We left the house to go sync our iPads and we passed 4 guys walking. They waved to us and then Sister Ferrin saw them wave us down in the rear view mirror. We decided to go around the block and pull over by them. We hopped out and said "hey we have something for you!" They were super friendly and really curious about what we had. We gave them each a pamphlet and a Book of Mormon and talked to them a little bit about it. Two of them were really receptive, one was semi receptive and the last one wasn't really interested. Well we gave them our number and invited them to church and then went merrily on our way. We wouldn't have seen them if our morning schedule didn't get messed up. Later we went throughout the day and we got back late from an exchange and dinner was pushed back so we ran to the library super fast to use their computers. We heard behind us "I didn't think I'd see you here!" The semi receptive guy was there and he was all dressed up so we had no clue who he was! Soon we realized and he sat down and we talked. His name is Zach and he is in a halfway house right now. We were able to teach him the whole restoration! All because our schedule got messed up again! We taught him again on Wednesday and will teach him tonight. He has a baptism date for April 27th. It was such a huge miracle!
Wednesday we had zone meeting. We learned all about Less-active work. Our zone leaders gave us a challenge to go outside, knock on a door, say "Hi does a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints live here?" And then see what happens. So we all jumped up and ran outside and knocked on random doors! We found a man who was Baptist who had read the Book of Mormon and believed a lot of it was true. He was really sweet and accepted a new Book of Mormon and the invitation to read it. His name was Bobby. He accepted a return appointment and so that turned out to be a potential investigator for the Zone leaders.
Larry is getting baptized this next Sunday the 23rd! HE is so ready! And his cousin/best friend, Brother Fulgham, gets to baptize him!
Ok now.. Skip to Sunday - we went to our meeting with the Bishop and... We got railed on. The Bishop asked for our update and we only had two people to update. He asked what our plan was for the area and we told him how we divided it up into areas and assigned days to the areas. He got after us for spending time in areas with no active members. He said it was a waste of time and that we weren't doing our job by not working in the areas with active members. We were floored. We tried so hard to be happy but it wasn't working. We both had to step out of Sacrament meeting for a period of time to let a few tears drip. Members could tell we were struggling. They would say "Don't get discouraged! We love you and the work you're doing!" It was still so hard. We went home for lunch and just.. Let it out. We cried and ate and wrote in our journals. We decided to call the Sister Training Leaders and ask for their help. Sister Ferrin was talking to them and I just listened and cried. Sister Tenny talked about a talk an apostle gave and said "I know this doesn't apply to your situation but, repent!" I immediately got up and went to the bedroom. I knelt by the side of my bed. I felt hopeless, meaningless, lost and forgotten. Trodden down. I started what felt like my most sincere prayer. I confided in my Heavenly Father. I told Him exactly how I felt. I cried unto Him. I envisioned in my mind, me, standing in front of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I held each of my burdens. I took the first one, looked at it, and it said "disobedience." I held it in my hands, disappointed that I carried such a thing. I told the Lord about it. All about how it made me feel. I then handed it over to Christ. He was ready to accept my burdens. I took the next burden, looked at it and repeated the process. I saw “lack of motivation”, “seemingly inability to think about the work 100% of the time”, “lack of action to pray”, “my old human self....” When I got to my 6th and 7th burden, the thought that I can't become better than I am and learn more than I have, and allowing myself to listen to Satan, I wept. No .. I sobbed. I cried so hard!!! Everything was soaked in tears. I felt heavy. So heavy. Pressed down. I was so humbled though. I felt real Godly sorrow. I just cried and cried as I handed my burdens to Christ. I saw that they were getting heavy for Him. Heavenly Father watched and looked sad yet He also looked so glad that I was being relieved. Christ continued to silently insist that I hand my burdens over to Him. At burden 8 and 9 - looking down on myself, not obeying the word of wisdom through overeating and not eating healthy, I felt relieved. Calm. I could breath. Finally, I handed over my last burden. It weighed an incredible amount. It read "my will". I repented for allowing my will to drag me down. To slow my steps. For being so blind and selfish as to carry that. As I tried to lay it upon Christ's shoulders.... It was too heavy. Heavenly Father reached out his hand and helped me place it upon Him. Christ turned to face me. He stood up tall and smiled. I felt literal physical and spiritual relief. I felt new. I felt I had a purpose. I am a missionary and I serve the Lord. I serve Him. I envisioned me and my companion walking hand in hand with Christ and Heavenly Father and the spirit dwelt in all of us. It was glorious. I will work. I'm so grateful for the Atonement that allowed me to get on my knees, talk to my Father in Heaven and lay my burdens on His shoulders. I wrote the experience down and then I prayed again. I repented for EVERYTHING!!! Act upon act upon act flooded my mind and I repented for it all. I asked for forgiveness for every sin I've committed my entire life! I spilled it all out. I know I am forgiven. Heavenly Father is so merciful! And He was merciful to me. When I finished, I was just exhausted but so happy and relieved. It was the most incredible experience I have EVER had with prayer! I know what repentance means now!
Then, we went and taught Noel and Nanette about repentance. Nanette was smiling the whole time and looked like she had tears in her eyes. Noel was asking questions because he couldn't believe that we had to repent. He wanted to repent and change so much!! We showed them the Mormon message called "The Will of God" and then committed them to take time to repent! They both sincerely agreed! Sister Ferrin said she had never ever ever seen them like that. It was truly amazing!!! Repentance works!!! IT WORKS! I know what it means to TRULY repent and I studied about it more this morning and I'm so overwhelmed with JOY! This is the best experience I have had so far. It is definitely number one!
All I can really say is how amazing I feel. I feel like I have been elevated to a new level! I am allowing myself to become sanctified and to become exactly who Heavenly Father wants me to be. I love being here and I love working. It's super hard.. but I'm learning to control my body. My spirit is becoming more powerful than my mind. I have been able to turn my attitude around so quickly if I ever get offended or mad. OH MAN! HEAVENLY FATHER IS AMAZING!!! I don't know how to describe this!! I wish you could see me now. You probably wouldn't recognize me. I love who I am and who I am becoming. I cannot wait to apply the principles I am learning out here to normal life. I have learned what it truly means to live a principle as a missionary and then be able to teach about it. I never knew what real repentance was or what it meant. Now I can teach it. I KNOW what it is and what it means. I have lived it and experienced it for myself. As I continue to learn about faith and other principles, I will live them so that I can truly testify of them. I have also found myself to just enjoy where I'm at. We had a lot of driving to do Saturday and it was just beautiful!! We sang and had the windows down and laughed and it just felt great to enjoy everything.
I love you more than words can express. That's a fact. I hope you have a great week.
I've hit my 6 month mark.
We made treat bags with cards about Christ in them and handed them out to unsuspecting people all day. It was fun to see their reactions.
Town Square of Benton. There are little shops like this all over our area.
Noose stand. The last hanging in the US was done here.
Another gorgeous sunset in Illinois
Sister Ferrin with a puppy dog that kept trying to get in our car.