Wednesday, January 13, 2016

December 14, 2015 My testimony of this Gospel and the Love of God.

Alright, I'm going to try to cram everything in here this week, but no promises!  There were too many great things this week!

First, transfers.  We had a slight change.  There will no longer be a trio in the West side of town, just a normal companionship.  The new missionaries are Elder Prescott (who served in Pine Ridge about 4 1/2 months before me!  We talk about it all the time.) and Elder Mafi (brand new missionary.)  They are both Hawaiian (Elder Prescott is a big guy too), and Elder Mafi is part Tongan.  It is far too much fun out here, but it's the good kind of fun that gets the work done in a fun and great way.  Loving it like crazy out here!  I'm pretty sure I am now 1 of 2 white people (or "Washichu" in Lakota) in town.  I'm out numbered.  It's probably better that way haha!

We moved apartments since we lived in the house which is big enough for 3, and the apartment isn't big enough for that, but it turned out we didn't need to.  But, that's okay, we work on the East side of town and the apartment is closer to the East side than the house was.  Works out great!

This week, I am going to be bearing a long, drawn out testimony of the love that God has for all of His children, and that He truly does know best.  If He has somewhere He wants you to be, He'll get you there.  That is what happened this week for us on a daily basis.

This week wasn't super productive to begin with.  We all had to pack which took forever (for Elder Larsen and I.  Elder Payne threw everything into his bags super quick since he hasn't collected a bunch of stuff from the mission yet haha) and all of our appointments fell through.  Literally.  But, when they did, something better would always happen.  When an appointment on Wednesday fell through, we went to the school to talk to a guy there, and as we were walking up to it we saw a less active member that we haven't seen in forever.  As we talked to him, we found out that he had been kicked out of his home and is living with friends here and there as he looks for a job to support himself.  We were able to say a prayer with him and tell him we were here for him if he needed anything, then he left and we kept going to the school.  Right when we finished, the wind picked up.  Like, tornado status.  It was completely unexpected.  When we were almost to the school we passed a couple of kids, and one of them, about 8 years old, was hysterical.  He was terrified by the storm.  We walked him over to the school, tried to get in but it was locked and there was no one to let us in, so we sat and talked with him as we waited for a member to get there to pick him up and take him home.  As we talked with him, he slowly stopped crying and actually started feeling better.  After about 15 minutes, he was fine, and said he would just walk home.  So, we called the member and let her know. 

Wednesday night I got to help Sis. Anderson prepare names to take to the temple once she gets her recommend!  She is so excited to go again.  It has been a very long time since she has gone and she has never done her own family names.  Then, we dropped E. Larsen off, and went back home.  It was rather quiet without a 3rd person.  

Thursday we taught J again!  We had a super solid lesson on the Gospel of Jesus Christ!  Before we got started, he told his friend to come over and sit in on it, and his friend didn't want too and looked super uncomfortable about the whole situation.  As we talked with J, his friend eventually got up and came over.  He sat down and listened and asked us "Hey, when are you going to see J next?  I want to be there for it."  We were pumped!  We set a time to go see them the day after.  Sadly, they didn't keep their appointment.  But, that's just how Jerome roles.  He's funny and super forgetful.  That night we met the new Elders in town and showed them to their apartment.

Friday we introduced the new Elders to a few people and walked them around town to show them the sights.  Later in the day, Elder Payne and I ran out of dish soap, so we ran to the local grocery store to get some.  There is a cashier lady there that always talks to us and is super kind to us.  After we checked out, she kind of rebuked us, in a sense.  "You know, the guys before you two asked me if they could show me the light, but they never came.  Why not?"  She seemed pretty miffed!  We told her we had no idea.  "When would you like us to come over?"  "Tomorrow is my day off."  So, we set up a time to meet her and were super excited.  Funny, how the Lord works (even if it is through running out of dish soap halfway through the week!)  

Alright!  On to the best part of the week, starting with Saturday.  We went to the house of the grocery store lady, and got to know her and her husband rather well!  Then, we looked at our watches and realized we were already late for our next appointment, so we left the Restoration pamphlet with them and told them we were going to talk about that next time.  We set up an appointment for Sunday, then left.  Our next appointment bailed, so we decided to call a less active lady we haven't seen in forever.  A man answered the phone, so we asked for S.  He said that this isn't her phone anymore, then asked "Who is this?"  "It's the missionaries."  "Oh!  Well, I love reading the Book of Mormon.  Alma is my favorite book in the whole thing."  We sat there for a bit cause we didn't know what to say.  "Well, could we come over some time and talk with you about it?"  "Ummm.....  Are you busy now?"  "Nope!"  "Okay.  Come now."  We were over there so fast!  We knocked on the door, and S answered!  She invited us in, then A (the guy on the phone) invited us back outside to talk since the kids were loud. He is S's brother, and had investigated the church years ago, but he didn't want to give up alcohol.  He liked it too much, so he wasn't baptized.  We only talked for a little bit since he was drunk at the time and didn't want to talk for very long, so once he was finished with us, we went inside and talked with Stephanie.  We talked with her and asked her why she doesn't come to church.  She said it was because she lost track of the days and never remembered it was Sunday till church was already over, then asked us to call her Saturday night to remind her, then asked us to do it this week too.  We both thought for a second then told her it was Saturday.  She went blank faced for a second, then burst into laughter.  The poor lady!  She told us the reason she loses track of the days is because she hardly ever leaves the house.  The reason, is she struggles with addictions, and she doesn't want to succumb to those addictions anymore, so she doesn't expose herself to it.  

