Monday, August 27, 2012

Letter from August 27, 2012

Howdee my friends!

This here's the wildest ride in the South!! With the approach of Hurrican Issac, the city of Slidell is going crazy. All of the Walmarts are out of stock, water is hard to find, and people are evacuating.  During Katrina, Slidell was literally destroyed, and so it makes perfectly reasonable sense that the people here are extra-cautious about hurricanes. According to all of the recent projections, it will make landfall just west of Slidell, meaning that the damage won't be severe here, but, two parishes over is currently facing a mandatory evacuation order, and ours is faced with a voluntary one.

As for now, we have been counseled to gather all of our valuables and neccesary items into one place and be ready to evacuate if needed, but in all likeliness, we will remain here in Slidell at the regional Bishop's Storehouse, which is built to withstand a Cat. 3. It's crazy to think that this is real, and that in two days I might be experiencing a hurricane.

As for success this week, yesterday was a great day. There wasn't a single moment available to tract because we had an entire list of people to go and contact, most all of whom were potentials we found through tracting. We taught 3 lessons to 3 houses in a row, and found some new investigators through those opportunities. A lot of people who we had thought simply said come back to be kind turned out to have real potential. The greatest part of the day was stopping on the side of the road to see if a guy needed help with his landscaping, which turned into him and his wife asking us all about prophets, allowing us to testify, leave a commitment, and secure a return appointment. The principle of going about doing good is what I believe to be one of the best ways to find others to teach because it is emulating the Savior's example at its fullest.

Another great experience that we had was our Zone Conference held in Gulfport, MS. No one really knew what to expect because it was President McDonough's first conference with us missionaries, but it was one of the most amazing experiences that I have had this far into my mission. He pulled out the scriptures and taught with power principles that any missionary could use and apply in their lives and companioships. The spirit was very strong and I had many promptings about how I can improve.

Following our lunch break, President taught a great lesson about the keys that a mission president holds and how they are meant to be used to lift missionaries up. He testified that he would do nothing to bring us down that would not build us up stronger in the end, exhorted us to be honest in all of our dealings with him and all others, and invited further diligence in obedience to a few simple rules that would strengthen the mission. It was a powerful address that was unscripted. We talked about "binding ourselves to act" and doing something to improve ourselves to be able to better help the people of the South. (D&C 43:9) I think that is a principle of the gospel that we often readily overlook - when the spirit testifies to us or prompts us to do certain things, when commandments are given to us, we must then promise to the Lord action, upon which many blessings are predicated. (D&C 43:10)

The zinger experience was what happened afterwards. President and I sat down together to discuss the logistics of some upcoming events, and afterwards, he began to ask about how I was doing personally. There has been a lot of stress that I have had because of multiple circumstances which he did not know about, but he discerned my needs and addressed them perfectly. Anyone who has served in a Preach My Gospel mission knows of the principle of asking inspired questions, and this was a shining example. He then asked if he could give me a priesthood blessing, to which I responded in the affirmative, and while I won't share the sacred counsel and promises made therein, let me just say, it has been a long time since I have felt the spirit so strongly. Without a doubt I know that he has been called of God and that he has power in the Priesthood. To have a man with keys given by an apostle lay his hands on your head and speak in the place of our Heavenly Father is a humbling, edifying, and inspiring experience. I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve under his direction and to serve the people of the South. May the Savior's peace and blessing be in all of your lives this upcoming week!


Elder Thomas

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