We have had BEAUTIFUL weather the past three days, absolutely clear blue skies and bright sun. I have felt hot even in my short-sleeve shirt and slacks. Everyone here is getting sunburned, and Elder Rose and I have nice tan lines where our shirt collars sit on our necks – the infamous “collar tan.” : )
Elder Rose and I had an amazing week, probably one of the most miraculous in my mission so far!
For the first half of the week we were very busy doing things other than finding. I mentioned in my last letter that we moved flats – that took up a lot of our time. In addition, we had to drive to the mission home and pick up a brand-new sister missionary who has just arrived in England and will be serving in our zone. Sister Schmidt was supposed to arrive at the beginning of the transfer but had visa problems that delayed her arrival for a week. Sister Schmidt was excited to be here and also very, very tired – she fell asleep in the car on the way back to her area. The whole trip brought back a lot of memories about when I was a new missionary and how overwhelming and exciting and exhausting it was to plunge into mission life.
Largely as a result of all this, Elder Rose and I woke up on Friday morning having had only 10 quality gospel conversations all week. As I’ve probably mentioned a few dozen times, we have a mission standard of 70 quality gospel conversations per companionship per week, so if you have 10 on Friday you are way, way behind. To top it off, we’d just had a district leaders’ council the previous Saturday in which we had taught about how important it is to lead from the front and had committed our district leaders very firmly to get those 70 quality gospel conversations every week no matter what. So we really had to do it! We decided to step it up and work really, really hard, skipping or cutting down on our lunch and dinner hours as seemed wise, and in particular we prayed really fervently before and usually after we went finding, consecrating our time to the Lord and asking to be led to prepared souls. Especially towards the very end of the week, I also started praying a lot while finding, asking as I walked towards someone on the street that the Spirit would prepare him or her and raise questions in their mind about the gospel.
Those prayers were answered! We had some amazing experiences in talking to
people where they actually shared with us spiritual experiences that had prepared them to speak to us. I’ve had that happen before on my mission, but never so many times all in one week. One such experience: I felt prompted to speak to a certain lady, crossed to her side of the street, and started teaching her about families; she told me that it was strange that I should mention family because she hadn’t seen her family in five years but had just met up with them again within the past week. She also told me that she had been wanting for her 8- and 9-year-old children to attend a church, but wanted them to be able to choose their own church, and that she herself had been feeling like she ought to be baptized. By the end of the conversation, she agreed that I’d been guided to speak to her and she told me that I had really cheered up her day. The Spirit was definitely manifest there! We scheduled an appointment with her for tomorrow which will be covered by the sister missionaries in her area. Another lady I stopped said something like, “You know, it’s funny you should talk to me today . . .” and explained that just a day or two before she’d been feeling a desire to pray, something she hadn’t done in a long time. Elder Rose and I also spoke to a gentleman who, after some conversation, told us that just two days before, he had decided that he needed to stop drinking and had prayed very fervently that God would help him stop. He told us that he believed we were the answer to his prayer. I testify that God really does answer prayers.
Elder Rose and I had to keep on working hard and exercising faith until about ten minutes to nine on Sunday night, but we achieved our goal of 70 quality gospel conversations! The day of miracles hath not ceased. The whole just built my testimony that we can do great things when the Lord calls us to.
Another miracle happened with two of our investigators, Joseph and TJ Osibanjo. They are 15(?) and 13 respectively, and they are part of an amazing Nigerian family of five or six children. Their 20-year-old brother Junior was the first one to meet the missionaries, and he was baptized in the Stretford ward, in a different part of Manchester where Junior attends university, several months ago. After that their 22-year-old sister Eniola was baptized in Liverpool where she was attending university. Now we are teaching the father, Tunde, and the two younger brothers, who live here in Oldham! TJ and Joseph are both really smart and enjoy church a lot, and I really enjoy teaching their family, especially because Eniola is now home from university for the summer. She sits in on all the lessons and also holds family scripture study with her brothers in the morning. Anyway, last week some ward leaders invited Joseph and TJ to attend the ward’s young men campout this weekend, and they ended up going and having an amazing experience! From what we hear, they both became best friends with all of the young men in the ward. One of the young men on the campout gave even a talk on Sunday and mentioned how grateful he is for leaders who organize campouts so they can “meet new friends like Joe and TJ.” Joseph also had quite a spiritual experience during a campfire testimony meeting they had on the campout. We taught their family right after they got home from the campout and we set a baptismal date for Joseph! He is getting baptized on July 11. We are excited, and so is the ward!
I love being a missionary. I’m grateful to have been called here at this time to serve. Sometimes I like to think about the missionaries finding Thomas Green in Manchester so many years ago. It’s exciting for me to realize that even though that happened so long ago, missionary work really hasn’t changed much: I’m sharing the same gospel and the same Spirit that missionaries shared with him so many years ago, and the same fruits are available from my work as from theirs. This is the Lord’s work! I’m so happy to be a part of it.