Monday, April 13, 2009

Notes from Sam -- 30 March 2009

Dear family,

We're having beautiful weather here! Daylight Savings Time was yesterday here in England, so the days have also just gotten a lot longer. I'm looking forward to the summer, and also to General Conference next weekend.

I hope Ruth had a happy birthday. I sent her a letter - hopefully it arrived on time.

This week has been up and down like crazy. We taught Rob Rainbow and his family again on Tuesday, and he was still on fire. He told us he'd watched the Restoration DVD (which we'd left him) seven times. He'd also invited one of his friends, a man named Chris Cam, over for our return appointment so we could teach him! Chris had a big concern about how God could exist when there is so much evil in the world. We talked about how God allows agency, but he wasn't really convinced. Finally, towards the end of the lesson, we were talking about prayer and Chris mentioned that only once in his life had he ever had a prayer answered and said something about the experience. At that point our fellowshipper (a young single adult who hasn't yet gone on a mission) jumped in and said something like, "See? You do know that God exists!" Chris sat back and thought about that for a moment, and we could tell he was feeling the Spirit. It was as though his countenance was changing before our eyes. He realized that he did know that God existed, and after that he had a different attitude about the lesson and listened really carefully to us (at one point Rob jumped in to say something and he seemed annoyed at the interruption and asked us to keep on teaching - "Go on, mate!"). He committed to be baptized as he continues to feel right about it! After the lesson, our fellowshipper told us that he'd never seen anyone feel the Spirit so clearly before. It was a great moment for all of us. The Spirit testifies to investigators quite often in the first lesson, but it always feels like a miracle to me, and I think it really is.

Unfortunately Rob Rainbow and Chris Cam have not endured in faith. When we rang to confirm an appointment with them on Thursday, Rob told us he wasn't interested in meeting with us anymore. When I invited him to remember how he felt that first time when we shared the First Vision with me, he didn't answer and handed the phone to someone else, a woman from another Christian church that Diane (Rob's partner) had been baptized in a while back. It turns out that people from this church had visited the Rainbows after our second appointment and convinced them that they didn't need the Book of Mormon and shouldn't accept visits from us any more. The woman who spoke to me on the phone essentially rebuked me for preaching a false message, and when I explained we'd still like to visit Rob and strengthen his faith in Christ, she asked us not to and said something like, "What I'm trying to say is that Rob wants you to get lost, but he's too sensitive to say it right now so I'm here to say it for him." Grrr. It frustrates me when other Christians go about doing things like this. There really has been a great apostasy in our world, and it's painful sometimes to see all the people living at least partly in spiritual darkness because of it. But it's part of the work.

Anyway, I'm sure Rob Rainbow and Chris Cam (who has similarly chosen to investigate this other church at the moment) will not forget what they felt as we shared the restored gospel with them - in Chris' case, I think his whole involvement in this other church is a result of what he felt as we taught him. We were commiserating about the situation with Chris Rainbow (who knows both Rob and Chris Cam quite well), the other day, and he says he thinks they'll come around in the end. Chris Rainbow is great, very converted to the true gospel - he even spoke to Chris Cam this weekend and tried to convince him to attend church with us, testifying of the Church and attempting to resolve Chris' concerns. We're lucky to be teaching him (Chris Rainbow) again. He hasn't been out to church yet, but we're working on getting him back there.

The Baileys are still doing well. They've missed church for a couple of weeks now due to emergencies and unexpected challenges, but they still have great testimonies, especially Lisa. We're reteaching them the main three lessons, and Lisa is really grasping the doctrine now in a way she never did before. In particular, when we taught the Plan of Salvation she really understood the Fall and how significant it is. Apparently the story of Adam and Eve had confused her throughout her Catholic upbringing - "I haven't been able to understand that for thirty years," she told us. It's so exciting when people really get the doctrine that way.

I went on exchange with Elder Breisch in Crewe this week. Crewe is on fire right now - they have 6 people dated for baptism (one got baptized this past week as well) and are teaching all the time. Their investigators seem to like them a lot, too, because when I came on exchange one part-member family had just given them a cake decorated to look like a giant Book of Mormon and another investigator (a cheesemaker) had given Elder Breisch a big 2.5-kilo block of Cheshire cheese. Elder Breisch and I had some interesting experiences on exchange: we street contacted a man who was carrying a dead rabbit ("I'm busy, mate") and we went to the stake roadshows with some investigators. The roadshows sounded like a great place to be with our investigators, and we were quite surprised when the first roadshow mentioned tithes and offerings (something these investigators hadn't yet been taught) quite prominently and even featured a Primary-size child costumed as a giant tithing slip! : ) I think I appreciated the humor of the moment a little more than Elder Breisch, who was squirming in his chair a little bit and undoubtedly anticipating some awkward questions. We also realized the music that was being played as part of the roadshows was not appropriate for missionaries to be listening to and ended up leaving after the first roadshow (the investigators stayed and were taken care of by members). The kind of evening that becomes a good story once it's over. : )

I've been meaning to mention this for a few weeks now, but there's an English sister missionary in our zone who spent the year before her mission living in Den Haag! She moved there in December(?) 2007, so I guess she missed you all. She attended the Hague ward and knows everybody there as well as many of the people in the stake. When I was talking to her about it I kept on wishing that Mom and Ruth were here to recognize all the people she was mentioning - many of the names were familiar but I couldn't really connect them to people. Anyway, it's cool how small the world of the Church can be sometimes.

Next week is transfers. !!! So preparation day will not be on Monday. It's virtually certain that either Elder Garcia or I will be transferred, so to play it safe you can send post to the mission office until you hear otherwise (I should be able to get the post at zone leader's council which I believe is next Friday). I'll probably be emailing next Thursday.

I love you all! Enjoy General Conference! I sure will be.

Elder Pimentel

P.S. It sounds like several babies have been born in the extended family and friends circle. I'm struggling to keep track fo them all, but congratulations to those concerned!

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