The letter this week had one main theme: Christ is the source of peace and healing, consolation and resolve. As President Gordan B. Hinckley (past president of the church) said, “His all-encompassing sacrifice will bring healing to broken hearts, reconciliation to those who argue and shout, even peace to warring nations if sought with humility and forgiveness and love.“
Elder McConkie shared two very important experiences this week in his letter home: First, about a couple he and Elder Johnson have been blessed to teach. He loves them so dearly.
Monday: When P-day ended, we started our regular missionary work up again. The only notable thing tonight was with *Paul and *Linda. We drove past their house on our way out to River Side, planning on coming back later, however as we drove past, Elder Johnson said we needed to go back, but then decided against it. At this point, I said that we needed to turn back since he felt that way originally.
We knocked. Linda answered the door with “As usual, you’re here right on time.” We weren’t really sure what this meant.
We began to share a lesson of revelation and receiving light. However, it became evident part way through the lesson that they had been having a ‘heated’ conversation before we arrived. There were conflicting feelings on both sides – there were a lot of things going on.
They are both are wonderful, wonderful people whom we love dearly and it was very apparent that they were having some very real struggles. Both Elder Johnson and I watched sadly as the conversation played out between them, pride up in arms, feelings charged, emotions strained. Linda began crying.
During this emotional time, I felt prompted by the Holy Ghost to share Reclaimed, an amazing Mormon Message. The Spirit put words in my mouth and shared them. Several parallel between the video and their life and the Gospel of Jesus Christ were taught. We invited them to have prayer together as a couple, we asked them to come to church with us this Sunday, we invited them to be baptized – and when Linda’s reaction was one of hesitation – we asked that they pray about it.
The Spirit prompted me to share a message of pleading from the Savior and from us. We shared deeply from our heart how following Christ would heal them of wounds that never seemed they could be healed, how families are ordained of God and if we follow him that they WILL stay together for FOREVER. We prayed with them, holding hands around the circle (a style of prayer introduced to us by the Parker’s, a family that I have come to love in times of very sincere and heartfelt need and pleading).
We are going back this Thursday to see them again. Gratefully, when we left they seemed in higher spirits when we left.
Elder Johnson and I both want to fast for them. We are making it a matter of prayer as to whether or not we invite them to join us for the fast Saturday to Sunday. They truly are a wonderful family; Linda cried, Paul almost cried, and I even cried a little myself – we love them so much.
As intense as the emotions were that were running through this lesson, feelings of conflict and hurt and pride, the Spirit testified very strongly of truth. Elder Johnson and I both know the only they will be able to get through this will be by following Christ and his gospel and we pray that they will allow us to guide them to it. They are incredible and we are so grateful for them. I love them with all my heart. 🙂 And I feel hopeful. :)”
Thursday: We went back this last Thursday, had an amazing dinner, and watched the John Tanner story. We talked about fasting and then we invited them to fast with us, starting Saturday at 6 and ending at 6 the following night. They were all for it, especially after we shared our thoughts and feelings on it. We went over Saturday at 6, had some dinner with them (again, delicious), and started our fast.
We spent another hour with them, reading from the scriptures. Paul is truly thirsting for the word of God. I enjoyed studying with together as soon as we finished dinner. 🙂 We decided to go over Mosiah 27, the scripture we had left Linda to read on Thursday. We would read sections, taking time to read. We helped them see how to apply the scriptures to life by applying verse 13 to the Great Apostasy. The application was inspired and they understood and accepted it. 🙂
The entire lesson was a power house lesson – packed full of lessons inspired by the Spirit. They came to church the following day and they really enjoyed it! They had to leave after the first hour because one of their dads was coming into town (we totally spaced having them ask him if he wanted to come to church), but they felt the spirit very strongly and even met the Branch President, President McGuire. We have an appointment with them tomorrow and are preparing to help them be baptized and eventually go through the temple. 🙂
Before leaving, Elder McConkie and I talked about writing home. I asked him to please, share the good and the difficult, the trial and the joy. Often missionaries don’t want to worry their family back home. We are grateful he has shared some of the challenges with us so we can better understand and add our prayers of faith to his.
