Monday, November 28, 2011

Remember the Reason for the Season!

This week was a bit hard, because of Thanksgiving. No investigators, less-actives, or anybody else wanted to meet with us. It was pretty tough! We have had a lot of faith in one of our investigators, Martha Finley, because she is so prepared. But we aren't able to meet with her, which makes it impossible for her to progress. It's really frustrating.

I think that I've told you previously that we are fasting once a week as a mission to reach our goal of 345 baptisms for 2011. It seems like there are miracles happening all around and we are baptizing like crazy and are on-track to meet our goal. I just hope that Elder Lance and I can contribute to that goal and get at least 1 baptism before the year is over.

Since we weren't able to teach our current investigators, we did a lot of tracting. That was a whole bunch of fun because it was cold and rainy most of the week. On Tuesday we tracted this guy named Tracy. He let us in without hesitation and we just sat down and talked with him! Turns out he has a really interesting background... I don't always tell you about the people I meet that are like Tracy, but I can't help it because he is really cool. Tracy is 45 years old and has spent half of his life in prison. He was my age when he was first convicted of murder in a gang fight. He just got out of prison in the summer and is currently on probation. He can't leave his house during most of the day (which makes it easy to meet with him) and basically just has to sit around and do nothing. He is actually a really great guy and is really intelligent too. It sounds like he went through a lot of change in prison! He thinks that it is just incredible what we do as missionaries. We taught him the Restoration and gave him a Book of Mormon. We even visited him again the following day, and watched the 20 minute film on the Restoration, which helped him get a better understanding of Joseph Smith. He even read a bunch from the Book of Mormon, which was awesome! He has to get special permission to go to church because it starts at 9:00 and he isn't supposed to leave the house that early. Hopefully something will happen soon though.

We also found a young lady named Rodshaddy (Ruh-Shady). She is a mom of 3 kids and we also taught her about the Restoration and read through the pamphlet with her. She loved it so much and was so happy that we were able to answer different questions that she had. We set up a return appointment, and she asked if it would be okay if her mom and grandma sat in on the lesson as well! So we gave her 3 copies of the Book of Mormon and we are planning on meeting with her in a couple days.

Thanksgiving was amazing. We spent all day with the Wallaces and had some incredible food and played board games. There was also a Turkey Bowl which we played in the morning.

I'm hoping we will be able to meet with Martha this week. We also STILL need to get Josh Rohdeman to the Family History Center and eventually to the temple. There is so much to do, but it is all so hard to accomplish! We received transfer calls on Saturday and Elder Lance and I will be staying together for another 6 weeks. Hopefully we can get some good work done by that time.

I love you Mom and Dad, Ali, Jesse, Megan, and everybody else. Remember that Elder Malm, the General Authority is coming to our mission next Monday, so Tuesday will be my P-Day.

Elder Williams

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What's good in the hood?

It was an interesting week with lots of mental struggling and hard work. The mission is continuing to fast once a week for our investigators in order to achieve the baptismal goal of 345 at the end of the year. We have no doubt seen many miracles that have no other explanation other than the divine intervention of the Lord.

We had a lesson with Jessi Anderson, the 80 year old black lady who we found the first couple days of this transfer. I remember the first investigator that I had found on my mission, Immanuel (who is currently on a 'quest' for God out in the desert to save the world, by the way), and I remember how excited I was to teach & baptize him. Elder Adams tried very nicely to tell me that he wasn't as solid as I had thought. I've got the same sort of thing going on with my companion now, haha. The appointment was interesting. I think I've mentioned her son Charles, and how all he ever talks about is how he has 1 lung. He always just sits in the corner of the room talking to himself. Plus, there was a lady who had some sort of handicap problems on the couch just constantly screaming at the top of her lungs. Jessi would always tell her, "Now you hush! I don't need no screamin! Hush!" Plus there was a straight-up thug smoking joints on the porch (this guy looked like he would kill you if you looked at him wrong) and constant movement in and out of the house by random dudes. It was a bit hectic! But Jessi even told us that she knew Satan was trying to distract her, because this was important conversation! We set a very tentative baptismal date for December 10, and she said if she finds out it's true she will be baptized. The tough part is that she is attached to a preacher at her Baptist church who will persuade her to think that the Mormon church is a cult, like they always do. Hopefully she will be in tune with the Spirit, because the Spirit is much more convincing and reliable than some preacher.

