Wednesday, June 3, 2015

May 26, 2015

Hello there!

It was a swell week. Particularly Sunday. Sunday was super great. I'll get to that later though.

Exciting news! We finally found another investigator! His name is Jim Walker. Man, it sure has been a while since we've been able to find. We were tracting here in Litchfield and nobody was answering their door. Finally one opened. This guy knew about our church; he explained how he has a sister who is a member in Danville, IL. We tried to talk to him more but he insisted he wasn't interested. He was also rather intoxicated, but we may try him at a later, perhaps more sober date. The next door we knocked opened; it was Jim. Elder Abbott was doing the approach, explaining that our message is one of hope and happiness. Well this guy, Jim, looked at us from his wheel chair and said pitifully (as he started to shut the door) "Well I don't have any of that in my life, so no thanks." Elder Abbott quickly explained that our message is what brings the hope and happiness he was talking about, but Jim still wasn't bought. Seeing and hearing this nearly broke my heart; I knew we were supposed to talk to him and that our message would change his life. Before he was able to completely shut his door I asked him if he had ever heard of The Book of Mormon. He said he had not and I said I would like to give him one, to which he admitted he would likely never look at it. I asked if I could give it to him anyway and he reluctantly agreed. I then pulled out a '#BecauseHelives' card and used the opportunity to explain what it was which led so easily back to hope and happiness which we had promised. Following the Spirit, I bore my own testimony of the Savior and the Book of Mormon and the message we have and once again asked him if we could share our message with him. There suddenly was a change in him and he said, "Okay, come on in."

We were able to talk about him and his background and then tell him about his loving Father in heaven, his Savior and His gospel, the apostasy, and the restoration of the gospel. It was remarkable to see him gradually change his attitude towards life. As we discussed these things he began sharing experiences in his own life to relate to them and he soon was able to recall several amazing experiences in his life where God provided miracles for him and his family. We saw him go from gloomy and hopeless, to humble and grateful and aware that there is still hope. What's amazing to me is he realized these things seemingly on his own. As we shared the good news he felt the Spirit, and the Spirit brought back to his mind the miracles and blessings in his life and reminded him of the happiness, hope and love he used to know a little about, but had lost over time and negligence. When we left, he was eager to ready The Book of Mormon every day and to discover its truth for himself, whereas before he didn't even want to take it.

We are going to come back next week and talk to him more, but I will never forget that first experience with Jim Walker. Seeing him change from the gospel as he felt the Spirit was truly inspiring and enlightening.

More Exciting news! Sister Smith got a wheel chair!! Woot woot! We saw them on Friday and when we walked in their home we were surprised to see her sitting in her wheel chair smiling at us. This is such a blessing! Now they will be able to come to church and Mason can be baptized! The Smith's are so ready and eager to make changes in their life, and they are making lots of changes on their own now. When we were with them on Friday they told us that they won't be at church this Sunday because they don't have money for gas, but they'll be there next Sunday and they are going to budget so that they can keep coming each week. So that's what we expected. When we pulled into the church parking lot on Sunday morning we were surprised to see the Smith's truck parked outside. They were all there, dressed up so nicely and they looked so happy to be there. Oh I wish you could have seen how good they looked. If you knew the Smiths and the condition they live in you would be shocked at how nice they looked at church. We were so thrilled! A member gave Mason his own set of scriptures to keep which just about thrilled him to death.

Later when talking to the Branch President we found out that Brother and Sister Smith had reached out to him during the weekend expressing their desire to come to church and meet with him that Sunday. Well due to the Smith's past he was a little reluctant but prayed about it and said he would help them that week and meet with them. So they were able to come to church and afterward met with President Bruce to tell him that they had made some changes in order to afford coming to church every week and how they were going to pay their tithing and how Brother Smith wanted to prepare to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and so forth. They were making all these changes on their own and this showed sincerity. I'm so excited about this because we've been working with the Smith's for quite a while now. Just after I first got here we met them and picked Mason up as an investigator. We were excited then because it was a less-active, part-member family who was eager and willing to come back to church/be baptized. But when we announced to the branch counsel that we were working with the Smiths, most of them jumped down our throats and strongly doubted and discouraged us about them, talking about how in the past they just used the system. No one wanted to help them. When we asked for people to go with us to teach them they would actually suggest we go see someone else instead or would grudgingly go with us but would continue to doubt them and discourage us.

Well while we've been meeting with the Smith's we saw the light of Christ re-enter their lives and we saw the changes they were making, physical/temporal and spiritually. We did not lose hope in them and they continued to improve. Well suddenly they are making big changes, and they're humbly doing it for all the branch to see. I am so proud of them.

Still in church: Elder Abbott gave a talk in sacrament meeting as well as the branch's only missionary who just returned home from her mission in Texas. There were also tons of other less-active members there who we have been working with for some time now. It was marvelous! And guess what we sang for the intermediate hymn?... 'As Sisters In Zion'! Yep! As Sisters In Zion! It was grand. There's no way I could keep a straight face while singing it. And what was also great is Elder Abbott lost his cool up on the stand when he looked down at me and saw me half laughing/half singing and I believe many other people saw him suddenly do the same and there was a chain reaction. I just don't know why they chose that hymn.

They also reorganized the Elder Quorum Presidency this week so that we actually have an active president. Again, we are thrilled!

Robert and Jinnifer were sick again this week so they were unable to come to church or meet with us. Hopefully next week!

About a month ago we had a spontaneous mission conference with Elder Quentin L. Cook, Elder Soares, and Bishop Stevenson which was absolutely superb. We all knew we were extremely fortunate and that something like that was surly never to happen again. Well the other night we got a call from our leaders who have informed us that we will be having yet another mission conference on June 1 with Elder D. Todd Christofferson!!!! That's right, Elder D. Todd Christofferson!! AHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! I AM SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He has quickly become one of my favorites (if one was to choose favorites) and he's coming here and I get to meet him and hear from him directly and take a picture with him!!! I'm so pumped!!! It's going to be the BEST! The 1st is a Monday, so our P-day will be switched to Tuesday, so that's when you should expect next weeks email. I'm so excited!!!!

I'm going to try sending some pictures now.

-Elder Curtis

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