Monday, December 10, 2012

The last but not least...


Well gosh dang! Every week things are just up and down, up and down! Haha, it's great.

Last P-day we talked to Lisa at Walmart and I told her I wanted to come over to get a picture with them. We did that on Thursday and I promised myself I'd be very bold, because I'd never see them again anyway. So I asked them, "Why did you write us an extremely harsh note telling us you never wanted to see us again, and now a week later we are back over here and you’re acting like our best friends again?" They really opened up to us and I felt like we had an honest conversation. I won't get into details, but basically Jerry talked to his parents on the phone and mentioned he was preparing to be baptized into the Mormon Church. His dad gave him an earful, and assured him his infant baptism was all he needed. Jerry felt like his parents and family would disown him if he went through with it. We've all heard plenty of similar stories...

After that conversation, he and Lisa were talking about it and apparently got into a huge fight. They finally just said, "Fine! We're done! We won't do this anymore!" And in the heat of the moment they wrote that note to us.

We prayed with them, reminded them of how they've felt, and we invited the spirit. Long story short, they want us to come back, and they still want to be baptized. We are going over tomorrow to teach them again!

Some sad news. We had an appointment with Mark and we were going to set a date with him, but he disappeared. Nobody knew where he was for two days. Found out later that he started walking to Michigan...Yep. That's all I'm going to say about that!

But let me tell you of a miracle. Elder Norton and I have just been praying and working so hard because we want a baptism this year to contribute to our epic mission goal of 365. Well an investigator must attend church three times before he is baptized, and so this week was our last chance to find somebody, bring them to church three times, and then baptize them on the 29th.
Well, we got a referral from a recent convert, Lehland; his best friend Crystal, who is a single mom of four kids. She is very religious, but feels that something is missing from her religion, her spirituality, and her life. We taught her twice this week, one was focusing on answering her questions, the other one we taught the Restoration. We set a baptism date for the 29th, but she kind of freaked out and was acting weird about it. When we came back for the second appointment she told us that her husband left her last year on the 29th and she feels like she can't get over it. She had just prayed for God to help her move on, somehow. She felt like when we invited her to be baptized on that date it was a sign from God. Crystal and her four kids (two of them are over eight years old) came to church and loved it. She wants to be baptized, and the plans are in place.

Thank you so much for your letters and e-mails. I love you family and I'll see you on Thursday morning!

Elder Williams

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I SAW A PILLAR OF LIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! CAN YOU HEAR ME?


The time is flying by, and obviously I only have a short time left to be out here. But we are staying as busy as ever here in Centralia, and I wouldn't have it any other way. In fact, this last week we've taught more lessons than any other week we've had together. And if all goes to plan this week, we will even top that. The Lord is definitely blessing us for our hard work and obedience—the two simple keys to a successful mission.

We were finally able to teach Lisa and Jerry the Word of Wisdom, and we brought Sister Street along with us. Of course we were a bit nervous about the lesson, because Jerry smokes so much, and there is always a cup of coffee by his side. But Jerry has received the Holy Ghost on multiple occasions and he knows that Joseph Smith is a prophet. When we taught him the lesson, his first reply was, "Well, I've got some things to work on then!" He has tried to quit smoking many times with no success. Jerry and Lisa are very poor and they have no heat or running water. Luckily the weather has been in the 60s most of the week. They mentioned that they are freezing at night, and so Sister Street went out and bought them these really nice comforters.

When we went back to teach them again, there was a note on the door with the copies of the Book of Mormon. It read as follows:

"Dear Elders, after much thought and prayer, especially reading of the scriptures, we have come to the conclusion that we are NO LONGER interested in the Mormon faith. My husband Jerry is spiritually at peace with being a Lutheran as I am with being a Baptist. Please do not waste any more of yours or our time with concurring visits. We no longer want the Book of Mormon in our possession. Please do not return to our property or call us for it will be considered harassment and the police will be called. Do not knock on our door any more. Your services are no longer needed. Sincerely, Lisa Anderson."

One of the hardest things as a missionary, for me, is to teach people, develop a friendship and a love for them, and then in the blink of an eye they never want to see you again. Now of course I know that they are rejecting the message and not the messengers, but that makes it even more sad. I would much rather have them accept the message and reject me as a person! So it has been hard.

