Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Some highs, some lows - it's all good!

My goodness, what a week this was! We taught a grand total of 22 lessons, the most I have ever had in one week! I felt great about it for a couple reasons: First, was that the Brethren have asked us to reach this on a weekly basis; and second, the quality of our lessons was very high for virtually every one. The downside to the week, though, is that Judy and Shawn will not be getting baptized this coming Saturday. This has been tearing at me ever since we had to break the news to them. The reason is that Shawn is struggling with the Word of Wisdom and will need more time to begin living it fully. Judy is definitely prepared, but naturally she would like to wait for Shawn to be ready so they can be baptized together. It's amazing how you can have everything else in place to have a spiritual experience for all who attend, and yet those who the baptism is for are one problem away from being worthy to make that covenant. I have had this happen more than once on my mission, where it comes down to pretty much a week before the baptism and it has to be postponed. I admit, it would be easy to get down and discouraged and feel like it's your fault, but I know that this is God's work, and He is ALWAYS in charge. I feel as did Alma when he faced a very difficult situation with a group of people(the Zoramites) who had strayed from the right way; and yet, he sought the ability from God to bring them to a knowledge of the truth:

"O Lord, my heart is exceedingly sorrowful; wilt thou comfort my soul in Christ. O Lord, wilt thou grant unto me that I may have strength, that I may suffer with patience these afflictions which shall come upon me, because of the iniquity of this people." (Alma 31:31)

Missions are extremely challenging, and as I've gone through the months I've recognized that the sorrow I've felt has not been for me, but for the people around me. I want more than anything for them to know and understand the truth....but THEY have to want it for themselves. In fact, I'd say the only negative about having a car is driving past countless numbers of people and realizing they need the gospel as much as the next person! This current challenge with Judy and Shawn is just another one of the Lord's tests to see if I will continue to persevere and help prepare them for the time when they can make those covenants, and more importantly, understand the significance of them. In times like these, all I can really say is, "Onward, ever onward!"

First off, Christina Coleman's baptism went great! This was the first time she had ever been underwater, and I could tell she was a little nervous. Everything went perfect, we got her all the way under the first time. It was especially great to have Bro. Coleman worthy to perform the baptism. When I first got here, he was struggling with the Word of Wisdom and only coming to Church every now and then. However, with the help of Pres. Anderson (first counselor in the stake presidency and a member of the Wilmington Branch) and our efforts to reach out and serve, he has done a virtual 180. He's even accompanied us to a few appointments and taught and testified very well. THAT'S what missions are really all about: Seeing people make significant changes in their lives, which brings greater happiness. You don't have to be an investigator to change. All of us need to become who the Savior wants us to become, and it's a lifelong process but one that is definitely worth it.

Now the second item, which I believe was about my companions. Elder Remington heads back to Montana in just over a week, and he's excited but also sad to be leaving. He's really looking forward to jumping back on his racing bike, which his brother has been working on since he left. Anything with wheels, Elder Remington is on it! Elder Parker is way into trucks, and he has a great sense of humor that is much needed in missionary work. He isn't afraid of trying anything, and I suppose that could be both good and bad depending on what results. :) Nonetheless, I've really enjoyed serving with these two and can hardly believe that another transfer is almost over. Once again, I have no idea if I'll be leaving or not. The odds are good considering I've been here 9 months, but if the Lord still needs me here, I will be more than happy to stay.

Well, the work in Wilmington continues to go ahead despite the constant challenges we're up against. But, just like Mom pointed out a couple weeks ago: NOTHING WORTH HAVING IS FREE! I am thankful for your constant prayers and letters you send, it is probably the greatest thing I could ask for right now. I know without a doubt that I am NEVER alone in this work, so there is no reason to become discouraged. Things will work out, they always do.

Anyway, have another great week, and I'll look forward to e-mailing you again next Tuesday, wherever I am!

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