Monday, April 30, 2012

Elder Holland can bring the spirit even in a tough environment

This week was a fun one. We did an exchange with the Elders downtown because they have been struggling with finding new investigators (something we have been struggling with too), and President wanted us to go there. We did some tracting in the north part of the city, which was fairly unproductive because about 75% of the houses there are boarded up or broken in pieces. But I think we were of some help. A hard thing we are still trying to figure out is how we are supposed to help other people in struggling areas and work our own area at the same time.

We taught our new investigator, Patty, and her less-active husband Roy. Roy feels a hole in his heart and wants to fill it, but doesn't know how. Patty is just Catholic, and you know how they are! But the lesson went well and was very spiritual. We are going to teach them again tomorrow.

We had a great lesson with a less-active named Kayci. Her boyfriend is not a member so we are trying to teach him, but it's really hard. The teaching environment is just so bad! The house is a mess and torn apart, food and junk everywhere, TVs on in all rooms, fans blowing, their baby is crying, and their 3 year old is running around naked. He even peed on Kayci's leg in the middle of the lesson. It was unbelievable. But we watched "Safety for the Soul" and she loved it. Somehow, Jeffrey R. Holland can bring the spirit even in a tough environment like that!

As for John and Jennifer, they are still progressing and coming to church. They had a rough week though. We taught them separately and they are not getting along. As you know, John is just a bum and sits at home all day long while Jennifer works. John is upset because he feels like nobody in the house, including Jennifer, has any respect for him. He has little self-confidence or self-esteem, and just wants to be respected. And of course Jennifer is probably upset that he is just bumming out. It's hard to know what to do and how to help. We basically told John he just needs to get a flippin’ job.

It's a really sad lesson I'm learning on my mission. The government and others might think they are helping people by all the food stamps and stuff that they give away, but for the majority that I've seen, it does more damage than it does help. They give John money to sit on his bum and play video games all day, and it's forced him into this habit of being a slave to the system, and he can't break it. I hope it helps when he gets baptized into the ward.

If you remember me talking about Jenny, well we are working with her again. She wants to be baptized so bad but her mom now won't sign the papers. It's a rough situation but I'm hoping it will get worked out!

That was basically my week! I love you all so much!

Elder Williams

Monday, April 23, 2012

You are fallen, lost, and going to hell!

Elder White and I worked really hard this week to find some new investigators to teach. President Clark has told our mission, "There is absolutely no excuse for not finding one new investigator each week in the number of hours you have to proselyte". Last week we didn't find one, and there was no excuse! It's a lot more pressuring to find and teach people when our area is the "model area" for the zone.

After being really humbled and reliant on the Lord, He provided! We visited a part-member/ less-active couple, Roy and Patty Brooks. Roy was sealed in the temple about 7 years ago, but his wife died of cancer and he got re married to a nice Catholic lady named Patty! They are not active in any church and Roy doesn't even have a testimony. But we asked them if we could teach them and Roy told us, "We are going to be a real challenge for you. Patty is very Catholic, and as for me, I am just missing something. I don't feel a connection when I go to the church. There is a hole that needs to be filled and I don't know what it is, but I can't find it at the Mormon church like I used to be able to." We told him that is exactly why we came on missions! To help people. So Patty is our new investigator and we begin teaching her on Tuesday.

Not sure about what's going on with Fred. We went to his house multiple times and finally got in touch with him. The reason they weren't at church last week was because Fred's cousin was shot and they went to the funeral on Sunday. Really sad. He actually lived in my old area, in the Florissant ward boundaries. He was fine though, and his memory is so bad he really doesn't even remember his cousin. We set yet another baptismal date for this Saturday, but lo and behold they didn't come to Church yesterday, so it's not going to happen. I don't know what to do with him anymore. We will keep trying! He is a good guy and he really wants to get baptized, and we want that blessing for him too. It just requires personal effort on his part.

