When we assigned the missionaries we are going to train, President brings us all – trainers and trainees – into one room. I glanced over the Elders and when I saw Elder Asplund, I felt an impression that he was going to be my companion. (I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll reiterate – because attitude determines everything– I’ve made the decision that any new companion or any new area is my best companion/area yet. After all, I’m the best I’ve ever been.) 🙂 And Elder Asplund is a super stud! He is on FIRE! As I’ve been a trainer for my first week, I’ve begun to understand some of the principles Elder Johnson was trying to teach me. The Lord knew exactly who and what I needed.
We read Elder McConkie’s email on our way back from visiting Grandpa and Grandma T. Monday. Though rich with spiritual insight, the letter this week was quite lengthy and I was wondering whether his younger siblings would exhaust their attention spans. Instead, as we finished up, each one talked over each other expressing how grateful they are that the Lord has called their brother on a mission. Our family is learning so much from the understandings which Elder McConkie shares. It is truly a blessing to receive increased soul strengthening clarity. I hope these letters bring peace, comfort and direction to all the readers as well.
The letter starts off with transfers: this past week saw Elder Johnson complete his 2 year mission and Elder Asplund (Elder McConkie’s new companion) arrive in the mission field for his.
I said ‘goodbye’ to Elder Johnson. I sure miss that man. We had our quirks, but, boy, was it such a blessing to be with such a great missionary.
(btws, I’m driving now #CrazyDriversInNYC).
This past week included many service opportunities: helping a member fix up a yard for a friend, cleaning up and folding some tarps at another place. Helping someone move and teaching a technology class at the Senior a Center, etc. They, also, are starting to get the branch young men to come teaching with them. The young man that came with them this week previously wasn’t sure he wanted to serve a mission. On the way home, he told them he had three plans after high school and all three included time to serve a 2 year mission!
We have been praying for miracles here in the Hamptons. We all know there is so much out here, we just need to be ready before the Lord will provide. Elder Asplund and I have dedicated ourselves 100% this last week to the work. We have said more prayers than I ever have in one week. Whenever we leave the apartment, we pray. When we plan for someone, we pray. Before we knock, we pray. Before each lesson we pray. When we are grateful for a blessing, we pray. When we lack direction, we pray. When we rise in the morning and go to bed at night, we pray. I think this verse says it perfectly: “But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.” (2 Nephi 32:9) Prayer is powerful. We have infinite knowledge and power just a prayer away. Our greatest coach, our best friend, our loving Father is just a prayer away. “Pray always, that you may come off conqueror; yea, that you may conquer Satan, and that you may escape the hands of the servants of Satan that do uphold his work.” (Doctrine and Covenants 10:5).
I don’t remember if I mentioned him last week, but while we were in the laundromat this last Monday, a man ran in from off the street. He came right up to me and asked “Are you the Mormon missionaries?” I was a bit shocked. I said “Yes, we sure are.” Turns out this man had been meeting with missionaries a year or two earlier but had not been passed on from those missionaries. He explained that he worked with universities, selling to them and such. He lived inland for most the year, but for the summer months he lives here.
He spoke very highly of Mormons and how much he respected them. He touted incredible compliments for the U of U and BYU, praising the people of Utah. He asked if we could meet with him on Tuesday and we said yes. Elder Asplund and I went over Tuesday for the appointment and taught an incredible lesson. The Spirit was bringing scripture by scripture to mind and we were doing our very best to share them all. Each scripture we shared addressed the conversation at hand and he found great peace in them. He laid out his addictions with us and told us that he wanted to be better and that he would try. We, in turn, laid out the promise of the Book of Mormon and the strength of God through the Atonement. He promised he would read and pray and we scheduled for a Friday lesson. Wednesday came around and he called us to tell us that he forgot some impending to-do list items that needed to be completed. He asked us to call on Monday to reschedule and asked for extra reading from the Book of Mormon. Yep. Extra reading. My jaw about dropped. We hope to see him this week! I’ll let you know how that goes. 🙂
Yesterday we saw a true miracle. We had decided that after church, we were going to head out to East Hampton to see *Susan, an investigator we had not heard from for a while. When I got a little lost, we punched her address in Google maps and followed the directions it gave us. Yet, when we pulled into the neighborhood, I knew weren’t in the right place. We realized it was the wrong street name.
We got ready to turn around, however, the Lord had different plans. I said to Elder Asplund, “There is a reason why we are here. Let’s knock some doors.” So we parked our car and started knocking. We talked to a bunch of nice people and even got a referral for the Spanish Elders (which was a miracle in and of itself, since the grandma spoke SUPER fast Spanish and it took all my concentration to understand her). After about an hour, we decided to go back to our car and head out to Susan’s.
As we were leaving the neighborhood, I looked to the left at the last house in the neighborhood. Immediately the words “…and it was always the last house they knocked” came to mind. I said to my companion, “We have to knock that house.”
I swerved the car off the road as much as we could. Our car was still halfway in the road, so I put on our hazards and jumped out of the car. We walked up to the house and knocked. A dog started barking, but no one came to the door. We knocked again (we give everyone a second chance 🙂 ) and a lady came into view from the back room. She opened the door and asked who we were. We shared that we were the local Mormon missionaries and she introduced herself as *Lydia. We asked if she had a any children, since the youth group for our church was having a patriotic party this weekend. She said she only has a baby.
A bit flustered, I also said that we shared a message of Christ and families. I asked if she was religious. She said she was Spiritual. I said that was wonderful and asked what questions had been answered for her by her faith.
She said, “Wow, that’s a deep question.”
I said, “I know.”
