A Testimony is to be Found in the Bearing of It!
I had a really cool experience this week from sharing my testimony of Joseph Smith that I want to share. I’ll admit that this topic has never really been something I freely share. Maybe because I never felt quite as strongly about this aspect of the gospel as others. Silly, because it is so fundamental to every part of the gospel. I would sometimes avoid testifying of certain things if I wasn’t sure. But nobody has a perfect testimony. Well, I learned from reading a talk by President Packer that the Lord doesn’t ask us to have perfect testimonies, even as missionaries. Otherwise, where would faith play a part? How else would a bunch of 20 something hooligans be capable of performing the miracles and moving forward the work like we do. It truly is a miracle. President Packer says,
“The Spirit and testimony of Christ will come to you for the most part when, and remain with you only if, you share it. In that process is the very essence of the gospel. Is not this a perfect demonstration of Christianity? You cannot find it, nor keep it, nor enlarge it unless and until you are willing to share it. It is by giving it away freely that it becomes yours.”
The reality of his words really hit me this week when I had the chance to put them to the test. I’ll give you some back up information first to set the mood of the lesson. So we have some new investigators named Nina and Lenny who recently moved here from Puerto Rico with super-fast, thick accents. They are both 23 and have Pentecostal religious background. Nina is this model of perfect Puerto Rican beauty and Lenny is this huge professional boxer with all sorts body art. If that’s not already intimidating, just wait. So as we are making our way through the first lesson, we come to Joseph Smith’s first vision. It seemed to me like they were listening with wide eyes and open ears, but she immediately says (in a nutshell), “Nope, it’s not possible for anyone to see God. Not even in the bible times. Oh, and by the way… I went to read the Book of Mormon like you told me, but a voice told me not read it. So I believe it must have been the voice of God, because no evil thing can enter our house.”
Yikes! What do we do? There really was only one thing to do, and that was to share a simple testimony. Wow, I’m so grateful that I wasn’t alone in this moment of intense rejection. I told them that I know our message is different and it can even seem impossible, but it is not our message. That we are representatives of Jesus Christ and our purpose is to invite others to come to Him. That I know Joseph Smith truly was a prophet of God, and the Book of Mormon is the word of God. So there is no way to know if our message is true without reading it and asking in prayer for yourself. In that moment, I don’t know what they felt. But I felt the spirit confirm to me that these things are true. And this witness would have never come had I not taken a leap of faith.
After a quick prayer and some awkward goodbyes we were on our way out, and Nina says, “Well wait a minute, so when are you coming back?” Hahaha We were so surprised. But honestly, I know the Spirit was there with us that day and I think that they could feel it too. So maybe with time their hearts will soften as we continue to invite His presence. (Sister Baros)
Missionary Opens Her Mouth – Member Refers Golden Investigator; Coincidence? You Decide….(D&C 33:8)
As you know, I told you last week that I was going to be better at talking with everyone. Here is the result.
Last week, me and Sister Crowther spent a LOT of time tracting. Knocking doors, street contacting, talking to everyone we saw! We didn’t exactly find anyone because of that method… BUT God promises us that if we will open our mouths and talk with everyone, he will lead to us those people who are prepared to accept his gospel. AND HE DID!! If there is one thing i have learned on my mission, it is that GOD ALWAYS keeps his promises! As long as we keep our end, He is bound. So, we put that to the test this week and lo and behold, He kept his promise and sent us Elizabeth. Elizabeth was a referral from a member who missionaries have been trying to contact since way before I got here. She has been going to institute at the community college here all semester long and is interested in learning more. We have tried to meet her, but it has never worked out. On Wednesday evening, we got a text from Elizabeth that said who she was and that she would like to meet us!! So we texted her back and had a conversation about how she has liked institute, the Book of Mormon, etc.
We set up a time to meet her at church on Sunday, but God wanted us to meet her a lot sooner than that. Friday morning we got a call from her member friend, and she said they were helping Elizabeth move and needed us to come meet her! So we did! We drove straight there, and the Elders who had helped her move were waiting for us to get there so they could give her a blessing…. The elders gave her a very inspired and powerful blessing, then left. We decided she needed a little more spirituality, so we went to the church and gave her a church tour. It was SO POWERFUL! The Spirit was so strong as we wandered peacefully through the halls of the church, pointing out different pictures, talking about Christ and how He can help us, it was such a sweet experience. When we came to the chapel, we went inside, explained what it was and its purpose, talked about sacrament, and then sang “I Believe in Christ”. D espite the fact everyone is a little tone deaf, it was beautiful and heart felt. We taught her a short,Spirit-filled lesson on the Restoration right there in the chapel and invited her to be baptized, and she said YES! Elizabeth will be getting baptized in 2 weeks. Before we left the chapel, my companion asked Elizabeth to pray right then and there and ask God if this is what he wanted for her. She said one of the most sincere prayers i have ever heard. By the end, we were all in tears and she told us she knew this is what she needed and wanted.
Elizabeth is so excited about her baptism! In Gospel Principles class, we had to introduce ourselves and say one exciting thing that happened to us this week and Elizabeth stood up and said that her exciting thing was she had made the decision to be baptized!! Everyone was shocked for a moment, but then congratulated her and she invited them all to the baptism! haha It was perfect for our other 2 investigators there, who are having a harder time accepting baptism, to hear her excitement about baptism. (It also helped that the lesson just happened to be on Baptism that day… coincidence? I think not!)
When God promises, God delivers. That’s not to say that there won’t be bumps in the road and that this miracle will happen every week, but if nothing else, it built my testimony of Obedience to God’s commandments. As missionaries, we are commanded to speak to everyone. I have been a little selective with my interpretation of “everyone” on my mission and therefore, wasn’t gaining all the blessings God had in store for me. But when i started keeping my end of the deal more, so did he! God is Good! (Sister Garrett)
Now I Know You are REAL Missionaries!
This week we gained tons of member trust! We branded cows and I did the whole works! Flanking, cutting off ears, castrating, and branding. Ok, so maybe that was a little more than you wanted to know…haha. But it was FUN! There were some nonmembers and less actives there helping and the wife told us that we really gained their trust by showing them that we can get dirty. The next day at church, two of the nonmembers showed up. It was great.
We have also been doing a lot of practice lessons/pamphlet lessons with the members. A member’s comment yesterday after doing a practice with her and her husband was: “Now I know you are REAL missionaries.” President, we now have 20 referrals in our referral pool. They are giving them to us like crazy! (Sister Pass)