Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Notes from Sam -- 26 November 2008

Dear family,

Ryan ...'s testimony has faltered a bit, and his baptismal date is now in question. We also haven't been able to see Leslie this week (she went out of town over the weekend). But we've been teaching a lot of great new people. I've noticed that all President Bullock's emphasis on quality finding (quality gospel conversations and power statements) has really done is speed up the work we were already doing: we still tract, street contact and teach lessons to investigators, but now we teach more people on the street, set up more appointments, teach more new investigators, and commit a lot more people to be baptized a lot sooner in the teaching process. I find the new pace of our work makes it much easier to deal with the inevitable disappointments when they come - if an investigator drops us, we're sad but we'll probably find two more investigators by the end of the week so we don't have time to dwell on it. Maybe it's a bit like Dad's "lightning cleanup" principle - if you work really hard and really quickly, you won't have time to be bored and complain.

Anyway, our week was great and we taught a lot of new investigators. We had a particularly great experience on Saturday night, although it was preceded by some adversity. We went to an appointment we'd set up on the street with a young man named Raz, but as we were knocking on the door some kids in the street told us that Raz didn't live at that house. It turned out that Raz lived in the house next door and had given us his neighbor's address as a joke. While we were standing outside, Raz (or someone else in his house) opened the top floor window and dropped an egg. It landed on Elder Stevens' bag and got egg gunk on some of his stuff. He took it very stoically, however, and we continued on our way.

Later that evening we had our lesson with Leslie scheduled, but when we got to her house with Brother Spencer, our fellowshipper, we discovered she'd forgotten our appointment. Brother Spencer really wanted to teach someone with us, though, and when we had trouble thinking of who we could see he urged us to say a prayer. After praying we decided to try someone named Keith Scholes. Keith had actually been referred to us by a member couple called the Halls who had come out teaching with us a month or two before and had mentioned Keith to us as we'd driven through his neighborhood. We'd followed up with Keith but hadn't gotten a solid appointment. Anyway, we decided to try by with Brother Spencer and we got in the door and taught a great first lesson! Keith, who investigated about a year and a half before, was really receptive to the Restoration, said he believed it was true, and accepted a commitment to be baptized when he knows it. He's a great person, very charismatic and down-to-earth. He's also a bit of a "rogue," as Sister Hall put it, and he's told us a few hair-raising stories about his youthful motorbiking exploits. Since Saturday we've taught him once more with the Halls (whom he knows really well), and he's looking like one of our most promising investigators. He should be coming to church on Sunday and on Monday we're having tea at the Halls' with him and teaching him afterwards. Elder Stevens pointed out that Keith's current investigation is more or less a pure result of the work of ward members - the Halls referred him, Brother Spencer's urging led us to hunt him down and teach him, and now the Halls are taking the lead in preparing him for baptism. It shows how crucial it is to work through your members, and what amazing blessings are out there as we learn to do it better.

We also taught Patricia ..., Yvonne's sister. She is amazing! Just like Yvonne. Apparently when Patricia was first being taught she came to church regularly for a short time, and she really wants to start coming again. She told us that she's been to many different churches and she likes our church better than the others. We taught the Restoration and discussed baptism, and she agreed that she wanted to be baptized. It may take a bit more time with her than with Yvonne, since she has a couple of concerns (she has trouble understanding the Book of Mormon and isn't yet married to her boyfriend), but she is a very humble, sincere person and I think she will progress. She's got Yvonne's support, which should help a lot. Yvonne is doing really well. She was at the lesson with Patricia and mentioned to us that she's been getting a lot of opposition from other Zimbabweans who attend a church she used to go to, but she isn't giving in to their criticism at all. A wonderful sister from Chorley who is in the stake Relief Society Presidency is trying to get her (and possibly Patricia as well) involved in the stake Christmas choir, which should be a great experience.

Anyway, I'm feeling pretty great about our area. With Jason and Emma (who are still chugging along pretty well) and all these great new investigators, we have an amazing teaching pool, and I foresee baptisms in the next two months. I'm going to be sad if I get transferred this time around.

The rest of the district is doing well too. The Chorley 2nd elders, who saw some amazing finding miracles last week, got a couple of new investigators yesterday, and the zone leaders in Chorley 1 actually taught someone I street contacted when I was on exchange with them. We're all pretty happy.

Last week I promised you a story from Elder Kopischke. Elder Kopischke’s family had just moved and his son Daniel (high school age at the time) had just started at a new school. At the first day of English class, the teacher went around the class and had all the (German) students stand up and say what they wanted to do when they grew up, just to practice their still-rudimentary English. When it was Daniel’s turn, he got up and said, “I am Daniel Kopischke and I want to be a teacher of business and geography, but first I will serve a mission for my church.” Then he sat down. Everybody stared at him, and the teacher asked him what church he belonged to. He stood up again and said, “I am a Mormon,” then sat down. The teacher said, “Now you have to tell us what a Mormon is.” So Daniel got up one more time and said, “We are Mormons. We don’t drink, we don’t smoke, and we don’t have sex before marriage.” : ) Elder Kopischke used the story as an example of having an undivided heart and how it pushes you to share the gospel as best you can. He also talked a lot about seminary and how important it is, and told another story about his 18(?)-year-old daughter who was called to be a seminary teacher. She taught a certain group of boys for several years until they finished seminary, at which point they all went on missions. Elder Kopischke's daughter concluded, "If they can go on missions, so can I," and so she went and served a mission as well, right along with her seminary students. Great stuff. I'm really grateful for my seminary experience, I think more for the work it required me to put in than for the scriptural knowledge I amassed - looking back on my four years of seminary, I feel like I really achieved something just by getting up and going consistently. It's a good feeling.

It was nice to be in the temple with the zone last preparation day. Being there reminded me of all the times I went to various different temples before my mission. It always feels the same no matter what temple you're in - cozy and warm and wonderful, a lot like going home on a really cold or nasty day. Yesterday Elder Stevens and I got to the stake center for district meeting before the building had been unlocked, so we spent a few minutes standing outside. I looked over at the temple right across the street and was struck by how lucky I am to be so close to the temple - not even most missionaries in the mission get to be on the temple site so often.

Thank you for the Christmas music! We're going to put it on tomorrow night (the official beginning of the Christmas season according to me). We have interviews next week and hopefully by then President Bullock will have vetted my Christmas CDs from last year, but we'll be OK either way now.

President Bullock has granted a special exception to our normal tea appointment policy so that we can have a 90-minute tea appointment with a member, with or without investigators, on Thanksgiving Day. We've been lucky enough to get such an appointment! So it should be a great Thanksgiving with plenty of good food.

I love you all! I hope you have a great Thanksgiving tomorrow!

Elder Pimentel

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