What a wonderful week! Recently, Heavenly Father has been pouring out miracles upon so many of our friends here! He has been giving our investigating friends such miraculous witnesses that are personal to them- witnesses that allow them to know that this is His church. For this post, I would just love to tell you all about a few of the recent converts we have been blessed to work with. I promise, by the end of this post, you will love them like we love them for who they are and for the decisions they have made.
Let’s start with Amanda. Amanda is a recent convert of about 4 months now. She is a part of the Trifecta (the perfect trio of recent converts- including Sarah and Mel also). Amanda met the missionaries on the street. Initially she thought they were really weird, and still does, but allowed them to come only because she was too nice to say no! That kindness led Amanda to feeling of the goodness of the Gospel and to making a life changing decision. For Amanda, it all happened very quickly! Only over a matter of weeks! She is a stalwart pioneer and does so much to help her friends and family to see and understand the goodness the Gospel offers. She is the member missionary of member missionaries.
And then there is Sarah. Sarah was met on the street outside of Tesco on a early March afternoon! She also thought the missionaries were very strange! But she allowed us to come and see her. Sarah quickly found the relevance of the Gospel in her life and was baptised in late March. As she has continued to learn and grow and keep her covenants, she has been blessed with added courage and strength. She is so much different than the first time we met her! And most importantly, she continues to learn and grow every day! Oh, and if you ever need an honest, straight forward answer, Sarah will give it to you.
And then there is Mel. Mel was introduced to the missionaries through Amanda! A fact is that after our first lesson, Mel NEVER wanted to see us again. She even declined a return visit! But over a short period of time real life miracles happened to her that could not be explained through any other way than the existence of a Father in Heaven who loved her. We soon saw her again and not too long after that Mel took the steps she knew she needed to take! Having been baptised for three weeks now, she is preparing to be a missionary next year! Miracle!
Kate and Kiri are just the most incredible Mother-Daughter duo. They met the missionaries at their doorstep and began to meet with them more regularly. They were baptised in March. As they progressed in the Gospel they faced and overcame EVERY challenge that could be thrown at them. I have never seen two people go through so much in such a short period of time. But they held hands, put their heads down, grit their teeth together, and pressed forward into the Saviour’s church! Fasting in faith was such a huge part of them receiving their witness! They are super and I know that no matter what trials they face, together they will overcome!
Next is Ken and Levie. These two are just saints. Levie is from the Philippines and Ken is from England and they are both simply incredible. Ken met missionaries on the street days after he prayed to find the true church. He nearly instantly recognised the missionaries as the Lord’s servants and received a witness through the power of the Holy Ghost that he had finally found what he was looking for. Levie, on the other hand, was not so quick to agree. As Levie was continually taught, it came to the point where she decided that she would not be baptised unless she felt that God told her to. Ken prayed with faith that God would provide his wife with the witness she needed so that he could be sealed in the temple with her and their little boy for all time and eternity. After a couple weeks of faithful prayer, Heavenly Father provided. Levie received a witness in the middle of the night, through a dream, that she would indeed be sealed in the temple to her family. She awoke crying and awoke Ken to tell him she wanted to be baptised. Ken was baptised three weeks ago and will have the privilege of baptising his wife this weekend.
Paul is one of the most faithful people I have ever met. He met missionaries on the street and was not very sure if he believed anything they said. Because he was kind, he agreed to meet with them again. After a couple lessons, Paul told the Elders that he just couldn’t believe it. They invited him to church and he accepted. He came to church and enjoyed it, but just couldn’t believe it. Later that day, however, Paul received an undeniable witness that God was real. Paul came to know in a very real way that what the missionaries taught was truth. He contacted the missionaries instantly, told them of his witness, and asked for baptism as soon as possible. He was baptised just days ago.
Can you see the miracles that we experience daily? Can you even begin to understand how much joy we feel when our good friends make good decisions that we know will bless them forever? More importantly, do you understand that these experiences with God are not limited to a select few? That you can receive your own witness just as soon as you sincerely and humbly ask? I hope that you do understand that! I hope that you do understand that these friends of ours have had their own experiences, wherefore they know! You can too!
I love you all!
He was obviously flying to Utah to become a missionary for the Mormon Church. I smiled as I walked by and took pride in belonging to this same Church where these young men and women voluntarily serve the Savior for two years. With this special feeling, I continued to the back where my seat was located.
As I sat in my seat, I looked to the right and to my surprise, saw another missionary sleeping in the window seat. His hair was also short, but that was the only similarity between the two. This one was obviously returning home, and I could tell at a glance what type of missionary he had been.
