Happy New Year!! Can you believe it’s 2016? Time is flying by SO fast and I don’t know what to do about it!
We were able to meet with our investigator J, the teenage girl, two times this week and she is doing great. She’s been reading the Book of Mormon and praying, and she really likes it! About a month and a half ago, she wanted to be baptized, but she didn’t really have a testimony. Now she’s trying to build that testimony so she can know if this is the right decision. It’s really amazing to see how living the gospel is helping her!
We also were able to see our investigator T who we haven’t seen for over a month because she moved and then she got sick! We were pretty worried about it since she had already felt the Spirit so much and had come to church and had even decided to be baptized. It was so so good to see her again, and the best part is that she still knows the gospel is true and wants to be baptized! We were going to help her set a date for it, but before we could, she started talking about goals and how baptism is her goal and how she needs to set a timeline for it and for the goals leading up to it, like prayer and reading the Book of Mormon! She committed herself to praying about a date and we were like, “Okay you’re perfect.” Then she came to church again, and everybody was bearing their testimonies about the temple and then the Gospel Principles class was about the temple, and we knew it would just go over her head or give her tons of questions because we haven’t talked to her about the temple yet, but she paid attention and participated in the discussion and the members answered her questions, and now she wants to be baptized for her deceased mother! It’s so awesome!!
The reason T is such a golden investigator is that she knows how to pray, and she knows how to receive answers. She is really close to the Holy Ghost without even having the gift of the Holy Ghost yet. So when she prays and reads and comes to church, she feels that witness of its truth so strongly. It really humbles me because I know that I have a long way to go with being in tune with the Spirit!
On Saturday, we had a blitz. That’s where all the missionaries in the district go to a struggling area and we all just tract there for a little while. So Sister Sherwood and I were assigned this street, and we witnessed some miracles! We were tracting for an hour, and we only got to I think seven houses because five people talked to us! At one of the houses we met this young man, and it turned out he lived with a member who had been “working on him,” and this young man had actually just finished praying when we knocked on his door. !!! We taught him the message of the Restoration and left him with a Book of Mormon and the missionaries’ number. Then we met this guy who didn’t even live there and was just house-sitting, and he was quitting smoking and looking for a good book to read to keep his mind off of cigarettes. We were definitely able to help him out with that! We taught him the Restoration too and gave him the Book of Mormon, and he was really excited about reading it and felt that it would strengthen him in his resolution. And ALSO we met this woman who did not look like Mormon material because she had tons of tattoos all over and an atheist husband, but hers was the best miracle of all! More on that in a minute:) Overall it was a really wonderful experience, and there were some other great stories from the other missionaries who were participating in it too. I know that the Lord is truly preparing people to receive His restored gospel!
We talk about the Restoration a LOT as missionaries. To tell you the truth, I don’t know if I ever really appreciated what an important event it was before my mission. But it truly is incredible.
We know how crucial Christ’s life on earth was. He showed us the way to live in order to live with Heavenly Father again, and He performed the Atonement and Resurrection so it would be possible. But sometimes we don’t think about how He established His church. He called His twelve apostles and gave them the priesthood, the authority and power to heal and bless and baptize. His church, with His teachings and priesthood, was perfect. We like to describe it as a beautiful sheet of glass. And then He was crucified, His apostles martyred, and the glass shattered. Different people and churches gathered some of the shards and did the best they could, but no one had the fullness of the gospel.
But because Heavenly Father loves His children, He was preparing a way for it to come back. He was preparing another prophet.
Joseph Smith was only fourteen years old in the year 1820. His mom went to one church and his dad didn’t go to any, and he wanted to know where he was supposed to go.
“So great were the confusion and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible for a person young as I was to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong.
“In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?”
So Joseph went to the Bible. In James 1:5, he read: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”
When he read that scripture, it hit him hard. He kept thinking about it over and over again. He knew he needed to take his question to God. So one morning he went to the grove of trees near his home where he could be alone. He knelt down and started to pray to Heavenly Father. And then he had this experience:
“I saw a pillar of light, exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other– This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!”
We always quote that to people, word for word. After we recited it to the woman with the tattoos that we met in the blitz, I asked her how she felt. “Actually, I got goosebumps,” she told us. She listened intently as we told her about how Jesus Christ called Joseph to be His prophet in the latter days and to bring back the Church He had established so long ago. We gave her a Book of Mormon and told her that if she sincerely read and prayed about it, she would receive a witness from the Holy Ghost that these things are true.
Sister Sherwood had a seminary teacher who used to say, “The Spirit aches to bear testimony of Joseph Smith.” It’s really true. The most spiritual part of a Restoration lesson is always when we tell the story of the First Vision. It’s truly a message of hope and of God’s love. He is mindful of His people now just as much as He was in the Bible, so He has given us prophets and His church on the earth today.
If you don’t have a testimony of Joseph Smith and the Restoration of Christ’s gospel, read the Book of Mormon and sincerely pray about it. Because if it’s true, then Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. And if Joseph was a prophet, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom once again established on the earth.
President Howard W. Hunter said, “Sometimes we may feel that our spiritual edge has grown dull. On some very trying days, we may even feel that God has forgotten us, has left us alone in our confusion and concern. But that feeling is no more justified for the older ones among us than it is for the younger and less experienced. God knows and loves us all. We are, every one of us, his daughters and his sons, and whatever life’s lessons may have brought us, the promise is still true: ‘If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.'”
I know that Joseph Smith prayed in that grove of trees and that he saw what he said he saw. I know that through him, Christ restored His gospel. And I know that we can receive answers from God through the Holy Ghost, whether they be about the truth of the gospel or about other concerns and trials. He loves us, He hears us, and He answers our prayers. Even if it’s in His own time and His own way:)
I hope you all have a wonderful 2016! Thank you for your support and prayers!