To explain why we didn't email last week: We replaced our P-day with an opportunity to go to the Bismarck North Dakota temple with some members. I will explain later on in the email why that was so significant.
A lot has happened in two weeks. After I emailed last we had a dinner with Sister Burnett. She had invited her son Buck and his fiancée Annabel to the dinner. Annabel had previously been meeting missionaries, but had stopped because she didn't want to offend her family.
We taught them the story of Esther and promised that if she would pray for 7 days to soften the heart of her mother that it would happen and that she would be allowed to meet with us again. She still hasn't talked with her mother about it though.
Right after that lesson we were asked by the Gregersons to teach them a lesson. As we did so she had some questions, but she said that she couldn't ask them now. So she organized a spur of the moment trip to Bismarck to go to the temple for her 2nd time and ask us the questions there so we were super excited when President Anderson approved us to do so.
The next day we did a lot of service at the food shelf putting away freight for them/ unloading the truck and its pallets. We ended up talking with Margaret, the head person there, about her trip to Salt Lake City and her fascination with family history work that we do. We gave her a familysearch.org card.
We got up the next morning at exactly 12:00 am so that we would have time to shower, get ready and leave with the Gregersons for the temple at 1:30 in the morning. It was 6 hours of driving to Bismarck North Dakota and we needed to be there at 8 am to get ready for the session at 9. On the way there we saw a 2013 Chevy cruse with a South Dakota License plate and a bike rack on the back that instantly told us that there were missionaries in the car. We ended up showing pamphlets and the Book of Mormon along with our name tags to get the attention of the sister missionaries in the other car. They ended up being at the temple later as well and we joked about teaching them a discussion on the freeway.
The temple was amazing. Even before entering and getting out of the car, just looking at the temple and inside made me feel the spirit very strongly. It was the best experience I've had in a long time being able to go to the temple on the eve of my one year mark.
On the way back we ate at 5 guys in Bismarck with the Bismarck Zone Leaders, Elder Davis and Elder White. (Yes my old district leader Elder White) it was a very nice surprise that the Gregersons gave us. I don't really remember a lot about the way back though because I fell right asleep for several hours.
So on August 7, my actual year mark many great things happened. We had a less active member call us and ask us why we weren't coming over to meet with him. We didn't know he was there so we were very happy when he requested that we come over. Several other miracles occurred and I was able to reflect back on my mission so far and contemplate what I can do to improve and how I have changed as a result of serving the Lord.
August 9 involved helping someone move out of their apartment. They were very grateful for the help and asked us to have dinner with them. We were able to have a really great discussion about what we do as missionaries and also how the Gospel has blessed us and why we want to share it. She gave us here business card and we gave her our number so that she could call us if she ever needed anything.
We were able to meet with Tyler again. It turned out to be a 2 hour discussion on whether or not the trinity or the Godhead is correct. Finally he just wanted us to tell the story of Joseph Smith so we boldly testified of his experience and how he wasn't looking at forming a new church, but joining an existing one. But that that was not God's plan for him. As we started in on the first vision it was very powerful.
"I saw a pillar of light, 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. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name saying, "This is my Beloved Son. Hear Him."
There is power in relating this experience. With those 7 words that God spoke to Joseph Smith there is a profound reverence that comes into the discussion that allows the spirit to penetrate even the most hardened of hearts, if only for a slight moment. He knew it was true, but quickly came up with excuses and tried changing the subject. If he had not felt the spirit he would not be willing to continue to meet with us, but he wants to despite rejecting the message so far. His heart will be softened through further lessons.
Later in the week we saw brother Kidwell again. He is doing great. He made us dinner and then we had a discussion on why it is so important to have the spirit to be with us always. We also explained that the only way we get this blessing is by partaking of the sacrament each week. That is the main reason we come to church: to renew our covenants that we have made at baptism.
Friday was zone conference in Sioux Falls South Dakota. It was a very spiritual meeting and one of the best I have ever been to. While there I was able to see Elder Paskett again! This was very exciting since it had been 9 months since I had seen him last. We had a great conversation catching up on how the work was going in each of our previous areas. I also learned that he had trained another Elder while he was in Glenrock Wyoming. I met him as well. His name is Elder Jones.
The topics covered focused on the power of the Book of Mormon and the importance of reading it often and using it to help people gain lasting conversion. Also we focused on how following the branch mission plan that the Branch President or bishop has for the work in the area is the only way to accomplish missionary work because the Bishop has the keys for missionary work within his ward. It was a great day and we learned a lot that we need to start implementing.
Had another funny tracking experience, this time while trying to contact a referral given to us from the Mormon.org website. It goes as follows:
Man: (rudely) "What do you want?"
Elder Lete: "Hi, I'm Elder Lete--" (while extending hand to shake.
Man: (angrily cutting Elder Lete off) "Not interested. Walk"
Elder Lete: "Well---"
Man: (Fuming while pointing to the street) "Take a walk. NOW!"
Followed by a slammed door while I looked at Elder Lete with a very confused face.
Looking back it was kind of funny.
Sunday was very good. We have had a change in the branch Presidency. President Jones is now brother Jones and a member of the high council. Brother Burgess is now President Burgess, the new branch president. There was a very powerful testimony meeting for them and their wives. It filled the room with the spirit. The Stake President, President Steele talked on how we need to be unified and loving to accomplish the missionary work that the savior would have us do. It was very inspiring. We taught Primary again on the lesson "I can be Obedient."
The highlight from church was the sacrament. I recently challenged myself to think about the savior more often throughout the day and what he has done for me. This made it more meaningful during sacrament meeting as I pictured the savior suffering in Gethsemane, being whipped and struggling to carry his cross to Golgotha. Finally where he was crucified, forgave, and rose again on the third day. It brought a powerful spirit into my life and made the sacrament more meaningful to me. I challenge each of you to do the same thing next time you partake of the sacrament. I know that by doing so it will have deeper meaning for you and also give you more strength to deal with challenges of everyday life and the temptations that come.
It's been a great experience over the past few weeks. I love you all so much.