Monday, April 16, 2012

Poder segun tu fe y deseo (Power according to your faith and desire)

¡Hola de nuevo mis amados padres! ¿De veras ya se paso una semana? Tan rapidamente pasa el tiempo. (Hello again my dear parents! How did your week go? Mine went very quickly.)

This week has been amazing. Yup :) I have been focusing really hard on having faith, desiring to help people be baptized and confirmed and just living as exactly obedient as I can so we can be guided by the Spirit. I learned so much this week! And the most amazing thing is...I think for the first time on my entire mission I feel like I can be an effective missionary. I don't need to ask so many questions of Elder Paiz, and some things I am actually starting to do well (speaking Spanish comes to mind), I cannot wait to see what these weeks, the coming transfers, and the years have in store!

Basically this week started amazing and only got better. I cannot possibly tell every story, but really the Lord continues to direct his work in this lowly piece of his vineyard. On Monday we contacted a lady named B again. We had originally met her in her driveway and we didn't have much more time than to teach her a quick principle and set up a return apointment. Well, as with most Hispanics, she works A LOT. We have passed by her house a lot to try and find her there but never found her. On Monday we finally found her! She had two seats set up right at her door for some reason so she had us sit down right there and teach her. And boy did we teach her! The spirit was so strong between Elder Paiz and I, that we pretty much read each others' minds as we shared with her about the Book of Mormon. The first time she read from the Book of Mormon (2 Nefi 25:26) we saw her countenance totally change. We asked her "What do you feel when you read that?" She answered "The truth...I feel an amazing peace" WOW! This Book of Books is really powerful. I know she was prepared to receive us. There are always oppositions in missionary work though, and B is soooo busy, needs to get married to her "marido", and find time to read more than just a few verses! It’s okay though. Because this week, I found out that my faith and hard work can really affect and change someone else's life. We saw B again on Friday and read with her again and she felt the same peace. You'll notice that most of our stories are about FINDING prepared people. In our area the next two steps teaching (consistently), and baptizing have somewhat eluded us but we have faith and have set goals to work hard to consistently help these people. They need it!

On Wednesday our district had a really great miracle and I was taught a singular lesson that I have reflected on a lot. In our Stake (BTW Mom and Dad, if you are interested in seeing the map of the exact area that we cover, look up the Utah Ivins Stake, Red Cliffs Stake, and Snow Canyon technically goes all the way to the Nevada Border!), we have really good English Sister Missionaries. They are whitewashing their area (coming in totally new without ever being there before, both of them) and have been fasting and praying to find people prepared to be baptized. Well, Elder Paiz and I were the instruments to answer their prayers. We teach a lot in an area called Sierra Point which has a ton of apartments and a ton of Hispanics. Often we've seen in Sierra Point a girl riding her bike and she always yells at us "what are you doing?" We respond "teaching people the gospel!" and normally just keep walking. Well on Wednesday she was more persistent. She followed us on her bike, kept talking to us, and eventually rode in front of us and cut us off. We were kind of surprised at first but then humbled ourselves and just started teaching her. The spirit just settled in like a canopy over the three of us as we taught her the Doctrine of Christ right there. She needed to hear this. We helped her see that God and Christ love her and want to help her in her daily life. Then we gave her a picture of Christ and she just stared at it for fifteen minutes straight. Man, you could see the spirit working on her. She told us "this picture makes me feel special." Well, we are obedient missionaries so we invite to be baptized on the first contact. And A agreed to "follow the example of Jesus Christ by being baptized" right there!

So the story continues. A has a really tough life. She is twelve, has drug dealer parents, and one of our fellowshippers told us he saw her riding her bike outside at 1 AM because she was too scared to go home. The atonement of Christ, baptism, and the lifting power of covenants were meant for people like her. She needs Christ more in her life! So we told our English Sister missionaries, they rejoiced about the success of their fast and went to see her the next day after school. Well, mom answered the door. Whew...the sisters said they were basically yelled at, denied, and even though they testified a lot the mom didn't budge to let them through the door. The worst part is that they saw A looking at them through the window the whole time at them. We need them to get in there and teach her! But these sisters are amazing (kind of like a sister missionary in Munich right now) and between them and the Lord they will get it done.

