We taught two amazing new investigators this week! Matthew and Lavonne are their names. Elder McIntosh and I had gone all week without finding any new investigators, and when we showed up for our appointment with Matthew on Sunday at 7 PM the address he gave us didn’t exist! We rang him and found his real address, but then it turned out he wasn’t at home. We stayed in the area though and finally at about 7:35 we were able to teach him and his girlfriend Lavonne. As we got to know them he mentioned some of the struggles he’s been going through, and both of us independently felt prompted to read from Alma 36 with him. As we did so the Spirit was really strong and we identified it with them. Then we taught about Joseph Smith and the Restoration, and again the Spirit was amazing. When we asked Matthew about his feelings he told us how good he felt about the Joseph Smith story and then commented, “I know it’s true.” That’s the first time I’ve had that happen! We committed him and Lavonne to be baptized. By the end of the lesson we’d identified the Spirit several times and had even demonstrated how our prayer at the beginning of the lesson that we would feel the Spirit had been answered. Since then we’ve had a second great lesson with Matthew on scripture study, and we are seeing him and Lavonne today with our great ward mission leader. Missionary work is amazing!
Besides Matthew and Lisa, Christian, and Cara (who are still amazing and came to church this week) we have another very promising investigator named Sharon. She is the girlfriend of a less-active member named Richard on our home teaching list. They both came to church last Sunday. The first time Elder Garcia met her she seemed very cold towards us, but after a few visits she seems to trust us a lot more. In the last lesson she asked us if our visits are for the purpose of converting her to be a Mormon, and we were able to state our purpose and explain why we want her to be baptized. She had a misunderstanding about the doctrine of kingdoms of glory that had been a big concern for her (she thought we believed only members of the church would go to the celestial kingdom), and we were able to clear that up, which was great. She enjoys reading the Book of Mormon, and we’re looking forward to teaching her more.
Let me tell you a bit about last week. I told you that Elder Garcia had been called as the new assistant to the President. Transfers is always on a Wednesday, and usually phone calls to newly-called leaders come on Sunday night followed by transfer calls on Monday night. As the new assistant, however, Elder Garcia got his call on Friday morning, though, and was told that the current assistants would come that afternoon to take him to the mission office for the next few days to help with transfer planning. That left me without a companion, so President assigned me to work in a companionship of three with the two Stoke elders for the rest of the week, covering both our areas. He also swore us to secrecy about Elder Garcia’s call (which wouldn’t be made public until Monday night) in order to eliminate needless rumors.
Thus began several very exciting days! Having two companions instead of one, especially two great ones like Elder Newson and Elder Hernandez, is a lot of fun. It makes finding more effective (since there are three of you to talk to people instead of two) and allows you to enter any home whether or not there is another male present. We also had a car, two different apartments, and two different wards (with all the associated investigators and appointments) to cover, so we kept very busy, driving from place to place and appointment to appointment. On the first night of our time together, we had two dinner appointments with members (one in Newcastle Ward and one in Stoke Ward), neither of which we were able to cancel, and so we had to eat two dinners back-to-back! : ) The trials of missionary life. The secrecy aspect was fun too. Since Elder Newson is a district leader, he had to take phone calls from his district every night and pretend I wasn’t around, and I had to take phone calls from the other district, pretending that I was back in Newcastle with Elder Garcia. It turned out to be quite challenging to avoid dropping telltale clues – I guess I wouldn’nt make a very good spy.
I’m really excited to have Elder Garcia as the new assistant! I really like his training style and have already enjoyed the presentations I’ve heard from him this transfer. I’m also really blessed to have had the chance to serve with him. He was an amazing zone leader and taught me important leadership principles, and in general he just built my faith a ton. Since he’s gone a few people have mentioned that I’m doing some thing or other a bit the way Elder Garcia would have, and I always feel really complimented! I mentioned to him that you appreciated his letter.
This last week has been one of the busiest of my mission! We had zone leaders’ council, district leaders’ council, and zone conference. Besides actually attending the meetings, we had to prepare the entire district leaders’ council meeting and a 35-minute training for zone conference, as did each of the other zone leader companionships. After zone conference as we were cleaning up the chapel I noticed that Elder Shull, one of the Manchester zone leaders, looked about ready to sleep for a week. I actually loved every bit of this week for all its shortened sleep and craziness, though. I really enjoy preparing and presenting trainings, especially when you can get missionaries excited about things. I think that’s something else I’ve learned from Elder Garcia – he had a spiritual gift for preparing really amazing trainings that were exciting and produced great results, and in the course of serving with him I feel I’ve “caught the bug” and developed real faith in the power of good trainings. Elder McIntosh and I put together some great stuff for our trainings this week: in district leaders’ council we likened preparing investigators to come to church to the Creation (a spiritual creation, i.e. the weekly planning session, precedes the actual creation, small things are accomplished each day of the week in culmination for a Sunday in which everything is completed, etc.) and for our zone conference training we likened the Preach My Gospel teaching skills to the Power Rangers, who in times of particular peril can each metamorphasize into a different mechanical component and join together to form a powerful robot. By the way, it’s a good thing that ONE of the elders in our companionship got to watch Power Rangers when he was growing up. : ) Fortunately most of the zone had watched it too (including one of the sisters). Both trainings went pretty well.
Elder McIntosh is great. I love him. He's also turning out to be a natural-born zone leader. Last night, after our training on teaching skills, he had a dream in which he was watching the two of us teach a lesson from above and critiquing us on our teaching skills.
I assume you’ve mailed me info about Stanford housing and that there will be time to get it sorted by post. If you need me to reply quicker than that will allow, please get in touch with the Mission Office! firstname.lastname@example.org, I believe. Also, I got the driver’s license application, dad, and will be sending it soon.