the Lord wants me to, and that makes missionary work a lot easier and a lot more rewarding. Hope you all have a fantastic week!! May God bless you everyday!!


Elder Isaac Livingston