We are not sure why she wrote that. Jerry is the one who has been keeping all his commitments, who has shared his testimony with us that Joseph is a prophet, and who believes and knows the things we teach are true. Lisa mentioned in the last lesson that she wasn't able to read. She "didn't have time". So we are thinking that it's just Lisa. She hasn't felt the spirit like Jerry has due to her lack of effort. It was after we received this note that we got the blankets from Sister Street. We set them on their porch with a note saying that we love them and they are always welcome at church. Later, Lisa sent us a text apologizing for the harshness of the letter, she asked us to pray for them, and she said, "don't give up on us". Maybe she is bi-polar? I don't know. She just got a job at Walmart and we actually stopped by this morning and I bought some Oatmeal so I could take it to her register and talk to her. I could tell she was very uncomfortable and felt a bit awkward. I told her I am leaving next week to go home and I would love to just swing by and get a picture with them so I can remember! She said that was fine, and we are going over on Thursday.
I believe with all my heart they will be baptized eventually. We are not sure what is going on right now but it will all work out. We just press forward and keep doing our best.

We met another man named John whom we tracted into. He lives in a pretty nasty house. I've gotten a lot more used to cockroaches crawling on me while we teach though. J  We taught him the Restoration and we set a baptismal date with him for December 29th! He, along with many others, are coming along. There is no need for discouragement with all the success we are having. We also taught our investigator Mark, and he loved it. He came to church yesterday and asked us, "What are the requirements to become a missionary? Is there anything else besides having to be a member of the church for a year?" He wants to join, but he doesn't want to set a baptism date quite yet.

So that's about it! Life is good! Oh and just a funny lesson we had yesterday...it was with Brother Farthing, who is 90 something years old, and his neighbor Carl, who is also old. Both of them are almost deaf. I had the privilege of reciting to Carl Joseph Smith's first vision at the top of my lungs... "I SAW A PILLAR OF LIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" ..... "Huh? What?" "A PILLAR OF LIGHT! EXACTLY OVER MY HEAD!!!!"............."…say what now?" Haha, it was so great.

I love and miss you! One more full week to just tear it up.

Elder Williams

Monday, November 26, 2012

A little bit of this


I don't have much more time to write! I will try to tell you some of the highlights of the roller coaster week.

You just never know what to expect when you wake up in the morning:  good or bad. We were really looking forward to our appointment with Lisa and Jerry, planning to teach the Word of Wisdom. We met Shem, a member, at their house at 10:00am, knocked on the door and then noticed a note they taped to the house.

Dear Elders. We regret to inform you that after much thought we no longer want to become Mormon... - The Andersons

From that moment on the day just felt gloomy, dark, and hopeless. We took some time to pray and seek direction on what to do. We basically received the answer to just be patient for now. The rest of the day was hard and awful, as well as most of the week.

Thanksgiving with the McKinney Family
Thanksgiving was great and we had the day off. We spent it with the Mckinney family and had a great meal, played some baseball, and just relaxed. It helped us to get our minds off of Lisa, Jerry, and the other discouraging parts of the week. Then the next day all of our appointments dropped, we decided to drop almost all of our investigators, we tracted the entire day and didn't even get inside one door. Bummer!

All of this junk going on motivated us to fast on Saturday so that we could find someone to teach. I wasn't sure how the day was going to go when our morning appointment cancelled and we were out tracting in the cold (I kept reminding myself that it wasn't near as cold as Russia, so I could do it). We tracted first thing in the morning for three hours straight and found 4 new investigators. One of them is a young teenage couple who had many great questions. The others were Rita and Janelle, two hilarious black ladies. It was so refreshing to do some teaching.

After a lot of tracting we were inspired to stop by Lisa and Jerry, and they were both home! They let us in, we had a prayer, and we asked them why they decided to drop us. One of their concerns was that they heard we only use the Book of Mormon and not the Bible. That was easily resolved when we reminded them of how much we read from it at church. The other thing they talked about was all of the trials and struggles they've been having lately, Jerry told us he is on probation until January, and he has court this week. We read from the Bible, and in JS History about the first vision and how Satan attacked Joseph, and we related it to them. We talked about seeking first the Kingdom of God, and committed both of them to come to church. They want to continue being taught, but obviously the baptism will probably have to be pushed back because of the probation.

