Stomach flu. Worst thing ever. Needless to say, I have been bed-ridden for the last two days and am on quarantine for today (but I snuck out to email).
We just had one of the most incredible weeks that was filled with some of the greatest moments of my missions, as well as some of the worst.
A brief recap:
We were on exchanges and went to see an investigator and the Elder I was with asked if Elder Garner and I had helped strengthen her faith in Christ. She said “well…it hasn’t weakened it.” I felt a dagger go right through my heart. Every thing I had ever done in my life meant nothing. The countless hours of study, prayer, and fasting for this specific individual…and I couldn’t even do my ONE purpose as a missionary: to help others come unto Christ. I’ll admit to you…when we walked out of that lesson, I punched the wall of the apartment complex and cried. I have never, ever, felt like such a failure. I’ll tell you what. If these missions do nothing else, they sure do humble you.
Now, for the new stuff. In 2011, this mission baptized 250 people. 2012, 402 (a new record). 2013? 545. This year, instead of a year goal, we decided to instead focus on accomplishing the various ward/branch goals…which when added up all together equal 732. Bring it on! We are going to do our part by baptizing many in the Newton Branch.
This branch has been termed by many as one of a couple “dead spots” in the mission and consequently, the members are used to not a whole lot going on missionary-wise. We’re changing that. President allowed me to text my dad. Yeah, surreal. I received the mission plan from my beloved home ward that has been setting the bar for the rest of Southern California and spent many hours on bent knee praying for guidance and many hours on foot rallying not only support from the members, but investigators to attend church. Elder Garner knew that we would have to show this branch that we mean business, so we needed to bring people to church and not just be all talk. This Sunday, between Newton and us, we had 6 investigators there at church! There hasn’t been more than 1 in the last 8 weeks that we’ve been here! And church attendance was 91, the highest it has been in many years. In Branch Council, we shared the San Bernardino 4th Ward Mission Plan with the branch, and I bore my testimony that if we were to adopt the straightforwardness of the plan and apply the principles it puts forth, we would shortly begin experiencing a baptism a month (there has only been 1 in the last 3 years). They were each given a copy and agreed to go home and pray about it. The Branch President is excited and likes it. We like it. And the investigators are loving church. We’re changing lives out here with the help of the good Lord.
Not only that, but a truly incredible experience occurred this week at church as that couple that we had challenged to begin paying tithing, the couple I referenced a week or two ago, handed to President Rivers the tithing slip right in front of me. Not everyone is aware of their tough financial situation. What a wonderful lesson it was for me on faith.
Every single one of you reading this email, I want you today to find someone to share this Gospel with. You see, the Lord didn’t just suffer for those who He knew would accept the Gospel. He suffered for every single one of us. That’s something that hit me this week. He really could’ve just suffered for those that He knew would accept. The suffering wouldn’t have been necessary for those that would reject…but He did. Why? Because His love for us is ETERNAL and ALL-ENCOMPASSING. It is is so complete, unconditional, and true. Follow Him. He is the way, the truth, and the light. He is the Prince of Peace. He is your Savior. And He is your biggest advocate.
I stand as a witness of these things and want them be credited as my testimony in the eternal heavens above.
Faith and Honor,