We had a pretty good week this week. We got two more new investigators! Last night we visited a lady named Frankie, who requested a free bible, and we taught her and her mom the Restoration, and they liked it. They especially liked the idea of modern prophets. They agreed to read and pray about the Book of Mormon, which is great. We'll be seeing them again this week if plans don't change. And hopefully we'll be seeing Tonya too (the new investigator we found last week) - they had to cancel on us this last week.
Things got a little crazy Friday and Saturday. It snowed a little on Wednesday but only like 2-3 inches, but then on Friday and Saturday we got about a foot and our mission president told us not to travel unless it was absolutely necessary. Friday we were able to try to see a few people nearby and have dinner with a super cool recent convert family but Saturday it was bad enough that we couldn't go anywhere and we had to stay home all day (we should have stayed in on Friday too honestly but whatever. Haha) So we did some stuff around the apartment, like cleaning and rearranging the living room, and tried not to go too crazy.
I always laughed at the stories of Southern schools closing at even the hint of a possible chance of a snowflake, but it's seriously a thing. People just kind of hunker down when it snows here. We went to the grocery store and there was seriously no bread. I think it's a combination of not having the equipment to deal with it very well, people not knowing how to drive in the snow, Southern snow being more slick than Western snow (seriously!), and all the sketchy, hilly, winding Southern roads.
My message for the week is stolen from my mission president's weekly email to all the missionaries. It's a quote he stole from Tad R. Callister's book The Infinite Atonement. It's kind of long but it's totally worth reading. Please read it and ponder on how you can apply the cleansing and consoling powers of the Atonement more fully in your life.
"Among its blessings, the Atonement brings peace. It not only cleanses us, but it consoles us. I have found from practical experience that these two blessings do not always come hand in hand. On occasion, I have met with good Saints whom I believe have fully repented and partaken of the cleansing power of the Savior's sacrifice, but who still confess that they live with troubled consciences. They do not see how the Lord can possibly forgive them for what they have done. This forcibly struck me when I was conducting a temple recommend interview with a convert of about fifteen years. He had been faithful and devoted from the day of his baptism, but he wondered if the Lord could truly forgive him for his checkered life before he heard the gospel message. Such forgiveness seemed to much to ask. I do not believe he was alone in those feelings.While believing in Christ and his Atonement, some people have innocently, but incorrectly, placed limits on his regenerative powers. They have somehow converted an infinite Atonement into a finite one. They have taken the Atonement and circumscribed it with an artificial boundary that somehow falls short of their particular sin. Stephen Robinson made a similar observation:"I have learned there are many who believe Jesus is the Son of God and that he is the Savior of the World, but they do not believe that he can save them. They believe in his identity, but not in his power to cleanse and to purify and to save. To have faith in his identity is only half the principle. To have faith in his ability and in his power to cleanse and to save, that is the other half."These Saints are tougher on themselves than even the Savior might be. In a sense they have adopted their own parameters of justice and mercy. C.S. Lewis offered this counsel: "I think that if God forgives us we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than Him." Such an attitude can even engender the wrath of the Lord, as observed by Zenock: "Thou art angry, O Lord, with this people, because they will not understand thy mercies which thou hast bestowed upon them because of they Son" (Alma 33:16). In short, these Saints are their own bar to peace of mind. That is one reason it is so essential to understand the Atonement and its infinite nature, to seek after the whys and hows, as well as the consequences, for as our understanding of the Atonement increases, our ability to forgive ourselves and others increases as well.When we more fully understand the depths to which the Savior descended, the breadth to which he reached, and the heights to which he ascended, we can more readily accept that our own sins are within the vast sphere of his conquered domain. We then become believers, not only in the Atonement's infinite expanse, but in its intimate reach. The Savior's loving offer, "My peace I give unto you" (John 14:27), transforms itself from some abstract hope to profound personal reality. At such a time we receive not only of the cleansing power, but also the consoling power of the Atonement. Paul spoke of this blessing: "Our Lord Jesus Christ...hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace" (2 Thessalonians 2:16). It is through his consoling power that our "burdens may be light, through the joy of his Son" (Alma 33:23). We can then appreciate and accept Jacob's invitation to his people, "Let us remember him, and lay aside our sins, and not hang down our heads, for we are not cast off" (2 Nephi 10:20; emphasis added). We can receive the "exceedingly great joy" that comes to those who have received a remission of their sins after having "come to the knowledge of the glory of God" (Mosiah 4:11).While serving as a priesthood leader, I became acquainted with an exceptionally good man who some years before had committed a transgression that brought him great remorse. His suffering was prolonged and intense. My heart went out to him. In time I believed he was fully prepared to seek renewal of his temple recommend. I encouraged him in this pursuit, but he was reluctant to proceed. Even though I felt he had been forgiven, he could not seem to forgive himself. He may have been cleansed, but he was not convinced, neither was he consoled. As a result he deferred his return to the House of the Lord. His condition weighed on my mind. One day, while reflection on him, my mind was forcibly struck with this impression: "Brother ____________ has paid the uttermost farthing." A short time later the same impression returned with equal force. I shared the experience with this good brother and soon thereafter he found sufficient peace to renew his temple covenants. I have subsequently wondered, why did the impression come to me rather than the man himself? Perhaps his inability to forgive himself proved an impenetrable barrier to spiritual promptings. Perhaps he would have dismissed or rationalized away as self-generated any such impression if it had come directly to him. Maybe the Lord, in his loving kindness, knew the only way to reach him was by a message through an outside source, namely, his priesthood leader, which would be impossible to dismiss as his own wishful thinking. In any event, peace, that peace that heals and comforts and consoles the wounded soul, eventually found its place in another human heart.The people of King Benjamin struggled for that peaceful, consoling power, They saw ''themselves in their own carnal state" and felt "even less that the dust of the earth." In unanimity they pleaded, "O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins." Then came the divine response: "The Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ" (Mosiah 4:2-3). The Atonement did not just cleanse them, but it also consoled them."
I love you all. I hope that is as meaningful to you as it is for me right now. I know I'm pretty hard on myself. It is definitely hard for me to forgive myself. I hope you'll all join with me in working to believe Christ and allow His infinite Atonement to cleanse, heal, and console you. :)
I love you all! The Gospel's true! Make yourselves a great week!
Elder Alex Swindler
1) Wednesday's snow, the first real snow I've seen since I left Utah
2) Text we got from President Griffin Thursday night. Fun stuff.
3-4) We were going to contact someone at this address on Sunday but after we saw their driveway we figured we'd give it a snow check.