Wednesday was an incredible day! I was on splits with Elder White, and we always have fun together. We had an appointment with Linsay, and it went so well! We taught her the first lesson, and she had read all of 3 Nephi 11, plus the introduction, plus the testimony of 3 and 8 witnesses, plus all the other stuff at the beginning. She is very smart and understands exactly what the Book of Mormon is and why it's important. She was raised Pentecostal and her mom is very active in that church, and was unfortunately present with us in the lesson and always making snotty off-topic comments about things she disagrees with, just making everything way more confusing, haha. And when black people (especially women) want to get a point across, NOTHING will stop them. She was just raising her voice and interrupting and shouting and being obnoxious. But Linsay's entire purpose with meeting with us is to see if this is the truth rather than her Mom's church, and so I don't think she really listened to a single word she said. SWEET! She is nervous to pray, because she said if she gets an answer it's true, that means she has to go against what her entire family believes. That shows me that she has the real intent to receive an answer, now she just needs the faith to submit to the Lord's will!

The same day we got a phone call from the APs and they had a referral for us. Some lady named Martha. We visited her and taught her the 1st lesson and it went great! She is in her late 50s and just divorced her husband and moved from Nevada to Springfield into the house that she inherited from her parents. She is living on her own and met this guy online from Idaho who is Mormon. Now Martha has been to Salt Lake City and has ALWAYS felt a draw to the temples and the church. One of her dreams is to be in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. She was so excited to learn about the church and she told us that her online boyfriend has been teaching her and praying with her, and she has already received a witness that this is true and that she needs to follow it! She was just excited to learn what it was that she knew was true. Isn't that crazy!?!?! She is SO prepared to be baptized. What a miracle. She works pretty much every Sunday, so that is the only hang up. I'll keep you updated with her.

We had a few other lessons too. We actually taught 8 this week, which I think is the most I've done on my mission so far. We were asked A LOT about the Gift of Tongues by like 4 different people. We had an interesting lesson with some dude named Tyrone who lives in our apartment complex and he told us this extremely "spiritual" experience of when he was sitting in a chair at church and people were praying over him, and then he felt this spirit come through and go inside of his body! "The Spirit just took over, man! I was trippin’ out, man! I was just shakin’ and dancing with the Holy Ghost, man! And my tongue was speaking like 'blablasdlkasdlk blaksdlk to the Lord, man!" I had no idea what to say. He also said "Who the Lord loveth, he chasten.....Well he was CHASING me all over the room, man!"  Haha! Somebody get this man a dictionary! But he is a great guy and enjoys meeting with us, so hopefully we can make some progress with him. He actually showed us the new Modern Warfare 3 game and had an epic helicopter battle in Manhattan! What do ya know Dad? But we gave him a Book of Mormon and he said he'd read it. We are seeing him tomorrow.

We are working with a bunch of other people, including less-actives. One of the struggles with a less active is that she won't come to church because she has her own church at home. She turns on the TV, gets her bread and her water, and the preacher on TV gives it a blessing. So she just has her little "moment," as she calls it. So yeah, there are plenty of weird concerns and things that we are trying to do our best to figure out how to handle. It has been an extremely stressful past few days, but we have received so many blessings. The ward is doing a HORRIBLE job at fellowshipping Josh Rohdeman and he didn't come to church yesterday (which was actually Stake Conference). We didn't meet with him either. I don't know what to do, because I feel like as soon as I leave this area he will go inactive unless the ward can help him.

I'm going to stop there. I love you so much, family. Thanks for the e-mails and everything. The work is coming along, the weather is nice, and the mission is great! I know that this church is true! Bye!

