Wednesday, March 16, 2016

16 March 2016 - 11th Letter Home

11th Letter Home

Dear All,
It's the Easter season! And we all know what that means: bunnies and
candy. Well, that's what a lot of people think it means. What it's
actually about is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I'm gonna add a
few links to videos at the bottom that I encourage anyone who reads
this to click on and take a couple minutes to watch. They're all
related to Easter and mainly about the Resurrection. I've never really
realized the significance of Easter. I always thought about it as this
awesome holiday where the Easter Bunny brings candy to me. Honestly,
it's about so much more than that. This has been the theme of the
week: "The resurrection that Christ made possible." We've been talking
with people about this a lot, and it's been super on my mind. Can you
imagine if everything ended at death? What would be the point? The
good thing is, it doesn't end at death. In fact, our mortal lives are
so so short in comparison to the rest of time and eternity. Jesus
Christ made it possible for all of us to be cleansed from our sins and
gave us the Resurrection for free. It's just great.

I'll start with something funny that happened about 15 minutes ago. I
had a full half-gallon of milk that I wasn't gonna use and was gonna
be bad soon. Elder Bell loves cereal and was gonna have some, so I
told him he could have the milk. I sat down to eat lunch and he was eating
cereal. About 10 minutes later, I look over and the half-gallon is
almost completely gone. Also, the cereal bag was about 2/3 of the way
gone. We laughed hysterically once we realized how much he just ate.
We did the math and he ate about 2000 calories worth in that short 10
minutes. It was 60+ grams of protein and about 200 grams of sugar. It
was just so, um, ridiculous. I think that is probably the best word.

I was reading an email from Elder Olsen, my MTC district leader, and
he said something really profound that I totally agree with 100%. He
said, "I feel as though I am a new convert to the church, out here on
my mission. My testimony feels so young and small, as words I've
repeated again and again in my youth finally mean something to me. I
have such a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon, and know it is
the Word of God. Whatever happens, that can't be taken away from me! I
am finally beginning to understand the Atonement, repentance, and why
the sacrament is so important. I really feel a lot of regret for not
really making use of the Gospel earlier in my life. But now I know and
have felt the strength and stability that the Gospel of Jesus Christ
provides." I just couldn't have said it better. I feel like I finally
can say that I know the things we teach are true. It's so awesome.

We walked over to a group of kids with the intention of showing them
the Easter initiative video. As we were approaching them they kinda
scattered and backed up a little bit. They were like, "Bro, it's the
cops. Yo, bro come on." We were like, "No, we're not the cops; hold
up." It took a while for them to trust us, but eventually they did. We
showed them the Easter video, and the best part was when one of them
said this: "So our friend that died will be resurrected one day?" He
was so amazed that people will come back to life after they've died.
I just try to imagine what life would be like if there was no
resurrection: it would feel almost pointless. So our family dies, then
we die, and then it's all over? That would just be horrible. But
luckily, it's not horrible. It was awesome because we continued
talking and a few of them mentioned that they have family members who
have passed away, then they asked if they'd get to see them again.
Obviously, we answered with "Yes." The way their faces just lit up once
we said that was so priceless.
Elder Bell and I have been having lots of success, and we've been
thinking about why we've been given the success, because it sure isn't
due purely to our efforts. We've thought about it and have come to the
conclusion that it is likely due to our planning. Let me explain. So
we plan to the best of our ability, and plan out every part of the day
to make sure there is absolutely no free time, other than meal
periods. So once we've done our part in planning, the Lord does His
part and helps us with finding people and teaching them and stuff. The
thing is, rarely do our days go according to plan. They usually kind
of follow our plan, but oftentimes our day is completely different
from how we planned it. However, it also turns out to be a much better
day than we planned for. It's just awesome how much the Lord helps us
once we've done our part. As we've made planning a priority, and
continued in obedience, we've seen the fruits of our labors.

On Monday we saw a guy with a giant rotating blade. It was like a
rotating saw people use to cut wood, but instead, it was the size of a
small car and was used to cut asphalt. The guy using it was across the
street. Then we heard him and someone arguing very loudly. The one
without the car-sized weapon was calling the guy with the tool all
sorts of names, and eventually threw off his backpack like he was gonna
fight him. The first thought that came to my mind was, "If I were
him, I definitely would not challenge someone to a fight if they had a
giant rotating saw bigger than me." Just a funny random thing we saw.

