Big news!!! We picked up our new missionary last Wednesday night at the mission office in Burke. There're only 2 missionaries waiting for their visa for Bulgaria, and we got one of 'em - lucky us! His name is Elder Taylor, and he is from Cedar Hills, Utah. He is a cool guy, and we love him to death!
For Elder Taylor's very first lesson, we taught the Stake President. His first step into the mission field was in the Big League! Earlier that morning, we studied, planned and practiced what we were going to teach. At his home, we taught the Restoration to him and his wife, and it was so powerful! After sharing the First Vision, we did a power pause, then the Spirit flooded the room. We waded in the warm silence for about 10 seconds, then asked how they felt. They described the warmth and peace they felt, and bore testimony of the reality of Prophet Joseph's calling. We committed them to being better missionaries by inviting them to 1). Pray to bring someone closer to Christ every day, 2). Pray for the missionaries by name and 3). Invite someone to an activity inside or outside the church. They accepted with open arms and took our commitments one step further. President Davey had a meeting with Elder Ballard about 6 months ago, where they were each committed to inviting someone to take the missionary discussions four times in a year. He re-committed himself to doing that with fire in his eyes. We were so edified after that lesson, and we are excited to have our second lesson with President Davey tonight!
Most of our week was filled with lessons like that taught to members in our ward. Mt. Vernon is on FIRE! The members really truly want to have missionary moments, and they're showing it by accepting us into their homes, and doing the things we invite them to do. I hope to be here when the tidal wave of baptisms hit, because if the member work here keeps up like it is now, it's going to be monumental in the future.
We have had tremendous experiences with teaching the members already. In one case, after sharing the First Vision, we had a brother leave the dining table, grab his phone, and invite one of his friends to see Meet the Mormons. The wife perked up and committed to inviting her non-member friends to feed us. Wow! The member's motivation to do the work of the Lord is inspiring. I know that this fire comes from hearing the Doctrine of Christ. The message of the Restoration - the Doctrine of Christ - is just so powerful to the humble and soft hearted, that it motivates them to act and share it with others.
I think often of Lehi's vision of the Tree of Life. When he tastes the exquisiteness of the fruit, his natural instinct is to share it with those he loves. He even invites Laman and Lemuel, whom he knows are hard hearted and will probably respond bitterly! Such love transcends fear. The pure, unconditional love of Christ (see Moroni 8:16).
I went on an exchange with the Assistants on Friday; I went with Elder Miles (MTC Comp.)! They drive a Chevy Silverado, and I got to drive for the day! :D I felt like I was driving the Gladiator again. I was large and in charge of the roads. Much unlike our Corrola.
We drove to a street called Pope's Head, in search of a missing member. Pope's Head is nortorious for its large houses, pristine 5+ acre yards, and beautiful sunsets. We were driving through at just the right time, around 6:30, when the sun was dipping below the treeline. The falling leaves, cool brisk air, rolling meadows and pink clouds turned our drive into a scene from 'A River Runs Through It.' Elder Miles and I didn't have a care in the world. We were commenting on the beauty of God's creations, our fortune to be in this mission at this time and the kindness of waving, smiling pedestrians. Life couldn't have been any better!
We found the home we were looking for, and gawked at the length of their driveway. There was no way we were parking up that - Elder Miles would be backing me out for... Well, miles ;). We couldn't park on teh side of the road either, for it was privately owned property, no trespassing with no shoulder. So we parked at the entrance of their driveway, walked the long walk to their doorway and knocked.
A nice man answered and started to talk with us, but was interrupted by loud honking and a shrill yell from where we came.
He said it was his wife coming home from work. She did not sound pleased. We ran down there, to find his wife outside of her parked car looking absolutely anathemic. I hopped in and got out of the driveway as quickly as I could, while Elder Miles took the verbal abuse of a contentious woman for a good 7 minutes at least.
I rolled down the window and listened in on the bashing. She was accusing us of all sorts of crimes, everythign from loitering to man slaughter, I swear! We apologized again and again and promised never to set foot 5,000 miles within her domain.
She suddenly turned our perfect fall day into a scene from a movie that makes you feel really crappy after watching it. Because that's how we felt.
It was awesome! haha, missions are great! :D
That's how my week was. Thanks for all of your love and support!
Sorry this Email is so late you! You probably all think I'm a really disobedient missionary. :) Let me list to you mine excuses...
The library was closed on Monday, due to Columbus "discovering" America 500-ish years ago. Tuesday was District meetings, and I was on an exchange. I went to the other Elder's area, and they had a ba-jillion appointments set up (which was awesome!) Today just happens to be the only day that's available.
I just want to start out by saying: I LOVE Mt. Vernon! It is so awesome here, I can hardly drink it all in at once (one reason why it's so hard to drink it all in at once is because if you think about it, you can't really drink an area). The ward is supportive of the missionaries - more so than any other area I've served in. We actually have a dinner for every night of this week! I thought that was just a myth! ;) #firstworldproblems.
Not only do the members love feeding us, they love to be spiritually fed by us. The Stake President sent out an Email to all of the Bishops, giving orders to have everyone in their Ward Council, the High Council, and the Stake Council to be taught three, 15 minute lessons in a period of 3 weeks by the missionaries. Wow!