Elder Williams

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A really wise owl

Today was a good week! I have a lot of stories to tell so I don't really know where to start. I'll just tell you a couple and keep this e-mail short.

We've basically dropped all of our investigators. None of our current investigators are the same people that Elder Crowley and I had. Nobody is progressing, nobody is coming to church, nobody is doing anything. It's hard to let go of investigators, but we aren't here to shoot the breeze and hang out with people. We are here to baptize and to change lives, and we are looking for people who are thirsty for just that. 

I had a really cool experience on Tuesday! We went through the former investigators in the area book and set up an appointment with this guy named Dean West. He was really cool. He looks EXACTLY like Bill Babington, just with short hair. He agrees with pretty much every point of doctrine that we teach in the church. He believes that Joseph Smith was a prophet. His only area where he doesn't agree with is the second article of faith. He believes that Adam is pretty much the biggest screw up of mankind. The way he talked about Adam was as if Adam was Satan himself. He has the typical Christian belief that if it wasn't for dumb ol' Adam, then we would all be living happily in the Garden of Eden right now. He spent a good 20 minutes just bashing on us pretty hard. It was intense. He is so knowledgeable and persuasive. I had no idea what to say to him. I felt under qualified to be a missionary at some points because I was lacking the confidence to teach what we believe. I just started praying in my heart as he was bashing us to know what to say. And then I just started talking. I couldn't even tell you what we said to him. But we asked him questions that TOTALLY shut him up and backed him into a corner. He stopped talking and admitted that he did not know the answers and stated that those were some of the "thorny areas of Christianity". At that precise moment we pulled out The Book of Mormon, and told him that there are no thorny areas at all, because all the missing truth has been restored to the Earth by a Prophet of God. We testified of the Book of Mormon, of Joseph Smith, of Thomas S. Monson, and most importantly of Jesus Christ. At the end of the lesson he was so friendly to us, the Spirit was present, and he expressed interest in coming to church. That lesson was such a testimony builder for me because we had planned to teach him a different lesson, but because of our preparation, we were directed by the Spirit.

"It shall be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say." <--- That is a true scripture.

We taught Zaya this week, which was great. She struggles a lot grasping the concept of God. We spent an entire hour teaching her that God is our Heavenly Father and that he has a perfect body of flesh and bones. We also tried teaching her about prophets. It was clear at the end of the lesson that she didn't grasp it at all, because she said "Okay! I get it! I'm just going to think of God as like a really wise owl". ... Haha so we will be going over with her the Godhead this week again.

Do you remember when I told you about Kent Hill? The guy who bashed on us and gave us books about Diesm? Well, he called us back over this week. I was prepared for him to bash, but he actually just wanted to apologize. He had prayed to God as we committed him to, but he said he didn't receive an answer to join the church. Rather, he received an answer to apologize to us. He pulled out his check book and offered us a donation, which we obviously denied. 

We taught Josh Rohdeman this week too! We taught him all about the priesthood. He was SO excited to tell us that he had already exercised his priesthood and he gave his wife Sara a blessing! He just went off with this big smile on his face explaining it to us. I had no idea what to say! But obviously we had to teach him that he can't give blessings like that until he receives the Melchizedek Priesthood. But that is okay, because he was excited to hear that he had the power of the ministering of angels! Haha, what a good guy

Ah, so many other stories I want to tell you that I could go into detail about! Ah well. One thing I wanted to bring up is that for companion study, we came to the library and did an online training about using Family History with finding investigators. I have realized that I know absolutely nothing about it! But I have been using it a lot in our proselyting lately, and it's surprising to see how many people enjoy genealogy as a hobby. I was hoping you (probably Dad) could send me info about our family history! Maybe some cool stories that I could share with people or even just random info for myself! I don't really know where we even came from, although I think it’s Ireland and Germany? But yeah, you get the point.  J

I love you family. Today is Zone p-day and we are meeting at the church soon so I don't have much time. Everybody keep praying, studying, and working hard in school and work! I love you so much!

Elder Russell Williams