Talk about an answered prayer and a strengthened testimony of fasting! We taught them again last night, talked about baptism, read from the Book of Mormon, and Jerry told us that when we showed up the day before and resolved their concerns, that it was an answer to his prayer and he felt the spirit very strong.

Pretty cool, how it started as a terrible week, but by the end we found 6 new investigators, taught 8 lessons, picked Jerry and Lisa back up, and had a couple other things happen that cannot be written.  J This work is so much fun and I really don't want it to end! Bummer that I won't have a baptism the day before I leave, but that’s okay. They will be baptized in January.

Keep it real and I will see you in a couple! I love and miss you

Elder Williams

p.s. Our fridge is full of thanksgiving leftovers from every family in the ward.

Monday, November 19, 2012

A General Authority and a punted dog

What else could you ask for in a week?

What a great week! Do you remember the Korean guy who spoke in General Conference, and it was really hard to understand him? Elder Yoon Hwan Choi of the Seventy. Well, on Tuesday we met as a mission in St. Louis and had a conference from 10:00am to 4:00pm and Elder Choi (pronounced Chay) and his wife spoke to us. He was hilarious, just as all the General Authorities seem to be. He spoke a lot about marriage, how we learn, who we are, how General Authorities are imperfect (he had his wife come to the pulpit and tell us a specific example of how imperfect he is, it was hilarious), and about the importance of following Christ by following his servants, specifically President and Sister Clark.

Everyone in the midwest has dogs. It is extremely rare for us to knock on a door without immediately hearing a million yapping dogs run for the door. It's really annoying and I've grown to hate dogs because of it, specifically the little ankle biters. Sometimes I just want to pick up those dogs and kick them off a bridge. Well we were in an appointment and this tiny dog came running at me as I was sitting on the couch and just yapped away. Well the guy we were with fulfilled the desire I've had my whole mission, and he walks up to the dog without hesitating and punts it across the room, and it hits my companion in the leg. He sits down as if nothing happened and said, "Next time he sees you he won't make a peep." Epic!

We taught Lisa and Jerry twice this week and they are still on track for baptism. The first time we pulled up Jerry was walking outside for a smoke break. He has this fat sack of tobacco on his desk inside the house, and he rolls his own cigs. We watched the Restoration with them and they loved it. We told them that we would teach them a commandment about the things we should and shouldn't put in our bodies next time. Well we went back, had a great lesson prepared on the Word of Wisdom, said an opening prayer, and then Jerry's boss pulled up and knocked on the door telling him he had some work available right now. Well they are very poor, they don't even have running water in the house, and so he had to take the opportunity and he left. So we didn't get to teach them the Word of Wisdom yet, and its killing me because we need to teach it asap. But they are doing great. Lisa just got a job at Walmart and said she was talking to some co-workers and she told them she was Mormon. Then she was like "Oh, wait a minute, never mind! I'm not Mormon yet!"

We are hoping that they will be able to get baptized a couple days before transfers, so that I can be there too. In order for that to happen, things have to work out almost perfectly, which almost never happens. But we will see! If it doesn't work out that is okay, the most important thing is that they become converted and get baptized when the time is right and they are ready.

Looking forward to a great Thanksgiving meal and another good week. I love you so much and hope you have a fantastic week!

Peace out!

Elder Williams

Monday, November 12, 2012

First bummed, then stoked, then pulled over!


Hey Mom and Dad,

Thanks for all your e-mails!

We have been finding investigators like crazy for the two months that we have been here, and we have been teaching plenty. But none of our investigators were going anywhere. It was starting to get really discouraging too! We have been inviting people to be baptized like crazy but it wasn't getting anywhere. I really am hoping to get a baptism here in this area because 1) It would bless someone’s life, and 2) our mission has a goal of 365 baptisms this year (that is a lot) and we are behind right now, and I would love to contribute to the goal at the end of the year, and 3) I am training a new missionary and it would be great for him to see a baptism in his first twelve weeks. But with the lack of commitment on so many of our investigators (some of whom don't seem to be investigating at all), it seemed like it was getting too late. Friday was a very discouraging day, especially for my companion. So during our weekly planning session we talked and prayed about each of our investigators. We talked about how the pressure of reaching 365 is really kicking in and causing stress. So we decided and set a goal to not get down, discouraged, or stressed. To stop looking at our investigators as a baptismal statistic and to just love them. If we can really start to love these people, I'm confident that we will see a baptism.

