Tuesday, July 22, 2014

True Shepherds

Well this week on Wednesday we had a night of games with the branch. I have to say, at first I had a bit of fear as six o clock rolled around and there was almost no one there. However, by the end of the night, our sacrament room was full of people! We had a bunch of less actives and non members, it was great! And we found a good handful of new people to teach which is wonderful! Then, yesterday, for our sacrament meeting, our sacrament meeting was FULL. There almost was not an empty seat! Such a MIRACLE!! We had 126 people in our sacrament meeting, which was such a miracle! For lunch in our apartment my companion and I did our freak out dance of joy. 
I also have to say, that I have found a huge change in this area. The first few weeks I was here, it felt like we would contact, contact, contact, and everyone would reject us. Now, it feels like almost everyone accepts us to let us teach them! Catholics, evangelicals, grandparents, creepy men, it is great! Even yesterday during the finals of the World Cup we found people that would let us teach them. Sometimes if we can feel they are super anti we just share a scripture in the Bible or story of Jesus Christ to help them feel that we too believe in the Bible and Christ. I also got hugged twice this week. It was a little ahhhhh. But one was by a cute grandpa who did not really understand, but the other one was by a friend of a member which was super awkward. Luckily my companion understands the work "awkward" so we just go around saying that every time people start doing things we do not approve of. Awkward! Awkward! 
We also have some investigators that are progressing nicely, which is great! We also have a few families that need to get married, so we will have to be patient and search for Gods help. We have also been finding a bunch of less actives which is also super great. We have just been contacting, and then, out of nowhere "oh yeah, I am a member of your church" What?! So we are excited to try and help people come back to the fold. 
This week I was studying on how to better help less actives. I had a thought of a talk that the bishop{s wife had shared in Relief Society in my old ward, "True Shepherds." I rememberd that the lesson was super powerful, and that I only understood half of what she was saying since I was still a newbie in the mission. I scoured my Liahona{s and found the talk. I read it, and came across a super powerful story that drew tears to my eyes.
"Home teaching answers many prayers and permits us to see the transformations which can take place in people’s lives.
An example of this would be Dick Hammer, who came to Utah with the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Depression. He met and married a Latter-day Saint youngwoman. He opened Dick’s Café in St. George, Utah, which became a popular meeting spot.
Assigned as home teacher to the Hammer family was Willard Milne, a friend of mine. Since I knew Dick Hammer as well, having printed the menus for his café, I would askmy friend Brother Milne when I visited St. George, “How is our friend Dick Hammer coming?”
The reply would generally be, “He’s coming, but slowly.”
When Willard Milne and his companion visited the Hammer home each month, they always managed to present a gospel message and to share their testimonies with Dickand the family.
The years passed by, and then one day Willard phoned me with good news. “Brother Monson,” he began, “Dick Hammer is converted and is going to be baptized. He is in his90th year, and we have been friends all our adult lives. His decision warms my heart. I’ve been his home teacher for many years.” There was a catch in Willard’s voice as heconveyed his welcome message.
Brother Hammer was indeed baptized and a year later entered that beautiful St. George Temple and there received his endowment and sealing blessings.
I asked Willard, “Did you ever become discouraged as his home teacher for such a long time?”
He replied, “No, it was worth every effort. As I witness the joy which has come to the members of the Hammer family, my heart fills with gratitude for the blessings the gospelhas brought into their lives and for the privilege I have had to help in some way. I am a happy man.”
As I read that he went to the St. George temple to receive his endowments, where I too received my endowments, touched my heart so deeply. I love this story and the perseverance and love of this man! May we all put this same love in our hearts and minds as we serve and visit others. Maybe it will take them until they are 90 years old, but one soul that comes to Christ is worth every effort! I also found another great talk by Elder Eyring where he talked about the blessings he had when he was a Priest to do visits with the Bishop of his ward, and how they visited many people who he had never met or seen at church. Yet, they visited with love and perseverance. As I have had the opportunity to work with different leaders here, I have seen a huge difference. One of my heroes here on the mission was the Stake President in my old area. He was super young, I am pretty sure he was younger than 30, and he had two young children. Every Sunday when he could him and his wife visited less actives. He was always so willing to leave with us, and he knew so much about Christ and the scriptures. I have also seen other leaders, that as we talk about less actives, look at us and say "they are never coming back" and not even believe it is worth the effort. However, I know that they are the Lord{s children and it is our job to help bring the Lord{s children back to him!
I know we are here to be the Lord{s hands on the Earth, and that through visiting others we can truly bring them closer to Christ, and that there is never an effort that is wasted! 
Love you all!

My old zone!

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