This past week has been absolutely crazy. We had two straight days with flooding, and rain almost every other day. As I write to you now, the library is being hammered with rain, and the forecast does not look too friendly to the work in a bike area. But, it did bring about some great stories:
-On the first day of flooding, we were at the Zone Leader's apartment grilling some steak that an investigator gave us on our brand new grill that we were given, and the rain was so bad that there was a good 18 inches of water in their yard. So, being the adventerous souls we are, we headed out into the flood. As we made it out to the street, we saw a car down the road that had driven into the ditch on the side of the road, and the back end was sticking up in the air. Perfect chance for service. After a concerted effort, we finally got the car out, but we were all covered in mud and water from head to toe, so, since everywhere was water, we jumped on in to rinse it all off. Not only did we help out someone in need, but we had quite the experience ourselves.
-The next day, we were out tracting in a constant but light drizzle, when in an instant it turned into hurricane status winds and rain. It was literally falling sideways. My companion and I ran as fast as we could to the nearest tree, but it wasn't doing a thing to help. The noise was so loud that we were yelling to hear each other within a few feet of each other. After a couple of minutes we saw a porch in the distance and ran under it and knocked on the door to see if we could stand there until the storm passed. They invited us in and offered us a towel and a ride to our apartment. We started talking about who we were, and the guy, named Fred, said he knew all about us and "your angel Moroni. I've studied about it." He politely said that he wouldn't be changing his religion, but offered an invitation to attend his Church's service the following night. Cue the next story.
-Saturday Night Gospel Fest at Starlight Missionary Baptist Chruch. Unbelievable. I have never seen a group of old people get up, sing, and dance with their hands in the air while shouting "amen!" and "hallelujiah!" It sure put a new spin on worship. It was actually not a service, but a music program featuring a whole slew of worship bands. It was louder than some of the rock concerts I've been to in there. At one point this older guy and his 25 year old daughter were literally screaming at each other on stage - "Amen!" "Louder!" "AMEN" "LOUDER!!" "AMEN!!!!!!!!!!" and so on. Crazy. Then this group from New Orleans gets up, and let me paint this picture for you - three very large women in velvet dresses singing "Lord deliver us" every two measures or so echoing the lead singer, who was a tall, buff, and bald guy wearing a white suit with blue plaid shorts and white kicks. After singing the first half of the song in his falsetto (to the audience's delight), he started going up to random people and making them sing. Boy, I sure wish I could paint a better picture for y'all. Classic. All about the memories.
-We had an AMAZING experience with one of our longtime investigators on Sunday. She an old cajun woman in her early 60s, and both parties love the lessons because it feels like a group of friends talking. That's the way that I wish all investigators were. We covered Alma 36 with her, emphazing the idea of change. She read verse 3, and then stopped to say that she lost her trust in God over the last few months because of individual circumstances, but through our visits and her reading of the Book of Mormon, she has begun to rebuild that trust and feel hope again. It was amazing to hear someone open up like that. As we finished the chapter, we asked her an open ended question: "What are some things that you think you can change to come closer to Christ?" Her response was golden: "I need to start coming to church, and I want to fast for this week to understand the bible (Said while holding the BofM up) better" This was amazing because in our early lessons before she dropped us a month ago, her major concern was coming to church, and here she is asking to come to church. There was an obvious change in her heart, and the cause was easily identified - reading on her own from the Book of Mormon. She actually kept her committments to read, and as she has done so, she has become more and more receptive to the Restored Gospel. And the amazing thing about the whole situation is this - on her own the investigator started talking about being baptized, although she has made it clear to us that she does not feel ready. However, that is a huge step, because she is asking the questions herself and seeking to find what is best for her. I am just amazed by the revalatory power of the Book of Mormon.
This is what missionary work is all about - helping others repent, to sincerely make changes in their life to come closer to Christ - and every single experience that we have with her strengthens my testimony that the Lord prepares people to hear the message of the Restoration, and that revalation truly does come through the Book of Mormon. What a beautiful gift that we've all been given - the ability to come closer to our Savior through modern scripture, translated by the restored power of God here in the latter days. Do we use it to its full potential? Do we sincerely put forth the effort to study it and seek to find God's will for each of our lives as we do so? This experience with my investigator has recommitted me to do so in my own studies of the Book of Mormon, and already I have seen amazing results, and I know that the same can be true for each of us if we sincerely seek truth and pray with real intent - a committment to act on the guidance we recieve regardless of it's content.
The Church is true and the book is blue! I hope you all have an amazing week!
Elder Joshua Thomas