It's been another good week, but there wasn't too much out of the ordinary. The main news for the week is Caleb. He is seriously doubting the truth of the Book of Mormon. We met with him at Sister Moffett's on Saturday and had a lesson about the Book of Mormon. He says he is open, but I can just feel the wall he has built around his heart by studying online about Mormons and by not doing the things that would have built the foundation for his testimony (church attendance, prayer, daily scripture study) He did agree to spend two hours reading the Book of Mormon using the Pray, Read, Write, Pray method in Power of the Every Day Missionary. We are praying his heart will be softened this week as he does that, but if not we will not be meeting with him anymore.
During the 90-day challenge to read the Book of Mormon one thing I tried to pay particular attention to was the state of the peoples' hearts. I marked the word, "heart" whenever it appeared and paid attention to the different contexts it is used in (hard heart, lifted up in the pride of their heart, broken heart, etc.) On Sunday, the day after we taught Caleb last, I read Alma 12:10, "And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full." That same day in Sunday School the teacher compared the phrase, “broken heart", to breaking a horse. When someone breaks a horse they train it to trust them, and to follow their will. I know that Heavenly Father is constantly teaching us to trust him. I see that in my own life every day. It's not until we truly have a broken heart that we can receive the "greater portion of the word." That applies to our investigators and ourselves.
The spirit really came into the lesson when we shared "a testimony of the Book of Mormon" Mormon Message. We needed Elder Holland to help us bring the spirit in to that lesson! It is really nice to have an apostle join a lesson!
Sister Stitt and I began looking at apartments a bit more. Apparently, Bishop Lowry fought to get us into this apartment and he is not happy about the Sisters moving somewhere else. He called the missionary over housing and said if he had a daughter on a mission he would want her in these apartments. So we might have a possibility of staying, but we're still looking around. We wouldn't be moving until August though. (if any of ya'll were sending birthday cards this week... hint hint... haha, just kidding!)
My new bike is BEAUTIFUL! I was joking about how it's like going from riding a pony to a stallion and Sister Stitt dubbed my bike, "The Stallion!"
We unexpectedly dropped in on Chrissy, a less active member, this week and she ended up coming to about an hour or so of church. It was so great!
Also, Saturday morning Elders Greenlaw and Lewis had their gator, Tina baptized. I played piano and Sister Stitt sang (on special request from Tina). It was such a sweet moment! Tina is amazing! For a
while she thought she needed to know everything before getting baptized, but she soon learned there is a lot to learn after baptism still! She has read the entire Book of Mormon--in English AND in Chinese to make sure she understood it all.
Funny story from the baptism: Elder Greenlaw forgot to drain the font. he was all dried off when the ward mission leader came and told him he needed to drain it. So he had to get back in his wet clothes and climb back into the water to pull the plug. Tina was all dressed and out before him. It was pretty funny!
This week I learned that several recent converts, less actives, and members I came to love in Jacksonville are struggling with various trials at this time. It seems like everything hits all at once sometimes. I was so grateful when I got the following message from Jacob. He had been inactive for about 9 years before Sister Hale and I visited him. He started coming back to church, but hasn't been able to take the sacrament yet because he was still overcoming his addiction. Today he messaged me on Facebook:
"Sister Murray, I am excited to be able to finally tell you that I am nicotine free and hopefully for good. It is still not exactly easy to forget just yet but I know that I am on my way. I thank you soo much for everything. From the moment ya'll came to my house that one night my life began to change. Even though our discussions were brief, I want you to know that they could not have been more meaningful to me. I often thought about how wonderful it would be to visit the temple again. It just seemed like some kind of dream, and now it is a reality. It has been rough, by far the toughest thing I have been through, but now I have the strength to continue. I will never forget this, ya'll helped me prepare to climb a mountain when I could barely walk up a hill. I could continue on and on forever but all I really want to say is thank you. Thank you for being a friend, a real friend."
And THAT my friends is what makes a mission worth it. Worth all the sweat, heartbreak, bugbites, lack of sleep... everything. This gospel, not missionaries, changes lives. I know the Atonement of Christ can strengthen us to do all things.
I love ya'll! Keep looking for missionary moments!