September 22, 2014
Hey Family and Friends!
This past week has been a really good week. We committed another person to baptism this week. Her name is Edis and she is from Honduras.
Last Monday during our p-day, Elder Remund and I, and three other missionaries went mini golfing in Williamsburg and then went to the colonial town of Williamsburg. Williamsburg is a revolutionary war era town that was occupied by the British. When the Patriots won the revolutionary war they stormed in and took over the town. The town has been really well preserved, so it was pretty fun to tour.
That night, we taught a guy named Giovanni for the first time. We taught him the Restoration and it was an amazing lesson. When I was on splits last week with my zone leaders they told me that whenever missionaries teach someone for the first time about the Restoration of the gospel, Satan always tries to create a disturbance to distract the individual from feeling the spirit. I definitely noticed that during the lesson. Our area is next to an army base and a few times a day loud fighter jet will fly by. When my companion began reciting the experience of the first vision, many loud fighter jets flew by one right after another. But that didn't derail our lesson and we got invited to come by again. I think he potentially be a really good investigator.
On Tuesday we dropped off our car at a dealership because our bumper needed to be fixed. We ended up not getting the car back until late Friday. During those three days without a car, we did a ton of walking because we don’t have bikes to fall back on. In those 3 days we walked over 20 miles! It was hard because our bags were filled with a lot of Spanish and English materials and so our bags were heavy.
Wednesday we had zone conference in Virginia Beach. We were told the musical called "The Book of Mormon," will be coming to Norfolk Virginia during the last week of October. To counteract this, On November 1st we will be doing a Social Media split. Local members will spend the entire day with us and during that time they will take pictures and videos of us as we have our studies in the morning, lessons with investigators, and do street contacts. Then, the members will post the videos and pictures online to social media sites so that people in this area can see what missionaries are really do. President Baker said that in this way we can use this event as an opportunity to create interest in our church after people in the community see the musical.
Later that night we had a really good lesson with Jeff and his family. Jeff is coming closer and closer to baptism and he even says so himself so that's really exciting.
On Thursday morning, Elder Remund and I walked from our apartment to the dealership to pick up the car. They were running behind so we walked over to this park to figure out what we were going to do the rest of the day since we wouldn't have a car. While we were there, a black preacher came over and started talking to us. After we talked to him for a while he went off on this tangent about how there was going to be a third coming of Christ and about the dimensions of heaven. He was quoting scriptures from the Book of Jude and Revelations, which I wasn't too familiar with. We just listened to him and then introduced the Book of Mormon to him. He actually said he would read it, which was pretty cool.
On Friday, Elder Remund and I attended a family history class that the stake here requires that all new missionaries in this area take. It was a very interesting class. The instructor talked about how we can use family history to introduce the gospel to people, which I had never though of before. We were finally able to pick up our car later that day. I don't think I have ever been so happy to be able to ride in a car.
Yesterday, we drove down to Buckrow Beach in Hampton because we had two appointments with Latino families. We brought a 17 year-old member of our ward, Brother Richie. The Richie family is one of the Anglo families that have been assigned to our Hispanic branch, to provide leadership and help this Spanish branch grow. It ends up that neither of the families were at home. As we were walking back to the car, our phone started ringing, so Elder Remund answered it. As he was talking, a man from across the street asked, "May I ask you gentleman from which organization you guys are from?" So I walked over there with Brother Richie while my companion continued to talk on the phone. I answered that we were missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He said that he had seen us in the neighborhood talking his neighbors and wondered why we hadn't ever stopped at his house. I told him that we were called as Spanish speaking missionaries, so our focus was to talk to Latinos, but we were more than willing to speak to English people as well. I asked him if he would be interested in hearing a message from us about Jesus Christ. He declined because he said that he already knew a lot about Jesus Christ and the Bible, and that he was already "full of the faith". I asked him if I could at least give him a card from our church. He said yes, so I handed him a pass along card with a picture of the Resurrected Savior on it. I explained that our purpose as missionaries is to testify of Christ and bring others to Him. He really liked the picture of the Savior. He said that he really admired us in how that we took our time to bring happiness to others and to testify of the Savior. He then said, "I'm not trying to take up your time or offend you or anything but can I ask you a question?" He asked, "What is your church's stance on gay marriage?" At this point Elder Remund was just starting to cross the street so I knew I had to answer the question and not wait for Elder Remund. I started to give him an answer, and it just amazed me what came out of my mouth as I started quoting phrases from the Family Proclamation to the World that I didn't even realize that I knew well enough to quote word for word. I blended those phrases that I recited to him with my answer about how God loves each of his children so much and that we lived with him before our life on Earth. I said that He loves everyone here on earth because we are all of his children. I explained that "gender is an essential characteristic of who we were before this earth" and that "God had ordained marriage between a man and a woman to bring happiness to his children," and therefore we did not support gay marriage. I said something kind of like that although it flowed and sounded a whole lot better when I explained it to him. He seemed really satisfied with that answer and that's when I launched into “Because God loves us he called prophets in the bible, etc. and basically I ended up explaining the Book of Mormon to him. We read a couple scriptures about the Savior and that the Book of Mormon has is another testament and witness of our Savior Jesus Christ. At this point, my companion finally was able to jump in and bear his testimony too. We committed him to read the Book of Mormon and he was super excited about doing so. When we were done talking to him we asked him to pray. And in the prayer he thanked God that he was able to talk to us because we were an answer to a prayer that he had offered earlier that day, in which he had asked how he could come closer to his Savior Jesus Christ. It was an amazing experience and the spirit was so strong. I really know now that the scripture in D&C that talks about "first study the word and then you will be given in the moment what to say" to be true. When it was just the two of us talking, I really felt like I was being guided in what to say because I'm positive those weren't my words that were coming out.
Last night, we visited Jonathon. We have tried to come by and talk to him in the past but he has always said that he was busy. One of our other appointments had fallen through, and we felt like we should go see him, so we did. We knocked on his door, and he answered it and said, "I don't know how to say this, but I don't want you guys to come to my house anymore. I'm just in a part of my life where things have been hard and I just don't want to hear from you guys." We told him that we understood.” Then he asked, "Before you guys leave, do you want some water?" After he got us some water, the spirit touched his heart because we ended up staying there on his doorstep talking to him about questions that he had just about life and about Jesus Christ and his Atonement and how he had suffered for his sins. We also gave a Book of Mormon and talked to him about it and he said he would read it. We told him we wouldn't stop by anymore but we that if he ever needed help to give us a call. I wouldn't be surprised if he calls us by the end of the week.
Being here on a mission is hard work. It's probably some of the hardest work that I have ever done. It has its downs when people reject your message but I have experienced so much joy as well. I have already seen how people can change and bring happiness into their lives as they come closer to their Savior, Jesus Christ.
sheep pasture in Colonial town of Williamsburg
Governor's Palace in Colonial town of Williamsburg