Today, April 6, we celebrate the reorganization of the Lord's church in 1830! (D&C 20) We also learn from that section that April 6, 1830 was "1830 years since the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the flesh." Overall, thank goodness for revelation! J What an awesome day!
This Easter week has been such an incredible experience to be a missionary. I was able to see so many little miracles that just continue to keep me more and more motivated to do all I can to bring the gospel into people's lives. Easter weekend was absolutely incredible! We tried to change our approach of contacting on Saturday & Sunday by asking people what Easter Sunday meant to them and then testifying of what Jesus did for us and how they can know for themselves and have a further witness through the Book of Mormon. It was an incredible experience for both Sister Mandla and I as we bore testimony from our heart of what we know to be true, and that's why I love missionary work! For Jesus Christ truly did suffer for us, each of us, personally. I want to testify that I KNOW that he suffered for me, for everything I've been through; for the sorrow I feel when I make a mistake, for the heartache I felt when Grandpa and Claye passed away, for the longing I feel when someone doesn't accept the gospel, He has felt it all so that He can help me feel clean, comforted, and renewed. Christ not only died for me, but He rose for me as well, as He did for you! How wonderful this knowledge is and how comforted I feel that He loves me enough to die for me!
To my week….first, Mike Slade is rock solid and is such an amazing soldier as one of Heavenly Father's children. We had such a powerful lesson before conference and he shared with us some of his missionary experiences in defending what he knows to be true! He is such a great example and I just love seeing his unwavering testimony. He is so excited for his baptism this Sunday. He has just the greatest testimony and I have loved the opportunity to teach him, as well as learn from him!
We were able to teach Aaron Drake about the Godhead and really help him realize that there is a Heavenly Father who loves him. It just broke my heart as we were talking with him as he described his feelings about God. He just doesn't understand and I am so grateful that I had the chance to bear my testimony to him and share my feelings of how much our Father in Heaven truly does love him. He is special. He is someone and not a 'no one'. He literally has no family or anyone... Just his poisonous, flesh eating pets-haha! He said he would pray next time we see him. Remember... YOU ARE LOVED!
Some exciting news, remember how I said that people joined in on our lesson at the group home last week? Well... Let me introduce you to a man named Jeff Tipper. Jeff is AMAZING! That day he walked in soaked from being outside and sat in the corner listening to us. Towards the end of the lesson, I knew he was listening to us teaching the Plan of Salvation, and I knew we needed to talk to him-the minute he came inside the room door. Our first lesson was amazing--He told us how he is in the group home because he was protecting his wife and two little girls from his brother who was intoxicated and got in a fight... Jeff got sent to the group home away from his family. One day it tore his heart so bad being away from his family (in the group home) that he walked back to the house, just to see his two little girls and to hug them... But his wife called the cops since he wasn't supposed to leave and got sent to jail for a short time. While he was in there he shared of a life changing experience. He prayed and prayed fervently--on the third night, his prayer was answered. It felt as if he was being hugged by his two little girls again. He told us that he had never experienced that and he wept for hours in his cell. As he was telling us this story, he was in tears. He loves his little girls SO much! I have never seen anything like it.
As we shared the Restoration with him, he told us that he felt like he was Joseph Smith at one time while trying to search for the truth! After reciting the first vision we sang "Joseph Smith's First Prayer", he said he found the truth. He knows it to be true! As I invited him to be baptized, he began to cry again and said, "Yes, yes... I know it's true! I will!" So... All in all, his baptismal date is May 3rd! We taught him the Plan of Salvation last night and it went amazing. He is so excited to read from the Book of Mormon and guess what! On the way out he told us that he stopped smoking! What?! We haven't even taught him the Word of Wisdom and had done it on his own! He is incredible. Such a tender heart and I know--from the bottom of my heart--that we were meant to meet him.
Our other investigators, Earnie and Amanda, are doing well! Earnie and Amanda got together about 9 months ago (they are about 30 years old) and Amanda has a little one year old boy. They both have such rough life's right now and only have each other to keep living. They know a lot about the gospel and have had some great spiritual experience that have helped them so far in life. Earnie loves listening to the Book of Mormon on his smart phone and Amanda loves the idea of eternal families. So the neat experience this week with them is that we watched the Restoration Movie with them. Earnie said that he felt the spirit and got the chills. They are excited to continue to learn and gain spiritual experiences! He said that he hasn't been inside a church for years because he is scared to go back, but said he would come this Sunday to the special fireside that we are putting it on. So that was a neat experience, and yes, no matter how many times I have seen the video... I always feel the spirit is well J It's true!
Here is a funny experience! We did service at a long-term care home and we helped people with bowling! J I would wheel them up (in a wheel chair) to the miniature table and they would take the 'fist-sized' soft ball and roll it down the table. There is a lady named Emma who would yell at the pins that fell, but then tell me that she forgot their name... Haha. I just laughed and laughed. It was fun! We will get a chance to go back and to do that more often!
Our investigator, Johnathan, is engaged to a returning less-active member. They live on an Indian reservation (since Johnathan's whole family is native) so that's interesting! They have a little 2 year old and they are awesome! He is waiting to get baptized when they confirm some things with their leaders and such, but we read in Jacob and he just LOVES the Book of Mormon! Everything that is talked about is found within his native family roots of history. He tells us about the tribes, history, and traditions, and many more are found in the Book of Mormon. My favorite... His ancestors talk of a "bright, white man who came and visited them" which was Jesus Christ himself. I am so grateful for the evidence of the Restoration by the Book of Mormon. I love that book with all of my heart and know that it's true. Christ truly did visit the people in the America's! What a glorious and joyful message that is to tell the world! He LIVES.
A BIG thank you for all the birthday wishes I received! My birthday was amazing!! I mean conference on your birthday, while on a mission is just amazing!! The phone rang at 10:20pm, it was President and Sister Clayton calling to sing Happy Birthday to me! I about cried. I felt so loved the whole day by so many. J THANK YOU FOR THE LETTERS, PACKAGES, AND LOVE. It was felt. I have the best family and friends ever……I love you all so much!
Conference was absolutely amazing. As I have been serving on my mission, I have realized and experienced that the gospel is real. We need it in today's world--protect yourself with the armor of the gospel. I know that it's the greatest shield against the most terrible forces that Satan and his followers throw at us. Cling on to the truth you know! Embrace it & Share it! I know that the gospel has been restored through a young man named Joseph Smith. The world is forever changed because of a simple, fervent prayer of faith. The light will never grow dim as the world grows darker. I know this to be true with all of my heart... I love being a missionary J
Until next time...