So one more quick story before I tell you my big "aha!" moment. We were contacting a potential investigator that same day (Wednesday) in the wind and rain (surprising for St. George, but the weather was TERRIBLE for a couple of days) and his little kid was locked out of the house. We were confused at first, and then just kept knocking, but then I started to actually get mad. Here is your little kid sitting outside in terrible weather (the trailer had no porch) and I can hear you inside watching T.V. and you aren't answering the door? So we went around the trailer banging on windows, doors, walls until finally another kid answered the door and said "My dad is bathing himself right now". Frankly I don't want to talk to your dad right now,  I just want your brother to be out of this storm!! So yeah...we were persistent but finally got him in and out of the wind and rain.

Basically...I reflected on Wednesday a lot. I had a feeling that it was important day for me on my mission because I felt that I really used most of my prayers, my efforts,  my words to help other people. It felt....amazing. Especially those two experiences with kids taught me how Heavenly Father views us and He wants so bad to get us out of the "mighty wind...whirlwind...hail...and mighty storm" of the world and into the safe harbor of his love that we receive by covenant. I don't know...I just am starting to really love people a lot more and think and talk about them more than most other things. And I feel really good about it :)

Man, there is just too much to tell about this week. On Friday we met the husband of a recent convert who just moved here from New Mexico. We taught him on Friday, he came and helped out a branch "tesoros por tesoros" (o basura por basura, dependiendo en como lo ves) actividad,  {“treasures of treasures” (or garbage trash depending upon how you see it) activity} and he brought his whole family to church on Sunday. We had 10 investigators at church on Sunday! Now if we could only get them in the water...but we're working on that :)

It is pretty amazing because after you've been working really hard in missionary work and you don't know what else to do (if you've been faithful and seeking the Spirit always) then the Lord takes control. This is exactly what happened on Saturday. During our Friday planning session last week we realized that every single one of our Friday apts. had cancelled. So basically, we were looking at 8 hours of contacting and finding. Well, one thing I have been working really hard on is being guided by the Spirit more in all aspects of the work, so we got out the area book, prayed over stacks of former investigators, and discerned who we needed to go visit. WOW what success! We didn't teach a single official lesson on Saturday but the Lord poured out blessings on us. Every single former investigator we went to visit was either at home, or there was a neighbor at home outside, and we talked to literally 15 new people that day. That beats our daily goal of 10 :) We found a girl who has been to church a lot, and has been reading a lot of the Book of Mormon in the past year without the missionaries. We found a Native American who wants to learn more about the ancient history of his people. To top it off we had a delicious carne asada dinner with our recent convert F G that night. I think I gained five pounds that night. We told him transfers were coming in may and he told us to come back after we are released with our families. But even better...I cannot wait for a year from now when this family gets to go to the temple to get sealed :) I only hope I am down south to be able to see it!

So basically, I think I am working harder and smarter, physically and spiritually than I have ever before on my mission. I wish there were signs of outward success, but I feel we are moving people all in the right direction. I just want so bad to be like Ammon who said "a portion of that Spirit dwelling in me, which giveth me knowledge, and also power according to my faith and desires which are in God." I really just know that this work is true and important. Every time I get on my knees to pray at night, my testimony and desire to share it are just so strengthened. I don't really know where this fire is coming from that keeps me going, but like Pres. Uchtdorf said in conference, it feels like a "celestial force". Christ lives and loves us. He is intimately involved in our daily lives and will guide us if we let him. Be happy! Share the Gospel! Love and help everyone! We have so much we need to improve, but also so much we can be thankful for and appreciate day by day.

I love you so much :)

Vaya con Dios,

Elder Michael Stewart

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