I'm sorry I didn't email last week, I ran out of time. We've had a great couple weeks though! We've got several pretty good investigators right now. We've been working a lot with Joe, Austin, and Brissa, and we've also started working with Roger and Mayetta's granddaughters who haven't been baptized (they are living with their grandparents). Teaching their grandkids is kind of crazy, it's really hard to get them to pay attention (they're 13, 12, and 7) but it's going better than we thought it would so that's good. We're really trying hard to help Austin gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon. He has really been struggling with understanding that the Bible and Book of Mormon go together (not for lack of trying on our part, but Austin's mildly autistic and he has a hard time understanding things sometimes), but really he's just an extreme case of what is true for everybody - that no amount of explaining can ever substitute for a witness from the Spirit that the book is true. Brissa is pretty awesome, she's very willing to read and pray and she seems to understand really well and like what we have to say. She just hasn't made it to church in the last couple weeks and we've had our last appointment or two with her cancel, so that's kind of hard. And Joe is awesome too! A month or two ago none of us would have expected this but now he's probably our top investigator. He's come to church two weeks in a row now and he seems to be really liking it. We've got to get him to read and pray about the Book of Mormon though. He's been reading a little but not very seriously yet. We'll work on helping him understand the importance of it when we see him this week.
We actually had a pretty awesome training on the Book of Mormon last week for Zone Conference. The HUGE importance of it, how to use it more effectively in teaching and finding, how to use it more effectively in our studies and personal lives, how to help members use it more effectively in their personal and family studies and share it with their friends... Stuff like that. President Griffin always gives phenomenal trainings so it was pretty great. And we were also trained on using more professional and dignified language fitting of representatives of the Lord, instead of inappropriately casual language and slang. The three of us have been trying to stop using replacement swear words (dangit, crap, fetch, etc.) and stop overusing the word "like" and it's been really hard... Haha it's actually really funny. One of us will accidentally say something we're trying not to and the others will point it out and it's just really funny.
Random story, last week we got preached at for like an hour by a crazy guy in the ghetto who had literally just smoked marijuana. We know he did because he told us. Haha it was hilarious. My companions got videos of it and I wish I could send them but the files are too big. He was going off on all sorts of stuff and I'm not sure if he ever really got to the point he was trying to get to in the first place. Something about the Israelites... It was awesome.
We also played street basketball with a teenage kid named Chase we saw when we were out knocking on a couple doors, and ended up talking with him and his mom about the Gospel. They were pretty open to meeting with us. That was pretty cool.
One more story and then I'll get to my message. On Friday night we were super tired and we decided to go to bed without planning for the next day, even though (we found out later) all three of us had each had an impression that we should. The next day we got a call from the Bishop asking us where we were. We had totally forgotten about a super important appointment that his wife had set up with a
less-active... Then she sent us a text that sounded super angry, and we felt terrible, and she wouldn't answer her phone... It was bad. We were all freaking out. We thought we'd ruined everything. But then later she called us back, and after we apologized profusely, she just started laughing at us. Apparently what actually happened was that the text she sent was totally sarcastic and she wasn't upset at all, she was just messing with us, and then she'd left her phone on the counter and gone and run an errand. It was hugely relieving... And a valuable lesson too. And also pretty funny.
Message for the week:
Like I was saying, the Book of Mormon is awesome. It can have a powerful effect in our lives if we will make consistent and prayerful use of it. I'd like to suggest something that President Griffin - and Nephi too - suggested to us to try as we study the Book of Mormon. In 1 Nephi 19:23, Nephi writes:
"...for I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning."
Also consider the words of the prophet Joseph Smith concerning the Book of Mormon in the introduction to the book:
"I told the brethren that ... a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”
If you want to strengthen your relationship with Christ, if you want to be closer to Him and experience the changing power of the Atonement in your life, I challenge you to join me in taking Nephi's challenge to "liken" the scriptures to yourself. Get yourself a fresh copy (just talk to any missionary or a member of your bishopric), start reading (prayerfully!) from the beginning, and try to put yourself into the book. Put yourself in the place of each of the people in the book. Put your name where their name is. Find common ground with them or consider how their stories are like your own life's story. Apply the doctrines and principles learned to yourself and your own life and challenges. Put yourself in the book! I promise you that it will change your life.
Another thing I'd like to invite you to do comes again from the introduction to the book:
"We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost. (See Moroni 10:3–5.)
"Those who gain this divine witness from the Holy Spirit will also come to know by the same power that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, that Joseph Smith is His revelator and prophet in these last days, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom once again established on the earth, preparatory to the Second Coming of the Messiah."
All men. Everywhere. Does that include you and me? Yep! It doesn't matter what your circumstances are, what concerns or questions you might have, or how many times you may have done this already, this invitation and promise are extended to you. Study and ponder the Book of Mormon. Get on your knees and ask God if it's true. I promise you He will answer you. In today's crazy world we can't expect to continue onward without continually renewing and strengthening our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, His chosen prophets, His Church, and the Book of Mormon. Please try this with me. I promise you it will help you. Just try it with a sincere heart.
I love you all! Make yourselves a great week!
So we left the other Elders our apartment key to get something they left, and they left us a little surprise... Haha they turned everything upside down, put our mattresses in the closet and the shower, and left q tips all over the place. But what they don't know is that we made a copy of their apartment key this week... >:)
We were cleaning off the roof of an old couple in our ward and the leaves would not blow off the roof. It was pretty funny actually.
President and Sister Griffin. Such mustache. Much blackmail. :)
Elders Bateman, Milne, Castleberry, me, and Beard. We all wore gray suits to church (not on purpose).
Elder McRae, me, and Elder Shurtleff on p-day [Posted back in October from the mission blog]
We opened the door one morning and this random cat just walked into our apartment. And then it looked super confused, like, wait a minute, something's not right... It was so funny. We fed it milk. And then it wouldn't stop following Elder Beard. Haha!
Gotta love the South
Hmm... Seems secure.
Selfie with Elder Beard
Elder Bateman and I getting our tracting faces on. #fierce