Monday, October 24, 2011

Speaking French and Teaching with the Spirit

It's been a great week! We had interviews and trainings. My interview with President was very rewarding. He is an amazing man and truly full of charity.

I’ve had insights this week into the way the Spirit works with our investigators and us. It all started with the words from our fellowshipper, Jill Turner (who I adore), in a lesson with Michael. She explained that the Holy Ghost always prompts us to do things in a way that makes us want to do it. That is so true! I think of Moroni 7:13, “But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.” However He does it, He brings that desire out in us.

We, too, must try to evoke desire in people by inviting and enticing; we should try to emulate the Holy Ghost in our teaching. It seems a mammoth task! So, in the end I feel very blessed that if we are living right, the Holy Ghost can actually be there and teach with us. To quote Brother Matt Richardson in our latest General Conference, “All parents, leaders, and teachers have the responsibility to teach ‘by the Spirit.’ They should not teach ‘in front of the Spirit’ or ‘behind the Spirit’ but ‘by the Spirit’ so the Spirit can teach the truth unrestrained.” Who wouldn’t teach by the Spirit if they knew it was an option! I’m so grateful for His support and place in our companionship. I know that in my quest to get people to desire the gospel, the Holy Ghost is my best ally.

I’m also grateful for His support of Michael who picked a baptismal date! Remember how we walked home with him from church last week? One of the things we shared with him was D&C 9:8-9, explaining how when seeking guidance from the Lord we have to choose first and then the Lord will confirm our decisions to us. That struck a chord with him, and using that method he felt a very strong answer from the Spirit that he was to be baptised on the 4th of November! Again, the Holy Ghost gives us desire. Ever since that moment no one has been able to sway him from that date (and trust me, Satan is trying). He’s faced a lot of opposition this week, but he’s getting through it. In one of our lessons this week Rachel (his daughter) helped us make invitations for the baptism. She drew technicoloured temples and angels on the front :) SO adorable. The funny thing is, I'm not sure who was more excited to hand them out at church, Rachel or Michael!

The ward has been so supportive of him; he really is a part of the Ward already. In Nanny's e-mail this week (I hope you don't mind if I quote you, Nanny!) she perfectly described how Michael’s conversion process has been. She wrote, “Bapa used to say that all we needed to do was to bring friends to the fire, they will feel the warmth and know that they are home at last. I guess that's what being a missionary is all about and you do it so well as you love the members and then bring those looking for the truth close enough to feel the love/warmth those members feel.” He really does feel the warmth of the gospel from the saints here. What a joy! He continues to face the pressures of being a single father. On top of it all, this house he moved into last year is a "fixer-upper" and he's had no time to work on it. Knowing that this is a source of stress for him, we offered to help him a bit. We are excited to serve him with other ward members and help him carry his load!

We have been offering service incessantly to members for the past four weeks and it’s finally catching up with us! So many people approached us at church to ask for help with little things. We are so happy that they trust us and feel how much we love them and desire to help them. We did singing time in Primary yesterday and I can safely say all of the children in the ward love us now : ) And we love them! What fantastic children!

The work continues to move forward! We now have three french-speaking African investigators you can pray for: Fraser (40s) and his son, Lucien (17) from Senegal; and Nicolas (30s) from the Congo. All very sincere! Exhilarating to use French. We also met with a lovely young woman, Nicole, last week who we hope to see progress. She grasped onto the message really well and she's happy to meet, but with her two jobs the only time she's available is 8 am : ( which is not ideal for us. Is it allowed to pray for someone to lose a job? : ) We'll see how it goes this week.

I love you all! Keep up the good work and remember to serve the Lord! It's so fun!

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Spirit always teaches...

You know why being a trainer is so great? Because you always have a "progressing investigator": your companion!

