Hey Friends and Family,
First off, I'm sorry I didn't write a blog last week! The holiday season gets pretty crazy even for us missionaries and, by the time I'd finished all my other e-mails, I didn't have any time! But I'm back with some cool experiences to share...
This week has been mixed (again!) - Elder Ovard and I have been sick for the majority of the week so we've spent alot of time resting and we're still suffering a little (pray for us please) and there's been a lot of things to organize in the district (we've now grown from 7 to 11 - we have two Spanish Elders, Elder Guzman and Elder Perrault and a senior couple called the Wilsons) so, all of that combined has led to a lot of stress!
However, it's also been a week of miracles and growth! On Thursday, we had a district meeting and Elder Stagg trained on using the message of the Restoration with members. As part of his training, we did a role play where we taught the lesson in five minutes and then invited the head of household to pray to know if Joseph Smith was a prophet! And man, was it powerful! We've used it in nearly every lesson since and, every time, the Holy Ghost has reconfirmed that the First Vision is real. I'm grateful for that knowledge and have really felt a change in the way I think about that event :)
On that same vein - we went and spent the afternoon visiting less active members of the ward yesterday afternoon. Eventually, we were invited into the home of Sister Moore. We got to know her a bit and felt that we should share the message of the Restoration with her. So, we teach this lesson (which was one of the best lessons that Elder Ovard and I have taught together btw!) and got up to the point where we share the First Vision. I felt prompted to ask everyone to consider 'what has changed in your life as a result of the Restoration?'. As our young man, Kyle, read that account, I suddenly felt a sincere appreciation for the priesthood and the ability we have to give blessings. We started to teach the Book of Mormon when I felt inspired to ask Sister Moore when the last time she had a blessing was. Her face changed at that question as she said 'how did you know I was thinking that?! Just before you said those words, I had a thought pop into my head to ask you for one'! It was amazing - the Spirit was very strong and I was grateful that Heavenly Father allowed me to be a part of that! I definitely have a testimony of the priesthood - the power of God IS on the Earth!
I can see the change in me and hope it comes across in these entries. The reality is that, although Heavenly Father can use certain missionaries to touch certain people, our mission call is more about OUR conversion than anyone else's. I was reading a story during my study time the other day that really touched me and I'd like to share that with you:
'A few years ago, Elder Javier Misiego, from Madrid, Spain, was serving a full-time mission in Arizona. At that time, his mission call to the United States appeared somewhat unusual, as most young men from Spain were being called to serve in their own country.
At the conclusion of a stake fireside, where he and his companion had been invited to participate, Elder Misiego was approached by a less-active member of the Church who had been brought by a friend. It was the first time this man had been inside a chapel in years. Elder Misiego was asked if he might know a José Misiego in Madrid. When Elder Misiego responded that his father’s name was José Misiego, the man excitedly asked a few more questions to confirm that this was the José Misiego. When it was determined that they were speaking about the same man, this less-active member began to weep. “Your father was the only person I baptized during my entire mission,” he explained and described how his mission had been, in his mind, a failure. He attributed his years of inactivity to some feelings of inadequacy and concern, believing that he had somehow let the Lord down.
Elder Misiego then described what this supposed failure of a missionary meant to his family. He told him that his father, baptized as a young single adult, had married in the temple, that Elder Misiego was the fourth of six children, that all three boys and a sister had served full-time missions, that all were active in the Church, and that all who were married had been sealed in the temple.
The less-active returned missionary began to sob. Through his efforts, he now learned, scores of lives had been blessed, and the Lord had sent an elder from Madrid, Spain, all the way to a fireside in Arizona to let him know that he had not been a failure. The Lord knows where He wants each missionary to serve.'
I have a testimony that my mission call is from God Himself - I have had way too many 'aha' moments to doubt that I was called to Virginia by revelation! I'm excited as my wonderful cousin (who I am so proud of) and two of my best friends prepare to get their calls to serve the Lord this week - I will be there in spirit guys, I promise! Whatever that piece of paper says is EXACTLY where God wants you to go :)
I love God with all my heart and will always be grateful that He called and qualified an eighteen year old boy from Haywards Heath, England! In the words of Ammon 'I know that I am nothing... but with God, I can do all things'! I know this is real because I'm living it!