The fact that he was already asleep told me a lot. His entire body seemed to let out a big sigh. It looked as if this was the first time in two years he had even slept, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was. As I looked at his face, I could see the heavy bags under his eyes, the chapped lips, and the scarred and sunburned face caused by the fierce Florida sun.
His suit was tattered and worn. A few of the seams were coming apart, and I noticed that there were a couple of tears that had been hand-sewn with a very sloppy stitch.
I saw the nametag, crooked, scratched and bearing the name of the Church he represented, the engraving of which was almost all worn away. I saw the knee of his pants, worn and white, the result of many hours of humble prayer.
A tear came to my eye as I saw the things that really told me what kind of missionary he had been. I saw the marks that made this boy, a man. His feet – the two that had carried him from house to house, now lay there swollen and tired. They were covered by a pair of worn-out shoes. Many of the large scrapes and gouges had been filled in by the countless number of polishings.
His hands – those big, strong hands, which had been used to bless and teach, were now scarred and cut from knocking at doors.
Those were indeed the marks of that man. And as I looked at him, I saw the marks of another man, the Savior, as he was hanging on the cross for the sins of the world.
His feet – those that had once carried him throughout the land during his ministry, were now nailed to the cross.
His side – now pierced with a spear. Sealing his gospel, his testimony with his life.
His hands – the hands that had been used to ordain his servants and bless the sick were also scarred with the nails that were pounded to hang him on the cross.
Those were the marks of that great man.
As my mind returned to the missionary, my whole body seemed to swell with pride and joy, because I knew, by looking at him, that he had served his Master well.
My joy was so great, I felt like running to the front of the plane, grabbing that new, young missionary, and bringing him back to see what he can become, what he can do.
But would he see the things that I saw, could anyone see the things I saw? Or would he just see the outward appearance of that mighty elder, tired and worn out, almost dead.
As we landed, I reached over and tapped him to wake him up. As he awoke, it seemed like new life was entering his body. His whole frame just seemed to fill as he stood up, tall and proud. As he turned his face towards mine, I saw a light about his face that I had never seen before. I looked into his eyes. Those eyes, I will never forget those eyes. They were the eyes of a prophet, a leader, a follower, and a servant. They were the eyes of the Savior. No words were spoken. No words were needed.
As we unloaded, I stepped aside to let him go first. I watched as he walked, slow but steady, tired but strong. I followed him and found myself walking the way that he did. When I came through the doors, I saw this young man in the arms of his parents, and I couldn’t hold it any longer.
With tears streaming down my face, I watched these loving parents greet their son who had been away for a short time. And I wondered if our parents in Heaven would greet us the same way. Will they wrap their arms around us and welcome us home from our journey on earth? I believe they will. I just hope that I can be worthy enough to receive such praise, as I’m sure this missionary will.
I said a silent prayer, thanking the Lord for missionaries like this young man. I don’t think I will ever forget the joy and happiness he brought me that day.”
What a crazy couple weeks it has been! So many miracles and so many great things have happened these past weeks! I have learned so much! I will share my favorite lesson of the last couple weeks, but first a story. The past Saturday I was privileged to travel back to my first area, Telford. Living in Telford from August 2012 to February 2013 changed my life forever. There I learned how to truly love and care for others. There I experienced miracle after miracle and came to understand in a very real sense that I was doing the work of the Lord. And so, understandably, I was very very excited to be going back there to witness the baptism of 11 year old Ellis, someone I had taught 18 months earlier. When I arrived I felt pure joy in greeting those wonderful families and people I love so much. It truly was a joyous occasion! As the baptismal service began, progressed, then came to an end, the time came for the final speaker. As he spoke and welcomed Ellis into his new extended family, he looked at him and said, “You have many friends in the church, don’t you?” Instantly, ALL of the primary children turned around and looked directly at him. I could feel the pressure on Ellis from all of these little ones! As if Ellis had a choice, he nodded an innocent yes.
Now what is the lesson learned in this? For me it is one of unity and love. Those little ones looked back and beamed at Ellis not out of a selfish desire to force him into submission, but out a genuine interest in his feelings of acceptance. Are we as genuinely concerned for the feelings of those we love or are we too caught up in our own problems? As we seek to focus more on our friend’s problems than on our own, we will find greater happiness and we will find that our problems will be made light. “When we are in the service of our fellow beings, we are only in the service of our God.” As we serve others we serve God. Though no amount of service to God will ever pay Him back, it can help us to have that sense of belonging and acceptance that we all yearn to have. Having experienced for myself the blessings of service over these past 21 months, I highly recommend finding someone to help to overcome our own challenges. I know, it seems like a counter-productive thing to do, but I promise, it works!
