Oh, what a blessed week we’ve had here in Cedar Rapids. This Christmas was probably one of the best ones I’ve ever had. We had 3 solid, amazing member families (including our stake president) each feed us one of our 3 meals that day, another member family came and spent their Christmas afternoon at one of our investigator’s home with us, and we dropped by a few recent converts. Plus, the fact that we have 4 missionaries living in the same house made it so much more fun. We weren’t allowed to stay up late, so we still had to go to bed by 10:30…but we didn’t let that stop us from still having a good time. We put out two kitchen tables together and played ping pong, drank Martinelli’s, and I played David Archuleta’s Christmas album that he did with the Tabernacle Choir over my speakers. haha. I just realized that this may not seem like the best of nights for normal people, but for missionaries, that’s what we consider a party. haha.
We’ve been having a real tough time with our investigators here. I turn 18 months here in a couple of days, have had 6 areas, and I’ve never had this problem before. We have 4 or 5 investigators that are SO ready for baptism. They all have testimonies of the prophet Joseph Smith, they absolutely love the Book of Mormon and study from it daily, but they just CAN’T make it to church for the life of them. They just can’t do it. And we’re at a loss. We’ve done everything we know how to do. We even have members calling them to remind them. The investigators will be crying to us as they bear their testimony of the restored gospel, they’ll tell us how much they need to come to church, and then we’ll ask them if they’ll be coming and all of a sudden, they’ll say, “Well, I can’t commit to that.” Oh, boy. We’re just at a loss. Hopefully, we can address these concerns, whatever they may be soon. because if we can, we could have 5 baptisms in this area by March. This area hasn’t seen that many at once in a long time. On a brighter note, I just found out that my investigator from back in Grinnell, Richard Randall, was baptized yesterday! Whoo!!!!
Well, starting today, we’re trying something new in the Cedar Rapids District. Our district leader, Elder Gunter, suggested that we do a 40 day fast (you give up certain things that you have been doing that cause you to not feel the Spirit as much for 40 days). So, we all made our lists of things that we’re going to work on and it begins today. I’ll have to admit, singing un-approved songs is definitely going to be a hard one. Since everyone in our apartment loves Country music (well, Elder Bouwhuis doesn’t really, but the others do), we’ve been belting it at the top of our lungs during our free time. But not anymore! I really am way excited about this fast. The point of this is to align our desires and our wills more with the Lord’s. And while the fast may have officially started today, we’ve been preparing for it for a week or so. And over the course of this past week, as I’ve been putting my normal desires aside and have been seeking more after the Lord’s, I have been seeing a huge impact on my own spirituality.
I’d like to let you all know that I know that Christ lives. But knowing that He lives isn’t enough. I have done my best to “come and follow [Him]”. But that too, is not enough. For us to truly walk/talk/think/do as He has, for such has He commanded us to do, we must be willing to give more of ourselves over to Him and our Heavenly Father. What are you willing to give up to come to know God? Perhaps it’s a TV show that you know you shouldn’t be watching, perhaps it’s a certain song that you know you shouldn’t be listening to, perhaps it’s even the way you interact with others. I invite each of you to look for things in your life that you know you shouldn’t be doing and stop doing them. Give the gift of a more consecrated life to your Father in Heaven. Make this your New Year’s goal and then live it. And I can promise each of you as a servant of the Lord, that as you do so, you will find a power come into your life that you have not previously known.
May each of us make a stronger and renewed commitment to excellence in our own lives, I pray, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Faith and Honor,