So, Boycey commented on how I didn't include many stories in my entry last week so I hope you're ready to be blown away my friend!
This has been a great week (I say that every week though eh?) with hurricanes, miracles and trials. I started off the week feeling really frustrated and wondering why my mission seemed so had so far... I mean, I'm trying to do a good thing right?! As I was writing all this into my journal, I felt prompted to set some goals (based on Elder Whiting's training the day before) on how I was going to change my situation and become a more powerful missionary. I recommitted myself to exact obedience - including a change of attitude concerning the rules - my focus level, using dignified language and striving for more unity in my companionship! Now, I mention this because it forms the background for the rest of the week...
On Wednesday evening, we scheduled a lesson with Brendan for the next day. We had been planning for the last two weeks to teach him the plan of salvation. So, we drive up to the chapel with him on Thursday and we're all set for the lesson. Well, as soon as I get out of the car, I feel prompted that we need to teach him the word of wisdom instead! Which makes me panic because I've never studied for or taught this lesson before ha! I turn round to Elder Bernfeld and whisper 'change of plan - I don't know why but we're teaching the word of wisdom today'! (I'm grateful for a companion that listens to the spirit too btw). We go sit in the sacrament hall - it's lovely and calm - and I'm pleading with Heavenly Father that we'll know what to say. And then, all of a sudden, I have the words I need to say come to mind to start the lesson. Whenever I finished these words, I stopped talking and Elder Bernfeld would continue where I left off (this may sound simple but teaching in unity isn't one of our strong points). And then I'd feel prompted to add onto that and, before we knew it, he'd committed to live the word of wisdom, especially quitting smoking, prior to his baptism!
However, that wasn't the celestial experience... as we closed the lesson, Brendan asked if I would close with prayer. As we knelt together and I began to pray, the Spirit bore witness to me of all that we had discussed and I really felt Christ there with us. When we'd finished, we looked up to see Brendan still on his knees and on the verge of tears. He shared with us that they hadn't been able to contact his brother for five days and that his family had been worried he was back on drugs. He felt touched that I had pray for our families, something I hardly ever do with an investigator. It really showed me that, when we strive to be better, the Holy Ghost will work through us! And, if it's the Holy Ghost that teaches the hearts of men and not me, then why can't every single lesson be a celestial experience?!
I also had my first interview with President Perry this week - he truly is an inspired man! The things we discussed are very sacred but I will share just how loved he made me feel and how he sought revelation that was to help me specifically! He is a great mission president and I love him a lot :)
On Saturday, the hurricane hit so we got evacuated to Yorktown to stay with some other missionaries! And, actually, it's been pretty fun! We've been playing a lot of card games though ha!
The highlight of my week, however, was Sunday! Christian (he's been an investigator since my first week in the field - in fact, we met Brendan on the way home from our first appointment with him!) came to church for the first time this week :) After church, we went straight over to see how he felt - I will now quote from my journal:
'We started off by answering their question about the word of wisdom (something Elder Bernfeld had felt was necessary during his personal study that morning) and, as we did so, I received a strong impression to invite Christian to pray for his answer right there and then (bold move as a missionary!). I promised him that if he did do, he'd receive his witness (by this point the Spirit was crazy as it testified to me that the Lord would honour my promise). At first, he hesitated so Vanessa called him out and said 'what are you expecting as an answer?!' and he said that he didn't know. We read D&C 9:8-9 together and, after bearing testimony again, he accepted our invitation.
There have been very few times in my life where I have recognized the Holy Ghost so strongly. As soon as Christian uttered 'Dear Heavenly Father', I felt overwhelmed and just wanted to cry. To hear this man who just nine weeks ago didn't believe in a god talk to his Father was simply majestic - the feeling of peace and joy I felt is why I love this job! As he closed his prayer, we stayed on our knees for a few minutes whilst he processed his feelings. And then he said 'it felt like it did last time'...
After a few questions, he shared that he had been in the woods a month or two ago with Vanessa and this was when she told him about the church. It was then that he first felt that 'piercing voice' we call the Holy Ghost ans, as he prayed with us, that feeling was only intensified.
To me, that is yet another miracle - during my study, I felt that Christian has indeed already received his answer and he just needed to remember (Mosiah 4:9-12). I feel very humbled that we were used as instruments in God's hands today to help a friend hear and recognize his Master's voice.
I closed the lesson with prayer and, this time, I couldn't contain the tears - for those two hours, I had become the missionary Christ needed me to be and I am so grateful for that! I know Christian is apprehensive to act upon his answer and accept the ordinance of baptism but I will do whatever I can to help him respond to this call. I have come to love his family and they give me hope that, one day, I too can have those experiences with my own family. I will never forget the experiences we've shared and have yet to share. The day he gets baptized will be one I tell my children!'
I know that these experiences have came as a result to those goals I set on Tuesday morning! I have a testimony that God works with those that work with Him and I feel very blessed to be on His team as a missionary! This church is true - I love it so much and that grows more every day! God hears our prayers :)
Love Elder Pelham :)