We had an amazing miracle this week. Firstly, Brother Harris
(a deaf investigator) came to stake conference in a suit! We 
interpreted for it, and it was awesome. I wish I could remember exactly 
what was said and such, but I don't. However, I do remember how I felt. 
It was a super spiritual meeting. After that was over, we showed 
Brother Harris to the subway, and said our good-byes. All of a sudden I 
felt like someone was talking to me. Initially I thought he must have 
gotten my attention and started talking to me, 
but now that I'm thinking about it more, he didn't, and even if he had
it would've been too loud to hear him. So anyway, I asked him 
something that I don't remember, but then he asked us about
a Church. He's from Georgia (the country) but knows English and will
be in New York for a while. He asked us where the Church was and we
brought him to the 65th street church, but there wasn't any service
because of stake conference. We proceeded to talk about the Book of
Mormon and just the Church in general. He's already met with some
missionaries before, and he's been reading the Book of Mormon. He said
he feels really good about the Book of Mormon, especially because it
helps him feel close to God. We then invited him to baptism and he
said he would if that makes him feel closer to God. We even set up a
lesson with him later in the week where we'll hand him off to a set of
English elders, since Elder Bell and I are called to teach deaf
people, not hearing people. It was a super legit miracle and I can't
help but think about how many things had to happen to make that all
fall into place. If even one thing hadn't happened exactly how it did,
then there's no way we would've met Brother Chkheidze, the 
investigator from Georgia.

I'm standing here eating pizza and the phone starts ringing. My first
thought is, "Dang it. Some elders are probably calling about
something." So I go to answer the phone and it's a call from Brother
Chkheidze! It's funny how quickly my attitude about that call changed.
I went from, "I don't want to interrupt my lunch," to "Heck yes, it's
Brother Chkheidze!" Elder Bell answered it and Brother C asked if we could
meet him in an hour from that point. At first we were like, "Well, our
schedule is completely full, but we can still meet you on Wednesday."
But then we realized this was a prime investigator who's totally ready,
and we should be willing to do anything to meet with him. So we
ditched a couple of studies and moved some stuff around to meet with
him. We were actually a little bit worried about the reasoning behind
his interest in the Church, but during the lesson it was so apparent
that his roots of interest were very righteous reasons. It's just so
cool that we met him the day before and he calls us the very next day.
So we're still going to meet him tonight too, when we will
introduce him to the English elders, and they'll teach him from there.
The discussion we had with him was awesome. He's super interested and
just a super cool guy.

We were talking with Brother Harris and he was talking about how he's
kinda lonely and has no family or wife or girlfriend. It was kinda
sad, but then it became slightly comical because he started asking us
about our families. He eventually asked us about our girlfriends and
wives and our kids. We briefly explained that we don't have
girlfriends, nor do we have wives, and certainly not kids. He seemed
slightly confused, but we let him know that we could totally relate to
the idea of not having family with us. The reason this came to my
attention today was this: Elder Bell and I were on the subway on a
different day, and he started talking to this lady with a stroller and
a kid. She mentioned that it's really hard not getting sleep because
the baby is always waking her up. Elder Bell replied with something
like, "Yeah, I'm not looking forward to that." Her response was, "Yeah?
Are you expecting one?" I just cracked up in my head. I didn't do
anything more than smile but it was so funny. Now that I'm thinking
about it, I'm not really sure why it was so funny. But I guess it was
just amusing to me that someone would think Elder Bell (as a missionary)
has kids.

Last thought. One of the songs we sang at stake conference was "I am a
Child of God," and it was so incredibly powerful. It was just such a
spiritual meeting already, and then having everyone mightily proclaim
that we are children of God in unison made it so touching. And then we
also sang "I Know That My Redeemer Lives," which was also so touching,
especially when we all sang the part, "Oh sweet, the joy this
sentence gives: I know that my Redeemer lives." It's just so true.
It's so incredible that we have a Redeemer and that we can proclaim
the truth of it. I'm so grateful that we have the opportunity to learn
and grow on the earth. I'm even more grateful that we can use the
Atonement and the Resurrection for saving power. I hope you've all had
a wonderful week!

"Don't forget that you're a missionary."
"We livin in poverty."
"I shall seek death among them until they shall sue for peace." -Captain Moroni
"That's chump business." -Elder Davis' response when talking about how
people try to be sassy, but can't even look you in the eye when they
insult you.
"I hate people that speak stupidity."
"Boldness is not the same thing as rudeness."
"Your grade is on effort with God, not on paper with us."
"because of...their boastings in their own strength, they were left in
their own strength"
"Every time you wake up in the morning you get two presents: you open
your eyes."
"I read the Bible, but I don't believe. I take from it the things I
agree with."
"Much love from the man above."

Alma 56:44-46 - Awesome conversation between Helaman and his 2000 "sons."
Mosiah 16:8-9 - The Resurrection.

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