Monday, July 1, 2013

Water Your Faith Plant. And Share the Gospel.

Hello my favorite family and friends! 
And others who may or may not fit into those categories!

Happy Monday! I love Mondays. Sister Paxton and I have decided Tuesday is the new Monday and Monday is the new Saturday. We don't like Tuesdays. We didn't have a good day Tuesday. But that's okay because it's Monday now. And we like Mondays. A missionary's week is a little askew. Everything revolves around Monday. Tuesdays are hard because it's 6 days until Monday. Sundays are great because Monday is the next day. And Thursdays are okay because Monday is only 4 days away. You know what I'm sayin'? When you're in school everything revolves around Friday and Saturday. Not anymore. Those days are actually the hardest because we have proselyting (no meetings or planning) from sunup to sundown. So we like Mondays.

So, this week was pretty good. Could have been better, but still good. Yeah, still good. I figured I'd start out with a couple quotes that really hit my funny bone this week:
"We didn't talk about computers!"

"You talked about C++ and how the semi-colon represents the Church. That's computers!!" -Elder Sprague
"Don't cook pancakes in a pot." -Elder Davis (Yeah. They tried. My zone leaders are silly.)
"Some people will turn against the Church and say, 'you killed my faith plant!' But really, they killed their own faith plant. You have to water your own faith plant." -Me (trying to explain Alma 32:38-39 to a 10 year old. That was a party and a half.)

Hmm. So. Monday. We went out to lunch with the Assistants to a place called "Taste of Thai." And it made me a very happy missionary. I have missed Thai food so much! I'm glad there's still places out here. The Mexican restaurants need work out here. But the Thai is delicious! So that was fun. I don't remember what else happened. So it must not have been that important.

Monday night we did get to work with one of our recent converts, Maria. She is the cutest little Hispanic girl ever! She's about 10 years old, and she loves having us over! We taught her the Plan of Salvation on Monday night, and we drew her a little picture. In return, she had drawn several pictures and gave them to us when we went to see her Thursday. She's pretty good! The pictures are adorable, and I'm excited to hang them up. She drew me a little picture of a chick and labeled it "chica." She got really excited when I told her that was my nickname. I'll take pictures of it and send them home! So cute. She also drew me a picture of Monsters University. Score. She came to church yesterday too! Her mom is also a member, but she doesn't like coming to church. We finally found a member to take Maria to church, and she loved it. She's a rock star. And she liked my faith plant analogy.

Monday night we also committed another less-active family, the Marions, to take the lessons. They are so sweet; we're so excited to start working with them! This area is kind of slow, so we do a lot of work with the less-actives. Though we are doing our best to pick up the pace and get some new investigators! We have been doing pretty well; we pick up several new investigators every week. The trick is retaining them. New investigators tend to drop like flies. But with enough prayer and dedication, a lot of them can be retained! That's the hard part. It's a challenge, but it's rewarding when they stay and grow in the Gospel.

Speaking of difficulty retaining investigators, we met with Cheryl on Wednesday. And it didn't go as well as we had hoped. We had committed her to pray for guidance on how she could get her husband to Church. Wednesday she told us she had woken up Sunday morning with a really strong prompting to take her husband Kyle to a Lutheran church. Wasn't expecting that one. She and Kyle went to a Lutheran church yesterday, and we haven't heard from her yet. It was kind of disappointing; I don't know why she's getting promptings or strong feelings to attend another church, but I hope that this is a way that Kyle can start feeling comfortable with going to church in general. Then maybe they will sense the emptiness that can only be filled by the spirit present in God's true church. We're hoping to get them to Church next week so that they can feel the difference. Hopefully this will be a step forward and not a step backward! She's always in our prayers.

Wednesday actually wasn't that good of a day. They tell us to stay positive in emails, and I generally like to, but I also like to tell it how it is. I'm kind of forward like that. Wednesday was rough. After teaching Cheryl we went to teach T & Suellen and their kids (the new family we found last week) but only Suellen and a couple of her kids showed. She didn't seem nearly as interested as the first time we went, and her kids are going out of town to stay with their grandpa for a couple weeks, so the excitement of the gospel is quickly dying in their home. We're not giving up on them though! If we only tried to work with the easy investigators we wouldn't have very many conversion stories to tell. Or any really. Some people seem closed off to the Gospel at first, it takes time for conversion to occur. That's why I love Alma 32. Faith begins as a seed. All you have to do with investigators is spark a desire to believe. Then you commit them to change and act on that desire, to nourish that seed and let it grow. Then you help them recognize that seed is growing and how delicious it really is. It takes time, and it's hard, but it's worth it if you don't give up on them. It takes so much time and patience to plant a seed and watch it grow. But it's worth every minute of the wait.
In other words, never give up on anyone. Everyone has a seed of divinity in them. We just need to help it surface and grow. And it will, if you help them nourish that seed with love.

Completely changing the subject, Wednesday night was when Sister Paxton and I received news from a member about the Supreme Court ruling. The only thing I will say is this: more than ever, we need to strengthen and protect the family. That seemed to be theme of our previous General Conference, and I have seen the need for strong families everywhere out here. Satan is making an attack on families; he will do whatever he can to tear them apart. All of us, individually, need to apply Helaman 5:12 to our home and family. When we build the foundation of our home and family on Christ, we will not fall. We have been given the tools to protect our families: family home evening, family prayer, family scripture study, church attendance, the list goes on. Let's utilize them to the best of our ability. So many problems I see out here can be solved by these simple tools. They may seem small, but by small and simple things great things are brought to pass. The smallest of acts can fortify our families against the greatest of storms.
Thursday we taught Sylvia. I love teaching Sylvia. She is so thirsty for the Gospel. She asks all the right questions about what we need to do to return to God, what's in store for us, and how we can know God is talking to us. We taught the Restoration, and the Spirit was so thick you could cut it with a knife. She loved it. She asked us why no one else seems to know about Joseph Smith and his story. We told her that's why we go door to door, and we have thousands of missionaries all over the world sharing this message. She's so solid. We invited her to baptism and she accepted! We haven't set an official date yet, but we're hoping that it will be before she moves; she's moving fairly soon. She needs this gospel. She wants us to teach her kids too. Hopefully that will happen this week!

