Monday, February 27, 2017

I'm sorry for the long email... well, not really lol

Elder Braden Brian is my new companion! He was a zone leader in West Columbia before this! He is a rancher from Loa, Utah-- middle of nowhere! He is a hard worker! I am excited to be with him.
We were walking the other day and this guy yells out from his porch, "Hey Elders!" That is either a good thing or a bad thing... we walked over, and this guy was missing two teeth, he was smoking and high out of his mind!! He said he is part Mormon---- we asked how. He said because he goes to all churches....haha.
While pondering during the sacrament yesterday, a few scriptures came to my mind. 

3 Nephi 8:25 "…all such as should come unto them should be baptized with water, and this as a witness and a testimony before God, and unto the people, that they had repented and received a remission of their sins."

The sacrament is a symbol of Baptism. So…just like you cannot be baptized if you had not repented of your sins, you have to come to sacrament meeting, having already repented and received forgiveness of your sins. The physical act of partaking of the bread and water is a symbol, and does not clean us of our sins, rather like the scripture says above, it is a witness before God and others in that congregation that you have repented of your sins.

Now, from that point it is important to retain that remission of sins through daily exercising of faith, repenting, giving service and basically living the Gospel…  anyway, that is what I was thinking about yesterday a little bit.

In gospel principles we were taught about prayer. Something that I need to be better at is putting more effort into my prayers. It is so easy when praying to get distracted by other thoughts. Something I am going to do more of, is praying aloud- in a quiet voice of course. That will help me focus better I think.

Another thing I was thinking about this week… with all who investigate the church, we ask them to read from the Book of Mormon, pray about it, and come to church! Why do we ask them, rather invite them to to these things? Because that is how revelation will come. 

Revelation as I have studied and received on my mission, most of the time, requires effort. Therefore, our investigators and all of us need to put more effort into prayer, church attendance and scripture study. All of those require great effort. It requires effort to prepare for church by looking at the lessons, by listening intently through the distractions of little kids, and by participating. It requires effort to as you pray, listen for promptings, stand accountable to the Lord for your day, and to know what to repent for…and to know what to pray for. It requires effort while studying the scriptures to be patient in understanding what is hard to understand, in listening for the prompitngs of the spirit, in looking for ways to apply what you read, in cross-referencing, in pondering and critical thinking. Now if we can learn to better do these three simple things, we will put ourselves in the position to recognize better answers to prayer, and we will be more intune with God. If investigators will do this, they will recive the answer that yes, these things are good and true.

This week has been tough. I felt confounded at many doorsteps, not knowing what to say. I testified of Christ a lot, and we did our best to introduce the Book of Mormon. I have been thinking a lot of how I can be more direct, but creative in our approaches to everybody. Many people did not want to talk with us. Our invitation is simple, but it seems that so many are comfortable with where they are at. We must all learn to have open minds and hearts, because when we do, the spirit of the Lord can help us know what is and is not truth… And man, every church has many great truths, but many fail to see ours too.

Just as I am writing this, our investigator, Susan, left a voice message and dropped us. We had a lesson with her yesterday. She does not want to live on earth any longer. She says she will never do anything to heart her body because it is a temple, but she is sick and tired of her trials and afflictions. She expressed many other concerns, and she ultimately does not feel that anybody else can truly love her, only God. Many of her concerns stem from the lack of understanding she has about God's plan of happiness. She does not understand what will happen to her after this life, although we have explained it using scriptures, and testimony, and analogies, etc. Yesterday we read together from 3 Nephi 27 and invited her to be baptized again. We explained that this is the kingdom of heaven on Earth. God has used her to bless so many lives, as she has worked in AA for 38 yrs. We told her that God is giving you this blessing and opportunity to learn of, and accept His restored Gospel. No blessing can be greater. She responded with many reasons why she did not want to be baptized and become a member. We testified, invited her to read from the Book of Mormon, and then we had to leave. One day, I hope she will see what she has been missing her entire life. I prayed for her last night again to see how we could help her... I guess setting her aside right now is what needed to happen.

Moses called us yesterday- the super solid one- and he said that he will not be able to meet for 2 months. He had a death in the family, and so they went out to Georgia yesterday. That was tough for us to hear, but I know that his family really needs him. He is such spiritually strong man, and he is searching of more knowledge. He is trying got become a better husband, and man I wish all y'all could meet him!

Kristan cancelled her appointment this week because she is sooo dang busy!!! haha man I hope we can get to teach her again soon. Keep praying that we will be able to this week! She is such a stud!

This week before he went home, Elder Fife and I went street contacting at Fall's park in downtown..look it up! it is so pretty cool! One guy was sitting on a bench, painting the cool bridge and scenery righ there. We went down and talked with him. You talk about someone else, and take 100% sincere interest in them and what they are doing, they will turn and ask about you! (this was my only piece of dating advice to Elder Fife before he went home- other than the "don't get married before I get back" advice) Any way we got on the topic of the last days, and he started talking about the Anit-Christ. I wanted to tie it back to the restoration, and did not know what to say. An interesting thought poppped into my head. This is what I told the guy: In Revelation it talks bout 2 prophets or apostles (I don't remeber which) will lie dead in the streets of Jerusalem for 3.5 days. If that will happen, well, we have got to have at least two apostles first, right? He said yeah that makes sense. I then testified that we do have living prophets and apostles, and that we do because the Church of Christ has been restored in it's fullness upon the earth. The spirit no doubt put that thought process in my mind, because I had never thougth of that.

Elder Anderson of the Q
uorum of the Twelve said in the Jan 25th missionary broadcast, that you know when you have taught with the spirit when you leave having learned something from what you had said...that is so true. 

One last experience: Martha has been super flakey. She won't keep commitments or appointments. Elder Fife and I prayed to know exactly what her concerns and needs were, because we were just so lost with how to help her. We got into that lesson, and she just spewed out all of her feelings and concerns. I was amazed- God answered that prayer right quick! Elder Fife felt prompted to share some experience, and as he was sharing it, I felt inspired to read together from 1 nephi 8- the vison that Lehi had. We did so, and we did all we could to explain it very clearly and simply to her... because it is basically a huge analogy for this life. She has been feeling discouraged, hopeless, bogged down and feels the pressures from the world getting got her. We were able to re-teach the power and importance of prayer in our lives. We re-commited her to pray as she feel discouraged and unmotivated. We recommited her to study the scriptures-- this story was just so perfect. Heavenly Father knows us and our concerns perfectly. That is why for us misionaries, putting more effort to receive revelation through prayer, scripture study and church is so vital to this work. For parents, these three things are so vital to know how to handle kids and to teach them. He loves us, and I feel of his love for others every day. I'm grateful to be his servant.

Sorry for the long email...well, not really lol

Loves,
Elder McLaughlin- envió desde mi iPad

Brayden & Braden


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