Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Apostolic Inspiration

I'm not sure if I mentioned this last week, but we had a special stake meeting yesterday at which Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Twelve presided over and spoke! Not only that, but we found out at our zone conference a few days before that he would also be holding a meeting with just the missionaries from the three stakes in Cincinnati! I always thought it would be neat to have an apostle visit the mission, but I NEVER thought that it would happen while I was still here! Shows how much I know, right? So therefore I am, predictably, still on a spiritual high from yesterday. What an incredible and rare experience it was to be taught in TWO meetings by an apostle of the Lord! Thoughts and impressions were just flowing into my mind during his messages, and so of course I wrote them all down as fast as I could. I had a feeling almost like electricity when I shook his hand, and it was also neat knowing that he is originally from the same area where we now live. Neat side note, huh? At the beginning of his meeting with us, he said that he couldn't leave Ohio without stopping to see us, and at the end he said that he didn't want to leave. The love which he and the other leaders of the Church have for us was so evident and deeply touched me. No tears though, I bet you were waiting for me to say that next! He also said that he would personally pass along our love and prayers for Pres. Monson, and jokingly remarked that he would try and send Pres. Monson next time instead. :) Just having an apostle was all right with me! I recognized in his remarks some elements from the other talks he has given since he was called to the Twelve, and the Spirit impressed upon my mind that he, along with the other Brethren, are teaching us to return to a focus on the basic principles of the gospel. Not only are they the basics, but they also are the greatest and most important. I likewise enjoyed the remarks given by Elder Cook, a member of the 6th Quorum of the Seventy; and Elder Mazzagardi, a newly called member to the 2nd Quorum. I could definitely tell that the Spirit was with them in their messages as well. What a difference the Holy Ghost makes! As I have gone throughout my mission, there have been many times where I have sensed when the Spirit was working through me and when he was not. That is definitely a gift from Heavenly Father, and one I hope to continue feeling in the remaining weeks I have as well as upon my return home.

Zone Conference was also a definite highlight, but bittersweet knowing it was the last one Pres. Robbins would preside at. However, it's good knowing that he won't be too far away back home. Well, despite losing roughly two days of proselyting because of the events I have described above, I thought our week still went reasonably well. We had a few appointments that didn't hold up, but that is to be expected. I don't really get discouraged about canceled appointments or dropped investigators anymore, because my conclusion is always the same: People have their agency, and that makes all the difference in the world. As long as we faithfully do all that we can, the Lord will consecrate our efforts for our gain....whether in the short term or long term. Lately, our investigator who has been making the most progress has been Jeff Even. Ever since missionaries started teaching him, his biggest stumbling block has been regaining his faith, which he feels was lost after his wife died from a sickness he asked God to take away. It has, naturally, been very difficult for him to cope with for all of these years; lately, however, he has been much more positive and has been asking great questions. He has also attended Church for the past two weeks, and came to the special stake meeting yesterday and seemed to enjoy it. Our next stop is helping him receive a witness of the truth, and so of course that will require him to exercise a great deal more faith than he has had previously.

Michelle has been doing well for the most part, but she continues to struggle mightily with her drug addiction, which will keep her from getting baptized probably until she gets professional help. She has agreed to meet with the bishop once we can get it set up, and I'm confident that it will help her a lot. Shawntae Stone told us a few days ago that she wants to start teaching her boyfriend, Jameill Sr. so that he can get baptized as well. It was great to hear that she still has that desire, which I think has increased since Jameill Sr. got into a halfway house. The kids and her are getting back into the habit of regular prayer and study, and we have promised them that if they do it as a family every night for a week, that we will make them a cheesecake! I don't know if it will get passed me, though!

We have several other people we are teaching who have been making good progress from time to time, but the biggest thing is going to be getting them to attend Church. It makes such a big difference and sets the tone for the rest of the week. Well, that's about the easiest way I can think of to sum up this past week. Looking forward to another joyous week in the service of the Lord! I'll be sending those forms back in a few minutes once I finish with the other e-mails. So you got my travel itinerary already!? I guess I'll be getting it one of these days, but boy is that weird to think this is my last transfer, and a longer one than usual because of the consolidation. Oh well, that just means more time to work with Elder Kirk to give our best efforts to the Lord's cause here in Cincinnati! Hope you all have another great week!

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