Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Week 41: If I had to describe this last week in one word it would be blessed.

If I had to describe this last week in one word it would be blessed. I feel extremely blessed. After some very hard spiritual trials and the exhausting work of being in a small area, we have learned how to rely upon Heavenly Father and he is truly blessing us. Although we are still working harder physically than I have ever worked I don't feel as worn down. I have been able to find spiritual strength from Heavenly Father throughout the week to keep me going despite the physical challenges of biking. We have biked a lot this week. We had two trips. Each was about 16 miles round trip. But those trips have truly blessed us. To start off, we had exchanges this week. Elder White came with me to Bagley and we had some amazing spiritual experiences. It started off with dinner at Applebee's with Sister Anderson in Bemidji. It was a great dinner and provided us with the strength and nourishment necessary for us to work hard throughout the night in the soaking wet rain.
We had a very powerful lesson that night with Jessie that Heavenly Father blessed us with. He was able to clearly see the need for baptism and he desires to be baptized and wants to learn more about its purpose and what it can do for him.
Tuesday was spiritually rejuvenating. Elder White and I decided to eat breakfast at the Lighthouse. It is a great place to contact people because the people who are there either are in a place where they need the Gospel in their lives or already believe in Jesus Christ. We can have some very good discussions there. And we did this morning with a man named Justin. He had heard of the church, met with missionaries before in the Cities, (I had to catch myself there. The cities is a term used in MN to mean Minneapolis and St. Paul), and had already read from the Book of Mormon. He had several questions for us. One of them was the one pretty much everyone here asks which is that there can't be any more scripture. We were able to testify to him that MAN was commanded and could not add to scripture, but that God never said that HE wouldn't add more to scripture.

His second question was on baptisms for the dead and also about how lucky we are to have temples. We testified of the importance of temples and also answered his concerns about baptisms for the dead. We were able to not only resolve his concerns, but also to help him desire to learn more about the temple and also the restored Gospel. We are going to see him again tonight and share the video "Between Heaven and Earth" to teach him more about temples.
He also told us something that was very amazing. He said that he had already seen the fruits of our church and compared them with other Christian faiths and that he knew that our fruits were greater and more desirable. He said those two issues were the only things holding him back from accepting the Gospel and joining the church. He has been amazingly prepared to learn the Gospel and apply it into his life and we are so grateful for that.
Wednesday was a lot of paperwork. To help President Niswander and the branch better fulfill their goals for the missionary work in this area, we are going through the ward roster and finding members that we haven't ever met. We cut up a spare roster and started the long process of sorting out the names by towns and cities and alphabetically. This took most of the day until we had to leave for Fargo to get to a service project that was occurring the night before Zone Conference. We stopped in Detroit Lakes MN to pick up the Elders there and decided for some reason to eat at Quiznos instead of Subway. (Mostly because none of us had ever eaten there and had heard it was really good.) So while we were there preparing our sandwiches, one of the employees started asking Elder Briggs where his church was at. Elder Briggs of course told him where it was because he had served in Detroit Lakes before. The other Elders were super excited and the employee promised to come to church on Sunday. There is always a reason for everything we do. Everywhere we are at the Lord is either guiding us to those who are ready and need the Gospel or he is bringing them to us. Either way this realization has helped me be more bold and loving with everyone that I come into contact with and as a result we are being blessed with more people to teach and are having more powerful lessons with our current investigators.

We stayed the night with a family in Fargo/Moorhead area (they are so close together they might as well be the same town except for the fact that Fargo is in North Dakota and Moorhead is in Minnesota). They were very nice and made sure that we felt at home despite being away from our apartments.
Thursday was one of the best Zone Conferences I have ever been to and this was mostly because of all the preparation that we had put into studying for the topics that would be discussed. This allowed us to be in a state of mind to receive revelation because we had already shown the Lord how much we were willing to prepare for the experience and instruction that was going to be presented. I also had to prepare especially hard this time because I was giving a talk on how to manage stress.
We received training on how to invite people to be baptized, how to lead people on the path towards baptism, how to repent in our teaching if we had made errors or hadn't taught clearly. We had plenty of opportunities to role pay or practice teaching and use the skills and principles we had been taught. This has allowed us to become better teachers relying on the spirit to guide us as to what to say and how much time to spend on a certain subject according to the needs of those that we are teaching.
My favorite part was Sister Anderson and President Anderson's training on families and why eternal marriage is so important. It will really help resolve several of our investigators concerns and will help us teach the Law of Chastity better. There is a lot of need for that law in this area of the country. As we learned how important family really was, we were challenged to use this knowledge to contact people and talk to them about their families. Because of this, it has been easier to talk to people even complete strangers because as we talk about the importance of families their hearts are softened and are more receptive to the Restored Gospel.