In other news, I got a new companion! Elder Jonothan DiPeri from Mesa, Arizona! If you remember, I served with him from March to June of last year! In fact, I was his first companion! And now, we have the privilege of serving together for another little while. We are really excited to work hard and to see just as many if not more miracles than we did together the first time! I will keep you all updated! Love you all!
What a crazy busy week it has been! I hope you all enjoyed your Easter holiday! Better yet, I hope you had the opportunity to take time and reflect on what Easter really means (If not, read towards the end of this post). So much has happened this week that I can hardly remember it… But I can remember just enough to learn from those everyday miracles that continue to mould and change me into the person I need to become.
This week, my companion and I had the privilege to travel nearly every day of the week to various parts of the mission to give training to missionaries. We travelled to Manchester, to Liverpool, to Chorley, and to Wales. We were training on the principle of accountability. Before this week, I do not think I understood this principle the way I should have. But after training on it for 4 consecutive days, I have learned much about not only what accountability is, but how it relates to each of us, especially in this Easter season.
Accountability in one word could be shortened to responsibility. Responsibility for what? For our actions. Well, each of us acts every day and with those actions there are unavoidable results that we call consequences. Consequences are always inevitably linked to our choices. Consequences may be good or bad. If we choose and act good, the consequences are good. If we choose and act bad, the consequences are bad. We are then responsible or accountable for both our actions, and the consequences of our actions. In a very real sense, we choose our consequences when we choose our actions.
Nephi explained this well when he said, “Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh… And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil…”
How does this apply to you and to me? It applies in that we can choose eternal happiness or we can choose eternal sadness. We make this choice through everyday actions. Through simple decisions here, and simple decisions there. Because we are responsible for our own actions, we must learn how to control our actions. The irony of this, however, is that we can not control ourselves through ourselves. We need help. That help is through Jesus Christ. We access His help as we learn about Him and speak to the Father of Him. We access His help as we learn how to review and repent our days and as we learn to take greater responsibility for our actions. As we do so, we show to God that we are trustworthy and that we desire to be more worthy of His help. In this Easter season, I urge each of you to remember what it is we are to remember about the Saviour. I urge you to seek the true reason for the season. As you do, you will become more of the person you hope to become, and you will be happy.
I love you all! Have a good week!
I have to start by saying this week my heart has been melted a couple of times. I know, I know, I am starting off sounding really soft, but first just let me explain and I promise you will understand. Who knows, your heart might just melt a bit too. Over the past month and a half, my companion and I have gotten to know a special young lady; Sarah. We met her on the street, she accepted the gospel, and was baptised 22 days later. She was quite literally a miracle right before our eyes. This young lady is so courageous, so honest, so pure. She is very shy and has had a hard past. As a result, she sometimes has panic attacks if she is ever in a very crowded place or in a stressful situation. Well, anyone who has ever joined this church knows that you can quite quickly find yourself in crowded places. I mean church is just one big family and everyone wants to love you, but for someone who is very shy it can be quite stressful! The day she was to be confirmed, she was called to the front of the chapel to receive the Holy Ghost, and she could not do it. She was too shy, and so we did so privately after the sacrament service.
Other than this once, our friend, through the grace of God, has not had any problem with meeting the nearly 200 new faces that she now calls her family. Because she had been doing so well, we asked her if she would like to speak at what we call a fireside. It is basically a night where many new converts and returning members gather together and share their testimonies and their stories of conversion. We told her that the crowd would be a crowd of about 300. She said that she would not speak, but that she would walk to the front with me and that she would stand there while I read her testimony to everyone. And so it was.
Now, fast forward to the fireside. It was last night. Just walking into the building was a massive step for our friend. She did so courageously. When it finally came her turn to come to the front to speak, I looked at her. A look of pure terror was on her face. Sensing her apprehension, I quietly whispered, “It’s ok. You don’t have to come up. I will just go and read it for you.” At once, she looked up at me, straight in the eye and said, “I have to do it. I will do it.” And then she stood and we went to the front. I proceeded with her, introduced her, and read her testimony. It touched many.
Now this lesson was one that I will never forget. The firmness in her voice and the determination in her eyes taught me the power of decision. Sarah decided that no matter what, she would get up there. When I doubted and gave her the easy way out, she did not allow herself that path. Instead, she took the road less traveled, performed what I consider to be an answer to prayer and a miracle, and blessed the lives of many. We all have our own challenges. But are we as brave and courageous as Sarah? Are we willing to take the road less traveled for the prize? If not, we must change. Unless we understand that we are here to be challenged, to grow, and to learn, then we will never reach our potential. Sarah understood and as a result took one step closer to becoming who she yearns to become.
Has your heart melted? If not read it again! I love you all!