Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Week 39: God's Not Dead and other old news

I discovered my major temptation of the moment: to be a smart aleck with many of the people we meet.  I mean, I've always had a smart aleck tendency, that's old news.  But I can't afford to be while I'm wearing this tag.  It's real hard sometimes to listen to people say things that make no sense whatsoever and then have them not listen to a word you say in response.  So it's super tempting to say something to make them feel silly.  But then the Spirit stays your tongue and you move on to someone who will actually listen who can be reasoned with.
I confess to another brief moment of soapboxing, this time with an old minister who happened to be at the house of a potential.  He wouldn't give a straight answer to the questions "How, in all your studies, have you come to determine truth for yourself?" or "Did you ever pray to know which doctrine was right?" or "Don't you believe Heavenly Father would want us to have a way to know the truth as it pertains to our salvation, and know it now, not 'at the end, when it all comes out in the wash'?"  After listening to his non-answering responses, I nearly said "Do you mean to tell me reverend, that in all your years of study, not once did you kneel in prayer to ask God, the author of all truth, which church was true?  Isn't that like picking a medicine off the shelf for an inexplicable and plagueing ailment without once consulting a physician?"
But of course.  Spirit stayed my tongue.  And at his first chance, that reverend hopped on his bike and zoomed away real fast.  Go ahead. Flee from the truth.  Just because it disturbs your lifelong tradition.
Someone pointed out at our missionary fireside (which no investigators attended despite our incessant texting everyone we knew) that the world is looking for something - for some sort of deeper truth that commonplace religion seems to only have slivers of.  Well, let me tell you.  It seems that way because that's how it is.  Slivers.  There is so much more.  And the restored gospel of Jesus Christ has it all, has the meaning and purpose you're trying to find by coming out with movies like Son of God, Noah, Heaven is for Real, and God's Not Dead (like duh, heard of modern day revelation? it exists.)  This gospel has a fabulous way of connecting the teachings of Christ and the stories of the Bible and connecting them to real life.  When we promise investigators that "no matter what challenge or concern you may have or go through, this message, the gospel of Jesus Christ, WILL HELP"  because it's the truth.  Old news, guys, this is an eternal principle.  It's a promise we can make.  So of course we take every chance to.  Why else would we take 18 months out of our lives to knock on the doors of people who don't want to look at us?
Best thing we did this week:  acted out the Book of Mormon for a less-active/part-member family.  He's in his 20's and has the same attention span as his 1 year old son, so play-acting the brother of Jared and Nephi and the brass plates seemed like a good way to go.  We were 100% right.  They loved it.  We tied ribbons around our foreheads like headbands, the pirate-sword pen Aaron sent me served as the sword of Laban, and a handful of gravel from the driveway turned into glowing rocks right before our imaginations.  Both times, he got the message.  After Bro of Jared, he's like "So you're saying that every time you have a problem, you pray about it."  And after the brass plates, he's like "So you're saying that the scriptures are very, very important." and we're like "YES now come back to church :]"  His girlfriend came to church yesterday of her own accord! She's also reading the Book of Mormon every day because it helps her calm down and not kill people at work :]
Which brings me to the best thing that happened to us this week: Two investigators at church!  Diddy also came.  Finally.  And she enjoyed it.  Getting members to pick them up is so key, when it comes to getting them there the first time.  No one wants to walk alone into a strange place where peculiar people have foreign customs and traditions and inside jokes.  That's why every time we missionaries come over to your house, members, we ask you to invite a friend to church.  Because they know you, and know you're normal... mostly... probably..,.
1st dangerous thing that happened:  knocked some apartments and two of people that answered looked like they were on something and wanted to murder us slowly.  (don't worry, they didn't. we good.)
2nd dangerous thing:  Free bread at church.  And then free margarine at an activity.  Hello carbs.  Goodbye diet.
I think i re-learned what it means to bear one another's burdens a couple nights ago.  While teaching an investigator, another member of the household mentioned in passing that she'd give anything to go to a church again.  I turned around and invited her, told her we could get a member with a van big enough for both her young kids.  She thanked us, said she knows she needs to be in a church because nothing was going right.  Next thing I know, she's pouring out her heart to me, about how she has nothing for the baby she's expecting in a few months, about a family that can't or won't support her because they're all living off one disability check (disability = the great plague of Mississippi), about drunk fiance who told her to walk to her own doctors appointment and would rather buy beer than clothes for the newborn or food for the toddlers.  I thought I knew what hard knock was.  I didn't.  Moments like this make you wish you could save the world, or at least one person, from all the small and great evils of life, but all someone like me could do at the time was listen, put my arm around her, and assure her as a representative of Jesus Christ, that God still cared and that everything would be ok.  Mourn with those that mourn.  Comfort those that stand in need of comfort.  This is what it means to keep covenants.  This is part of discipleship.
Cassie sent me this quote:
In addition to teaching, encouraging, and cheering people on (that is the pleasant part of discipleship), from time to time these same messengers are called upon to worry, to warn, and sometimes just to weep (that is the painful part of discipleship).
And this is what Alma told me this week:
" And he lifted up his voice unto heaven, and cried, saying...  O Lord God, how long wilt thou suffer that such wickedness and infidelity shall be among this people? O Lord, wilt thou give me strength, that I may abear with mine infirmities. For I am infirm, and such wickedness among this people doth pain my soul.
 O Lord, my heart is exceedingly sorrowful; wilt thou comfort my soul ain Christ. O Lord, wilt thou grant unto me that I may have strength, that I may suffer with patience these bafflictions which shall come upon me, because of the iniquity of this people.   O Lord, wilt thou comfort my soul, and give unto me success, and also my fellow laborers who are with me...
 Wilt thou grant unto them that they may have strength, that they may abear their afflictions which shall come upon them because of the iniquities of this people.
  O Lord, wilt thou grant aunto us that we may have success in bringing them again unto thee in Christ."
And He does.
 38 And the Lord provided for them that they should hunger not, neither should they thirst; yea, and he also gave them strength, that they should suffer no manner of aafflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ. Now this was according to the prayer of Alma; and this because he prayed in bfaith.
Never underestimate the prayer of faith.  Of course God's not dead.  He's been here from the beginning, and will be with us, even unto the end of the world.

Sister Valdez

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