I can't believe I've already been gone for FIVE WEEKS! Time goes really quick here - I've only got 23 months left ha! Better start sending out the invites for my homecoming (I joke but those of you that know my mum know that this might just happen!).
It's been an interesting week as well and the weather here really seems to sum it up. A day can start here with a thunderstorm that floods the entire apartment complex we live in, meaning we can't leave the flat at all! Nothing is more frustrating than knowing you could be teaching an investigator (and that's rare here in Poquoson) and yet, not being able to get there. And yet, despite the crazy weather, we can be out tracting in the humid sun by 3pm til 9pm the exact same day, without a sign of a storm at all.
And that's been just like these past few days - I haven't been sleeping here at all since I arrived and, with riding a bike all day, I get pretty exhausted. So, when the alarm sounds at 6.30am and I've only had an hour or so of sleep, the last thing I want to do is wake up! The morning starts slow and the three hours of study before 11am is tough and, the last few days, I've found myself pleading with Heavenly Father that I'll have enough energy to work today and that I'll be able to keep a positive perspective and invite the Spirit into our lessons. And, as consistent as it has been that the sun will be out by the afternoon, each day we have seen miracles happen! It's simply amazing to see. For example, on Monday, I had my first teach (YAY!) with a recent convert called George. As we were teaching, I felt prompted that I should test both mine and George's faith and promise him that, if we were to pray at that very moment, he'd feel the exact same Spirit he'd felt when he was baptized. So, feeling pretty scared, that's what I did! And it was amazing. As I prayed, we both felt a significant change in ourselves as the Holy Ghost confirmed that baptism was an essential part of God's plan for His children and that the gift of the Holy Ghost is real!
Then on Wednesday, we managed to teach our first investigator! They are called the Zambrana family - Vanessa was baptized a few years back but went less active soon after. She, and her non member husband Christian, have just moved into the ward so she set up a dinner appointment to get to know us in preparation for coming back to church. After dinner, we began to teach the first teach - The Message of the Restoration. But, the more we talked, the more I felt prompted to focus on the first two principles of that lesson: that God is our Loving Father in Heaven and that families are essential to God's plan for us. As we asked what that meant to Christian, a distinct change came over him as, for the first time in his life, he considered how that would change his life. We invited them to pray as a family to know if God knows who they are and if He loves them - we've got a follow up appointment this evening and I'm really excited to see how it went.
We've also taught an FHE (or family home evening) with Danielle and her son David and she's really excited to be baptized - hopefully, her husband will support her and she can be a member in October time :) On another teach, we were able to encourage a less active husband to give a blessing to his wife (another result of asking inspired questions - there is nothing more amazing than having Heavenly Father's words coming out of your mouth!) and we've also had around 8 referrals from the YM in the past week (thank you Bishop Gilboy - I've been using the 'card scheme' that we have in Haywards Heath and it's working wonders!).
One of the coolest experiences so far though is how we met Brendan. We were coming back from a teach one evening and I had to use the bathroom so we popped into the nearest Subway. And there's this young guy behind the counter who's really friendly and calling us 'brother' and all. We start talking to him about Jesus Christ and he shares how, a few years ago, he ended up in rehab. He felt really lost and had no sense of purpose or direction. At this point he prayed and, from that moment on, he's had a testimony of Christ which has encouraged him to get clean and work three jobs! He has so much faith! So, we gave him a card and told him to check out 'mormon.org'. Ever since then, we haven't been able to get him out of our minds but we didn't know how to contact him! Until last night, when we see him at work again (just at the right time ofc ha!) and set up an appointment for tonight! I'M SO EXCITED - it's my first experience of finding and then teaching an investigator! I can't wait to see how our message of Joseph Smith affects him - hopefully, it'll be what he's looking for! I'll keep you posted on him anyway!
And finally, we should have our first baptism on the 15th September - her name is Barbara and she has an exceptional story! Maybe I'll share it next time, when the ending includes the words, 'and then, after she was confirmed....'
Anyway, I best be off! I love it here in Poquoson - it is a place of miracles!
Love Elder Pelham