Monday, April 6, 2015

Planting the Seeds, Reaping the Harvest

April 1, 2015

I wish that I could name all of my blog titles "A Week of Miracles" because that's exactly what each week feels like.

Three weeks ago, at the beginning of this transfer, our area seemed to have stalled, but much like planting a garden, we were patient and planted the seed of faith in many hearts.

With Heavenly Father's love we nurtured our garden every day. We would follow up on scripture reading assignments that we had extended from the previous day, we kept in contact with all of our less actives and investigators, we worked really hard to have a member at every lesson we taught (less active or investigator), and we would teach from our heart.

And just as powerfully as God's love changes us, we watched it grow our little part of His vineyard.

0 investigators at church, 0 progressing investigators, 5 less active/recent converts at church, and 3 member present lessons has turned into 2-3 investigators at church, 4 progressing investigators, 19-20 less actives at church, and 7 member present lessons. I don't say that to compare numbers like a businessman, but to demonstrate how quickly God's love grows the seed of faith in your heart into a tree.

It comes from living the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Them and Me.

Malachi 3:10 "[Live] ye [the gospel of Jesus Christ], that there may be meat (conversion) in[thyheart], and prove me now herewith, saith theLord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."

We have not had room enough to receive it.

Walking around the street, around every stop sign there seems to be someone who has been waiting for us as if they knew that we were coming. Stealing a few minutes from the Ecuadorians making brick stairs, there seems to be a golden referral. It has happened all day every day this entire week.

What a blessing it has been to be a representative of Jesus Christ at this time.

This week on Monday, we taught the Ramirez family. When we arrived to the appointment, they weren't home. Our appointment after them had cancelled, so we decided to wait for 10-15 minutes to see if they would be home soon. We didn't have to wait long. They came up the stairs. We started to teach them about the gospel of Jesus Christ. The spirit flooded the room. We invited Lucia's boyfriend to be baptized. He looked at us and said, "I know I have a long way to go. I have many changes that I need to make in my life, but I will start to prepare myself." We were so ecstatic!! Working with them is a great pleasure!

Tuesday, on an exchange with my previous companion, Hermana Stevens, we were teaching the same families that we had taught before. It was just like we were companions again, like nothing had changed. The spirit was our third companion all night. We went to teach the Familia Grande. Hermana Grande is a returning less active and her husband is not a member....yet. He has had a really hard time leaving his Catholic roots to try to experiment this "see of faith". In our previous 2 lessons we taught the Restoration. When trying to review it with him, he said that he didn't understand or remember much. He admitted that he wasn't really paying attention the other times, so we taught it for a third time. We taught it so slow and so clearly so that he could understand. At the end of the lesson, we asked him to pray. Never before has he wanted to pray in front of us. He hesitated for a moment and then said, "Si, orare." We knelt down in prayer and after he was finished, we sat in silence for 10 minutes waiting for him to receive an answer if these things were true. Finally, he looked up. "I feel different", he said. "I feel like something changed inside me".

Wednesday, the spirit was so strong all day. It was like a spiritual work out trying to keep up with it! We taught Danny, about The Restoration. Something he's already heard before. We had Hermano Corzo there to testify with us. The lesson was taught simply and included a lot of participation and testimony from him. We took a different take on the Restoration since he has already been baptized. After we had been there for 45 minutes and had finished our lesson, Danny and Jenny both  thanked him for bringing the spirit so strongly into their house.

From Danny's we went to Benita's. Hermana Realpe was able and willing to help us teach Benita, who is a less active. We started the lesson with a sacrament hymn which connected to our lesson about the sacrament. We asked her to read a scripture in the lesson, Matthew 26:37-42, about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. She didn't have her scriptures with her, so I went to sit next to her and shared mine. After she had read the scripture, I looked her straight in the eyes and asked her what that meant to her. She didn't know what to say. I could tell that she was understanding on a deeper level what the sacrament meant. After pondering for a few moments she looked at me and said, "I'm sweating. You make me nervous. Everytime you come here and you teach me, your words hit my heart. I always try to reject them and make a joke out of it or something just to push it away, but you just don't let go, do you?" I smiled back and said, "No. No I don't." The spirit was strong and with that we left her with the commitment to come to church. The lesson was no more than 15 minutes, but there was no more to be said. The spirit said it all.

Danny's, to Benita's, to the Corzo's. Now, the Corzos are a member family. The husband, Hermano Corzo is the Elders Quorum President, so we wanted to go over and teach his family and try to see if they had a friend who was ready to be taught. We decided to teach them about the baptismal ordinance. We had just had a training on this in our mission and after studying it for a while, we wanted to try to teach it (because the best way to solidify your learning, or testimony, is to share it). We had prepared a series of scriptures that lined up perfectly in the lesson. As we started the lesson, the spirit bore testimony of the truthfulness of the doctrine we taught. Just as the doctrine was profound, so was the spirit. The lesson was short, but at the end of the lesson Hermano Corzo looked at us and said, "Now here are two REALLY good missionaries. I haven't seen missionaries like you in a while. You carry the spirit so strongly." I cannot tell you how nice it was to hear those words. That whole day was filled with the spirit. There was not one moment when we couldn't feel the spirit burning inside us.

