Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tender mercies and trials of faith. And GO GIANTS! :)

Hi everyone. :)
This week has seemed like an eternity, not because it dragged, but because so many things happened.  I feel like I'm a different person from who I was when I wrote last Monday's letter.  Hermana Osborn and I have been through heaven and hell this week, but at the end of it all, I'm almost overwhelmed by how merciful Heavenly Father is, and how aware He is of the finite details of each of our lives.
Nancy was supposed to be baptized yesterday.  Like I wrote last week, she came to church last Sunday and had a great experience.  The next day, however, we saw a decline in her confidence about her decision to be baptized.  After meeting with her she admitted that she had some doubts about some of the commandments.  We helped her talk through her concerns and then talked about the doctrines of the commandments and the importance of the Savior.  All through the week we met with her daily to help her feel prepared to be baptized.  We rescheduled her baptismal interview and moved her baptismal date because we wanted to make sure she felt comfortable about taking the step of being baptized.  Hermana Osborn and I fasted for her on Wednesday.  By the time Wednesday night rolled around, she'd stopped reading the Book of Mormon and wasn't receptive in the lessons.  She got defensive and started to close off.  On Friday, we went by her house for a lesson.  We were waiting outside because we didn't see her car there.  We called her twice and she didn't pick up.  We texted her to let her know we were waiting for her, and she texted us back telling us that she couldn't make it and there was something she'd left for us.  I ran up to the door and saw a bag hanging there.  In it there was her Book of Mormon, all of the pamphlets and cards we'd given her, her gospel principles manual, a letter, and a manila folder full of paper.  We drove away, pulled over, and read her letter.  She said lots of things that didn't even sound like her and told us she couldn't continue meeting with us.  She asked us to never communicate with her again.  I opened the manila folder she'd left and within reading one sentence off of the first page it was apparent that the folder contained about 25 pages of anti-Mormon literature that she'd printed off the internet.  The Spirit immediately left and we locked the folder in the trunk. We didn't read any of it because it was so apparent that it was absolute poison.
We're really disappointed, of course, that all of this happened, but there's really nothing we can do.  She made the choice to distance herself from the Spirit by stopping her study of the scriptures and looking elsewhere for other sources.  It was a struggle at first, just thinking about how quickly her testimony got shaken and how sad it is that she made the choice to walk away from something that she knew was good. It's very startling to think about the difference between the happiness we felt just a couple weeks ago at the Oakland Temple when we went with her and the sadness we felt as we read the letter and realized that she had decided not to go with what she had found out for herself was true.  Regardless of her choices, I know that Nancy is a beloved daughter of God and that He will of course continue to take care of her.  It's just sad to see her distance herself from the gospel with the choices that she's made.
Even though Nancy was not baptized as planned this week, we've seen an amazing outpouring of tender mercies.  Before all this happened, we had canceled the exchange we would have originally gone on just a couple hours after finding the letter.  It was a blessing to be together and have the support from each other.  This week as I've prayed for understanding and for the faith to move forward, I've felt closer to my Heavenly Father than I ever have before.  I've received confirmation of the things that I felt as I was preparing to go on my mission--that this is the most important thing I can be doing right now and that the Savior is aware of my mission, and that the gospel is absolutely true.  I've realized that no matter what choices others make, I will never be able to deny the many blessings I have received from the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and from being in His church.  This experience has strengthened my testimony that this gospel is absolutely true, and that this church is the church of Jesus Christ.  That knowledge is something I have gained for myself, and it can't be taken away.  I feel a stronger desire to share these blessings with my brothers and sisters.  I can't deny the changes I've seen in myself and in others through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  The gospel of Jesus Christ and the Plan of Salvation are real!
We had another fun tender mercy of being able to go do a service project in Half Moon Bay on Saturday, right after all this happened with Nancy.  We got permission to go with the Daly City ward and our ward to do a beach clean-up.  There was a SHIPWRECK on a beach and we got to help the other volunteers who were there. Apparently the captain, a tuna fisherman from New Zealand, had fallen asleep at the helm and crashed into some rocks on the coast.  He was there at the cleanup and we got to meet him!  We made a giant human chain and carried the pieces of the broken boat across the beach and up a big hill.  It was really strenuous work, but exactly what I needed, physically and spiritually, to recuperate from the other events of this weekend.  Hermana Osborn and I are both super sore now, but it was totally worth it, and such a unique experience!  As missionaries we're not usually allowed to visit the beach, but this was a fun and memorable exception. :)  I don't have any pictures of it but I'll try and get some from Hna Osborn.
Also, last night, in the exact minute we left our last appointment of the night, fireworks started going off all around the city.  Apparently the Giants won the World Series!  Everyone was cheering and setting off firecrackers and pretty big fireworks.  People were driving around honking their horns for a good couple hours after the fact.  How cool!  It was pretty fun to feel so connected to the place where I'm serving my mission.  I think I can call myself a Giants fan now, since I've spent the most important year of my life here in this area.  And I don't even like baseball! :)  Today we're going to the city to buy some San Francisco Giants merchandise. :)  We've got to take home at least some memorabilia.
All in all, this was a crazy week.  It was exhausting, but so good and a week I will never forget.  I feel like a different person, and I'm excited to find and teach those that the Lord is preparing to accept the gospel.  Sometimes things don't turn out how we expect them to, but I know that the plan of God is perfect and that in His love for us, He lets us experience the things that will bring us closer to Christ.  I love you all!  Thank you for your love, support, and your faithfulness in the gospel.

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