Saturday was great. I've been talking to Elder Marshall, the AP, for a long while about coming and doing exchanges with me because we became great friends when we were Zone Leaders. They finally made it out here so I spent Saturday working with him. We talked about a lot of stuff. We went to an appointment we had with Lisa, our former wicken investigator, and her husband Jerry. We have been talking with Jerry for a few weeks and he finally wanted to sit down and have a lesson. We told them straight up at the beginning of the lesson that our purpose, and everything we do and teach, leads to baptism into Christ's church. We taught them about the Restoration. MAN I wish Elder Norton could have been there! Jerry was basically overwhelmed with the spirit. He didn't really know what it was or what to do. You know the story about when Peter and the others are having a feast on the day of Pentecost? When the spirit swooped in as a rushing mighty wind and it filled all the house where they were sitting? I'm pretty sure if Jerry could only speak Chinese, we too would have been blessed with the gift of tongues to teach him in Chinese, that's how strong it was, haha. And then later they were pricked in their hearts, and like Jerry, they didn't really know what to do? Well yeah, that's pretty much what happened. And then, like Peter, we basically said, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost!” And they agreed. We set baptism dates with both of them for December 15, and they both came to church yesterday and stayed all three hours. Every time, just as I am about to throw in the towel, we are blessed with a miracle. Woohoo!

Later that night we were on a team-up in Salem, IL and we finished late. It’s about a 30 min drive back to Centralia, and so I was speeding home. Going 55 in a 45, tailgating a car, and then in an effort to pass him I cut off an undercover cop and got pulled over. Bummer! At least I turned on my blinker, right? For the first time in my life, I got a warning! He said, "Most people from out of town don't know this road is only 45, so I'll let you go..."

But anyway, everyone and their dog in Salem knows the Bishop because he is a big-time farmer, and knowing we were missionaries in his ward the Officer would never dare give missionaries a ticket. Bishop told me on Sunday that if I would of got a ticket, he would have taken care of it for me with the Salem Police. Haha! But yes, I learned my lesson. First time getting pulled over on my mission, which is pretty good for me!

Earlier that day, Elder Norton and the other APs were in a small town of Oakville, IL and the cops kicked them out for tracting, which we are going to get ahold of the church attorney for that, through President Clark. As soon as he collects himself. I think he is still recovering from the election news....

And that's life. I love you and hope you have a good week!

Elder Williams

Monday, November 5, 2012

Mel-Chee-Kike


Mom & Dad,

It was a great week. Much better than the last. Last Monday night we went to Sister Whitlow's house for dinner. Her husband is not a member and they also have a friend Mike living with them with his son, Mark, who is 19. Mark is really quiet and really depressed. He is a recovering alcoholic, too. He used to live in Michigan where he met a Mormon girl who sparked his interest in the church. He is so quiet and awkward that he didn't really say anything about it to us, but Sister Whitlow told us. So we taught him! Twice this week actually. He attended church too.

After we taught Mark we stopped by a less-active lady’s house, Dedra Shulte. She is about 50 and her husband Jim isn't a member. He has never in the past been interested in being baptized. She told us all about him and about how she is just the greatest Mormon who ever walked the Earth, but her husband is keeping her back. We were out on the porch and Jim wasn't home, so we told her to talk to him when he got home to see if he'd be interested in taking the missionary discussions. That night she called us and left a message saying that he wanted to be taught and he was thinking about being baptized!

So last night after we had dinner with Gary Hartman (a recent convert) and his family, we took Gary with us over to Jim and Dedra's for a lesson. Dedra would not stop talking the entire time! She was answering for Jim when we'd ask him questions, and she'd go off on the most random rants, and when we tried to stop her she'd just talk louder. It was super frustrating! Good thing we brought Gary. He finally said, "Lady, I'm not trying to be rude, but can you just stop talking for a minute and let him answer for himself?" She turned away and said, "Well! I'll just leave the room! How about that!" (She didn't leave). And when Gary said that, Jim put his hands together and closed his eyes, looked towards heaven and mouthed "THANK YOU!" Haha, it was pretty funny.

