Investigators, prayers answered, brought low to be lifted up
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MADDIE! I can't believe you're in Primary now! You're so huuuge. I'm going to write you a letter today. I miss you!
I've reported on working with members in my past few emails and talked about our Preach My Gospel "One Heart One Mind" plan. This week we've begun to see the fruits of our labors. Early this week we visited a couple members, shared with them about opening our mouths and sharing simple and direct testimonies about the Book of Mormon, and then invited one of them to help us fellowship one of our investigators the following morning. Since President Hawks came, we've been allowed to teach female investigators, (it's been kind of awkward having women help us fellowship and then trying to answer them when they ask why we aren't passing the investigator over to the Sisters). Our investigator, Sister Yip, is very receptive to the message but has ZERO Christian background. Anyway, after the member we invited and the Relief Society President helped us fellowship her and had a wonderful lesson, on saturday night we received a call from our member saying that she took the initiative and called Sister Yip on her own to invite her to church. And Sister Yip came. Dressed up.
Another fruit has been talking with the active members who have a lot of fear about sharing the gospel, and are very timid (even with themselves) about their testimony of Jesus Christ. A few days ago we practiced with one such investigator, inviting him to teach me as if I were his friend. When I asked him how he knew Christ was his Savior, he turned to my companion and said, "I can't do it." We just stared at him and told him to try. It was tense for a few moments, but we watched as he engaged himself in introspection, looked at me straight in the eye and told me his testimony of how simply going to church strengthens his knowledge of the truth. It was simple, and it pushed him, but he said at the end of the lesson that he learns a lot from us every time he meets us. It was a testimony to me of the contant need for us as members to "teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom," to strengthen one another, and to mutually perfect each other in this mortal journey to eternal life.
I know that God answers prayers. One of our investigators, Andrew, last week texted us saying that "God couldn't redeem him." Every night after that I called him, and for a few days he didn't answer. So last Monday, Elder Farnsworth and I fasted and prayed for him to give us another chance to meet with him, and help him come closer to his Savior. He answered his phone that night, and we rescheduled him, and on wednesday we taught him, resolved his concerns with a member, and gave him a card that we made for him that was based on Alma 36, with a picture of us with him on the back. He told us that he had been in contact with another church, but we were the ones who called him back and actually showed that we cared. I felt so much love for him as I fasted and prayed for him, and God answered our prayers.
Recently we've had a ton of success in finding a lot of prepared people, with humble and receptive hearts. It's been a blessing, but it's also very interesting to note that all the investigators or potential investigators we have that seem to be progressing or will progress have a very close relationship with Mainland China. They are either from there, born there, or go there frequently. It's interesting to look back on the words of Elder (Bednar?) in an address to (Mission presidents?) a few years ago when he said (paraphrased), "China is ready for the Gospel, but we aren't ready for China." Get those 18 and 19 year old missionaries out now, I am a witness to the truth that people in China are ready to hear the Good News. Double, nay, sextouple the army of the Lord!
My testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ was strengthened this week as I was brought down with a cold. Being sick, even a little bit sick, as a missionary is the worst. You can't just stop working. But that's what actually made the past few days some of the best few days. Sometimes we are brought to low points, or brought down to a lower plane in order to clearly see the blessings wie've been given. I found that as I forced myself to keep going at a lower level, I was able to see several of the blessings that attend my "normal" functioning mode.
Our low points in life can be anywhere from something as scary and severe as cancer or the death of a loved one to something as temporary and trivial as catching a minor cold. Whatever is included in life's current hindrance, it's purpose is to help us understand our own circumstances from a lower level, and see the blessings we've been given when life is easier, supported by the comforts of health and financial security. We learn at our lower points that we are never ready to receive more blessings until we've learned to appreciate and cherish the ones we've already been given.
God breaks us down to lift us up. It is by this principle that we are enabled to recognize and understand the merits of Christ's atoning sacrifice; just as we are lifted up and built stronger by our own experiences and trials, He who descended below us all has been lifted the highest to guide us back to Heavenly Father. As we see the blessings and the goodness of life from a lower plane, so has Christ seen us from the lowest of all planes. Only through Him, by Him, and with Him can we ever expect to reach the highest of all planes, even in celestial glory with our Father in Heaven. We must be brought down, even as our Savior was, in order to be lifted up.
I know that this work is God's work. The atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ is more real than I ever knew before. We can feel the prints in His hands and feet as we partake of the emblems of His holy sacrifice every Sunday morning.