This was a great week. There is a lot to report on and several miracles to report so bear with me.
I am excited to once again email and report on the experience of this week and some of the miracles that we have been seeing. It is great to reflect back on the last few weeks and it all seems like one drawn out day that is going by super quickly. As I near the end of my mission experience I am truly grateful for the lessons the lord has been teaching me and the many memories and friends that will stay with me the rest of my life.
Upon entering the mission I left my camera in the van they used for transfers. I was not able to find it anywhere until last Tuesday. We had permission to go to the temple in Billings Montana for our preparation day. So while we were there the thought came to stop by the mission office and ask them if they had managed to find it or were still looking for it. So we did and as I was describing what the camera looked like, an office sister went over to an envelope and brought out my camera. It was a joyful experience. Because I now had my camera I could take pictures again without using the iPad for that purpose. So I was excitedly going through the pictures that night reminiscing on how much I've changed and also the many different things that I have been able to accomplish on my mission. It was a great reminder of the need to be a missionary with real intent, one who doesn't just go through the motions, but relies on the lord to accomplish his work. As this is accomplished a change occurs and life takes on greater meaning. I look back and am able to see more clearly the reason why certain things happened the way they did even though at the time I was confused by different events that happened such as transfers or a change of companions, or even being led to certain people. It reminded me that the purpose of this life is not just to get through each day, but to improve each day and to learn from those experiences. As I learned this viewpoint and as I was able to accept the lord was in control I have been able to grow much faster and become much more successful than if I had not experienced the things that I have.
The temple was a great experience for me. I was able to feel of the savior’s love for all people and also the sense of urgency to do the lords work with the time I have left. I left refreshed and grateful that I was able to make the trip. It was a total of 2 1/2 hours of driving. This was quite the blessing and gave me time to reflect on certain questions that I wished to answer. As we got ever closer, the spirit testified that what we were doing was a great thing and would bless the lives of another. Sometimes, travel does actually help with the experience of worshiping in the temple because of the time to ponder and reflect on the sacredness of the temple and the many sacrifices it takes for people to get there sometimes. We are a truly blessed generation to have so many temples readily available.
Wednesday was the first district meeting I had in Lewistown. Our district leader, Elder Taukinukufili asked us all to prepare role play discussion practicing various principles of keeping commitments and follow up. It was very interesting because we held the meeting over the phone. We weren't able to skype this time, but this upcoming district meeting tomorrow will be all together as a district, all four of us. It is us and them that form a district, but more on that later. I was assigned the topic of bearing frequent testimony. It was wonderful studying for that and learning the blessings that come from testifying frequently and how to testify. It helped me realize that I needed to do more testifying instead of just at the end of the lesson. I was also surprised how much testimony is in the Book of Mormon and the many ways that the prophets use to bear record or testify of things. Often they were simple statements of belief such as, "I do know that Jesus is the Christ, the savior and redeemer of the world.It was made manifest into me by his Holy Spirit." As I have tried implementing this in my own teaching I have noticed the power of the Holy Ghost come more often into the room to "carry our words to the hearts" of the listeners so that we "both rejoice and are edified together." Wednesday evening we went on team ups (another way of saying splits) with our Ward mission leader and another member. I went with Brother Bent, our Ward mission leader, to the home of the Wood family. Since the last time we had met with them they had a different spirit about them. Brother Wood asked us for a blessing and we gave him one. The last lesson we had with them was so powerful the spirit filled the room and touched every one of us so that we could not deny that the things that were being taught about the sacrament and the importance of this sacred ordinance in our lives could not be disputed. It had a humbling effect upon us all. This time after the blessing he was much more polite, much more willing to commit, and even asked us to write down the chapter in the Book of Mormon that he should read. I know that eventually he will return to church. Friday was a great day as well. Lewistown has a nice trail system that runs through town for bikers, walkers, and joggers.
So every morning we have decided to go jogging on that trail gradually increasing the distance that we go. It is very motivating to try to get across the entire trail that loops back into town and is about 3 miles long. So far we have only made it halfway and about two miles, but each day we go a little farther. Anyways, on Friday we helped out at the local senior center. We helped them serve food and clean up after the meal. Service has really softened the hearts of the people here. I heard that the work had stopped earlier and that two elders decided to spend time every other day picking up garbage around town. As a result the people were friendlier and more open to the invitation to hear the restored gospel. So we are looking for ways to serve in the community.After our service we had an appointment with Sister Brown. We are able to share the talk by Elder Bednar, "therefore they hushed their fears" it really helped her and I learned later from Elder Peterson over the phone that she came to church as a result. (Okay to explain this we are on exchanges right now. We had interviews in Great Falls on Saturday with President Wadsworth. While there we exchanged with have because it is a three hour drive from here to Lewistown. So we went on exchanges and are still on exchanges and will get back tomorrow when we meet up in Great Falls again for district meeting.) The rest of Friday we taught Sister Bell and the spirit prompted us to testify of the Book of Mormon and the importance in bringing us closer to God and gaining a relationship with him. We shared the introduction paragraph where Joseph Smith promises that a man will get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts than by any other book. It was a powerful testimony and she immediately commuted to read the Book of Mormon that night and asked us to follow up with her in it. Now that never happens unless someone is sincere and we were very happy about that. Her ultimate goal is to return to activity and be sealed to her family. On Saturday we drove the two hours to Great Falls Montana to meet up with the zone leaders and President and Sister Wadsworth for interviews. It was a great interview and the spirit was strong there as we discussed principles that would help me as I prepared for the transition back to life off the mission. He talked to me a little about the upcoming program for returning missionaries called my plan and told me to be on the lookout for it. I am excited for it because it will give me the tools that I need to not worry about the transition to home while still being able to focus on the work and prepare for life after the mission. I am looking forward to experiencing this program. After interviews we left for the two hour drive from Great Falls to Have. That night we were able to talk to a lot of non-members who came to the ward activity car show. We also were able to teach an investigator nicknamed "auntie" who is very interested in joining the church. Finally after two months of trying to get her to come to church she finally fulfilled her commitment as we came the next morning to wake her up and follow her to the church building. She loved it, felt the spirit from the testimonies, and decided she wanted to come back next week. There were many miracles this week. They are blessings made possible only through the love of our father in heaven for us. I am grateful to be serving him in this great work and look forward to greater experiences in the future.
Elder Jaden Davis