I have just taken such joy in Sister Jack’s progress and achievements this week. We had service and tea with a part-member family this week and we had planned to teach Elder Uchtdorf’s recent talk “Forget Me Nots” and direct it towards Sister Harrison (the member) since she missed the conference. The Lord had something else in mind. I was asked to give the opening prayer, and as I did I heard myself say, “Grant us the Spirit as we speak of the Gospel…” and immediately I knew what we really needed to teach. Sister Jack was a bit shocked when I put down the talk and said, “Tonight we are going to read a chapter of the Book of Mormon together and speak of the Doctrine of Christ.” She looked at me with big eyes, but then smiled and just jumped right in. We read and expounded 2 Nephi 31, one of the most beautiful sermons ever written (in my opinion.) The spirit was so strong! Both of the Harrison were focused and I know they felt it. As we neared the end of the lesson, I thought to myself: we need to invite Brother Harrison to be baptised. Guess who beat me to the punch? My amazing companion! It was so powerful and touching as she told them of her baptism and the example of her sister. I was blown away as, with tears in her eyes, she invited him to be baptised. I think he was blown away, too! He declined, but explained that he would continue to put some deep consideration towards it. As we left the house he told us to keep up the good work. I could tell that he was very touched. I don’t know how long it will take him to be baptised (he has a lot of concerns related to family) but I know that we made one massive step forward that night. I am so proud that Sister Jack bravely followed the promptings she received! She’s fantastic.

During lunchtime a few days ago we popped in some old conference talks and I was really touched by the words of Elder Eyring in his talk “Watch With Me.” He speaks of our roles as shepherds of his flock. As I considered on this symbol, I thought of the words of the Saviour in John 10:11–12: I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. I had to ask myself, have I developed the heart and mind of the good shepherd or am I serving like a hireling? Ultimately, we will only have the strength to accomplish the task at hand if we take upon ourselves the desires and attributes of Christ. It is charity alone that will keep us on guard when the wolves come!

Steven Howard takes baby steps forward every day in gaining faith strong enough to pay tithing. The ward has helped massively. He has so many questions, and the members have really been the ones answering! There have been two times this week that it was time for us to leave the lesson, but the fellowshipper stayed with Daniel to talk over his concerns. Wigan is incredible! We walked home with him from church yesterday and talked things over. He's determined to pray about a date and then just go with it and let the chips fall! Amazing, Mum, that you mentioned Brec's three month challenge because that's basically what we issued Brother Andrew :) He's going to try it for a couple of months and then see how it goes. I know the Lord will bless him.

We have so many other people I would love to tell you about but haven't the time!
Sorry that this week is a bit short! The library is packed and time is running out.

Keep up the great work!

Uniting with Members

As I think I have mention before, there has been a big movement in the mission to focus on "uniting with members" (as opposed to "working with members" as it has previously been phrased.) This is so exciting and exactly what is to be expected considering President Preston is a local. Sister Jack and I have really enjoyed making it a new focus to both involve more members in our work and to encourage them to do work of their own. On Saturday night we were in Bishop Gifford's area, so we decided to pop by and take his wife and him some homemade fudge. Just a side note: this is a massive labour of love because we have so little time! Usually while one of us updates records, the other bakes something for members the next day. I'm fairly confident they have no idea how much we love them! So, back to Bishop. They invited us in and we were able to teach them a short lesson about service in missionary work. We read Alma 17 (about Ammon) and told them our success with serving Amanda and the spirit we feel as we serve members of the ward. Overall, the visit was very encouraging and we came away with a referral and a few leads for service we can do! It’s so good to feel that the organisation of the ward is stable and that we are filling our role in it. We are truly seeing the blessings of focusing on “member unity.”

This week in my study I was really struck by Ezekiel 33:8-9. It actually reminded me of the words of the Lord to Nephi in Heleman 5:3-5. The people ignored him, but because of his efforts the Lord could bless him beyond measure. I came on my mission to help others, but I learn more and more every day how this work is ultimately between the Lord and me; no one else. He called and I responded. No matter the decisions of others, if I am “all in,” as Sister Lovell used to say, He is pleased and I can be satisfied knowing I have done my best! On the other hand, if I do not do my best, I will be held accountable for the sins of those in my area whom I failed to warn! Frightening!

