Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Letter # 14- Dec 02-09
Dear friends and family,
Weeks go by so fast. I can't believe that tomorrow is my six month mark. It really feels like I just got here.
I just ate a delicious Japanese suki buffet and am in very high spirits. Hopefully I will be able to take a nap today too!
Things are going really well here. It is really great, I am really starting to see the fruits of my labors from the last 3-4 months that I have been here. Now that I have been here this long, I have been able to see people that I invited progress all the way through the lessons and start preparing for baptism. It is really special to have known investigators all the way through their progression.
One thing that I have been convinced of since I have been out here is that God has a plan for everyone. Missionaries are here to find the elect. That really is the absolute truth. I'll tell two stories to illustrate the point.
There was a guy named Wichian. We owns a school supply store close to our apartment. He is in his late 40's and his kids have moved out of his house. We scheduled an appointment to come back and see him. When we got there, he accepted us in. We taught him a very relaxed, unthreatening lesson. We just taught about the importance of Jesus, and why "white people worship him." We tried to make the lesson as comfortable for him as possible. We gave him a commitment to read a pamphlet and the sermon on the mount in 3 Nephi. We set up an appointment for the three days later. We came back, and to our surprise he had read everything. We then taught him the Restoration. We told him that Joseph Smith had seen God and that he could prove it for himself. He started laughing at us. His wife came over and started rebuking us for wasting their time. We bore fervent testimony and left him with a parting notion to repent and come unto Jesus. I don't think I have ever delivered such strong testimony in my life. His heart was completely closed. He did not give us a chance. The member that we brought to help us teach was crying. Wichian however, was not interested in the slightest to continue to listen to us. He gladly ushered us out his door. (well not really his door, because they don't have doors here.)
This man was not prepared. He is not the elect.
About 3 months ago Elder Nance and I were inviting in a neighborhood that is on the opposite end of town over by an art university called Maw Gaw. I had never been there before. (now I've been everywhere... literally I have been down every street in this whole city, that is not an exaggeration) We had a lot of our lessons fall through that day which left us with 3-4 hours of inviting in the middle of the day. Lots of rejection. We decided we were just going to take a break and go have dinner. (typically we did not eat dinner, we just worked through it and then ate at 9:00 when we got home) But we decided that we were going to work down one last street. On this street I remember 3 guys that we talked to. They were terribly rude, terribly intoxicated, and terribly bad at Thai. But then we talked to a middle-aged guy standing outside his house. I still remember his eyes. He just looked sad. He looked like he needed help. We biked over to his side of the street and talked to him, his name is Jawng. He agreed to meet with us that week. We came back to his house, we learned that he had a wife and two kids named Beer(yeah, sad huh?) and Feem. At first, we met with him out side his house, his wife, nog(bird), didn't really like us. His kids loved shaking our hands. (they think it is terribly entertaining to shake hands, it can keep them laughing for hours)
One day (I think it was the third or fourth time teaching them) his wife decided to sit in and listen to us. I don't think either of them were interested at that point, but his wife was interested in having her husband learn because she wanted him to stop drinking. That was the first miracle we saw. They continued to learn but they still were not very interested. They just simply could not understand how this message could bless them. Until one day, we decided that we would focus and teach them nothing but the Restoration of the gospel that Jesus Christ taught through the Prophet Joseph Smith. We taught this lesson for 5 or 6 times straight. One day, while we were watching the Restoration movie, they finally understood it. They finally understood the magnitude of God appearing to a 14 year old boy. That is what started it all; that is, and has to be the foundation of true faith. That was the second miracle.
We continued to teach them, they would listen more, but they were always very distracted by their kids running around. So we decided we would focus on involving their kids into the lessons. We would bring pictures and ask them questions. The nine year old girl, Beer, really caught ahold of the message. She is praying many times a day. She is sharing the message with her friends at school. She is reminding her parents to keep commitments. She is in the Book of Alma in the Book of Mormon (childrens version.) She was the third miracle. They started coming to activities and family home evenings at the church. The met a lot of members and saw how happy they were. They felt very comfortable and happy at church activities. They wanted to become like those people. That was the fourth miracle. We started to teach them the Plan of Salvation, we were explaining where we come from, why we are on this earth, and where we go after we die. They were not very interested, until one day we showed up for our appointment. They weren't there. We called them to find out they were driving to Roi-ett because Jawngs father was on his death bed. He died that next day. He has visited them as a Spirit several times since he has died. This peeked their interest in our message. This was the fifth miracle.
Next we decided we were going to focus on getting them all to church this next week. Jawng and the kids had been to church a few times (late) but Nog had yet to come, because she stayed back and ran their restaurant by herself. We showed up that day and was planning to deliver a wonderful lesson on the importance of going to church, but as we arrived they were very excited to tell us that they would all be coming to church as a family this next week. God had already prepared them, we had to do nothing. That was the sixth miracle. And our luck continued, our investigator that was going to get baptized this week, changed his day to this week. So Jawng and his entire family can come to see the baptism as well. That was the seventh miracle.
Last night we went to teach them. We had planned to teach about Jesus and the important of the atonement in all aspects of life. I brought out my picture book (I have really started to use a lot of visual aids lately, it works really really well) and showed them a picture of Jesus. Jawng started going through the picture book and saw a picture of a temple. The spirit prompted us to teach him about temples. We told him about why we go to temples, what temples are like, and the blessings that await him if he prepares himself. The spirit was very strong and he was simple star-struck. He said "I had no idea that this message was this huge." He really understood the big picture. That was the seventh miracle.
This family has been prepared. They are the elect.
As a missionary, I am finding the people that God has already prepared. The people that are so easy to teach and accept everything you say to them. I am so glad that God is in this work and is helping me at every turn, or else it would be impossible. I have really been trying to pray harder and ask God where the elect are. I ask him to lead me to the right people and to talk to the right people. If I simply find them, they will be baptized. Wish me luck!