After we left, we called Sister Anderson (the lady we do Family History with who wants to go to the Temple) and set up a time to come over.  When we got there, she started talking to us about all the great things that have happened to her that day.  Then she got in to the fact that she wants to go to the temple, but the thing keeper her from going is the Word of Wisdom.  She hasn't smoked in over 2 months, but she drinks Coffee and tea.  We asked her what she thought her next step would be in stopping drinking those.  She told us to let them run out and never buy them again.  Then, I asked her "What if we helped you run out?  Right now?  We could help you throw it all away."  She got all excited about that, then she goes into the kitchen and hands us a garbage bag.  I opened it, and she started throwing away her boxes of tea, her coffee grinds, and her coffee machine, then we left with them and threw them in the dumpster.  That was quite the experience for us!  We also saw K again, and her boyfriend wanted a prayer cause he got pretty bad strep throat.  We then offered him a blessing, which made K get all excited about, so we explained what that was to him.  He said he would like one for sure.  E. Payne anointed, and I got to act as voice.  It was a wonderful experience for me.  I didn't have a single thought, and I can't even remember what I said, but it was a very special experience.  After I closed, we sat down and just talked with them, then shared Jeremiah 29:11-14.  It seemed to hit a tender spot, and I'm hoping we get to see what happens this next time we see them!

On to the Sabbath!!  Good ole Sunday!  We had a great time at church and a great turn out!  Elder Prescott bore powerful testimony of the blessings that have been promised to the Lamanites today, and the Spirit was so strong.  I wish I was a Lamanite sometimes...  but no.  I'm not cool enough (haha).  After church, we got home, stuffed some toast in our mouths, and drove to A and J's house.  We were both scared and excited, not knowing how this lesson would go.  We said a quick prayer in the car that we would be receptive to the promptings of the Spirit, and boy, was that prayer answered.  We got in, talked for a bit, said a prayer, then started to learn more about their background.  A was born and raised Catholic, but she doesn't agree with what they teach. J was born and raised Jehovah's Witness, but he doesn't have a single nice thing to say about them.  They both know there is a god, although it is a very abstract being.  As they talked with us, A told us about her daughter, who had fallen in the river a few years back, and how that totally turned her world upside down.  She asked us "If God is so loving, as you claim, why did he let that happen?  Why does He make this world such a bad place?"  J, to our surprise answered it.  "If you look at nature, you see how it testifies of a creator.  It teaches us so much about how God works.  There are opposites to everything.  If you didn't know dark, you could never understand light.  If you didn't know pain, you could never know health.  If you didn't know sorrow, you would never truly enjoy happiness."  We were blown off our seats by that!  She looked at us, and we looked at her and said "A, he is spot on."  We then proceeded to tell them about the Pre-Mortal life.  It seemed to kind of make sense, then they asked "well, if we were with God before, why should we come down here?  Why descend to this level of pain, when we were already happy with Him?"  We answered "God wanted us to be happy, as happy as He is.  But He knew something we didn't.  He had something we didn't.  A body.  We had to experience that opposition that John talked about, to be truly happy as God is.  That is why we are here.?"  And the lesson just kept going like that.  We would teach a point, they would ask a question, and we would chuckle and say "that is literally the next thing we were going to talk about."  The whole time.  Without fail.  Question after question that was being answered right after.  At one point, A said "I just need to shut up!  If I just listened, you would answer my question anyways!"  So, as we taught, we introduced the Book of Mormon.  They both looked scheptical, then we told them it is not another translation of the Bible.  It is a separate text entirely.  Then, we read in Alma 7, and they just looked amazed.  "Why isn't this in the Bible?  It should be in there!  It just makes too much sense to not be in there."  

And now, I am running out of time fast!  Long story short, the whole lesson went like that.  For 2 hours.  The Spirit was so strong, and when Elder Payne and I left, we didn't know what just happened.  So, we went to our next appointment.  Which, guess what?  THEY BAILED!  I felt prompted to go to the church for some reason.  Then, when we got there, E. Payne says "Lets go see Redwillow."  (Oh, by the way.  We were supposed to see Redwillow during that extra hour we spent at Anita and Johns.  It's an important side note.).  So, we did.  A man answered the door, told us she wasn't there, so we introduced ourselves.  "We're the missionaries."  "What do missionaries do?"  "Well, we talk about Jesus Christ."  "Then come on in and teach me something."  So we did.  I cannot emphasize this enough.  The Lord knows best, and He will provide a way for you to be where He needs you.  After a year of being a missionary, I finally feel like I had a day that I did EXACTLY what the Lord needed me to do.  The whole day.  There is no better feeling in the world.  For sake of time, I will just say this.  He was prepared by the Lord to receive this message.  Just like John and Anita, He was prepared.  Elder Payne and I never said a word of our own.  We only spoke as the mouth piece of the Lord.  M (that's his name) soaked it all in exactly like J and A.  The only difference was that we taught the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ instead of The Plan of Salvation.  

My friends and family.  My Brothers and sisters.  I love this time I have to be a servant of the Lord.  There is no greater work than to be declaring the everlasting Gospel to all that I meet.  Period.  It's hard, but it is great.  I love you all so very much.  I wish the best for you all!!

Elder Carter V

1) Goodbye to E. Larsen

2) The new Poplar crew!  (I'm surrounded by dark people.... What a treat!)

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