Week 4 of the transfers just flew by. I can hardly believe that transfers are 2 weeks out again. Elder Jeppson is going home, guarunteeing me a new companion. Whomever comes here is one blessed soul to be in this area.
Marvin and Bernice
Before I got to Plainview, the Elders here received a Bible/Book of Mormon order for this woman named Bernice. They dropped it off and since that time, bleeding into my time with Elder Snell, we had a hard time getting a hold of them again. Within these past couple months, Elder Jeppson and I have managed to establish contact and teach them a few times.
Marvin and Bernice are black, from the South, and kind as can be. They have burning testimonies of Jesus Christ. In fact, recently they were dissatisfied with their old church, so they searched for one where they could learn. They ended up finding one and have been blessed greatly because of it.
This last week, we went into the lesson with the intentions of letting them know we wouldn’t be coming over any longer. They hadn’t really been reading the Book of Mormon and there really wasn’t any progress being made. I can’t quite remember all the twists and turns in the lesson, but we referenced scripture after scripture to teach Apostles, people who are called by God vs. just talented people, the Book of Mormon, the Restoration, and a multiplicity of other topics. The entire time, I was praying that we would be guided to say the things that would soften their hearts.
At one point, Bernice commented that she gotten stuck on the idea of Joseph Smith. After teaching about Samuel from the Old Testament, she pointed out that she knows that Joseph Smith’s story followed the Lord’s pattern He used throughout the scriptures. Her big thing is, “But visions and prophets in these days? I just don’t know if that’s possible.”
The lesson took a turn as Marvin listened to us and then bore a powerful testimony of Jesus Christ. He started to cry as he shared his testimony and his hearts yearning to sit at the feet of Christ someday and listen to Him teach. His testimony touched my heart and following it, I bore my own. I made mention that because of their love for the Bible, they will love the Book of Mormon. When I concluded my testimony, Elder Jeppson shared his.
At this point, Marvin said a scripture had come to mind. He couldn’t remember where it was, but he could remember the phrase, “Try the spirits,” which we recognized as 1 John 4:1 (a scripture I consider to be the Bible equivalent to Moroni 10:3-5). We told him he was quoting 1 John 4:1, so we all turned there and he read verses 1-4. He looked up at us and said, “I guess this just comes back around to where you two started. I need to read the Book of Mormon and pray to know if it’s true.” We agreed. The Spirit was present and there was a special feeling in the room.
Since then, Marvin’s testimony has been on my mind. You could see his fervent desire to sit at the feet of Christ, our Savior, and hear Him teach. Just the other day in personal study, I was reading a portion of Alma’s ministry in the Book of Mormon. There is one point where he says, “I say unto you, can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come unto me ye blessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth?” (Alma 5:16). There is so much hope and joy in that thought. In an often dismal world, from death to sickness, divorce to addiction, revenge and animosity, prejudice and “secularism”, lights often seem dim and hopes seem fleeting. However, when I ponder on the idea of sitting at the feet of my Savior at some future day, my heart fills with immense gratitude and determination. Gratitude because Christ has done so much for me–I will never be able to thank Him enough. Determination because I will do all I can to hear the words, “Come unto me ye blessed.” Nothing can be sweeter than that.
Betsy has become a family friend. Technology hasn’t just allowed for us to be in frequent contact with her, but has also allowed her to reach out to my own family and draw strength from them. Between my own mother and friends she’s made in the ward, Betsy has one the most incredible support team.
As in weeks before, her faith continues to amaze me. For having only heard of the gospel 4-5 months ago, her trust in God has floored me. In a world that is so interconnected, we’re often forced to confront the hard questions. The same has been true for Betsy and to watch her take her answers and trust in the faith she already has has strengthed my own testimony.
Just this last week, as we talked with her, it was easy to see the light that shown from her eyes. She knows who we are: we are children of God. She has a personal relationship with Heavenly Father. She is humble and accepts the answers He gives.
We had our lesson this last Tuesday with Lynne. We’d invited a sister from our ward whom exemplifies everything Christlike. Her name is Stephanie Goepfert and just to put her selfless nature into perspective, last week at church one of the sisters left early. It was obvious that she was having a rough day. Almost immediately, Sister Goepfert left, because–as she told us later–“the Spirit told me I needed to go home and make dinner for her right now. I felt time is of the essence.”
In the lesson with Lynne, she bore a powerful witness of the reality of the gospel. The Spirit was strong, questions were answered, and yet again I’ve seen that members are the key.
Catholic Saints meet Latter-day Saints
Frank and Joan came to church yesterday. We’d visited them this last week, read 1 Nephi 6-7 with them, and had the first lesson where we could bear a bold testimony of the Book of Mormon. As a quick refresher, Frank has been quite against the church ever since his wife started meeting with missionaries 40 years ago (that’s double my age). And finally he is listening. It’s all under the pretense that he just wants to become familiar with his wife’s beliefs, but I have to smile each time because the Spirit whispers it’s a bit more than that.
So back to church. We were MAYBE expecting Joan, but right after Sacrament Meeting started, they both walked in. I almost jumped and ran over to them, but instead I just motioned for them to come sit next to us. They left after the 1st hour, but hey, baby steps. After all, 2 Nephi 28:30.
A few weeks ago, Elder Jeppson and I posed to each other the question, “If you were in a struggling ward or branch and you could choose your calling, what would you pick?” We both agreed on Elders Quorum President. Why? Because Home Teaching. Both of us have seen that every facet of any ward or branch is blessed when Home and Visiting Teaching are done. And we very well have the world’s greatest Elders Quorum and Relief Society President. They have a fire for taking care of those they have stewardship over. They absolutely don’t slack off. In fact, they go above and beyond. I have the greatest respect for these two–they are truly amazing.
Plainview!! Love it. Hope you all had a great week. 🙂