Monday, June 22, 2009

Notes from Sam -- 22 June 2009

Dear family,

Happy (belated) Father’s Day, Dad! I was thinking the other day about how great you are. Thank you for going on a mission and setting the example for me to.

Great things are still happening in Oldham! I told you a couple of weeks ago about a less-active member named Vimbai whom we rather miraculously met while street contacting and how we were able to teach her and her husband George. Vimbai and their six-month-old son Miguel came to church this week (where they were very warmly welcomed) and later that evening Bishop Walsh went with us to teach the family. We helped George answer his questions about the Book of Mormon and dated him for baptism on August 1st! I am very excited for them. Vimbai, with her strong testimony, will be able to help George progress quickly, and it will be wonderful to see a great young family become united in the Church.

Our other 5 investigators with baptismal dates are still going strong too. I mentioned Bethel Egbuna last week. He is a very humble and exceedingly intelligent 29-year-old man from Nigeria who has come here to do some postgraduate studies. He’s been here about a year, but his wife is back in Nigeria with their eight-month-old baby, whom he has never seen. : ( Anyway, he came to a cottage meeting (like a small member fireside) at our ward mission leader’s house with a number of recent converts and reactivated members and also came to church this week. He will be a great member!

Elder Rose and I had an amazing teaching experience this week. We met a man named Juckson who is from the Congo some time ago, and about a week and a half ago we taught him about the Restoration. He was very skeptical because he believes the Bible is the only word of God and he struggles to accept another prophet or consider that he might need to be baptized again. It was a rather frustrating lesson. As we planned for our next lesson, we really wanted to avoid “bashing” with Juckson, so we decided to read from the Book of Mormon with him instead of explaining things using our words and we selected 2 Nephi 29 as our text. 2 Nephi 29 is the chapter where the Lord tells how many people will say “we need no more Bible” at the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and goes on to explain how the Book of Mormon is a second witness of God. As we read from that chapter with him, I appreciated the message and power of that chapter in a way I never had before, and I realized how wonderful it is to have the Book of Mormon as a second witness of Christ. As we testified about the truth of what we’d read, I was able to feel love for Juckson and a real desire to help him understand instead of the frustration I’d felt before. He also understood very clearly, and his concern about more words than the Bible seemed to evaporate completely. By the end of the lesson, I think we all felt very differently about the Book of Mormon and one another. That book is truly a powerful tool! Experiences like this show me and help me feel that the Book of Mormon really is the word of God. I’m grateful to have come on a mission and have received such meaningful witnesses.

I went on exchange with Elder Adams this week! It was the first time we’d worked together since last summer in Manchester South, and I really enjoyed it. I feel very blessed to have gotten to train the missionaries I did - not only are they really good, really committed missionaries, they are people I really enjoy spending time with. Elder Adams is still amazing and reminded me of some of the principles he taught me last year, especially of the importance of relying on the Spirit while finding. We spent our evening together tracting, and we saw some miracles. We were on our way to a certain place to tract, but I didn’t feel good about it so we pulled over and said a prayer. After the prayer I thought of a referral to try by, so we went there. The referral didn’t answer the door, but while we were there outside her house we looked behind us and saw a street across a field that we both felt really good about. So we went there and had 4 very meaningful conversations in a very short number of minutes and doors. In one of these conversations a man told us he wasn’t really interested. Then Elder Adams asked him something like, “If you could ask a question to God, what would you ask?” and right away he said, very seriously, “Is there life after death?” It’s amazing how the Spirit can help us ask exactly the right questions. The exchange with Elder Adams was also really meaningful because I felt I was able to truly serve him once again. He is at a kind of turning point in his mission and he told me he came on the exchange really seeking to learn and find some answers. As we discussed the challenges of missionary work I felt that the Lord gave me the right things to say and we were both edified together. Since our exchange Elder Adams has seemed happier and he and his companion have been tearing the roof off their area with their finding. What a privilege it is to serve around great missionaries like him! Another great blessing I’ve received on my mission.

Some less than ideal news: Elder Rose and I got in a car accident. : ( Don’t worry, nobody was hurt. We were coming around a downhill curve in rainy weather near a place where someone had been killed in a car accident a few days earlier. There were a lot of flowers out at the place where he’d died and I think people were slowing down to look at them. Anyway, a chain of cars in front of us slammed on their brakes. Elder Rose did too, but we couldn’t stop fast enough and rear-ended the car in front of us (which had also run into the car ahead of it). The front of the car is bent up quite a bit and the radiator has a leak, so we’re on buses for a while until it gets fixed (which will hopefully be soon!).

Losing the car this week has made me much humbler. Recently I had been seeking to become more humble, so in some ways the accident was a blessing to me. Shortly after the accident I woke up one morning feeling rotten about riding buses all day and not using the (carless) fellowshippers we used to, and I thought about Elder Oaks' conference talk about selfless service and the dangers of feelings of entitlement. I realized I had started to feel entitled to having a car. I'm happy to feel that I've been able to cast off that feeling this weekend. It’s also satisfying to be able to bus contact much more diligently and consistently than I used to early in my mission. It’s still a challenge sometimes but now I feel I have more faith, and I’m able to push myself more to do it..

Recently I’ve developed a particular love for hymn #217, “Come, Let us Anew.” There’s a great version of it on the Mormon Tabernacle Choir CD Peace Like a River, which I received for Christmas. I feel like the lyrics are very relevant to my mission right now.

I love you all! I hope everyone is enjoying his or her respective summer activity/ies.

Elder Pimentel

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