Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Still cookin' in Kentucky!

Dear Family,
Glad to hear that you received my pictures and Christmas card. I have to apologize to John and Felicia, Shawn and Emily, and the Browning's for somehow omitting their cards!! I was quite frustrated when I found that out, but perhaps you'd be able to make copies and send to them. I guess it pays to write down addresses in a place you can find them, doesn't it? But anyway, I really enjoyed reading your blog that you posted! My goodness, talk about a series of unfortunate events! As you also stated, though, gratitude be to God for such wonderful people who took care of you. In the end, it sounds like it was a good experience!

Well, I'm thankful for the chance to serve in Hazard for at least another transfer. There is much good happening here, and we should see continued success with the Lord's help. This past week was a good end to a very busy transfer! We taught 21 lessons altogether! The Lord is also blessing us richly with some great new investigators! One of them, by the name of Emily Cornett, has actually been coming to Church for about 5 months. She is the granddaughter of the Pigman's, an older couple in the branch who are very active. The Pigman's had informed us about her several weeks ago, but also indicated that when she was ready to be taught, they would let us know. Well, this past Sunday proved to be that very day! Even better, she set her own baptismal date of January 9th, which will mark 6 months since she started coming to Church. We will start teaching her at the Pigman's home this Thursday.

As for Dustin Cornett (no relation to Emily that we know of....yet), he continues to become more and more a part of the Church! Incidentally, he also ran into my mission blog on the Internet! It was interesting to hear HIM tell ME about MY experiences that he's read about! I wonder if he's posted anything...... Anyway, Dustin's wife, Amy, has started sitting in on the lessons too. She's very quiet, but will comment and ask questions when she feels prompted. I'm not too worried about her, in large part because Dustin is a whiz when it comes to Church knowledge and has a firm conviction of its truthfulness. Sheesh, all he needs now is a calling!!

We have several people we're teaching right now, but the only hurdle keeping them from progressing is Church attendance. However, with the Lord's help as well as regular member participation, miracles can and will continue to occur here in Hazard. Our recent converts, seven in all, are also doing very well and being made to feel welcome within the Church. Joey Couch's testimony is very strong, even in these early stages!

At Church on Sunday, I was privileged to give a talk on Christmas traditions, and I shared some experiences from you and Dad that really seemed to help those listening to feel the Spirit, for which I was grateful. THEN I was asked to teach priesthood, and everything seemed to go well, which was good considering I was given only one day to prepare! Time and time again, I have been awed at how the Lord will use the unlikely to accomplish the impossible. This is His work, and NOTHING can stop it from sweeping the whole earth!

What a great time of the year to feel of the true Spirit of the season, which is centered around the Savior and His birth. I look forward with earnestness to see what gifts the Lord has for us to give to those prepared individuals and families who are seeking. I'm grateful for all the blessings that God continues to give you, as well as numerous opportunities to grow. Be assured that he is doing the same for me down here! Have a wonderful, spiritual week!

Monday, December 7, 2009

My Heart is Full & Rejoicing

Flashback to 2003
Dear Mom,
My heart is full and rejoicing! A spiritual weekend was capped off by the First Presidency Christmas Devotional, which was once again powerful and went right to the center! It doesn't seem to matter what the setting is: The Lord's anointed never fail to get their message acrossed, due in large part to their ability to teach by the Spirit. Teaching by that power has resulted in Joey Couch being able to get baptized on Saturday. A few inches of snow made the day particularly symbolic, but it didn't prevent some members from coming and showing their support. It was, as I think I mentioned before, the first time I have ever baptized someone. I was both excited and nervous, but everything went perfectly! I will get the memory card sent as soon as I can, since you haven't had new photos in a few months. Anyway, back to the baptism. Afterwards, Joey shared a great testimony, talking about how a friend of his whom he knew in college contacted him out of the blue, and from their conversations he learned that she had recently joined the Church in Oakland, CA. This occurred, he said, while he was praying about the truthfulness of this Church, and that this experience just furthered his assurance that it was what the Lord wanted him to do. A very similar thing has happened with Dustin Cornett, who, although he can't be baptized until July, has nonetheless also been heavily influenced by a member of the Church, which he says has only strengthened HIS testimony of the gospel. He's what you could call a "dry Mormon," basically a member without baptism! Dustin also was able to hear Pres. Monson speak for the first time last night, which was really looking forward to and really enjoyed the devotional overall. Joey and Dustin will be tremendous assets both to the Hazard Branch and to the Church in general. In fact, Dustin especially likes to get on internet forums and set the record straight about the Church, since there is a lot of misunderstanding and just plain nonsense out there. It's pretty crazy to hear him talk about it with us, but he has no fear telling people the truth. They are both outstanding young men who have helped me appreciate my own membership in this Church even more! I liked the idea you mentioned about sharing something with some people I've met out in the field. I will come up with a short list and send it to you with the memory card. In fact, I'll try to get that done today if I can. As for Bernard Taylor back in Hamilton, the last thing I heard was that he had gone back to Georgia where he's from. I'm REALLY hoping he got in contact with the Church and was able to get baptized. He was SO incredibly solid! I left Hamilton soon after his baptism was postponed, but I found out that he came to Church every week until he moved back to Georgia. I would love to get in contact with him somehow, but as you said, that is beyond my power. It's great to hear that everyone is doing well and is happy. I couldn't ask for anything else! Well, it's hard to believe that we're on the last week of the transfer, but we are certain the Lord will give us more success as we keep doing what we're supposed to. Look forward to hearing from you again next Tuesday, no matter where I might be. I kinda hope I stay around here for at least another transfer....but, we'll leave that up to Him. Love you all, have a great week!
Elder Isaac Livingston