Monday, June 30, 2014

Converting Members

I turned 3 last week. Which is insane, there's no way that was three whole months. And then I was thinking, in another 3 i'l be a third through, and another three I'm halfway done....what is this madness? I'm having way too much fun to leave!! well, maybe not fun, but....missions are awesome. I'm having the time of my life. I'm enjoying myself, but the word "fun" doesn't fit. I dunno, English is weird. this is not the language they taught me at the MTC.

 We got transfer calls last night, and I'm leaving Casa Grande....which is really, really sad to me. I don't quite feel I'm done here yet, and I really love the people here, everyone we're teaching. A lot of hard stuff just came down on all of our investigators and recent converts, and suddenly everyone's having family problems, medical issues, discouragement, old friends, avoiding us all of the sudden without telling us why, etc. etc. etc. and I've been thinking about them all the time and praying for them and about them and trying to figure out ways to help them....and now I'm leaving them. And I really don't want to.

 But I know that this is the Lord's work, and whichever sister is taking my place has been handpicked by God to help these people. I just hope she's not overwhelmed.

 And I'm really sad to be leaving Sister Westfall. She's so awesome.

 Anyway, because it was a bit of a slow week and we don't have a lot of people to teach, we started setting up appointments with members to teach them. We teach them about the doctrine of Christ, the Gospel of Christ--faith in His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end--and try to convert them to missionary work. There's a handful of members who work with us, but we wanted the rest of the members to get excited about all the Hastening things going on and to get involved. Not sleeping through the Restoration, as President Uchtdorf would say.

 Turns out, all many of them are suuuuper missionary minded and are always looking for opportunities to uplift people and talk about Christ......they're just so discouraged. Either no successs has come from it, or they've been slapped down, or some awful experience, or whatever, and when we talked about missionary work, their shoulders just slump and they say, "We've been trying so hard."

 Well, our job is to help you too, not just nonmembers. :) That brought a lot of joy, too. Encouraging members, getting them excited again. Because really, I keep talking about how amazing and indescribable it is to watch people light up when they discover Christ, to see people who thought they were unworthy of love or so harshly condemned by God and seeing them discover God's love for them, and I really want every member to experience that, too. And it was so great to sit down with them and help them make baby step goals for themselves and get them to read Preach My Gospel and share examples from The Power of Everyday Missionaries. I feel like there should be missions just to members. "Sister Stratford, you have hereby been called to the Hillside Ward mission." hahaha. I'm sad to leave the members here in Casa Grande. They're so awesome.

 One investigator, the guy who really wanted to know if the Book of Mormon was more true scripture and if there were apostles today...did I name him? His name is Bob. 

 We taught him again this week, and we learned that he still hadn't read from the BoM or prayed to ask if it was true. And we're thinking, "alright, this is like the fourth time we've invited you to do this, what is it going to take?" He says he did a lot of reading about Mormonism and Joseph Smith and the BoM. But not actually praying or reading, not going to God about it, just man's wisdom. He didn't know if he could attend any church because of his peers and his neighborhood he can't get out of. "I don't know if I can really start a new life while I'm still living here. But I like learning about God."

 So while we were planning the lesson. Sister Westfall said, "We need to get him to read the BoM and feel the Spirit testify that it's true."
 And I said, "We really need to teach him about Christ's Atonement, and how it can pull him out of anything if he's willing."

 So we did both and read Alma 36 with him, which is Alma's conversion story. And that was super, super powerful. The Spirit was so strong. I watched his face changed as we read, and we really had a comfortable, amazing discussion about the purspoe of Christ's sacrifice, why we needed a Savior, how much He loves us, and how He frees us from bondage. It was such an amazing, personal spiritual experience. At the closing prayer, he told God he was sorry for not praying or reading to find out if it's all true, and promised he'd actually do it this time.

 One of the coolest thing as a missionary is when people stop promising you things and starts promising God. Developing that faith in Him, and not in us. 

 Missions are the greatest thing ever. 

 I'm really excited to find out where I'm going next. i'm looking forward to meeting new people and finding out why God sent me there. As President Uchtdorf said, and I'm quoting him a lot but he's my favorite: "There are no true endings, only everlasting beginnings." 

 Love you all! Thanks for being amazing influences in my life! :)

 -Sister Stratford

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