I totally forgot to tell y'all about our faith walk last Sunday! So cool. So we are supposed to proselyte until 9:00 pm. We shouldn't go home before then if we can help it. Last Sunday it was 8:30 and we had literally nothing left to do. We were going to go home and update the area book, but something inside me said there was no way we were going to stop proselyting before 9:00pm. I shared my feelings with Sister Paxton and she suggested we do a faith walk. We basically go on a walk and talk to anyone the Lord puts in our path. So we started walking around our neighborhood. After 5 minutes we see a group of teenagers coming down the road. The one in front, Dustin, asked us what church we were from. We told him, shared a brief message, and asked to pray with them. They actually seemed pretty excited about that. After we all prayed together, Dustin agreed to taking the lessons! I have a testimony of faith walks now.

We tried to meet with Dustin three times throughout the week and were never able to. For some reason, he was never home. Thursday night we ran into the same 8:30 pm problem. So what did we do? Another faith walk. Who did we run into? Dustin. The Church is true. And I have a testimony of faith walks.
Dustin was with his little sister Bianca, and they were excited to hear what we had to teach them. So we went to the nearby pool and taught them the Restoration. While we were teaching, Dustin's group of friends showed up and started chatting among themselves, but one of them, Xavier, asked us if we were talking about Jesus and happily joined in on the lesson. The Spirit was really strong, and Dustin, Bianca, and Xavier all accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon and promised to read it. Saturday night we went back and taught Fred (Dustin's friend) the Restoration with Dustin and Xavier there, and they seemed to really like it. Fred didn't seem to excited though. I don't know if he will stick around. Dustin seems really solid though. He said he really wanted to come to church. We found him a ride, but sadly, he didn't come to church yesterday. The member who was supposed to take him said he didn't show up. Don't know why. I never realized just how difficult it is to get investigators to Church until I came on a mission. It's the hardest thing! They'll read the Book of Mormon, they'll pray, they'll happily change at times, but they won't come to Church. We have about 8 or 9 investigators now, and we plead with all of them to come just once, but none of them will! In my last area it was tough because the church was an hour away, but now it's just 5 minutes away! And still they don't come. It's kind of irritating. But, if missionary work teaches you anything, it's patience. And it will be a very sweet and happy Sunday when we can finally get these people to come to church! Sister Paxton and I are looking forward to that. One day.

Friday we met with Antoin again. We found a member of our ward who could be a good fellowshipper, and the two of them totally clicked. We're hoping that will help Antoin come to church. He still didn't come to church yesterday, but he said he would go out and buy church clothes! That's a step in the right direction at least. Sometimes members don't realize how vital their role is in missionary work. Coming to church intimidates so many people. People don't want complete strangers coming into their home and talking about religion. But, if they have a friend in the gospel, someone to invite them to church, or invite them into their home to listen to the missionaries together, people are much more open to the Gospel. We cannot do missionary work without the members.

Which is why we put together a missionary fireside last night. It went so well! We gave a pass-along card to every member and told them to write down the name of a friend, family member, or neighbor who may be ready to receive the gospel. Then we had recent converts share their conversion stories, members share family mission plans, and other members share missionary experiences. It got everyone really excited for missionary work! We probably got about 30 referrals last night! Yes. Member referrals are the best way to find people to teach. Tracting is so ineffective. I have yet to baptize a convert I have found while tracting.
Share the gospel with your friends! Pick a name, and then get with missionaries and ask them to help you take the next step. Whether the next step is inviting them to meet with missionaries, or read the Book of Mormon, or come to church, doesn't matter. You have something your friends need. You have knowledge that will give them so much advantage in this life and in the next life. I love an approach that a member gave me the other day. He said when he invites his friends, he starts out by saying, "If I had some information you didn't know you needed, information that would give you so much advantage and happiness in this life and even in the next, would you be angry with me if I withheld that from you?" Then, "That information revolves around the three claims that my religion makes that makes it different from any other religion." Then he starts talking about modern-day revelation, priesthood authority, and the restoration of Christ's church. Then he invites them to learn more from the missionaries. He said they say yes 90% of the time. Brilliant.

So, where was I? I'm going off on a lot of tangents. So, Friday. We met with another less-active family, the Huangs. They are so sweet! Their daughter is a laurel, and her birthday is on Thursday too! They invited us over for dinner! Yay!! I get real Chinese food on my birthday! I'm really excited. :) I can tell this birthday is going to be a good one. Sister Paxton's mom is so sweet. She sent a whole package of decorations and birthday stuff. And she sent me a card with a huge bag of peanut butter m&m's. What a sweetheart! I just love my companion. And her whole family. I feel so lucky!!

Well, those are basically the highlights of my week. This email is kind of all over the place, but that is kind of how I felt this week. It was still pretty good though! We're hoping to find more success this next week. Thank you so much for your prayers and support, they mean everything to me! I love you all! God Bless America!

-Sister Fox

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