Oh what a great start to this week I had yesterday! Since it was Mother’s Day, I got to Skype my family back home and that was such a great time. It was only 1 hour, but that hour reminded me what a wonderful family I have! True, they are all a bit strange and a bit crazy, but I love them so much.
Talking with them has reminded me just why families are so very important, but I will get to that in a second. But first, another miracle! So, on Friday, Elder DiPeri and I were rushing to a home of someone that we wanted to try and see before the end of the day. As we did so we passed a home numbered 200. For some reason, I instantly received an impression that we should stop and knock that specific door. Just like last week, it was very clear and distinct. So, without fighting the thought, we stopped and knocked. A man opened and told us he knew who we were, but that he couldn’t let us in because he was going through some serious family issues at the moment. He told us that some certain “demons” were attacking his family. Elder DiPeri explained that that was precisely why we were there. He didn’t understand though, and went to close the door. Before he shut it, I told him that I knew for certain that God wanted us there at that moment. The door stopped. He opened it, and said, “come in.”
We went in and spoke with Daniel and got to know him and his family. They are going through a really tough time and he didn’t seem to understand why his family was having such issues. We told him the obvious, that Satan (the Devil) is attacking families in these days. He then asked why Satan would do such a thing. Now think back to how I said my family makes me feel. They make me feel, in short, happy. God has given us families to have that happiness and Satan knows that. So he will do everything he can to destroy those bonds from which happiness come. That is reason number 1 why Satan attacks families. Reason number 2, is simply because he (Satan) knows that these bonds are intended to extended beyond this life (Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:3-6). For these reasons, Satan will do everything he can to cause disruption, anger, and violence in families. To combat this, we must know where those negative emotions come from, and then turn away from them! It’s just that easy. But sometimes it is easier said than done. To turn away from them, two principles must be applied. First, forgiveness. When was the last time you forgave someone who wronged you? And second, the Atonement of Jesus Christ. If you do these things, your family relationships will increase and you will be happier.
I love you.
This has been possibly the strangest week in my entire mission. But before I get into that, I just want to talk about how shocked I am that time is going by so fast. Today is my 9 month mark as a missionary. It seems like just a month or two ago I got here. It doesn’t make sense to me. But as I look at the changes in myself, I can not believe that it has only been 9 months. I feel like I have learned more, grown more, and changed more in these 9 months than the past 9 years of my life before my mission. Its a wonderful feeling to have and I am grateful to be here learning and growing in the way that I am.
Now for the strange things that have happened this week. Miracle number 1. On Friday, Elder DiPeri and I had quite a busy day and found ourselves out our flat at 8:50 pm. 9 pm is the time we usually need to be in and so we decided we would stay out for 10 more minutes to speak with as many people as we could. The first person to walk by was a man in his 30s. We said hello to him and instantly he let out a flurry of words that I will never repeat. We just looked at him and asked politely as possible why he was so angry. He didn’t respond, but walked away. Then after about 15 meters, he stopped and turned back at us. He walked straight towards me and without saying anything took a wild and angry swing. No, he didn’t hit me and no, I didn’t hit him. He didn’t stop trying though. But I was so confused at what was happening. To make a long story short, no one was hurt and no one was hit. The reason why I bring this up. This same thing happened to me about 2 months in my mission (7 months ago) and I was so very angry at the man! Then I was not hit and I did not hit him, but back then I was just angry for the next hour. Now 7 months later it happens again, and this time I can honestly say I felt no hard feelings for him. I had no anger, no frustration. I was confused, yes, but I still wanted to be his friend and help him. Now this is not because I am a greatly patient person. It is because The Atonement has changed me so much in my time here.
Miracle number 2. The very next day, we had a miracle. Elder DiPeri and I were looking for a friend’s home who lived about 45 minutes away from our flat. When we got to the area, we realized that we had left the map at home. After looking for quite sometime, a man gave us directions and we found our way there. When we got to the home, however, we found that no one was there. Now left with nothing to do for an hour or so, we walked down the steps and saw the same man who gave us directions to the home just a bit earlier. He stopped us and asked us what we did. We told him we were missionaries and he instantly said, “Woah, I am not interested. But if you walk down this hill and talk your first left, then turn right at the bargain booze you will find a shelter for those that need help. You should go there.”
Taking his advice, we thanked him and went. When we got to the bottom of the hill and turned left, we soon saw the bargain booze. As we walked towards it, however, I looked left and saw a street named Apple Court. I don’t know why, but it seemed to light up. For some reason I felt a strong urge to go down that street instead of where the man told us to go. I stopped, contemplated, then turned down the street. Elder DiPeri followed. When we got to the street I noticed small homes on a semi circle. I looked at the homes to know which one was the one that we were meant to go to. As I looked around, I saw a home with a red door. It seemed to glow. I went there and knocked, knowing someone would be behind that door that needed us. To make this story shorter, a lady answered who was initially from Scotland, who moved to America, and was now in England. She was baptised into this church as a 13 year old and had lost contact ever since. She told us she had lost her father just 2 weeks prior and that she was so grateful that we contacted her again. The last question she asked before we went inside was, “How did you find me?” We told her that God had sent us there. Oh the joy on her face! We will be seeing her weekly now.
Are these things mere coincidence? Can we really tell ourselves that? Or do we recognise what has happened? I want you to know that these things are not coincidence. The changes in me are not the result of coincidence or experience. Finding that lady was not a matter of guessing and getting lucky. They were and are gifts from God given through the Holy Ghost. I feel it. I know it. I am grateful to be here! Go and feel it and know it for yourselves!
I love you!
These past 10 days have been pretty good! I am feeling healthier and happier as a result of running so that makes things better too! Yes, we are still running in the mornings and have actually started doing some tempo runs and small variations of workouts I have done in the past. I thought it would make me tired for the rest of the day, but it actually makes me feel better until its time to go to bed. Then I am out cold. So it’s only had good results so far! Cutting out all sweets and drinks other than water from the diet helped too! I probably haven’t lost too much if any weight, but at least I feel better!
Now since I have been running there is something I have noticed. The first time I ran, I was just tired and miserable and upset at how out of shape I was. Now, just about two weeks later, I feel better and stronger and faster every day. My body has reacted and is quickly gaining back the shape that I was in. I think this is interesting. That something my body had completely lost and forgotten is gained back, to my blessing, with a little effort on my behalf. This example of the way my body has responded to obtaining a form it once had is very similar to one aspect in particular of the Gospel. As is evidenced in the Bible (Job 38:7; Jeremiah 1:5) coupled with revelation in these times, we know we existed before we were born on this Earth. We existed as spirits of our Heavenly Father and lived with Him. We learn from Revelation 12 of the war in Heaven between good and evil and that that war continues on on the Earth today. Satan, represented by the dragon in this chapter, drew 1/3 part of the stars of heaven with him. That is to say, 1/3 of the host of heaven chose his plan which was contrary to that of Heavenly Father’s and His chosen son, Jesus Christ. As a result, they were not blessed with a chance to learn and grow in bodies on Earth. So if 1/3 went with Satan, what happened to the other 2/3? They chose their Heavenly Father’s plan for them and Christ as their Saviour and Reedemer. That 2/3 was sent to Earth to obtain bodies to learn and grow and become more like their Heavenly Father. That 2/3 is us!
Just as my muscles recognized the familiar motions of running and quickly learned and changed as I put in effort, we too will have the same experience as we put in effort to learning the Gospel. It will just feel right, or just make sense. It will seem as if we already knew it deep down and that is because we do! If this didn’t make any sense, put in some effort and figure out a way to better understand! I hope you all are doing well and enjoying life!
Love you all!