Monday, October 20, 2014

Week 64: A Kick Outta Zwick

Ya'll remember G-Con last spring, the Seventy that gave the talk "What Are You Thinking?"  He came and spoke at our Zone Conference.  I think he's related to our mission president somehow, because they go way back and he's spoken to our mission before, but I wasn't there for the last one.  So I was stoked I got to hear him this time.
He taught us how to simplify and intensify our teaching.  You state the principle, share an experience, back it up with doctrine out of the scriptures, and testify.  Bam.  Done.  He had us practice, then called a companionship from each zone to come up and demonstrate.  Guess who got chosen - (points to self) - mmhm.  In front of four zones and a member of the Seventy.  My heart was pounding out my chest, but I felt the Spirit really strong as I testified of a simple truth - that the Book of Mormon testifies of Christ.  Elder Zwick gave us feedback, and showed us where he wrote mine and Sister Schulthies names in his Preach My Gospel, right next to the principle.  I'm in a Seventy's personal PMG.  Page 105.  Hollaaaaa.
Sister Zwick taught us about prayer, and showed us a short video her adorbs little granddaughter had recorded on Sis Z's phone for us when she heard her grandma was going to speak to a bunch of missionaries.  "If things get stressful and hard and maybe people don't let you into their house, just say a prayer and everything will be fine.  Heavenly Father will be close to you and you will be close to him."  Out of the mouths of babes.  She also reminded us if there wasn't a way, God wouldn't ask us to do it.  We just need to pray for the faith to do it.
Elder Zwick then called us to repentance multiple times.  Very powerfully.  He basically told us we're spinning our wheels and it's time to sanctify and sacrifice.  Our mission hasn't made expected progress because we lack member involvement.  And if they're not stepping up their game, we have to push where we can.  Elder Bluth, who was also present, said "We will never improve anything unless we step out of our comfort zones."  For me, that means I have to talk to more strangers on the street, introduce myself to more members at church, and make more phone calls to follow up with them.  Elder Z had us make this promise:
I will never limit myself by what I think is my capacity.  I will allow the Lord to expand my capacity.  <-- And He will.
He gave us one specific piece of instruction to immediately apply:
Change the entire complexion of your preparation day to one of spiritual preparation.  Write to our families about spiritual experiences.  Do not let p-day activities distract us from getting back to work.  Teach one or two lessons in members homes every Monday evening and this mission will double in convert baptisms.  <-- That was the promise.  Get lessons on Pdays = get twice the baptisms as we would otherwise.  Dang.  That definitely caught our attention.  It seems simple, but I really believe it's a much needed focal point.  We missionaries have a tendency to really want to enjoy any time we get for leisure or to ourselves, including time we spend in members homes.  Those visits can get real casual real fast.  By cutting the fluff and teaching solid lessons in members homes, we can get them feeling the Spirit and getting as stoked about the work of salvation as we're all supposed to be.  By becoming a little less selfish, by keeping our focus throughout the day, and ending it right at 6pm so we can go teach a lesson, we'll be able to keep our minds from wandering into Babylon and instead staying lost in the work of Zion.  If we observe our covenants by sacrifice, the Lord will make our hearts to rejoice.
So that was zone conference with Elder Zwick.  Gave us a little kick in the pants, and that's good.  We all need to try a little harder to do a little better, always.  Upward and forward, or else you go backward.  And we don't want that.  We gave up too much to get here.  NO GOIN BACK.  So this week we actually did get to see a member family who we committed to think of someone to invite to church.  They thought seriously about it as we were sitting there with them, and each came up with a part-member family they know.  They felt that this could be the right time for them, and got really excited to invited them back to church!  Gospel zeal!  Hurrah!
In trivial news, Sister Schulthies let me darken her eyebrows and last night had me teach her how to use all this makeup this one member gave her.  We did makeovers.  It was a good time.  Also, remember how I've had the bad habit of picking and peeling my fingernails since I was like five?  Well I've kicked it.  My fingernails are currently the longest they've ever been in my entire life.  As in, actually long enough to file.  It's taken a crazy amount of discipline, but it makes me feel, like, super good about myself.

Speaking of addictions, we taught the stop smoking program to K-dog, a member's son who she's been trying to get off cigarettes and into the church for years and years and years.  We're all super excited because we're pretty sure it's finally his time.  He's been asking the member he works for questions about the gospel and he's thinking he wants to be baptized.  I hope he does, because he's one of my new favorite people and I want us to be friends for eternity.  I don't think I've ever laughed as much in a lesson as we did in our stop smoking workshop with K-dog.
Oh hey, last week I failed to mention the baptism the elders in our ward had last week.  A woman in her 80's had slowly and steadily - and readily - accepted the gospel after her LDS caretaker had invited her to meet with the missionaries.  She doesn't hear too well, and had to plug in her headphone and amplifier when I played and sang for the service - I Stand All Amazed.  And she's paralyzed from the waist down, so it took five men to get her from her wheelchair into the font.  A brother from the ward baptized her, and all four of our elders stood in a circle around her to catch as she went down into the water and lift her smoothly back to her feet.  It was flawless and beautiful.  The Spirit was so strong and one of my favorite verses came to mind:  "I will be on your right hand and on your left.... and mine angels round about you, to bear you up."   Missionary work - the errand of angels.

We showed the full length Prophet of the Restoration movie to a progressing investigator, who was really touched by it (she was also tickled to learn, being a black woman, that there were African Americans among the very first members of the church. shoutout to the Southern States mission!).  She's been taught for awhile, but according to Sister S, she's making step by step progress with every visit.  She told us she feels that Joseph Smith had to be a prophet inspired of God - there's no other way he'd have been able to endure what he did for this cause. 
I'll close with the words of my dear brother, J-Smith:
19 Now, what do we hear in the gospel which we have received? A voice of gladness! A voice of mercy from heaven; and a voice of truth out of the earth; glad tidings for the dead; a voice of gladness for the living and the dead; glad tidings of great joy...
22 Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad. Let the earth break forth into singing. Let the dead speak forth anthems of eternal praise to the King Immanuel, who hath ordained, before the world was, that which would enable us to redeem them out of their prison; for the prisoners shall go free. [D&C 128]

I love ya'll.  I pray for ya'll.  I thank the Lord for the blessing of being born into such a time as this.

Sister Valdez

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