We had an interesting experience that I think is worth sharing. It was really sad. We went to visit a former investigator we found in the Area Book named Shayla. She and her mom were talking to us about how they used to investigate, but they aren't interested anymore. We tried to kindly leave, but they wouldn't let us. The mom was just arguing and hating on us! She was bringing up all sorts of anti material about Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, yadi yadi yada. The same crap that I've heard a million other times. She was telling us we aren't Christian and we don't believe in "the one true God". There was also a young lady in the room, probably about 18 years old who innocently said, "This is exactly why I am not religious, because it's all just too messy and confusing". And the mom turned to her and just yelled, "With that sort of attitude your just as screwed as an atheist who openly rebels against God! You are fallen, lost, and going to hell!" .................... Ouch. We tried to tell the girl that that wasn't true, that God loves her, and that she doesn't have to be confused. But we just couldn't with all the yelling and contention, so we left. Two things that I learned from this:

1.       One way the truth of this church is made manifest is by its fruits, or in other words the great people and members who are a part of it. Truly converted members reflect and radiate the love of Jesus Christ to other people. Anybody claiming to belong to the one true church ought to show it through their Christ-like actions! I knew instantly that this woman was preaching false doctrine by the absence of the Spirit, and the presence of contention as she spoke.

2.       God loves everybody, even her. Instead of feeling angry at this lady, I felt bad for her, and I knew that God loved her still. That wasn't a feeling that I created myself either, it came to me by the Spirit!

We had many other cool experiences I could share, but I will end with church. We went to visit John and Jennifer right before church started to wake him up as usual. His friend told us he and Jennifer went grocery shopping, which I knew was bull because John is never awake at 10:00 and Jennifer always works at that time. I was sad and frustrated because I didn't think they would make it. We went to church and sacrament meeting had been going for about 20 min, and none of the six people we were expecting came.

Then I saw the door open and in walks a less-active Jamaican lady named Kerrine and her four little kids that we had visited that week. We had given her mom (who has muscular dystrophy) a blessing and helped her in her yard. And then, in walks another less-active lady named Jody with her kids who we had taught that week. And then John and Jennifer came in. You can't comprehend the happiness that I felt when I saw them. They even stayed all three hours. Bishop announced their wedding-baptism for May 12 and we got most of it organized. They both had a wonderful experience. Isn't that great? It makes all our work well worth it!

That was my week. I hope all of you had a great one too! I love you so much!

Elder Williams

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Pokémon or Church? ..... Pikachu, I choose you!

Mom, Dad, Family,

This week we had our DL/ZL meeting, which is where we meet with the District Leaders and fill them in on everything going on in the mission, and give training. I think it went really well. Elder White and I trained on expectations, basing it off of the scripture D&C 107:99 - 100. First we need to learn our duty (what is expected of us), and then we need to act in the office in which we have been appointed. If we don't have expectations, and if we don't know our purpose, we won't be able to work effectively. That is a valuable lesson that applies to a lot more than just missionary work, I think.

It's springtime in Missour. You should see how beautiful and green Missouri is! Wow!

Countryside near Hillsboro, Missouri
We got to do a service project this week for the Firth's! He is our ward mission leader and lives in the mansion that I watched conference in. We helped them because his wife has a brain tumor and Bro. Firth is always working. I sprayed weed killer and pulled weeds with four other Elders for four hours. It was awesome! Yard work is like a vacation.

We, of course, saw John and Jennifer a couple times this week, and we set a wedding/baptism date for them for May 5th. As long as John's friend gets back from Florida by that time, it should go through. It is stressful trying to figure out how to organize a wedding! Good thing we have a solid relief society that should help us out. J

At church yesterday, nobody came. This was Fred's last Sunday that he needed to come before his baptism on Saturday, but he didn't! We stopped by their house, and nobody was home. We called, but nobody answered. So, unfortunately we will have to cancel the baptism interview and push his baptism back another week.

John and Jennifer couldn't come because they drove to Wisconsin for a Pokémon tournament. Yeah........ that's all I'm saying about that. And Jenny didn't come because she still hasn't told her Grandma that she is getting baptized on April 28, and so she had to go to Mass.

Really slow week, we didn't teach many lessons, and we didn't find one new person to teach. We did drive all the way to Paris, IL on Saturday which is 3 hours away, for Elder White’s baptism.

So that's pretty much it. Not too much happened. I really hope this week will be a lot better! We have a lot of appointments scheduled, so as long as they go through it should be good.

I love you! Thanks for everything!

Elder Williams

Monday, April 9, 2012

Is that one going to be a "J" too?