She just kinda looked at me for a second, then she opened the door all the way and came outside (the dog had been barking the whole time, so this made it easier to hear each other). She said that the question I had asked was something she would have to think about. I shared that one of the greatest questions that had ever been answered for me was that God is our loving Heavenly Father, that he cares for us, cheers for us, and is our best coach.
We talked for a bit longer and she appreciated what we had to say. When we asked when we could come back, she just said that she was busy. We said a prayer with her and gave her the Book of Mormon and she asked, “Is this for me?” We said yes and she thanked us. I glanced at her arm and noticed goosebumps – I knew she was feeling the Spirit.
Immediately came to mind “tell her to pray about it.” As we left, instead of saying “Have a great day” my mouth moved in its own accord and said “pray about it.” She was a little taken back, but said she would. We left our card and happy holiday wishes with her and left.
The rest of the day was pretty good. Once more the Spirit prompted us to pullover and knock on some houses, two of which we are returning to this Wednesday. But that’s not it: that night at 8:15 we had finished all our plans for the day. It was getting a little late for knocking and most of the people we could just stop by were 15 minutes away. So we said a prayer. We still had no strong impression of where to go, so we looked through our list of people and picked a couple to visit. We started to drive when we received a call from a number that wasn’t in our phone. We answered and it turned out to be Lydia! (The same lady from ‘the last house.’
She said, “Do you remember how you asked me if I had any questions that had been answered? Well, I do need one answered.” She shared that 7 weeks earlier her mother had died and she wanted to know – from a Mormon’s perspective – where she went.
We pulled off to the side of the road and shared the Plan of Salvation with her. We had a 30 minute conversation on this topic. We asked when we could meet with her, and she shared that she was not sure of her schedule, but that would like to get together. We mentioned we could Skype her if need be and she agreed that Skype might be a good idea. We closed our conversation with a prayer, she said she was going to start reading the Book of Mormon, and ended the call.
During that lesson, the Spirit was strong. Elder Asplund and I worked together, both receiving revelation on what to say. The promise of D&C 84:85 and 11:21 rang true last night – I can testify of that. This promise works in tandem with what Preach My Gospel says of listening:
“While others talk to you, avoid the tendency to think about what you are going to say. Make sure you are really concentrating on the person speaking rather than planning your response.
“Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught: ‘More important than speaking is listening. These people are not lifeless objects disguised as a baptismal statistic. They are children of God, our brothers and sisters, and they need what we have. Be genuine. Reach out sincerely. Ask these friends what matters most to them. What do they cherish, and what do they hold dear? And then listen. If the setting is right, you might ask what their fears are, what they yearn for, or what they feel is missing in their lives. I promise you that something in what they say will always highlight a truth of the gospel about which you can bear testimony and about which you can then offer more.
“… If we listen with love, we won’t need to wonder what to say. It will be given to us–by the Spirit and by our friends’ (“Witnesses unto Me,”Ensign, May 2001, 15; italics in original).”
Being a Senior companion and a trainer has been a huge growing experience. When we have extra time, I get to take initiative to decide what’s next. I am the example of a missionary in the field, a dedicated disciple in the service of the Lord 24/7. On that note, Elder Asplund told me I am the “textbook missionary.” To which I replied “I sure hope so! As long as you mean Preach My Gospel, because that’s what I’ve been working towards!”
It is a comfort to know that I am on the right track. Honestly, I could do nothing on my own. I echo Ammon when he says, “Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever” (Alma 26:12).
I LOVE this work. I LOVE the people here. Elder Asplund asked me “Are you to the point that if you were told you were leaving tomorrow you would cry?” I thought for a second and answered ‘yes.’ The Lord truly has grown my love for these people. I love them dearly. It makes me smile when other missionaries look at my enthusiasm for the work, my optimism, my confidence and they talk of “greenie fire”. My reply is always “if that’s the case, then I plan to be a greenie forever.”
Happy 4th and God bless. 🙂
P.S. I had a thought I wanted to share that I wasn’t sure how to fit into my email.
After studying for a few weeks, I have realized that a consecrated missionary asks each day,
“What am I to do today, Lord?”
“What can I improve today?”
“And how can I prepare for tomorrow?”
Something that has rung true with these questions is the concept of hope and faith. We may not know what the Lord has in store for us today, what he intends for us tomorrow, or even the reasons for yesterday’s events. However, the promises associated with an abiding hope always stand. Preach My Gospel says it perfectly:
“Hope is an abiding trust that the Lord will fulfill His promises to you. It is manifest in confidence, optimism, enthusiasm, and patient perseverance. It is believing and expecting that something will occur. When you have hope, you work through trials and difficulties with the confidence and assurance that all things will work together for your good. Hope helps you conquer discouragement. The scriptures often describe hope in Jesus Christ as the assurance that you will inherit eternal life in the celestial kingdom.
President James E. Faust taught: ‘Hope is the anchor of our souls. …
‘Hope is trust in God’s promises, faith that if we act now, the desired blessings will be fulfilled in the future. …
‘The unfailing source of our hope is that we are sons and daughters of God and that His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, saved us from death.’ (“Hope, an Anchor of the Soul,” Ensign, Nov. 1999, 59–60)”
When we trust in the Lord, whether on a warm summer’s day or in the middle of a tempest, we are promised confidence, optimism, enthusiasm, and patient perseverance. Such helps us conquer discouragement when accompanied by action, the show of our trust in God. And that is faith. Faith is a “hope for things which are not seen, which are true” (Alma 32:21) and “leads to action, including repentance, obedience, and dedicated service” (PMG pg. 116). And might I add “sanctified and consecrated service.” I think it is no coincidence that “hope” means an abiding trust in God, for when we trust in God, there is ALWAYS hope. And where there is hope, there is a way, a peace, and a great joy.
Love you all!