On Friday I was on an exchange with Sister Bingham in Elizabeth (English), pretty much my same area, but the English Sisters cover it. I loved this exchange. Sister Bingham is new to the NJMM (New Jersey Morristown Mission), but is burning with testimony. I learned so much from her example. Incredible how young missionaries can teach even old geezers like me ;)

Saturday was probably one of the most amazing faith filled days that I have had on my mission. At 3:30 we exchanged back with the English Sisters and went straight to our lesson with Miguel. What a great lesson as we taught our recent convert about his baptismal ordinance. Actually, it was more like he was teaching us this time. I couldn't help but smile from ear to ear as I was remembering back on when we were teaching him before his baptism about this same thing. What a great feeling it is to see him become a worthy priesthood holder in his home. 

His lesson lead perfectly into one of my favorite experiences. We didn't have any set appointments for the following hour, but we had set plans from the night before to go pass by one of our other part member family's house. While traveling there, Sister Palmer was driving and I was calling our investigators and less actives seeing how their reading was going, making appointments, etc.. I was on the phone with our investigator, Eddie. Eddie is from Puerto Rico and moved here to help his family. He lives with his girlfriend, but came to find and start a better life for them. The day we met him, he was walking down the street, and we decided to talk to him. For him, this was a great day. He felt that everything was going right. Since that day, however, things have turned around. Everything has fell through. His girlfriend has cheated on him, he's lost the trust of his family, he lost his job, he's loosing his house, etc. Well, while on the phone with him, we had this great idea to invite him to our lesson and dinner later with a member family. We hung up with Eddie and called the member to make sure that it was ok that we invited an investigator to the appointment. The members, Eromar and Catalina, were happy to have another person coming to dinner. So, we called Eddie back to tell him our plan. He wasn't as excited to hear it as we were to share it with him. He said, "I'll call you back at 5:00 to tell you if I'm going to come or not." Our appointment was at 6:30 with the members, and we had already coordinated with them that they would pick Eddie up at 6:00 so that we could all be there on time. Up until 5:00 I was super anxious. I wanted him to come so bad. I knew it would be something that he would enjoy, and really something that he would need, a friend. Well, we walked out of our next appointment at 5:00. He hadn't called. We waited for a few minutes. 5:10, no call. 5:15, still nothing. So, we called him. He didn't answer. I looked at Sister Palmer and asked her if we could pray. She jokingly rolled her eyes and said, "sure". While we prayed, I told Heavenly Father how much I wanted Eddie to come to this appointment. I told him that everything was set up, but Eddie just needed to have his heart softened to come. After the prayer, we called again. A little persistent? You better believe it. Still didn't answer. We texted Eromar to pray that he would come as well. Eromar responded and said, "I just barely did", and immediately after receiving that text from him, Eddie called. He said that he didn't feel like going. He said he'd feel uncomfortable going to someone's house that he didn't know. I can't blame him, but this is the work of the Lord. He started to tell us more reasons on why he didn't want to go and while doing so, he began to speak faster and faster. Well, Puerto Ricans already speak fast and slur their words, but when they get going, there's no hope ;) haha While he was talking I remembered how I felt when I prayed earlier in the car with Sister Palmer. I felt like he was going to say yes. I kept that hope inside me as he kept talking. When he finally finished there was a small pause on the phone and I just started laughing and I said, "Hermano, I have no idea what you just said, but I think you should come." Hahah. He sighed and said, "Ok, ok, come pick me up." I just filled with so much joy when I heard those words. We called Eromar, told him what happened, and he got in the car to go pick up Eddie. We met them there. When we pulled up in front of Eddie's house, he was waiting for us outside. He walked up to our car and looked right at me and said, "why are you doing this to me?" I felt bad because he didn't want to go right now, but I knew that it would be worth it later.

Eromar arrived shortly and we all went to Eromar's house. The lesson we had there was great. The spirit was strong. Eromar and Eddie are now the best of friends. We had to leave first from the appointment, but after Eddie had been dropped off by Eromar, Eddie gave us a call. He said, "Thank you, hermanas. Thank you for always supporting me. I really enjoyed tonight."

I knew it. I just knew it. I was glowing with happiness after that. And thus it has been since that appointment ended.

Eddie came to church the next day, our investigators are all progressing, and our little garden of seeds that we planted is growing.

"For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul." D&C 4:4.

I love doing the work of the Lord.

Hermana  Childs

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