The work is moving forward in Wigan. Brother Hallister continues to blanch at the prospect of tithing. He's budgeted it out and figures he can be baptised after Christmas : S We pray constantly that the Lord will grant him the faith he needs! He is wonderful and I know that the challenges he faces now will make him a truly strong member after his baptism, whether it takes place this month or in ten years. ]

The weather is turning! Sister Jack and I are increasing in unity as we laugh through the weather! We were tracting in a hail storm the other night, just laughing and singing "there is sunshine in my soul." This youngish couple answered one door and the husband, laughing, asked, "Are you mad doing this in this weather??" Through the horizontal hail I said, "Funny, I was just asking myself that! But, no, we just know our message is true!" They said we could come back in the day time : ) Whether or not they were touched by our talk of eternal families, they were definitely touched by our dedication. I love the opportunities we have to prove to the Lord, to the world and to ourselves that we have a conviction of this work!

Right, the time is far spent.

This is definitely the Kingdom of God on earth once more. Joseph Smith was undoubtedly the Prophet of the restoration. We are indebted to the Lord in ways we cannot comprehend or even imagine, let alone repay. Yet we can take satisfaction in knowing we carry out his work with our whole hearts!

Your commitment if you choose to accept it: Do something to strengthen the Kingdom this week (think 3 fold mission of the church) and report back to me in e-mail. Will you do that? I promise you that as you actively participate in this work (whether that is to perfect the saints, preach the gospel or redeem the dead) you will feel the Saviour's love for you.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Wigan is blessed for another 6 weeks...

Wasn't General Conference wonderful!??!! It just flew by, as well!

Here just a few of my notes:

Richard G. Scott:
Nanny hardly needed to fast!
We need to be using the Bible more in our teaching.
I should memorise Moroni 7:41-48 as long as I am reading it each day : )

Barbara Thompson
Can I please just be her when I grow up? I love her!
The Holy Ghost can fill our emotional needs; Eliza R. Snow is proof.

President Monson
ANOTHER PROVO TEMPLE!?!? Amazing! My jaw dropped!

Dieter F. Uchtdorf
This talk was the answer to my conference question.

Tad R. Callister
No notes. I was too transfixed! Loved it.

Elaine S. Dalton
I do truly cherish the memories of being with Dad in the temple.
I did have a worthy priesthood holder for a father, and he protected me very well. I'm sure he still it protecting me. How grateful I am for the sealing power!
Remember this when looking for the father of my daughters.

That's just a taster. I was filled! We get to see a re-broadcast of the General Relief Society Meeting tonight so I'm sure you'll hear all about that on Monday. There's nothing like the Spirit of Gathering. I always feel a special connection to you, as well, knowing you are hearing the same inspired words.

We have seen great progress in our Alfred Stone since last time I wrote. He has been really struggling to commit to tithing. It has been hard to see him struggle but I know that it is making him stronger. His scripture study and prayers are much more heartfelt and intent; his relationship with the Lord is growing stronger and he is recognising the Truth more and more. He drove us and Sister Higham to Conference on Saturday and really enjoyed it. I think he took more notes than I did! After conference we sat by the temple and answered his questions about the Spirit World (of which he had many.) The Spirit was so strong. As we spoke about missionary work on the other side, Brother Stone (as he already likes to be called) said, "Hey! That means, Sister Davis, that your dad could be teaching my dad the gospel!" I hadn't really thought about it, to be honest, but it really touched my heart when he said it.

We taught him last night and he wouldn’t let us start the lesson until he had taken us through all his notes from the Priesthood Session as well! Helen, his 5 yr old daughter was there last night. She loves us, but last night she loved our fellow shipper even more! Why? Because Sister Sharples brought chocolate! And let Helen parade around in her big fur coat. As we spoke last night, Brother Stone was finally able to identify that Satan is the one that wants to keep him from paying tithing. Now that that light bulb has gone on I have no worries for him. It's just a matter of time.

Another choice experience we had this week proved to me the truth of Ether 12:27. We were on our way to an appointment and ended up on the wrong street (my navigational weaknesses.) We knocked at the alleged house number to be greeted by a bubbly older woman, Susan. Once we realised it was the wrong house we said something to the effect of, “You aren’t Fran? Well, God loves you, too! May we share this message with you?” She laughed and declined. A little bit more chatting revealed that she is doing up her garden and she did accept help with that. The weather has been uncharacteristically balmy of late, which was to our advantage! We returned and had a lovely time hearing her life stories and gardening with her. She is dealing with a bout of colon cancer and her only family is in Australia. She lives a Buddhist lifestyle but has Christian tendencies as far as her beliefs. She doesn't dare believe in an afterlife--she couldn't bare it if she were disappointed.