I also have received strength from the realization that we are doing the Lord's work. I have previously been relying on my own knowledge to try to not offend people as we teach. I was constantly worrying about what to say or what they would think about a particular principle so at times I was afraid to expound and boldly state them. But now I have seen that we are going to offend people, but if we state divine truths and teach by the spirit and not try to teach around their concerns, but stay true to the truth, even if someone gets offended, the spirit will soften their hearts and they will be able to accept the message as truth. This has allowed me to gain faith in the converting power of the Gospel and I will never be shy about fulfilling and declaring our purpose ever again. As a result of this conviction we are being blessed with many people to see and to teach more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, HIS CHURCH.

On Friday we helped Sister Graser put together a playhouse for her daycare kids. She was busy inside with them so she never had any time to do it. She thanked us and bought us pizza. We thought it would take about an hour, but it ended up taking 3 because we had to make the screw holes into plastic and screw the screws in with only a screwdriver and no drill.

Saturday was another long biking day. We decided to bike to Ebro, a small community 8 miles away from Bagley. Our main purpose was in seeing Andre Chevalier, Val's son. It was a great day for biking 75 degrees out with a nice wind to cool us down. We actually got sunburn! Not bad though it went away overnight. Andre was doing alright. He expressed to us his desire to come back to church and asked if we could set up a ride for him to church next Sunday. We of course readily agreed. He is stuck in Ebro without a license and without a car. We gave him a Book of Mormon and he thanked us for taking the time to come see him. We testified of the importance of the Book of Mormon in giving us strength to overcome our trials and committed him to read from it every day. We have set up visits with him every Saturday which means we will have a 16 mile bike ride every Saturday. I'm glad that the Lord is strengthening us and giving us the muscle we need.
Afterwards we met Marsel Goodwin as we walked up to his house to tract it. We ended up talking to him about his family and also gave him our phone number to call if he ever needed any help with yard work. He of course liked that a lot and told us that he would definitely do so. He also asked us to visit someone across the road named Dwayne Bird. We tried Dwayne and found out that he is in jail until Wednesday so we will try him again next Saturday.
As we were walking up a dusty gravel road at 5:00 in the evening, we ran into Jessica and her young son Marcus flying a kite. We talked a bit about the weather and then our families. We told her who we were and testified of how important families really are. We then asked her if we could teach her later and she said yes next week at 1. So we have a lot of potential going on in this area right now and all because the Lord is seeing fit to bless us as we show forth our diligence in seeking what is right and doing hard work.
Sunday was Stake Conference. We streamed it over the internet because we didn't have the invitation to come to Fargo nor did we have the miles to use in getting there again. We watched it with Mia in her home. It was very inspiring and focused a lot on serving the Lord first before we serve ourselves. I would say that this is an important principle to learn in life, that our primary purpose here in this life is to serve God first. He then will take care of us. I have found this to be true on my mission as well. As I have served Him first before I do what I want to do, fun just happens and comes out of nowhere. I am truly grateful to have learned this principle.

President and Sister Anderson also spoke there on joy that comes from serving God and also on how the gathering of Israel and all that the Lord has promised is taking place. Then an area 70 talked on how tithing, living high standards, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ help us have higher "building standards" that protect us from the various earthquakes "temptations and trials" of life.
We had a wonderful lesson with Deana afterwards that focused on God's love for us, how understanding the Gospel will help her and her family both here and for the eternities. She readily accepted the idea of prophets and how they help our families stay true to the Gospel. We shared Jacob 4:4,6 with her and testified that by listening to the prophets and also by living the Gospel and relying on Christ's Atonement, our faith will be unshaken. It was very powerful and the spirit was there.

We had another fun biking trip of about 15 miles round trip as we tried to find a Less Active Member in the country. She wasn't there, but we learned from that experience that God will strengthen us as we serve Him. I am super glad for today because I am exhausted and need this day of rest and relaxation to help recover from the amazing and physically tiring effects of this last week. I love it here in Bagley. There is such a great feeling of potential and a lot of work to be done. I love the members here. I love the people, and I love all of you. I am grateful to be able to consecrate all of my time and my talents to the Lord as I serve Him here in Bagley and in the mission field. There is more joy in me now than I can even begin to describe. I know that God loves each of us and wants us to return to Him. This is His work and His glory. I know that we cannot fail as we turn to Him. I am so grateful to bring this to others. I love this opportunity and have been preparing my whole life to serve Him here on a mission in the South Dakota Rapid City Mission. I wish each of you a good week and hope the best for you.
With love,

Elder Davis

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