Friday, February 20, 2009

6 Months Today and Still Loving Every Minute

Dear Family,
.... Well, here it is already the last week of the transfer. As usual, we plan to take everything good from previous weeks and mold it together into our best week thus far. To me, it's really amazing how quickly time flies by on a mission, especially when you're putting your whole heart and soul into the Lord's work. These past 6 months have been filled with many great and uplifting experiences, and very few bad ones thankfully. This past Saturday, we had a really good day planned out, and one by one all of our appointments fell through. Rather than sit and bemoan our bad luck, we prayed to the Lord to ask us what we should do, and He responded. We were blessed with 3 previously non-scheduled appointments that night, which really took us into the Sabbath on a high note. We also were asked to teach priesthood, and the lesson was "Beware the Bitter Fruits of Apostasy", chapter 27 in the Joseph Smith manual. That can be a somewhat touchy, even depressing subject to teach, especially as a missionary. It went really well, though, the priesthood brethren made a lot of insightful comments that fit perfectly with what we had planned to teach. Also, President Robbins announced this past week that missionaries are now allowed to baptize! Can't remember if I mentioned that before, but anyway, I was pretty excited to hear about that because I've always wanted to baptize someone into the Church! I hope the opportunity presents itself sometime, but the only catch is that we can't tell investigators we can baptize them, they have to just straight up ask us....hope that makes sense. Well, the weather has gradually gotten better, spring definitely can't come anytime sooner. It's been a rough winter, but the work of the Lord moves onward regardless. We'll be putting in our best efforts this week, as I mentioned earlier, and I have no doubt that the Lord will answer your prayers in my behalf, He always has. I hope everyone is doing great and that you had a great (not mushy! blech!) Valentine's Day. Sheesh, some holidays as missionaries are just weird! Somebody dropped off a couple valentines and a box of chocolates outside our door, so we were pretty excited at first. Then we turned the envelope over and read "Happy Valentine's Day Jennifer!" Well, neither of us have that first name, although Elder Lundquist's first name starts with a "J" but he declined the offer. Turned out it belonged to the person next door, it was kind of awkward to see missionaries handing out valentines. Anyway, we've got to get headed back to Wilmington, but I hope to hear from some of you throughout the week. May the Lord forever comfort and sustain you, and lead you to those who need the gospel most! Talk to you next Tuesday(and this time it really will be Tuesday)!
Elder Isaac Livingston

Thursday, February 12, 2009

By Small and Simple Things...

Dear Family,

Well, I'd have to say this was our most productive week since I've been in Wilmington. We have been working hard towards getting 20 lessons a week and were able to get 10, which is good for an area where we serve in a branch. We are, however, still optimistic that we can get 20 lessons and I am hoping this week is it. Our branch president (who is still branch mission leader) and our assistant branch mission leader are working with us to announce a plan to the members here that will help us achieve that goal of getting 20 lessons. I feel like we are on the verge of achieving a lot of success here, so we'll have to see how things play out.

Elder Lundquist and I are the right companions for each other, and at the right time. Our personalities are similar in a lot of ways, we rarely disagree about what to do during the day, and we NEVER keep information from the other person. I feel that this companionship is the best one I've been in since my first transfer because we are working hard and having fun at the same time, so things never get dull and we don't often find ourselves lacking something to do.

We were privileged on Saturday night to go over to the hospital, which is across the street from our apartment, and administer a priesthood blessing to a member from St. Louis. He is terminally ill and has been given approximately a year to live, so it was a very humbling and spiritual experience. He then told us that his stepfather is not a member and has been asking lots of questions about the Church, so at his request we gave him one of everything that we had. Hopefully his stepfather will use all those materials and begin an investigation of the Church. It's always a tremendous opportunity when I get to exercise my priesthood for the benefit of others, it makes me really excited to tell people the blessings that can be theirs if they are but willing to learn about the Church.

Elder Lundquist and I also spoke in sacrament meeting yesterday, and that was a neat experience. I spoke about temples and missionary work (two of my favorite subjects!) and how they relate to one another. I hope that some of what I said was left on the members and that their desire to share the gospel will increase dramatically. We have several appointments with members this week in which we will share lessons from PMG and set up Family Mission Plans. I'm excited to see what this area can accomplish when we unite with the members to spread the gospel message all over Clinton County. Well, that's the state of things in Wilmington right now, I feel great about this week and what the Lord has in store for us. So anyway, I hope you all have another great week, and may God be with you always!

Monday, February 2, 2009

When life hands you lemons...

Dear Family (and friends, and whoever else may read this),

Well I'll just say right off the bat that I got in ANOTHER car wreck yesterday! Thankfully, there really isn't any bad news that resulted this time. Allow me to explain: We were rear-ended by a guy who we found out was named Mel. He was driving a truck (nothing happened to it) and he looked up and couldn't see because the sun was so bright, so he tried to swerve and miss us but too late. The car is still drivable thankfully, and Mel was way nice and sorry for hitting us. We ended up having a really good conversation with him, and he asked questions and said things that every missionary-minded member is anxious to hear. I proceeded to present him with a copy of the Book of Mormon and a Restoration pamphlet with our names and number written on it. He said he would definitely read it and sounded like he would call us back when he wanted us to come and teach!!!! So in the end, it was no coincidence that he was the one who hit us. If you believe in God, you don't believe in coincidence.

That was probably the highlight of this week, other than the fact that we are continuing to teach Tommy everything. He's still on track for the 26th, we're just nailing down the last few commandments and then we will review the lessons and get ready for the big day. It's a double-dose for him since he also turns 18 on that day, so we're making sure everyone in the branch knows about it. He is also playing on a church ball team in the Cherry Grove ward that is down at the stake center in Montgomery. We went with him on Saturday to watch him play and also to fellowship him with other members in the stake. It went really well, Tommy had a great experience which I think increased his testimony in a way. All I know is that I was WAY tempted to wear basketball clothes underneath my suit but I didn't. You know how I am once I walk into a gym, I just start looking for a basketball. Thankfully, I restrained myself but today Elder Lundquist and I are going to the church building to play, so that should be fun.

A big congratulations to Tyler for that special day, I will have to write him a letter today and tell him how proud I am of him. Well, Wilmington continues to press on despite the crisis with DHL. Wilmington was on 60 Minutes two Sundays ago, and I guess Elder Lundquist was on for about 5 seconds while we were at a shelter where we help serve food to homeless and jobless people! In my interview with President Robbins, we talked about how the current state of things in Wilmington is an opportunity to share the gospel with those who are questioning a lot of things right now.

Also, we dealt with what supposedly was the worst winter storm in Ohio in 100 years this past week, and I will definitely not forget the ice that made our car look like a popsicle! I took pictures of just how thick it really is, you'll be in for a treat when you see those! The real treat, of course, remains in teaching the gospel to those who are prepared, and we have a good handful of potential investigators we plan on teaching throughout this week. President Robbins has also asked us to find short, doctrinal statements for each principle from Preach My Gospel, and I am undertaking that with enthusiasm. I noticed in flipping through it that I had already highlighted several such statements, but had not really payed a lot of attention to what I highlighted. I'm definitely not doing that now after what President Robbins asked of us.

Also, that was very exciting to hear about the new member missionary plan that will be implemented soon, I can't wait until we get to start using it!!!! We have been brainstorming several ideas on how to get the members enthused about missionary work, so I'm excited for the future, to say the least!

May the Lord continue to watch over and strengthen you all, and pray sincerely and earnestly that he will help you seek out ways to share the gospel with others of our Heavenly Father's children. Have a fantastic week, and remember that I am always praying for you!