This week pretty much had it all! The good, the bad, the ugly. We set new all-time heat records for the area this week, AND had lightning storms. We got promising new investigators, and faced more screaming, cussing and opposition than before. And, as in all trials, I found new lows I could descend to, and new strength I never knew I had. There really is nothing like a mission to make us realize who we truly are and what we can do.
N is doing really well. He has such great faith, but his mom just isn't realizing that this is his choice that he's making. He's determined to get baptized and says for sure his mom will come around, just maybe not before August 15th... Hopefully I stay here one more transfer :)
I spent a good deal of time going through old area books and found probably 5 or 6 new people we're going to check on that look promising! That's pretty exciting.
We visited a referral that we were given, and he noticed Elder R well-used shoes, and up and gave him $50 to get new ones! Welcome to Ashburn!!! Didn't even dent his pocket...
Last week, we were riding our bikes and Elder R's pedal fell off... I guess the stripping on the bolt holding it in place is stripped. We're not sure how that happened... maybe his fall... either way, we spent a day or so walking until we found him a new bike. Of course that was the hot day. Apparently walking makes you an easier target for ticks, too... The stupid ones at least. The idiot dug in on the back of my hand... "FOUND YA!!" haha. Wasn't too tough. (it wasn't a deer tick, so I'm not worried about Lyme).
I think the big story of the week is D. You may remember him, he's the guy who had been meeting with missionaries for 20 years, but never was invited to read and pray about the book of mormon. We stopped by his house unexpected, and he opens the door with the Stick of Joseph in his hands! We're like, okay, that's a good sign! We walk in, sit down, and immediately, he looks me in the eye, and says "Why did you tell me about proxy work in the temple last time?" I did a double take. Did we talk about that? Then I remembered we had. It had felt totally strange, but the spirit told us to bring it up, so we shared with him how we perform ordinances (such as baptism) for the deceased in the temple. It made no sense to us at the time, but we're never ones to ignore the spirit because it doesn't make sense. Well, apparently, The day after our last conversation, Danny went to the doctors, and they kept him there to run some tests and make sure he didn't have cancer. He has a clean bill of health, but it got him thinking: "maybe this is God's way of telling me that I'm gonna die eventually and I need to be ready." Then he remembered what we had said about proxy work, and immediately became worried: "I can't make these guys do all that work for me in their temple!" So, he's committed to reading the Book of Mormon cover to cover, and has asked us to give the discussions. He is currently on an Alaskan cruise, but he has the Book of Mormon with him, and we're really excited for his return.
We have a Zone conference tomorrow (our first one with President Riggs), so that's another thing we're looking forward to. It'll be neat to see how he does stuff like that. How different/similar will he be to Albright?
One thing I find really funny is people... that sounds strange... allow me to explain. I mentioned we faced more screaming, swearing, etc. this week than ever before, and I honestly have the hardest time not laughing. I mean, why are people so afraid of us? We're two young men (19 and 24) riding around on bicycles. Pretty big threat, right? I really do find it funny that people are so afraid of us. If the two of us walked into any professional situation, people would say we're too young to have any effect on a business or anything like that. But out here on the streets, where we have been set apart to spread the word of the Lord, people are legitimately scared that we'll have an effect. Once I've finished laughing about that, though, I find myself very sad. They're scared of us because they know that the Lord does give us power. They're scared of us because people do receive our message. They're scared of us, when they themselves know nothing about us. They know people change when they talk to us, but they never want to know why or how they change. They're too scared of becoming closer to Christ to even let us get a word in edgewise. They recognize that power, and attribute it to Satan. We work for the devil, they say, and that's how we get our power. The Savior said "by their fruits ye shall know them." These people may have had other experiences, but I've never seen an active Latter Day Saint promoting Satanism, or trying to kill, cheat or abuse people. The only fruits I see are news stations saying the "two churches" that saved the starving country after the earthquake were the "Mormons and the LDS church." I see young boys setting aside perfectly good lives for two years to share the message we have; a message that centers on Jesus Christ and how we can become closer to him. I see hardworking citizens with a light in their eye providing community service and participating in their community, raising strong families and promoting age-old values. Judging by the Savior's "by their fruits ye shall know them," I would conclude we are not of the devil. Yet, I also reaffirm that we do carry power with us. So, if our power is not of the devil, than who is it from? Well, I know two guys in shirts and ties who would love to answer that question. ;)
I think I've discovered the theme of my mission (at least thus far): covenants. My farewell talk I was asked to give was on how serving a mission fulfills covenants we've made, and pretty much every sacrament meeting in the field has been about covenants, or ordinances, or temples. On top of that, I'm stumbling across it in my personal studies all the time! The Lord wants me to learn SOMETHING about covenants, so I'm paying attention and studying hard, so I can be where I need to be, when I need to be there, and ready to do what I need to do while I'm there.
One thing I wish I'd realized when I gave my talk: the Abrahamic Covenant!!! Why didn't I THINK of that? Under the Abrahamic covenant, the house of Israel, as the Lord's chosen people, are not chosen to be "better" than everyone else, but to be better FOR everyone else. The covenant God made with Abraham asks that the people of Israel (the Lord's chosen people) answer their call as they are chosen to spread the word of God. To the rest of the world! I centered my entire talk on covenants I've entered into recently, but I didn't think of the age-old covenant I am a part of. As a son of the house of Israel through the tribe and family of Ephriam, it is my covenant duty to preach the word of God to the rest of the world! So preach I will. :)
One final thought: I had my ipod on shuffle the other day and came across the song "just another ordinary miracle." It really got me thinking. Do we notice all the miracles around us? I encourage you to listen to that song and pay special attention for the "ordinary miracles" the Lord blesses us with every day. Then thank him for them. I can promise that as you do so, you will find yourself more cheerful, more in tune with the spirit, and more pleasant to be around (nobody likes a mr. Grumpy) ;)
God bless you all, and may the Lord watch over you now and always. Let me know if there is anything I can do for you.
P.S. - Please everybody, keep my family in your prayers. They lost our sweet Brodie this week, marking two sons lost in two months. They'll be in need of some testosterone tearing through the house at top speed, causing noise when it's totally unnecessary, and cuddling up to mommy while she watches her chick flicks by the fireplace.... Although, lets leave that last part to my dad, to avoid unnecessary creepiness...