Serving for two years is a great learning experience. Having a companion 24/7 whom you have usually not met before adds to the flavor of joy and difficulty. While you are both out there to do the work of the Lord, everyone has their culture. Part of the learning experience is trusting the Lord to help you work with your companion. If you are a junior companion, you respect your senior’s guidance. If you are a senior companion, you respect your junior’s thoughts and ideas as well. It is a challenge which sometimes meets conflict. In this part of the letter, Elder McConkie shares what he has learned from “mission tour” and applying it.
As I mentioned in my last email, we had a mission tour this week with Elder Grow from the Seventy. Our meeting with him was on Friday. He spoke on so many things, but the most powerful points he testified of were
- using the converting power of The Book of Mormon in our lessons by having investigators read the scriptures, rather than us citing and explaining them in our own words,
- if investigators are not keeping their commitments and/or are not reading The Book of Mormon daily, don’t move on – take the time to read directly from The Book of Mormon with them, because a testimony of The Book of Mormon is that essential to conversion, and
- we should “follow up tomorrow on the commitments they made today” – they need to know how important it is to us, to them, and to God that they keep their commitments.
Half way through the meeting, we had lunch, provided by some wonderful sisters who lived in the area. It was amazing!
After lunch, Elder Sirrine and I performed the musical piece we had been preparing. Whether or not we sounded better than when we practiced, what we cared was that the Spirit was there. And it was. 🙂 I am so grateful for music that the Spirit speaks through. 🙂 (Doctrine and Covenants 25:12)
Meeting with and learning from Elder Grow was absolutely inspiring and very edifying.
One of the biggest points I got out of the meeting was that we needed to plan better. Simply put, when I brought this up, Elder Johnson didn’t agree. Push led to shove (not literally) and pretty soon we were having it real rough. He felt that everything was working just fine because he had seen success with it for 2 years. I felt that it was definitely working, but that we would be even better missionaries if we changed a few things.
Because we didn’t have the Spirit, we didn’t go to one of our appointments right on time; we needed to solve it. We said our own prayers and when we had both calmed enough, we expressed our feelings once more, agreed to disagree for the time, and
finally received the companionship of the Spirit again. We went and taught a very good lesson, for which we were both very grateful. I am very grateful – though – that during our disagreement there were no insults coming from either side, it was heated, but not debilitating.
The following day, we went to Elder Martino’s house to discuss how we could best discuss how to apply the Elder Grow conference to our District. Feelings between Elder Johnson and me were pretty tender still; we had had a little more conflict that morning over the same issue. I asked Elder Martino for a blessing. He asked if I would join him in his office so he could get a feel for the situation before he gave me a blessing. We talked over the issues.
The advice that Elder Martino gave, the fact that I was able to express my feelings to someone, and the blessing I later received were exactly what I needed. The Lord knew what I needed and there was no way I could keep the tears from coming, especially as Elder Martino began the blessing. Immediately, I felt the strongest impression of God’s love for me sweep through me. It was because of that experience that enabled the Spirit to be with us for the rest of the day, which led to that powerful lesson with Paul and Linda Saturday night.
I am grateful for where I have been placed by the Lord – it is exactly where I need to be. I love asking people to pray about the Book of Mormon – when the person sincerely asks, they feel a portion of God’s love for us, which is something I have come to depend on so heavily.
God is our Heavenly Father. I know he loves us, and that means so much if we just reach out to him. Whenever we see a miracle, my first thought is always “God is good.” And he is.
Whenever and where ever we share our message or even just a hello, I strive to share God’s love for them. Because that’s what it’s all about. We are here on earth, we have an Atonement we can use, and we will find peace and joy and happiness because of how much God loves us.
I wish words could adequately describe it, so I strive to be worthy of the Spirit so he can testify directly to the heart.
I love you all! Have a great week!