After an hour she got us each lemonade and then sat us down and said, “Right, ladies. Tell me about Mormon.” So we did! Although I would say we told her more about Jesus Christ. It was a great lesson and we’ll be seeing her again soon. The Lord's lesson to us? He can use our weaknesses; even bad map reading! What a relief that is. Just another message from Him that my imperfections aren't going to kill the work.

We have a lot of new investigators which I will tell you about on Monday when I have a bit more time. Thank you for your prayers and your constant support! Looking back over the transfer I am really satisfied with the work Sister Jack and I have done here in Wigan. I know that we have worked our hardest. We have great hopes for next transfer and everything we can improve and accomplish!

Member missionary work and agency

So many exciting things happened this week! I had the opportunity to have an exchange in Liverpool and serve with Sister Chuo (from Taiwan) for a few days. They are teaching so many Chinese students there! It is so exciting! I felt the Spirit so strongly as we met with young Chinese investigators and recent converts. These truly are the future leaders of the church in China.

I got to teach a new member lesson to a young woman, Jolene, who I met at the Chinese meeting months ago. Do remember how when I served with Sister Gong we had a Chinese meeting at the Mission Home where all of the Chinese investigators came from their separate cities and were able to meet and mingle and share testimony? Well, Jolene was there. She was an investigator then and very shy. I hardly recognised her when I saw her again! The Gift of the Holy ghost is so real. There is light in her eyes and her countenance has changed. What a miracle! It was just fantastic. It renewed my conviction as I remembered what missionary work is all about. She is actually married and her husband and little boy are coming to England finally next month! She is so excited to teach them the truths that she has learned. She expressed a lot of excitement at teaching them how to pray. "They can pray every night now like I do!" What a miracle in her life.

We are also seeing more and more changes in the mission under the direction of President Preston. Our specialised training was all about working with the members. We are a "Forever Finding" mission and have been since the help of President Bullock. There is such an emphasis on speaking to everyone - having Quality Gospel Conversations - that our baptisms from street contacting have tripled the last couple of years.

Now, President Preston is trying to keep that aspect of the mission strong while simultaneously making member referrals an emphasis. It is so wonderful to hear his point of view on obtaining referrals. He was, after all, a member in the mission only a few months ago! He knows exactly what it's like. The funny thing is that everything that we were trained to do with members are things Sister Jack and I have been doing! It's always great to know that your spiritual impressions are aligned with your leaders, though. Now we can put that much more energy into it! We are excited to get better at doing the Lord's work in the Lord's way: through the members.

We are also getting so excited for Conference!! We simply cannot wait! As a missionary, General Conference is like Christmas! Times ten! And Christmas is like...well, it's just odd as a missionary. But that's another story : )

I had a major personal milestone this week: we experienced trials and I found it in my heart to be grateful for them in that very instant! This is something I never, ever thought I would experience. I've heard people talk about it, and I understood the concept, but to actually experience it was amazing.

I think it all came together when we received a message from Joshua right before sacrament meeting. His vicar strongly advised him to stop meeting with us and Joshua chose to take his advice despite his spiritual witnesses of the truthfulness of our message. I was gutted on the phone. I felt such anger towards Satan. I felt frustrated and depressed that we failed. But then there was a little voice in my head that said, “Have you really failed?” Joshua had used his agency, but in many ways that had nothing to do with me. That matter was settled, and the battle was now inside of me; I could choose the outcome in my heart. I prayed for hope and patience. My heart was calmed and I felt hope. I was comforted and persevered through the rest of church with a genuine smile on my face. I was the Master of my soul in that instant and in just a few seconds I became more like the Saviour.

If life is a training ground, a place to learn, that means that the only failure is when you don’t learn from an experience. Every hard experience (whether you are a missionary or not) it makes the future manageable no matter how daunting it may seem.