Friday, May 15, 2015

May 4, 2015 (Star Wars Day)

Happy Star Wars Day everyone!!!

Man, there's so much to share and not much time. Hopefully I can get through it all. You might not get many details though.

Transfer calls came. Elder Abbott and I are staying here in Litchfield! So my address remains 1120 N Montgomery Litchfield IL 62056 for at least another 6 weeks. I am glad I am staying here. We are anticipating a very good transfer with lots of exciting changes and improvements. The work here in the past has been very slow, (near stagnant). I'm told that general authorities in SLC have had their eyes on it and have asked a lot of questions why it has been in that condition. But over the past 3-8 months it has slowly been making great improvements and just recently some changes have been made in the auxiliaries and there has been a general shift in attitude in the branch lately so things are beginning to progress and function well again! I'm glad to be a part of it. Much of the success in the branch is due to the Nance's, the senior missionary couple who have been here for 18 months, living right next door to us. But they completed their mission and moved back to Utah just last Monday. Oh how we miss them! They were the best missionary couple ever! We owe so much to them and they have really earned a special place in my heart forever. (It's so weird without them, but on the bright side we have very nice furniture now.) It will be difficult without them but we are eager and excited to keep working hard with this branch. I am seriously so thrilled with everything happening here. You could only understand if you were here and involved with everything like we are. It's miraculous!
Last week we had something interesting happen as well. We do service at a local thrift store and while were there we started talking to one of the other volunteers named Robert. He asked us where our church is located. After explaining it's location he pleasantly exclaimed that it is a lot closer than the lds church he and his wife had already been going to. We were a little perplexed. He explained that his wife is a member of our church but we didn't recognize her name after he told us what it was. We got his number and later set up an appointment with them where we met his wife, Jinnifer. She was so thrilled to see us. She had joined the church in an alternate stake and married Robert but moved into our branch boundaries about ten years ago and had assumed that the closest meeting house was in Edwardsville, which is about 45 minutes south of us and still in a completely different stake. Some how she was able to slip into the unknown for ten years and yet still went to church off and on without being found out where she lives and that her records need to be moved. Thankfully she is found now, her records are being sought after, and Robert was picked up as a new investigator! He said the only thing that would probably stop him for joining the church is his anxiety of someone asking him to give a talk... I think we'll just deal with that.
Last week I also went golfing for the first time. That was actually quite thrilling. I'm horribly bad at it, I think, but I was starting to own that 4 iron. We didn't keep score but I think the best I did was a bogey. I still really enjoyed it and we'll probably go again next Monday.
Okay, so get this. About a week and a half ago we got the announcement that we were going to have another mission conference on May 2. We already had a mission conference this year where Elder Sitati of the Seventy presided. But suddenly we were having another one. Well Okay! So on Saturday the whole mission met in St. Louis for this spontaneous mission conference. Oh! It was so awesome to see everyone in the same place again; that just doesn't happen. I got to see almost all of my so many missionaries I've served around and have grown to love like many previous companions, Elder Ivey, Elder Julian, Elder Davis, Elder Johnson, Elder Lazaro, both Elder Andersons, and Elder Cook... And by Elder Cook I mean, Elder Quentin L. Cook. That's right ELDER QUENTIN L. COOK!!!!! The one that's an APOSTLE!!!! He and Elder Ulisses Soares of THE PRESIDENCY OF THE SEVENTY and Bishop Gary E. Stevenson, the PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS (these are in all-caps because I just can't get over those flipping awesome titles!!!) were coming to Saint Louis for a multi-stake priesthood leadership meeting which I guess happens every four or five years. With two hours of extra time in their schedules, Elder Cook wanted to meet with all the missionaries. We all got to shake their hands and they all spoke to us. They did a Q and A and Elder Cook bore probably the most powerful testimony of Jesus Christ and the church I have ever heard, especially in person, and then he gave us an apostolic blessing! POWER. That's all I feel like I can say to describe the whole experience with them and the Spirit that was so abundant. It was an occasion I will never forget. I'm still so giddy about it!
Jesus Christ lives. This is the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Leader of it. These are facts. I know they are true. I have been assured that that is true, not just by an apostle of the Lord, but especially by the Spirit of God. It has become so real to me that these things are true since being a emissary of Christ myself, and Saturday just solidified it so much in my heart. I know that Christ lives and this is His church! It's true guys. It's all true! We are so blessed to have this knowledge! God really is our Father and we are going to live with Him again! Christ really is our Redeemer and paid for our sins. He really does. Joseph Smith really did see them, exactly the way he said he did and they really did call him as a prophet and have called each prophet since. I know all of these things to are true. They are reality. I am so grateful for these truths. I testify of these things in the Savior's name, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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