This is such a unique opportunity, and we are taking advantage of it. My new companion (his name is Elder White, BTDubbs), has already called the Stake President himself (he lives in our ward), and scheduled a time to teach him and his family one of the discussions. We taught the Bishop, and our Ward Mission Leader one of the three discussions this past week, too. We are hoping to impress and spark the leadership in our ward first, so it will trickle down to the rest of the ward members.
Last transfer, Elder White and his last companion had 10 people on date to be baptized. 10! They were teaching 2 families, and a couple of individuals. Since then, 8 of them have fallen off, so we're kinda starting at ground zero as far as the teaching pool goes.
BUT! There is still hope.
I had a really cool experience today during my studies that I want to share with you. I was reading in Preach My Gospel, Chapter 6, under the section "Charity and Love." I think it's in the last paragraph where it says something like, "As you pray with 'all the energy of heart,' (Moroni 7:48) and do righteous works, then..." then it lists a lot of amazing promised blessings, like, "you will feel love for all men, especially for those among whom you labor," "you will recognize everyone's potential to become like God, and desire their salvation..." Just amazing things like that.
I thought it was a simple thing to just pray for charity and look for opportunities to serve others! I'm already set apart full-time to do just that, I may as well take it seriously. This is my goal for the transfer! I want to experience all of these blessings, because I can't get enough of what Heavenly Father is already giving me!
So I got on my knees and tried my best to pray with sincerity and honesty for charity. I also prayed for opportunities to serve others and the sensitivity to recognize when those moments arise. And guess what happened?
That's right, I saw an opportunity! Already! It only took about... 2 hours for God to answer that prayer. Crazy!
There's a crazy rainstorm going on right now, and it's knocked down a bunch of branches and sent leaves in every nook and cranny in Mt. Vernon. There was an old man with a cane struggling to get out of his car, and as he stepped out, he dropped a handful of pills, and keys on the cold, wet ground. It was raining pretty heavily, and he was struggling to bend down to pick up the discarded objects.
We were sitting in our car, waiting to pick up some other Elders to come to the library to Email when we saw this. I told Elder White that we should go help him, so we flipped on the hazards (A.K.A. 'park anywhere lights,' in Virginia), and ran outsides to help him out.
It was so AWESOME to see that God does answer prayers! He really truly does, and he wants us to help each other come closer to Him. One tremendous way to do that is to pray for opportunities to bring someone closer to Christ, DAILY. Will you each please pray for an opportunity to bring someone closer to Christ every day? I know God will answer that prayer in a jiffy. It is an easy way to participate in the Hastening of the work, and it will bring you peace and joy such as you've never felt before. I know that to be true!
I love you all! Thank you for the support and prayers.
Oh! P.S. some other sweet news, Elder White and I are going to be training a new missionary together! :D how sweet is that?! He is a Visa waiter, and we don't know how long he'll be here, but we pick him up today at 6 o'clock.
It's pretty funny - all of my trainee's will be in our zone at the same time. Elder Davis (he is serving as a DL, so we can go on an exchange! :D) and Elder Grow are in the Mt. Vernon zone!
I have been transferred to Mt. Vernon!!! With Elder White!!! Not even kidding! I've been companions with all of the colored missionaries in the mission! ;)
Elder White and I are in a rockin' area, and we are serving together as Zone Leaders. I'm stoked to be here! Lots and lots of Africans, or so I've heard. This is supposedly a more humble part of the mission. I already love it!
Here's my new address:
7512 Republic Court #201Alexandria, VA 22306
Transfers are this Thursday, and we get to watch Meet the Mormons as a
mission! We are so fortunate. I'm excited to see what it's like. We've
been inviting the members to invite their friends and neighbors to go
see it, so I hope it's good!
I might get transferred this Thursday, who knows. I've been here for 4
1/2 months now, and that seems to be the norm for how long I stay in
an area. If I do get transferred, I could very well be companions with
Elder Gemar in the Centreville Zone (Elder Gemar and I were in the
same MTC District. We served around each other, basically in the same
Ward, for the first 8 months of our missions. I love that guy!), or I
could stay here for another transfer with Elder Black. Which would
also be stellar :).
Elder Black and myself did a lot of work this week with the members.
It wasn't really rewarding key indicator-wise, but we do feel good
about what we've done. We are putting a huge emphasis on teaching
members the discussions, because of a promise in PMG Pg. 161, which
states: "building their understanding of the Doctrine of Christ will
do more to increase their (members) trust in you (missionary), and
build their excitement to do missionary work than anything else you
We're already seeing the fruits of this promise being fulfilled. As we
teach families, we show them that we CAN teach, and they can trust us
with their friends to teach! We invite them to do things to build
their faith in Christ, to share the gospel with others, and they are
motivated to do it.
The hope is that the members find someone for us to teach in their
home. The process is slow, but we know that this method of missionary
work is what the Lord expects of us at this time. Prophets like
President Monson, and Gordon B. Hinkley have made the call for members
and missionaries to work together - it is our job to heed it.
I am happy as a clam here, and I hope you all loved General
Conference. I know I did!