Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Focusing on Jesus Christ in lessons

From Jessica's December 5 letter.

"This week was Cuh-RAZY. Crazy. People were definitely not lying when they said that the mission is a roller coaster--not just week by week, or even day by day, but hour by hour! I think that's why the days seem so long--there's just so much emotion packed into every single day!

"This week we've really been trying to focus on the importance of Jesus Christ in our lessons. We realized that as we teach, we aren't connecting things back to the reason why we have the gospel, the reason why the Plan of Salvation is possible, and the person in whom we place our faith and in whose name we are baptized--Jesus Christ. I've noticed that as we testify more of Jesus Christ in every lesson, whether it's on the restoration of the gospel or on the word of wisdom, that the Spirit is more present. It's a testimony to me that this work really is His work, and that the gospel of Jesus Christ really is the only way we can receive salvation and a fulness of joy.

"Updates on our investigators: V, one of our investigators who had a baptismal date, [was scheduled to have a] short interview with our mission president on Sunday. Problem though, when we went to wake him up for church, he didn't answer his door! And he has no cell phone, and no car, so we were panicking about getting him to church, both because it's important that he attends church in order to increase his testimony and keep the commandments, and because our mission president was going to drive all the way from Oakland to meet our investigator at the chapel. Eventually we had to leave without him. Sis Osborn and I were freaking out all through sacrament meeting and Relief Society. Finally, we got permission from our district leader to leave church early to go and get V for his interview. We were praying really hard that he would be at home. And when we pulled up to his apartment, there he was, just chilling on his balcony! It took all that was in me not to yell, "Where WERE you???" Haha, apparently he was asleep until about noon. At any rate, we got him a ride to church and he had his interview. It was a miracle that we found him, because it's pretty much impossible to track him down because he has no phone. He had his interview, and President Wade said that he's progressing well toward baptism. He doesn't have a baptismal date right now, but things are looking good for him.

"...We finally got to meet with [two others who have baptismal dates], and we went through the questions of the baptismal interview. They are so prepared! The only thing is that [the brother] is a pretty persistent coffee drinker, like 3-4 cups a day. We talked about the word of wisdom, and he committed to reduce his coffee intake to 1 cup a day this week. That is for sure a big sign of faith--first, even wanting to give up coffee, and second, trusting that the Lord will make it possible to break such a strong habit. Also, we followed up on their Book of Mormon reading and asked [him]what he'd learned from 2 Ne 32. He said, "Well, basically, it talks about how baptism is the gate. And then after baptism, you have to keep going until the end and keep the commandments for the rest of your life. And then you can have eternal life." Sister Osborn and I had to pick our jaws up off the ground after hearing such a stellar explanation of the basic doctrines of the gospel. It's so great to see how the Spirit works in people to bring them to an understanding of truth.

"New investigators: [Another sister] also accepted a baptismal invitation in the first lesson! Somehow I'm always a little shocked when that happens, because even though it's a wonderful thing, it's not all that common. [She] is a very, VERY beautiful young mom who has two daughters. We talked about the blessings of the gospel in families, and she was very receptive to the message of how Jesus Christ can help us improve our families. Sad story though--we haven't been able to talk to her since the lesson when she accepted a baptismal date. :(((( Sad face, big time. It's so sad when people all of a sudden stop responding to calls, start missing appointments, etc. But, like what happened with [sister] last week, all we can do is put forth our best effort to keep trying as many times as is useful, and then we have to trust the Lord that He'll allow the Spirit to continue to work in them even if we have to stop trying to reach them.

"We also started teaching a lady.... She has more Christmas decorations in her house than ANYBODY I have ever seen. It's like a Christmas explosion in there. Twice. We went into her house and sat among the Christmas villages and nativity sets, and it felt like our house's decorations, but on Hispanic steroids. We taught her the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and she opened up to us, and shared her testimony of prayer. She said the story of Joseph Smith's experience with prayer is "beautiful." She said she's excited to learn more and share with her daughter. Awesome. We're praying really hard that she'll be able to progress in the gospel, because her heart is definitely prepared.

"Definitely a good week. It was also tough because we had zero investigators at church, and many, many dropped appointments, but we know that with faith and hard work, miracles are going to happen in this area.

"Hilarious story for the week: we knocked on the door of a person whose name we got from the English-speaking elders. It was for a 15-year-old girl named Elizabeth. She speaks English and Spanish, but her parents only speak Spanish. She answered the door and we explained, in English, who we were. She said, "just a second" and went into the house and started yelling for her mom in Spanish. In Spanish, she said, "there are missionaries here!" Her mom said, in Spanish, "Say something to them!" Daughter, in Spanish: "Should I tell them we're busy and we have stuff to do?" Mom: "Si!" Girl turns back to us and says in English, "sorry, I cant' talk right now, we're about to leave and do something with our family." We then asked her, in Spanish, if we could set an appointment to come back and see her sometime later. Baha, the look on her face when she figured out we speak Spanish and we understood her entire conversation with her mom... priceless :) "

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