Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Great is the Lord, and marvelous are His ways

I don't know what's so special about the day AFTER July 4th here in Cincinnati, but we were rudely greeted yesterday by a sign at the library reading, "CLOSED MONDAY, JULY 5TH!" Oh, the nerve!! It's not the first time on my mission that the library has been closed on preparation day, but I'm pretty confident it will be the last. So anyway, I'm sitting here at a computer at the downtown library on this clear but VERY warm Tuesday morning. It's been amazing that my clothes have held up under this abuse known as humidity, but one pair of my shoes took a definite beating thanks to the roads down in Hazard. I plan on bringing them home just to show them off, then straight to the garbage. I know, I'm weird aren't I? 

Since I got on the subject of clothes, I'll make a point of mentioning that Bro. Blackwelder Sr., a member of the ward, has offered to pay for my clothes to be dry cleaned before I come home, so that takes care of that expense. He came with us yesterday to visit Jeff Even and also Shawntae, two appointments that actually weren't scheduled, but resulted from others that had fallen through. We were VERY grateful, as were Jeff and Shawntae, for his testimony and input throughout the lessons. We really didn't do a whole lot of talking, which is fine since they have heard more than enough from us. Both of them are struggling with quitting smoking, but Shawntae has a firm commitment to stop by the 9th of this month so that she can be baptized with her oldest kids on the 31st. And lately, Jeff has been reading and praying more earnestly about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith, something that he really hadn't done in the past. This was only because he felt that God wouldn't answer his prayers since his wife died many years ago and he had prayed for the Lord to heal her, and his faith was pretty much destroyed. We have been making a concerted effort to help him build it back up, and he's been attending Church regularly for over a month and seems more and more willing to do his best. It's very interesting watching how the people you teach change the longer you are around them. 

Thanks to the Lord's tender mercies, I have had the privilege of observing this many times in each area I have been in, which thankfully also has been for long periods of time. It certainly takes a great deal of patience when working with these children of God, not only the investigators but members as well. However, when impatience and frustration is trying to set in, I am reminded of the words of my patriarchal blessing regarding my mission and the specific need to love the people and patient with them. What a promise, and my how the Lord has rewarded me for it! There is, of course, still room for improvement, but I've learned very quickly in the mission field that God will reward us for being FAITHFUL in all things, and not necessarily SUCCESSFUL. I love the promise in Preach My Gospel that says our success as missionaries is measured by our commitment level, and that is definitely true not just for full-time missionaries, but also member-missionaries and even investigators as well. It is an eternal truth that whatever we are commited to, we will be successful at. It may not be immediately, but it will come as we remain faithful and press forward. 

We had a wonderful meeting with Pres. and Sis. Jensen this past Wednesday, and among the many things I learned from them, perhaps the most exciting was learning that I will in fact get to spend my last day in the mission field, August 5th, at the Columbus Ohio Temple!! There will be 18 missionaries in my group going home a month from now, and it's so many that Pres. Jensen had to contact the temple president and reserve temple clothes for our particular group. After our session, we will visit with Pres. and Sis. Jensen in the matron's room, during which time we are free to discuss any gospel topics for as long as we would like!! I am incredibly excited for this opportunity, as it is something I have been missing out on for the past two years. My interview with Pres. Jensen was likewise memorable, and it was very evident that he has the gift of discernment. I think I'll wait to share with you what he told me for when I get back. It was amazing, espeically considering we had never met before! He designs ties for a living, so I'm wondering if it's a tradition to give departing missionaries a tie, 'cause that would be sweet! 

My last Zone Conference will be held a week from today, at which time I suspect I will have to share my testimony with all three Cincinnati zones. In regards to shipping things home, most likely I will be sending books since they are usually the heaviest thing we carry around. I may even send all my letters home as well in order to clear some extra space in my suitcases. And any food I have left (don't worry, it's still good) will be eaten by myself and Elder Kirk and probably Shawntae's kids since there are 7 of them! I will be giving my bike to the mission since it is almost in virtually mint condition, owing to the fact that I've been spoiled with car areas the entire time.....until now, that is; but we use the bus ALL the time, so my bike will certainly be a welcome gift to whatever missionary gets it. 

Well, other than all that, there isn't much new to report on. We are concentrating our efforts right now on having more members come teach with us as well as teaching them, and especially in getting rides to Church better coordinated on a weekly basis. Some have already responded to our requests, and things this week are already looking better than they did last week by far! Members truly make all the difference in the world, and it's one of my hopes to live up to what Pres. Robbins told me one time: "If you keep the same spirit at home that you have enjoyed here, then you will be a better member-missionary than you were a full-time missionary." That remains to be seen, but boy am I excited to see that fulfilled. 

Oh, and before I forget, there was one last thing I wanted to ask. Could you make sure and invite(if you already haven't) Pres. and Sis. Robbins to my homecoming talk, as well as Coach Meacham, Larry and Denise, and anyone else you can think of. Perhaps you've already invited them all, but I thought this would be as good a time as any to bring it up. Also if you could invite the following former companions of mine: Nathan Hall, Luke Allred, Chad Durling, Jared Lundquist, Zach Janiec, Ryan Remington, and Fred Bittner. A few of them don't live in Utah, but they could be there or at BYU-I for school. I imagine you could find all of them on Facebook, but if you would like I can get you their addresses next week. It's up to you, but if you could do that it would be really great. Well, I think that's about all I've got to say for this week! 

Sounds like you had an enjoyable Fourth of July (or 3rd), as did we. It was nice to reflect on the reasons why we celebrate this holiday, and we owe it all to the hand of the Lord. Without it, we wouldn't enjoy the fulness of the gospel, since such a land of liberty was needed for the Lord to restore His Church in its fulness. What a wonderful thing to know that the Lord sees the big picture and that we, as we seek for it righteously, can know what it is too. Have a great week!

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