This week has been the most rewarding week of my whole mission. I began this transfer with a lifelong goal to gain a greater witness of my Savior, Jesus Christ.
I can testify that as my witness of Him has grown, my commitment level to and love for the work has increased as well. This truly is His work. I love my mission with all my heart! I feel such joy doing to small, simple acts of tracting doors, being outside in the freezing temperature, talking to strangers on the street, calling members, organizing records and binders, meeting with members, etc.
I love my new companion, Sister Bodine! She is oh so wonderful! We were friends at BYU, she is so Christ-like and consecrated, and she has helped me grow in ways I couldn't have by myself, in just this past week! I love her.
Another woman named Mary, and her boyfriend Brian called us about a week ago to reschedule an appointment we had with them. But we were so confused because we didn't have an appointment with anyone named Mary and Brian.... We looked through some records and found them! They had been visiting with missionaries for about a year in 2013 and stopped for some reasons, but they are excited to start from the basics and work again towards baptism with greater excitement! They came to Sacrament on Sunday before going out of town, and it was easy to tell that they felt comfortable there. Old friends in the ward were going up to them, giving them hugs - it is a missionary's dream to see your friends fellowshipped like that :) I love this ward!
Alright, now for the best news of all. Our dear friend Doug :) I can't even try to tell you all the wonderful things that has been happening to him lately, but I'll do my best. Two weeks ago Sister Bodine and Hermana Ridgeway felt that they should tract this specific area...and then they found Doug.
Doug was at a the lowest point of his life. His wife was sick with cancer, he had been binge drinking for days, and he was about ready to finish his life any day.
The first two visits, he just let out everything, all of his religious beliefs, the pains in his life, the struggles and trials he has been going through - we taught him the Atonement but we simply listened. At the end of the second visit, the sisters gave him a Book of Mormon and promised him that it will bring him a lot of peace. Doug's wife died the next day. He was distraught. But he allowed us to come back.
We invited him to open the Book of Mormon before we came. He did so; He was still in a lot of pain at that time of course, but his words were much more positive. He had many questions about the Book of Mormon and we taught him about all of it. He listened, he prayed. The spirit was undeniable.
We have continued to meet with him almost every day, teaching small pieces at a time. We could literally SEE the light of the gospel entering his life. He was noticing so many little miracles in his life - his relationship with his son increasing, his ability to forgive others, he would wake up everyday with so more motivation to do LIVE, different chances to serve other people, etc.
Doug has a lung disease that is killing him and he is ready to die any time now, but he told us that his dying wish was to be baptized. We told him about the spirit world and he said to us "I don't want to wait that long!".
We prayerfully considered his baptismal date, and we told him we wanted to set a goal with him. He gladly accepted. We told him that we knew he would be prepared to be baptized on March 15...and then he started to weep. He gathered himself enough to say, "That is my mother's birthday. She died four years ago and there is nothing I could do to honor her more than being baptized. There is no way you could have known that."
Next experience, he came to church for the first time and loved it. The last song that we sang was "God Be with You Till We Meet Again" and Doug began to cry. He said that was the last message he wrote on his wife's wall just before she passed away. With all these signs, he said, "You just can't ignore it, you can't."
Yesterday, we went to visit him. He has been reading the Book of Mormon everyday and can't stop reading it! As we sat down, he said, "I got my answer. I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet. I had the most overwhleming feeling come over me and I just know."
He knew it was all true. He received his answer at 3:14 in the afternoon, sunday afternoon! As a result of his confirmation, he made his decision that that was his last day of smoking cigarettes. And little did he know that we were planning to teach him the Word of Wisdom! He gladly accepted.
WHO EVEN KNEW? LIKE HOW COOL? CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? Heavenly Father knows.
When we search, ponder, and pray, with sincerity, real intent, and faith, by the power of the Holy Ghost we may know the truth of all things! It's true! And Doug is living proof.
We've also been teaching a man named Reynold! He is so intelligent and He loves God so much. We talked about the Articles of Faith with Him and after we asked Him what changes he has seen in his life lately, he just began to bear a strong but humble testimony of his love for God. I felt the spirit SO STRONG impress upon me to invite him to be baptized. And it's interesting because he didn't accept, but I know I felt a prompting and followed it, and I learned that day that THAT is what matters to our Heavenly Father-- that we recognize promptings and act on them. We then were given the opportunity to bear simple testimony of God's love for him.
I love being a representative of Jesus Christ. I know He lives.
Have a great week, be happy!