This week was great. :) I hope you all had as much fun as I did.
We were on bikes this week again. I never really understood how the phrase "uphill both ways" could be true until I came here... But I survived.
On Tuesday we did some service for a really cool guy in our ward named Al. We helped him start laying stone for a back patio. And we also got a really cool new investigator named Don! A recent convert named John that we work with a lot invited him to come to church with him this week, and Don had some questions about what to expect, so John invited him to come over to his house and meet with us. We answered his questions and ended up teaching him the Restoration and it was pretty amazing. It was probably the best first lesson I have ever had on my mission. The Spirit was so strong, and he understood really well, and he was excited about the Book of Mormon and promised us he'd read it... It was great. :) But then he got sick Sunday morning and couldn't come to church. Sigh... there's always opposition. But we'll try to see him again this week.
We are also going to start teaching the daughter of a recent convert (Samantha) again. The girl's name is Dominique, and she used to be a pretty promising investigator, but she wasn't able to start living the Word of Wisdom, and things just kind of petered out. But she wants to start meeting with us again, and we're going to do the 15 step program with her. She came to church this week and she signed up to feed us dinner on Friday, so that's awesome. :)
We started the 15 step program with Mayetta, and she did really well! Well, at least, up until Sunday. But that's huge progress for her, so we're still excited! We're going to keep working with her and her husband on preparing for the temple. Could you guys pray for her? Quitting smoking is very hard and she could use the help.
Church yesterday was great. John received the Aaronic Priesthood, and Samantha brought her sister Mortisha to church! And the talks in sacrament meeting were awesome. One quote I really liked was something along the lines of "God promises us that when we repent of our sins, He remembers them no more (D&C 58:42). We ought to be like our Heavenly Father and do the same thing. We must repent, leave our sins in the past, and move on, facing the future with hope."
The Lord has really blessed us with new investigators this week and it's amazing. We basically got 3 new investigators (Mortisha, Dominique, and Don) and none of them were really from anything we did. I'm feeling pretty grateful to the Lord. Thank you all for your prayers, too. :)
My message this week is based on Helaman 3:35:
"Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God."I love this verse, and there is a lot to be learned from it. Like how fasting and praying often helps us become humble and develop strong faith. Or how humility and strength go together, and we are strongest when we are humble (see "Humility" in True to the Faith, it's a pretty awesome - and short - little section). Or how strong faith is not an abstraction or illusion but is firm and concrete and stabilizes us. But I think the most important part is the end bit: "...which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God."
Our purpose in life is to one day receive all that our Father in Heaven has to offer us. In order for us to do that we must both be cleansed from all sin and become like our Savior, becoming converted and developing His attributes. We must not only repent of our sins and be washed clean by His atonement, but we must change and grow and be made something new by His grace. At baptism we are washed clean from all sins and are spiritually reborn. We then receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, that He may be our companion and guide along our journey on the "strait and narrow path." That journey requires us to change and grow, to become like our Savior. It requires us to be not only clean, but become purified and sanctified.
And how do we become purified and sanctified? This verse teaches us that we must yield our hearts unto God. As we do this, praying and fasting oft, and waxing stronger and stronger in our humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, our souls will be filled with joy and consolation, even unto the purifying and the sanctification of our hearts.
I challenge each of you to join me in yielding your heart unto God. Pray often. Fast. Strive to become humble and increase your faith. Seek to learn His will and do it. Be willing to give up your own desires and will to do His, trusting that He has your best interests - and your eternal life - at heart. I promise you that as you yield your heart unto God throughout your life, you too will find that your hearts are filled with joy and consolation, and that they will be purified and sanctified. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Elder Alex Swindler
1) Me and Elders Bateman, Hoyt and Milne after the service project (this is the patio we started)
2 and 3) We call this hill Level 10