Monday, February 22, 2010

Good things going on

Well, the work goes on in Hazard! With the current investigators we have, I've noticed that with one exception, all of them are currently working on quitting smoking. This has, of course, given us plenty of opportunities to improve our teaching of the Word of Wisdom. In fact, we make it a point of bringing it up every lesson and likening that particular challenge to whatever it is we might be teaching. For example, we're going to talk to Dustin tonight about the need for diligence, considering he is struggling with being completely smoke-free. Hope that example makes sense. :) Anyway, all of them have made rapid strides since we first started teaching them, and I've noticed that they smoke a lot less during those weeks that they come to Church. Hmmmm.......coincidence? Of course not! If you believe in God, you don't believe in coincidence. Speaking of Dustin, he texted us last night and informed us that he finally got a new job at France's Diner in Hazard. We've eaten there a couple times and they have pretty decent food. You can imagine we'll be visiting there a little more frequently now that Dustin will be working there. He's been praying for a job and is also waiting for his tax returns, so this is to me a definite blessing from the Lord!

We had an experience just today that shows how we must be examples of God always, even when we're wearing shorts and t-shirts. This morning when we went to the Hazard Pavilion to exercise, we met a young woman named Missie Toler, who was working at the front desk as a sub for the regular attendant, who was sick. She indicated that she's seen us come in several times and asked us what it was we did. We explained that we were missionaries from the Church and had come from Utah and Arizona, respectively, to volunteer two years of our lives to helping people come unto Christ. Well, we didn't say that exact sentence, but all those elements were involved. She then mentioned that she was currently trying to quit smoking (surprise!) and had been drug-free for about 18 months. Better yet, she told us she was interested in what we shared and gave us her address and phone number. This was yet another testament to me of what we covenanted when we were baptized. Namely, to stand as witnesses of God at ALL times and in ALL things and in ALL places. That's a pretty high percentage in my book. When we do our best to honor our end of that covenant, the Lord can then bless us, but we must fulfill our pledge first. We're trying to remember that counsel wherever we might be, and we have many promising people who have potential to be new investigators.

Our recent converts are, for the most part, doing pretty well also. We've arranged with Bro. Flinchum, our new mission leader, to meet Wednesdays at 1 P.M. at his work to coordinate our efforts. Plus, he said there would be food involved. Don't think I'm gonna turn THAT opportunity down! I've said it before, but he is going to be a real help to the member work here. A few of the members are already taking their own initiative and sharing the gospel with friends. There's just a different kind of excitement when members share the gospel, and it's something I hope to emulate upon my return home. For now, I will help them kindle that flame of testimony they have to a degree that they can feel confident in sharing this glorious message with others. They can cross boundaries that we as full-time missionaries can't, and it's something we need to try and take advantage of. Lessons just go better when you have another voice alongside you, and I know our investigators notice that. Thank you for your words concerning the need to discipline myself, it sure is helpful. Satan's influences are indeed all around us, and he is desperate for us to do anything that will cause the Holy Ghost, our "sword" in this mortal battle, to be withdrawn. I've noticed that although we are marked by Satan and others as missionaries, the same standards for moral discipline, like Elder Christofferson talked about, exist both before AND after the mission.

I recently found a small wallet-sized version of the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet and read through it. The counsel that is in there is applicable to all of God's children, but of course most of them choose not to live those standards. However, as Pres. Monson indicated back in the priesthood session of April '08 conference that we attended, if we stand alone in our morals and values, then so be it. I like something also that President J. Reuben Clark Jr. said many years ago, obviously before my time but no less applicable today:

" There is sometimes a cry among our young people for a loosening of our standards. They tell us that our standards are too high, and the Church must abate them. My brothers and sisters, my young people, the Church cannot change the laws of God. They stand immutable."

This statement is also a testimony to me that God will still be God even if we stop believing in Him, and that the Church will still be true even if choose to stop regularly participating in it. It is one thing to know that the Church is true, and it's another thing to be true to the Church. The stripling warriors in the book of Alma were of course a perfect example of this. They had testimonies of the gospel, but they also were, as the record says, "....true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted." (Alma 53:20) There's that phrase again: AT ALL TIMES. That's a very powerful statement to make, and I am still working on living it. Thankfully, the Christlike attributes section of Preach My Gospel has given me greater perspective on how to do that better, as well counsel I have received from you and many others that have had a positive influence on my life. My goal is to help those investigators and recent converts work on becoming like the Savior, for if we are trying to do that, all the other doctrines and principles of the gospel will fall into place. People will be motivated to continue to change because they HAVE been changed by the Savior. As Pres. Benson said, very simply, "When you choose to follow Christ, you choose to be changed." THIS is the key to successfully taking the gospel to all nations, kindreds, tongues,and people, and I hope and pray that the Lord will consecrate our efforts to become more like Him, and in the process, make us better able to tell the world about Him and His Church. I hope you all have another wonderful week!

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