We taught John and Jennifer this week and also Fred! We pretty much taught the same lesson to both of them, it was just changed a bit according to each of their needs. The basic thing that we focused on was asking them, "Why do you think we leave commitments with you, like reading the Book of Mormon and coming to church?" All of their answers were something like, "Because it helps us to know what God wants us to do" which is of course true, but there is also more. We taught them about how when we are baptized, we make a big commitment—a covenant—with God, and how the small commitments prepare them for the covenants they make at baptism. John and Jennifer are currently planning on getting baptized on April 28, but one of John’s best friends is out of town until the middle of May, and he really wants his friend to come! So it might get pushed back to May, we will see.

At church yesterday after Sacrament, a nice member walked up to Jennifer and started talking to her, it was great! She asked all of their names, including their baby, which is John, Jennifer, and Jessica. She said "Oh, all Js!" and then pointed to Jennifer's stomach and said, "Is that one going to be a J too?" Yeah.... Jennifer isn’t Pregnant. Haha, nice one member. A for effort. J

Fred is getting baptized on April 21 as long as he comes to church again! He came yesterday which was great. So did John and Jennifer! And another investigator! We had four people at church! Can you believe it? So much is going on. The hard part is balancing it out with the zone stuff we have. So much planning and trainings and stuff to do.

So things are going great in our area. We also found a new investigator, somebody I tracted into with Elder Hironaka a couple weeks ago on exchanges. Elder White and I stopped by to see her. Her name is Rachelle. She is a BIG black lady with long bleached blonde dreads. She was just going off about how people have corrupted the true teachings of God, how the Bible has truth, but not all truth, and she kept saying that there is just "something missing" but she wasn't quite sure. We were like "Rachelle! You have to listen to our message girl!" And we sat down with her outside her apartment and taught the restoration. She obviously already believes in the apostasy, so it went great. At the end of the lesson she got emotional and said, "This might be a life changing meeting we've just had boys. This might be the answer to my prayer. Give me a week with that book, and come back, and then we'll talk." HOW OFTEN DOES THAT HAPPEN?  HARDLY EVER! I fasted for her yesterday and we can't wait to see her again. What a miracle.

Much more happened, and it was a great week. I love you so much! Peace!

Elder Williams

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What Thinks Christ of Me?

First off, I'll start with transfer news. I am staying in the Oakville ward! But Elder Hardman is leaving. And you will never guess who my new companion is. Elder White, baby! Mom, I'm pretty sure you were in contact with his Mom when I was in Springfield and he was in Decatur. Now we are ZLs in the coolest zone in the MSLM, starting on Wednesday. I'm way excited.

So I'd just like to keep this e-mail simple and tell you about a couple things. First, John and Jennifer. We met with them on Tuesday and we brought a young less-active member in our ward with us. Because John and Jennifer live in a tiny apartment with about 6 other people (and it's hoarded with trash) and they have no chairs, we go down into their dungeon-like basement and sit on the cement floor. We taught them the Plan of Salvation, and we focused on the purpose of our mortal life. We taught them that we are here to prepare to meet God, and therefore we should put Him first above all else. They have both really been struggling with keeping commitments, but the Spirit was strong and they both WANT to keep commitments, it's just hard for them because of their lazy habits. (We also shared with them D&C 88:124. That scripture is meant for them haha). Later in the week we went back and taught them tithing. They are so poor, but committed to live it once they are baptized. I had this moment where I was sitting there on that cement, looking around as we were teaching, and I just thought, "This is awesome. Missionary work is sweet."

We were disappointed when they didn't come to Saturday morning conference at the church like they promised. It was really frustrating. We couldn't get ahold of them all day Saturday. But we stopped by Sunday and convinced them to come with us to the very last session. We were watching it at our Ward Mission Leader’s house. This place is a mansion. It makes the mansion that we live in look small. It was pretty sweet sitting in a massage chair watching conference in a massive theatre. Anyways.... they came! One of the first talks was throwing down on the importance of families and getting married. It was just for them! And they loved it. So John and Jennifer are still doing great.

The other cool thing this week was that I did a baptism interview for a lady named Liz Flick that some other Elders have been teaching. I've always wanted to do this! It was a very spiritual experience. There aren’t really details to explain about it, but it was neat.

Other than that, we had our monthly Zone Leader Council meeting which is where we discuss everything about the Mission. It's pretty intense! But it's also really helpful.

So that was my week! I am so excited to serve with Elder White I can't even tell you. I have no idea what I'm doing as a ZL still, so it will be hard to take over. But I think it's going to be awesome. I love you so much!

Elder Russell Williams