Saturday, July 30, 2016

Learning From the Book of Mormon

I look forward to hearing about how fair goes. I wish I could be home to help train and fit the steers. Those skills I learned with the steers have carried into missionary life.  Elder Palmer and I needed hair cuts, so I trimmed him up, and he cut my hair. He did a good job. Also, training and steer is a bit like training a new missionary.  First of all, you are always training when you are with the steers. They observe everything you do and your reactions.  Second, it is best to be consistent in how you tell the steer what to do so they know exactly what you are trying to tell them.  In a similar way, a new missionary pays attention to everything you do.  You have to be consistent in your attitude and the rules that you keep.  If for any reason you need to do something that does not fall in line with all the rules, specifically the minor ones, it is important to explain why and what.  From what I understand, parenting is very similar.  You can’t pick and choose when you are training, or parenting.

This last week and the week before, there have been homecoming talks by missionaries returning to this ward. One of the recently returned missionaries served in La Crosse, Wisconsin and spoke Hmong. He knew the Bakers! That was a fun connection. One missionary got home from Argentina last week.  I have observed who these missionaries become and their testimonies, and how they adjust to “real life.”  Some are super happy, others act like they are still far away, another made everyone feel special. When I get home, I will be super exited to be with you all again.  It may take some time to adjust.  I may feel like it’s not real.  I’ll need to be busy.  I may get stressed as I make decisions about college, but I will love being with you to share experiences, laugh, play, talk, and work. 

What are some of the insights that you have found as you have read the scriptures lately?  I’ve found that the Book of Mormon was written for our day.  Helaman 13: 24-28 describes how corrupt people can be.  They go to pastors who preach smooth things, who say you are saved by grace.  You cannot work your way into heaven, so just be a good person.  Christ has payed the price for your sins.  Well, true it is that Christ’s grace is what saves us, and, on our own, we unworthy creatures cannot merit anything, but it is upon conditions of repentance that we receive Christ’s mercy.  To save us (meaning reward us all Eternal Life) regardless of the choices we made, would not be just.  And god is just. Were it not so, God would cease to be God, and we could never anticipate the results of our choices, therefore making it impossible to choose good verses evil.  (I hope that made sense, if not, you can ask me about it when I get home, or in a letter.)

Another passage in Helaman, Helaman16: 20-22, describes a complaint/argument that unbelievers have.  I hear this today too.  People say that we are brainwashed or controlled by a prophet, a man. They say that they only need their relationship with God, not man.  They think that religion restricts them, telling them what they should or shouldn't do.  They are not willing to humble themselves and seek to do the God’s will.  Why do they not see that living in sin restricts them?  Doing God’s will enables us to be free.  Anarchy is not freedom.  Living within the bounds the Lord has set will grant us Eternal Life someday. What could be more free than inheriting all that the Father has? Romans 8:16-17 Anyway, Helaman wrote for our day.  His days were like our days.  If only we could learn from those accounts.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Madelene's Baptism

Saturday was Madelene's baptism. She came with her white hair looking nice. We took pictures with her. Madelene also brought her care-taker, Rexine, who is not a member (Rexine came to our lesson with Madelene on Thursday and she seemed very interested...). Many members from the ward attended. I gave a talk on baptism that was very brief. I shared two scriptures (2Nephi 31:5-7 and  Romans 6:1-3). We had 4 non-members from our ward who were there, so I hope they understood what was taught. Elder Palmer baptized Madelene with the assistance of a boy who has a mission call to Ecuador.
Madelene was slightly nervous (she has a hard time getting around because of a back injury), but they put her down slowly into the water and only had to do it once. While we waited for Madelene to change, we passed our paper for the members and non-members to write on to Madelene. She told us on Sunday that she had read all the notes, and she thanked us and others for their words.

Sunday was a day full of miracles. A man named Nicolas came into church with shorts and a purple t-shirt on about 30 minutes before church. He's from New York, but he lives here now. He had attended church before with colleagues of his and he is interested in learning more. We got his number. Our Elder's Quorum President and Ward Mission Leader jumped on it. Nicolas sat with one of them and he looked comfortable! Heavenly Father can do His own work. Madelene got confirmed in sacrament meeting and there were a bunch of non-members there because a guy named Dakota was giving his homecoming talk from his mission. Grace, a 93 year old investigator of ours, also came to listen to her dear friend, Sister Greding, speak. (I'm not sure what it is with us teaching old ladies).

After church we went by a potential investigator who said to come by at 4:30. The potential wasn't there, but a guy named Steve answered. He said he'd be interested in learning more, so we set up a return appointment for Tuesday!

For dinner, we ate with the Galeria family. Their youngest daughter just graduated high school and she's preparing for a mission. She has a boyfriend named Tony who also came for dinner. Those two have been reading the Book of Mormon together and right now they are in Mosiah, I think. We asked if we could share a message. The Galeria's asked if we would teach Tony the restoration. Of course, we accepted. We tried to understand what Tony believes and what level of understanding he has by asking questions. Although Tony didn't understand everything we taught, the Spirit was in that home so strong, especially as Brother Galeria shared his testimony. We asked Tony if he would get baptized if he found that the Book of Mormon was true. He said "yes"! We left the Galeria's filled with the Spirit.

The great day didn't end there. The Fauvers had us over for cake because Sister Fauver's birthday is this week. They also had planned on us teaching one of their daughter's friends, named Kayla. Kayla did not grow up in a very religious home. She knew about or believed in God, but was not familiar with much of the Bible or what the Atonement is. However, she'd been asking her friend, Sofia, a bunch of really sincere questions. Kayla recognized that she felt happy and "pure" (that was how she described the Spirit to us) when she talked with us, when she hangs out at the Fauver's, and when she comes to church (she's been to church twice since I've been here). We taught her who Heavenly Father is, who Jesus Christ is, how the spirit speaks to us, and prayer. She loved the lesson. The feeling of peace and truth that the Spirit brings just wrapped the room up like a warm blanket. Both Sofia and another 16 year old kid from the ward sat in on the lesson and had great input. They testified of the Book of Mormon and modern day prophets. I wish you could have watched Kayla's face light up as we told her that we have a prophet on Earth today!

I'm so happy out here. There are struggles and disappointments, but the thoughts and effects of all the challenges are made sweet when God reveals His hand. The Priesthood is real! The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ. Joseph Smith saw who he said he saw. Jesus Christ is my savior. We are all beloved sons and daughters of Heavenly Parents. The Holy Ghost has confirmed these things to me. Heavenly Father knows each one of us. We are led today by a prophet called of God.

Follow-up Training Meeting