When I was sick with Sister Bueno for what, 8 weeks... I learned something about the importance of planning that completely changed my mission, and I became acquainted with God in the midst of my trials during that time period. I learned about how God created the world starting with a plan (see Moses 3:5&7) and that He expects us to do the same if we're going to be doing His work in His way. I started to ask for more faith and opportunities to increase it so that I could be like the Brother of Jared taking the stones he made to the Lord and asking for a miracle.
Remember how this past week I mentioned our MLC meeting was amazing, but I'd wait to tell y'all about it so that I could put it to the test and see the miracles coming from it?
Well let me tell you.
In MLC we learned about the importance of studying in the morning. As missionaries we're given from 8-9 am for personal studies, and then 9-10 am for companionship studies. President and Sister Hancock had just come back from a mission president seminar, and they shared with us what they learned there. They gave us Ezekiel 34:2 which says, "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks?"
We have too much of a tendency to feed ourselves as missionaries! We take personal study sometimes to mean that we study for ourselves... but President explained to us that we absolutely must study for our investigators, not ourselves. He promised that if we do that, the Lord will give us more revelation and insight that applies to us too. It was compared to when a child is handed a candy bar, but when he asks to share a candy bar with his sister, the child is given another candy bar. In that moment, the child has TWO candy bars in his hands. Revelation is the same- if you ask for revelation for others to help them and know what they need, you're given double the load.
President promised that if we combine effective plans with heartfelt studies dedicated purely to our investigators, then baptizing would not be a problem. I decided to take this to heart and put it to the test.
This week, we met M____ W_____, a lady who was Atheist before and took a few lessons just because her younger brother was on a mission, but she didn't believe anything. We met her because she moved into our area, and the elders where she used to live taught a "handover" lesson with us to get her comfortable with new missionaries. She told us her story of how she found God and came to know He loved her and was there, and she completely bawled the whole time. We taught her again this past week and she's agreed to be baptized when she knows it's true. She fasted this week on her own to get help to quit smoking and to get her answer from the Lord whether what we're talking about is true or not.
We also met the B____ family. They were a media referral from the church website, meaning they referred themselves to the missionaries. We tried to contact them before, but each time they were like "oh we would listen, but now isn't a good time.. come back later!" So we would but they weren't home.... We thought they weren't interested. But we went back this week, and A_____ invited us inside and told us their story from living in a car to having this apartment and really needing to find God for herself and for her children, and how much she really wants to learn. B____, the dad, is an inactive member of the church who hasn't been since he was 11, so he doesn't remember much, but he's really listening to what we have to say. The whole family agreed to be baptized when they know from God this is right.
Then K____, dear K____, has shown a lot more interest in taking the lessons for real, instead of listening at the door before he has to run to work. He's making time for us and reading from the Book of Mormon, and he's come to church 3 times in a row on his own. He loved church yesterday, and we'll be teaching him the Plan of Salvation tonight. He also wants to be baptized after he prays about it.
We have at least 3 other people that are on the edge of agreeing to take the lessons and learn more. WHERE DID ALL THIS WORK COME FROM? I have a theory. I applied President's advice- we're sticking with our plans and doing our best to be obedient. We're "meeting God" where we told Him we'd be in the day. We're using our studies specifically for our investigators, and we're finding so many ideas that come to mind about how we can help them more, what they might have questions or concerns about, and what they need to know next to act on and increase their faith in Christ. We think we're earning more of the Lord's trust this way. He knows we'll be doing our best to truly feed His sheep, and love them with all our souls. We're trying and willing to obey what we've been told to do to have more success as missionaries.
Obedience opens doors; it doesn't limit us. I think I'm coming to see that God loves all of us equally- that is absolute truth- but He may not trust all of us the same. I don't think He trusted me with a lot of things before, but He's been patient and teaching me how I can shape up and allow more blessings and miracles in, and how to make room for them in my life.
I'm trying to plead less for myself with Him. I'm trying to make my prayers like Alma's, when he said in Alma 31:35 "Behold, O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are our brethren; therefore, give unto us, O Lord, power and wisdom that we may bring these, our brethren, again unto thee." If I don't care for and feed the sheep I've been trusted with already, why on earth would He give me another precious soul to teach?
For about the third time, my mission has been changed dramatically. I hope to apply this to the rest of my mission, and see the miracles and blessings in the lives of the sheep I've been entrusted with. To quote President Hinckley, "Do you want to be happy? Forget yourself and get lost in this great cause. Lend your efforts to helping people. ...Stand higher, lift those with feeble knees, hold up the arms of those that hang down. Live the gospel of Jesus Christ."
The Gospel is true. If you're not sure about it, remember that the entire restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ started with a question. Get down on your knees and ask with real intent. I promise you, this is real. And if you do know it's real, share it.
I love you and I pray for you!