Monday, June 15, 2009

The Parable of the Sower

Dear Family,
I have learned a great deal about adversity and hard times these past few weeks as I have struggled to see the fruits of my labors. The counsel you each have imparted to me has brought me great inner strength and peace. I know the Lord is pleased with the work I'm doing because He is blessing you in every way, as evidenced by your weekly letters!! Nothing could bring me greater happiness and motivation to know that those I love are happy. It's very difficult, as Dad said, to see someone you care about choose not to make those decisions that will bring them lasting happiness....but you have to move forward with an inner conviction that it's the Lord's will. All I can really do is trust in Him and do what He has asked through His prophets, apostles, parents, and leaders. I was studying my notes from Bro. Watson's Zone Conference training this morning, and one thing I'd written was that everything in chapter's 10 and 11 of PMG must be done in every lesson. So I've started going through each point in detail and outlining the criteria for each lesson. This will definitely give us a better idea of how to help investigators understand just how important the gospel really is. It's not simply about seeing people baptized, but rather our vision for each person should gaze to the temple, where sacred ordinances help us qualify for the celestial kingdom. We struggled this past week to find the elect, but once again the problem rests with ourselves. We haven't been inviting everyone we teach and contact to be baptized, so of course we're not seeing baptisms yet! My goodness, the scriptures and PMG are so clear and obvious!! The apostles and prophets don't beat around the bush, so why should we? If people aren't ready to take the next step, then we can't keep going over and prodding them until they do. We can, however, pray that they WILL keep commitments and see the eternal importance of our message. My goal starting today is to state our purpose clearly to everyone we come in contact with. This will no doubt help us to recognize, by the Spirit, those who are ready and waiting for our message. I know this is the Lord's work, and it is to be done His way and on His timetable. I really enjoyed the Banana Split Festival last Saturday, it was a lot of fun. They had us taking people's orders, so we were in the perfect place to allow people to talk with us and see us with our name tags. There's a lot we all can do as members to improve the image of the Church, and it begins by giving people a good first impression. I'd say we did pretty well at that, hopefully it gets people interested in talking with us in the future. I'm excited to be able to attend the Mormon Tabernacle Choir concert this Thursday, and we have a few investigators who will be going as well! I just know this is going to open doors for the work in Cincinnati! It is unfathomable to think that nearly a year has passed since I began my mission, and it's likely that the second year will be even faster! I guess I ought to make the most of it, it's gonna be gone in the blink of an eye. I do still need Shawn and Emily's address, and also say thank you to Kent and Carol for their letter last week. It's fun to know that I will get mail from them at the beginning of each month. It's even crazier how many cousins are joining the family, holy cow! Also, say hi to the Madsen's for me! I was thinking about them this past week, so hopefully I can find some time to write a letter congratulating Kaleb on his Eagle. And it sounds like we finally have a backyard as well, after all that mowing and shoveling and weeding. I'll be excited to see what it looks like and to help out once I get back. The branch has a pretty good garden sprouting up behind the Church, we've been helping them work on it. I suppose you could liken it to the Parable of the Sower, in that some plants will grow faster than others, and some won't even grow at all. In order for it to blossom, it takes steady, consistent effort. Now from a missionary perspective, the seeds are people, we're the ones tending it, and God decides how fast each one grows. The goal is to nurture each person with the help of members so that their testimonies become firmly entrenched in the gospel, then sit back and patiently watch the Lord mold them into the person He wants them to become. Hopefully that makes sense to everyone, but I thought it was a fitting example for the way things are right now. Well, Dad already shared that scripture from 1 Corinthians, so he beat me to it. :) I pray that the Lord will continue to pour out His choicest blessings upon you, and that He will also give you opportunities to teach others the eternal truths we all cherish.
Elder Isaac Livingston

1 comment:

shawn rowley said...

i think you arte doing great ike! i wish i could be out there too.