We had a tough start to the week. We lost one of our investigators, Jamie, when we went over to visit her and an older woman answered the door. When we asked for Jamie, she told us that Jamie was there but really wasn't interested, which was hard for us to accept, seeing that during our first lesson, she was so enthusiastic about learning more about the Gospel.
Our progressing investigator, Wayne, was a little bit confused when we took him to Church last Sunday and afterward talked to his close nonmember friend about Mormons and did a lot of online research about the Church. He told us that he had not gone on any anti-Mormon websites. However, during our last lesson with him, he continuously referred to things he had read about a Church leader who had left the Church and all the reasons he had for leaving it. (None of my companions had heard of this individual and when Wayne asked the Institute teacher about him, he had not heard of him either.)
We tried to help Wayne understand that in order to find out for himself whether or not the Church is true, he needs to go to the primary source (the Book of Mormon) and pray about it. He says that he has been praying to know if the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith is a true prophet, but he also says that it will take an extreme sign from God to get him to join the Church. We took him to Institute again on Thursday, which he likes better than Sacrament Meeting and Sunday School, and the Institute teacher, Brother Halverson, answered a lot of his questions. However, I feel like, although he has faith in Christ and is searching for truth, he is trying to find the faults in our Church and use them as an "excuse" to not search anymore for the truth we have. The adversary has gained so much power through media.
On the bright side, this week we had a zone conference in Lebanon, TN and had the opportunity to hear from a General Authority, Elder Pino, and his wife. The things he said have definitely encouraged me to set goals, create a plan to achieve them, and focus on them throughout the week.
On Wednesday, I went on an exchange with the Spanish-speaking Hermanas. It was quite exciting. They didn't have their car this week so we spent the day walking, which was actually quite nice in my opinion. I've been travelling by car since I got in the field so it was refreshing to stretch my legs and get some exercise. Plus it wasn't too cold that day (It was snowing two days before for two minutes in the morning. We didn't have a car scraper, so we had to use pass-along cards to scrape the snow/ice off the car. Pass-along cards come in handy, believe it or not).
It was interesting being with two new companions, Hermana Strickland and Hermana Holman. We went to visit one of their investigators, who has some major psychological problems, including extreme manic depression that causes her to be bipolar. We weren't there so much to teach her but instead to help her see that there were people that cared for her and help her understand that we were there for her. Afterwards, we went to teach an English class at Church to Spanish speakers. Believe it or not, I was actually able to help out and speak some Spanish, although now I cannot say "muy bien" for the life of me. No matter what, I always say "muito bon."
A week after I got here, I started noticing little red bumps on my arms that were really itchy, they soon spread to my hands, legs, feet, and face. Sister Fowler had some too and on Friday Sister Culp noticed some on her arms. Saturday morning we checked our room for bed bugs and were horrified when we found little bugs crawling on the floor by our beds (we didn't find any in our beds). We collected some specimens and then the deep cleaning began. To make a long story short, we went to the office with the specimens in a Ziploc bag and, after much googling, the lady there found out that they were carpet beetles. Their hair supposedly irritates the skin and causes it to itch a bunch. The exterminator is coming this Thursday.
We had Stake Conference this weekend. Usually the missionaries are only allowed to go to the Saturday afternoon session if they bring an investigator. However, our zone leaders texted us in the afternoon and told us that all missionaries were required to go. At Conference, we found out that the First Presidency of the Church specifically asked that all missionaries be present at Conference and told the Stake Presidency to speak at Conference specifically about "Hastening the Work of the Lord." This is not something they normally do and assigning topics to speak on during Conference is often discouraged, so we knew that it was important.
Conference was great. It was, of course, all about missionary work. We were really sad to find out that only 40% (1500 people) of the members in our stake are active. 60% (2200 people) are inactive. We have a lot of work to do. And when I say "we" I am talking about the members of our stake.
For Conference, our opening hymn was hymn #335 "Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy," a hymn that I was not familiar with. Throughout Conference, however, I kept looking at the words over and over again after we had finished singing and I found that I really loved them:
Brightly beams our Father's mercy
From his lighthouse evermore,
But to us he gives the keeping
Of the lights along the shore.
Dark the night of sin has settled;
Loud the angry billows roar.
Eager eyes are watching, longing,
For the lights along the shore.
Trim your feeble lamp my brother;
Some poor sailor tempest tossed,
Trying now to make the harbor,
In the darkness may be lost.
Let the lower lights be burning;
Send a gleam across the wave.
Some poor fainting, struggling seaman
You may rescue, you may save.
There are so many individuals who are going through trials and are struggling with their faith. We do not know who these individuals are, but the Lord does. We must turn outwards and come to their rescue. We will be held responsible for those who we have the opportunity to rescue and ignore. We must hasten the work and send out a gleaming bright light of hope and encouragement to that poor fainting struggling seaman we may rescue and save. Let the Lord use you to hasten Hi work on this earth. He needs you. You are His representative. He has chosen you to help Him bless the lives of others and help them remember that He knows and loves them.
Would you like a Book of Mormon?
Pass-along card ice scraper
Carpet beetles into the trash bin