What a week of miracles!! Before I say anything, I have to say that I am so grateful to be a part of this great work. I love the revelation Joseph Smith–the first prophet in this dispensation–received in Doctrine and Covenants 18:
“Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God;
For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him.
And he hath risen again from the dead, that he might bring all men unto him, on conditions of repentance.
And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth!
Wherefore, you are called to cry repentance unto this people.
And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!
And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!
Behold, you have my Gospel before you, and my rock, and my salvation.
Ask the Father in my name in faith, believing that you shall receive, and you shall have the Holy Ghost, which manifesteth all things which are expedient unto the children of men.” (Doctrine and Covenants 18:10-18)
I have slowly had my eyes opened to a portion of how much God loves each of us. Truly, we are His children–we are His purpose; His goal is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). He is a perfect Father who has a perfect plan for His children, whom He loves deeper than I can imagine. And I have felt His love. I’ve it felt as I personally have “come unto [Him]” (Matthew 11:28) and have helped others do so. God’s love for us has become more apparent when I realized “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). God loves us so much that He asked His Only Begotten Son to bear the weight of all sicknesses, weaknesses, sins, pain, and death. So to be involved in His work is a blessing and a privilege. And just as God told Joseph Smith, I feel great joy as I do it.
[A lady we are teaching] is absolutely incredible. She is sensitive to the Spirit, asking questions and looking for answers, and is willing to try new things. After last Sunday, she was really busy so we didn’t get a chance to catch up until Thursday night when we FaceTime’d her. And wow, was the Spirit present. She has a friend who’s a member in [another state] and he’s been sharing his testimony and the likes with her. She told us she was looking through General Conference talks, that she listened to a BYU-I podcast (she sent it to us and we listened to it and, wow, was it a good one), and she had been reading the Book of Mormon a bit. This was followed up when just a couple nights later we were messaging her and she quoted Moroni 7:16. She came to church yesterday (we had a Regional Broadcast) and it was incredible to see the Spirit that radiated off of her after the meeting.
She has inspired me to ask more questions. Questions are fuel for faith. Elder Uchtdorf told us to “doubt [our] doubts before [we] doubt [our] faith” (“Come, Join With Us“, October 2013 General Conference), which is a perfect basis for asking questions. I shouldn’t let my questions destroy what faith I do have. Instead, I should remember what I already have felt and know that there is an answer to my question. As I’ve listened to [her] share her spiritual experiences, this is exactly what she has taught me.
[Another man we are teaching] is quite the man. Elder Jeppson was teaching him when he was serving in this same area almost 2 years ago. He’s in his younger 60’s. He has the voice of Frank Sinatra. He was fluent in 5 languages for many years. AND he told us he wants to come closer to Christ. He is also one of the most genuine, kind-hearted men I have ever met. We’ve met with him twice over these last couple weeks and each time we not only got a chance to help him strengthen his relationship with God through the restored Gospel, but I’ve also learned important life lessons. The way he speaks of his life, one can’t help but feel anything is possible; he inspires hope in others by the way he speaks and acts. This last week was a tough one for him: he had surgery and almost bled out and died. We’d been praying for his surgery to go well, so at church he told us he felt those prayers. He was released from the hospital on Friday after only 9 hours of recovery. He told me, “I didn’t feel good, but I was going to go to church.” I am grateful for [this good man] between his award-winning smile and his unmatched determination, I will definitely remember this man forever. I am so grateful Elder Jeppson and I are here to share the fullness of the Gospel with him: it has blessed him, is blessing him, and will bless him so much.
[One of our investigators] was sent to us as a Mormon.org referral. Over the last couple weeks, we’ve communicated with him through email. He is really excited to study the Book of Mormon and the Bible with us. Unfortunately, he works two jobs and both his bosses just started scheduling him overtime without his consent. In one of his emails he said, “It figures—now when I’m ready for Bible Study/Church, circumstances have made me “busier”… (I think the devil’s afraid of me progressing…)” So we we are excited to meet him at some point!
The miracle that happened, though, was when we decided to just visit him yesterday. Elder Jeppson and I felt that we should make the trek out to where he lives (30-40 minute drive) and pay him a visit. It was a bit unusual that we felt so good about traveling so far without a confirmed appointment. However, the Spirit prompted us to go so we went.
When we arrived and knocked on his house, a teen brother and sister answered the door and told us that [the man] lived in the basement apartment (pretty typical for New York).
Before they shut the door, I shared a little of what we do as missionaries with them. We asked if we could share a 5 minute message. Well, it ended up being a 20-25 minute message. We shared the Restoration. He said he didn’t believe in God because he didn’t like the churches. She identified very well with us because she believes. The result of the lesson was she prayed about the Book of Mormon and we all felt the Spirit. He said that he felt something warm. We all recognized it as the Spirit. He was the one that said they would definitely make time each day to read the Book of Mormon. They’re excited for our next lesson.
It was an incredible experience. We sat in a circle on the floor of their living room (they recently moved in and didn’t have all their furniture yet). Also, by the end [the young man] was the one that was anxious to read every day and come to church this Sunday. We have a return appointment this Thursday.
New York is the place to be. Might I add, the Plainview Ward is the place to be. If you’ve seen my Facebook over the last couple weeks, you know just how incredible the members are here. I feel at home. Work in this ward with these people with an incredible companion is a joy. I’d be lying if I said everything was peachy, but it’s like what one of my High School Cross Country friends taught me: no matter what, I’ll be running every single mile to finish line, so would I rather focus on the divots and rocks and dirt at my feet or look up and enjoy myself? Elder Jeppson has been a good example to me of the latter–it proves to make life much more enjoyable. 🙂
I hope you all had a good week! Thank you for your love and support: it makes a difference. 🙂 Love you all!!