So finally Jim started talking about how he is 54 years old and just needs something more in his life. He asked what he'd have to do to be baptized, and we explained how we'd teach him all the lessons to make sure he understood, but also that it is more than just checking things off a list, that he would need to develop a testimony in his heart that what we teach is true. Dedra was like, "Well I've already taught him everything pretty much! So he should just be ready for baptism..." So we asked Jim what he'd learned from his wife and he had no idea. She was like, "Remember? I taught you about the Mel-chee-kike priesthood and how Moroni gave it to Joseph and then the plates came to him and he made the church and about the kingdoms of glory and how God appeared to Joseph in the woods and all that, remember?" Clearly we need to teach both of them, haha.

Jim had no idea... So the situation we are in is that his wife is a little bit off the rocker and wants him to be baptized now. But Jim doesn't want to rush, he wants to take it a little at a time until he really understands and believes everything. Which is perfect! Ours prayers were answered because he is so ready for the gospel. Ironically the only thing in the way is his wife, who actually wants him to be baptized. Weird.

We are going back tomorrow night with Gary to teach him about the Restoration. Dedra made it very clear that we were just to teach him and not her, because she was raised in the church, she went through seminary, and the entire nine yards. So yeah...she is being a little odd but hopefully it will all work out.  J  She asked if we could give him a blessing and said, "If I held the Mel-chee-kike priesthood I'd bless him myself! But I can't!"

I ended up giving him a blessing of comfort and it was one of the most spiritual experiences I've ever had giving a blessing. I remember as a kid watching you, Dad, give me and others blessings, and one of my biggest fears was that I was going to have to do it someday because I'd never know what to say! And your blessings always seemed so good and I'd never be able to do that! But I love giving them because sometimes the words come straight to me from heaven and it's one of the best feelings in the world.

Yesterday at church we had five investigators attend. What a miracle. Before church started we randomly felt like we should go stop by Lisa's house. We have tried all week long to see her, but she was never home. But we went anyway. Turns out she was ready to go, waiting for us at the door when we showed up. I asked her, "Did you know we were coming?" She said, "No, but I was really hoping!" We had never told her that we'd stop by. Obviously we couldn't give her a ride in our car, so we called a member who came and picked her up.

We still don't have any baptismal dates set, but if we keep working hard and being obedient, I'm confident we will soon. Our mission goal of 365 baptisms this year is a stretch, and there are going to have to be miracles for us to reach it. Every night at 10:00pm the entire mission kneels and prays for help in achieving the goal. We've been doing this for a few months now, it seems like. I've been blessed to be a part of a few baptisms already this year, and I hope that Elder Norton and I can participate in reaching this goal right here at the end of the year by having at least one baptism! And of course it's not about a goal, or about numbers, it's about changing 365 people’s lives.

I love you!

Elder Williams

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Teaching, teaching, teaching!


This week went great! We were so busy. Especially on Wednesday. I am exhausted! We spent from 12:00 - 5:00pm on a team-up with Bro. Gleckler, an old retired High Priest. Within that time we visited five households, taught three lessons, and picked up three new investigators. We taught a lady named Lisa on her porch about the Restoration, and that lesson went the best. She felt the spirit. Then we taught the Restoration to Blake and Margarette in their trailer, and their friend Elvin sat in as well. They received it well, but there were clearly some concerns they weren't bringing forth. Those poor kids though. They really have no drive in life. They have submitted themselves to a life of poverty. Then we taught Ying Wei, a lady from China. Missionaries were teaching her a long time ago until she left for Beijing. She just got back and so now we are meeting with her again. She is really awesome. We are teaching another Chinese lady too, named Joy. She speaks very little English, and so we are trying to teach her English but it's really hard when you don't speak a lick of Chinese.



On Thursday we taught Brittany, the 18 year old girl we had tracted into, and it went okay. She didn't talk much so I felt like we were talking to a wall sometimes. We also taught Freda, a big black lady, all about the Priesthood. She is really sincerely searching so we are praying for her.

So we didn't see Genia or Nichole all week. Or Charlie and Ashely. And nobody came to church. We really do not want them to fall apart. We should be teaching Genia tomorrow but she has been known for cancelling lately...

Other than that, we went to the temple, and did a lot of service, helping with Eagle Projects, raking leaves, mowing lawns, etc. So we are staying very busy. Just another week in the mission field!

Transfer calls were last night and Elder Norton and I are of course staying for one more transfer. Hoping to have great success in these next six weeks.

I love and miss you very much but I'm also really glad to be out here! Peace out!

Elder Williams