Monday, February 22, 2016

I bear testimony...

Elder Hilborn and I went on exchanges with the zone leaders! I was assigned to work with Elder Thompson in Salina while Elder Christiansen came to Hays with Elder Hilborn. This exchange was a blast and I have learned so much! 

The first appointment we had was at the church with a man in his late thirties. This mans name was Jason. We met with him to discuss the baptismal questions and made sure he would be aware of the them for his baptismal interview. He is to be baptized on the 27th. We talked of the idea of destiny and how Heavenly Father is a master astronomer. I was very easily able to relate to these interests. I was absolutely taken aback by Jason's comment to me: he could see Christ's countenance in me. Wow. I am humbled and so grateful. 

Following this appointment, we had a dinner in the Johnson's home. Brother Johnson told of his mission experience in France sometime in the 80's. He only had two baptisms, but labored literally to construct the first church building on his preparation days. He taught us the importance of endurance because that was hat he said was the theme of his mission. Even though you may not succeed in baptizing all you wish to baptize, seeds are still planted through righteous work no matter what. 

Something fun, however not of significant importance, I experienced today was that I met another Keaton! Alas, however, he said it, "Key • in" with no 'T'. It's a shame. He was almost cool. 

The most amazing thing of the day was meeting a man named Larry. This poor man is facing false criminal charges. A plea bargain is six years in prison, a loss in the judicial conflict would cost him 25-life in prison. This is a desperate man. A tattooed ragged man who cried in front of me, someone he never before met. He is so scared. A portion of Christ's empathy burst from my heart as he told us this. I testified to him I was a representative of Jesus Christ.  I asked him read Mosiah 18:9 saying the message of the gospel would fulfill my responsibility to mourn with him, to comfort him, and to stand as a witness of Christ. We gave him a Book of Mormon and invited him to read. He accepted the invitation. I couldn't resist hugging Larry. I felt so much love and empathy for this man. 

So guess what? Someone I spoke to for the first time tried to instigate a "bible-bash". Mind you, bore my testimony and walked away. I didn't want any part of arguing with a hard heart and stiff neck.

The name of this man is Isaac. Isaac claimed Joseph Smith had been deceived by the devil who appeared to him as an angel of light (first flaw: Joseph saw TWO people, not one) and that all the Latter Day Saints were deceived as well.

He of course had a scripture to back up his madness. Matthew 16:18 says, "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." and Isaac argued that the church never disappeared from the Earth because Jesus said, "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Second flaw: he is using 'the gates of hell' improperly)

Isaac also says Restoration would conflict with the words of Christ. (Third flaw: The Restoration is proof of the fulfillment of the promise) New Testament Seminary Study Guide reads as this: "In the scriptures the phrase “the gates of hell” can refer to the powers of death or the powers of evil. Thus, the Savior’s promise that “the gates of hell shall not prevail” means that death and evil will not permanently overpower the Church. The Restoration of the Church in the latter days is one way this promise has been fulfilled." Be that as it may, there was still a Great Apostasy after the death of Jesus Christ. The gospel was not upon the Earth. The Restoration, rather than contradicting Matthew 16:18, actually fulfills Christ's promise.

I bear testimony to you the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was brought about by a true prophet, Joseph Smith, through the power of God. The Restoration is indeed a promise fulfilled in Matthew 16:18. I testify the words of Isaac are wrong, but do not be afraid for him. Although he didn't accept the gospel in this moment, Issac will NOT be lost forever.

I had been asked some good questions and thought I should make the answers public. I hope this is okay to whom I originally sent these answers, you know who you are. 

1) Would you tell us a little about your companion Elder Hilborn?

   - Elder Hilborn is twenty years old, hails from San Diego California, and has a twin sister serving in the Tennesee mission. Elder Hilborn has been serving the Lord on a mission for fourteen months and loves the work he is doing. His first name is Nathaniel. Not Nathan, not Nate. Nathaniel. There is a passionate distaste he has for nicknames that will certainly be made known to you if you make the mistake of shortening his name. Elder Hilborn's laugh is the most contagious, hilarious laugh you will ever hear, and he can stop it on a beat. So even if his jokes (or most the time, other lame jokes) are terrible, his laugh can and will at some times bring you to tears. Elder Hilborn is friends with a lot of "Polys" (short for Polynesian, informal not derogatory) so he says a lot of Poly things. For example, "Chill cuh!" Cuh is short for 'Cousin'. When said properly, it sounds like the name Kaa from Jungle Book. His favorite color is purple, his favorite candy is Crunch Bars, he is allergic to peanuts (his skin breaks out), loves R&B and country, and wants to marry Mariah Carrey. "I'm not in love with her..! I just want to marry her." 

2) What is your schedule like?

   - I wake up at 5:15 AM, have breakfast, go to the gym (the mission president encourages us to work out every morning), come home, and have second breakfast. At 8:00 AM, I am dressed in shirt and tie and study on my own for an hour. At 9:00 Elder Hilborn and I study together until 11:00. Because I am still in training, we have to study an extra hour. We then have lunch, get in the car and see as many people as we can. A few of the goals we have are: invite to baptism, teach as many lessons as possible, and talk to everyone. We very occasionally have many set appointments so our plans for the day sometimes flip-flop and never end the way I would wish. We usually have a snack or second lunch at 2:00 or 3:00 and have dinner around 5:00 or 6:00. Curfew is 9:30 PM at the latest, but it is optimal to be home at 9:00 to plan until 9:30 for the next day. I usually have another snack, and hit the hay at 10:30. I do have a picture of my schedule on the blog if you would like to see it visually! 

3) What was your first time Tracting like?

   - Gosh, you know, I hated my first time tracting. I barely got to Wichita, got shoved with a companion I never met before, I was hungry, cold, and very grumpy. I still had my carry-on bag from the flight and I was trying too hard to adjust to all the change going on. However, every time someone would listen to the words of the spirit, all those bad feelings were gone and I preached the gospel of Jesus Christ that I know to be true! I was taught a valuable lesson. Brigham Young said something along the lines of this: when you have a bad thought, tell it to go to hell, because that's exactly where it came from. Often times bad thoughts and feelings enter my heart and mind, but I shove them away with the faith I have in Jesus Christ. God will provide. It is my job to be a vessel of His son, forget myself and get working! 

4) What was your first experience placing a Book of Mormon? Challenging someone?

   - Wow! My first lesson was with a woman named Jessica Roberts. Jessy for short. Jessy has been investigating the church for almost a year, struggling with the Word of Wisdom. I taught her, having all the faith I could muster and forsaking all of my fear, she was much too focused on the obstacle she had to tackle. The spirit took over and I believe I said something like: Jessy you are not meant to do this alone. Stop focusing on the enormous obstacle before you. Repent, be strengthened through the atonement, and Christ will help you. Focus on the blessings that come from living the Word of Wisdom and do not do it all on your own. I challenged her to live the Word of Wisdom. I challenged her to read the Book of Mormon. The spirit had never been stronger in my heart prior to this moment. I know my words were not of my own, but were the words of angels.

Words cannot express how grateful I am for prayers, emails, and love. I love each and every one of you so much. Stay close to Christ and He will stay close to you.

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