So this week was pretty great. Lots of people were willing to talk to us (hooray!) and we had delicious food. I think that any time we get to go around talking about what we are thankful for it's a good week, and luckily that can be every week if we are in the right frame of mind! One of my favorite scriptures I read this week was Doctrine and Covenants 59: 7-8. It says "Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things. Thou shalt offer a sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in righteousness, even that of a broken heart and a contrite spirit." I love it because of how it teaches us a way we can give our thanks to God by offering our broken hearts and contrite spirits to him. Sister Alexander is super big on studying scriptures about hearts, and it has been eye opening to me to read about all the different types of hearts. Hard hearts, soft hearts, open hearts, etc. It sufficeth me to say that Thanksgiving was great, and now we get to look forward to CHRISTmas. Oh boy!
So as far as specifics about this week, R___ is doing super great! We watched the Restoration movie, and she really liked that. We got to teach her twice this week, and the second visit we wrote out a baptismal calendar with her of everything we need to do before the 19th! How exciting! :D We are seeing her twice this week, and she is coming to the Christmas devotional on Sunday night. So keep praying for her!!
We totally found a dude who was writing a "hip hop" bible this week! "Now let me tell you some words o' wuzzum bout my main-man Solomon..." It was pretty legit! I'd read it. Haha, just thought you would think that was funny.
Not much of an update on the C___'s or anyone else, so I think I will take the time to tell you about our preachers here in Catawba. First off, M___. He is an 80ish year-old man. He used to be a Non-Denominational Preacher for quite a while. The reason he was Non-Denominational was because he never agreed with one religions view of the Bible, he felt that all of them pick and chose their favorite parts. So he just decided to read and teach all of it, especially the part in Ephesians where it talks about "winds of doctrine." So anyways, we have been teaching him for a while and he likes the visits. He is a little confused on some of the stuff we teach (he thinks there are lots of prophets still around, and that anything can be the word of God as long as it backs up the Bible) but he wants to read the Book of Mormon, and said if he finds out God is leading him this way, he will follow. So that is a plus.
The other preacher is actually a pretty great story! So on Saturday this week, Elder B___ and I were super pumped to go out and just find like 60 billion people to teach. Unfortunately fate had other things in store, and we just had loads and loads of 'faith testers' (like doors slammers, drunk people kicking cars, and the Clemson-Gamecock college football game). At about 5:00 with our faith a little worn out, our daylight fading (yes, at 5:00! Crazy, right! Who wants to tract in the dark!?), and our tummy's rumbling, we decided to give one more try. We had met this man in a pretty nice neighborhood. He had been pulling out in his car, and as we were riding our bikes by we waved and he stopped and asked us if we were handing out pamphlets. We had given one to him, and then he drove away, so we just named him "Pamphlet Lover" in our notes/areabook. So anyways, we stopped by his house and knocked on the door. He opened it up and invited us right inside to a little office in his front room. I saw a book about the Bible on the ground, but didn't think too much of it. Anyways, he was quite a young man, and very animated and happy. He told us his name was R___ C___. He started asking us about our missions, how long we do it, and what we do afterwards. Then he asked what we talk to people about and we were able to start teaching him a bit. He asked what the main difference was between Mormons and Christians, and we told him that we do believe in Christ and the Bible, but we have more knowledge about them because of a living prophet and priesthood authority. We then explained the Book of Mormon, and as we told him about that he stopped us and said "So I have been a little depressed lately. I am 29 and want to get married, but just haven't found someone yet. Is there anything that could help me with that in the Book of Mormon? Elder B___ shared Ether 12:27,(" And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.") and we discussed that for a bit. Then I brought up a 2009 CES devotional by President Uchtdorf I absolutely love where he talks about the ugly duckling and how his true potential is much more than he believes. R___ pulled it up on lds.org and started listening to the middle section. Essentially President Uchtdorf is addressing major questions young adults ask, and the second question he addresses is "I am so lonely. Will I ever find my soul mate?" It is a super good part of the talk, one I will definitely be studying closely after the mission! ;) So anyways, we listened to a good 10 minutes of that with him, and he totally loved it! He tagged it, and wanted to look up more General Conference and CES Devotionals.
He thanked us a whole bunch, and got all excited about keeping in contact. We told him we had facebook, and as he was logging on he said "So I have something to tell you, I am actually a pastor." (Wildcard!! Suddenly I understood why he had those books about the Bible). He pulled up our facebooks and added us, and when he added me he commented how beautiful my cover photo was. The picture was of Lehi's dream, so I asked "Do you want to know where to read about it?" He got super excited (he does that a lot), and we showed him 1 Nephi 8. He started reading, and then paused and was like "Wow, these words are beautiful! Listen to this.." and then started reading us parts of the chapter he liked. So yeah, after that we shared Moroni 10: 3-5 " (Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts. And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.") and he was super pumped to read and keep in contact. We messaged him the new "A Savior is Born" video yesterday, and this was the response he sent back to me:
Pastor C___ PC: Elder Branch thank you so much so much so much for stopping by on the other day! You don't know how much your visit has impacted my life. You are such a blessing I felt such an instant connection with you the minute you begin to speak about the Mormon message. What a powerful powerful book my brother. I cannot wait to see what lies beyond. I pray that the lord continues to use you and continues to put light on the path that he has for me. And I thank you so much for sharing your video and also for him bringing you into my life. I just feel like we're going to be lifelong friends in Jesus Christ. Thank you so much for sharing your video and I will be in touch with you soon. Let's certainly make the best of the remaining months that you have on your mission!!!! #cantwait
Haha, so yeah, that was our super great talk-with-everyone-miracle-moment-Saturday! We haven't set up a solid return appointment yet, but it was a great experience, and a huge tender mercy :)
So one other story. Elder B___ typed this one out already, so I will send you that account. So our area is cut in half by a river, and the bridge is at the bottom so it takes a ridiculous amount of miles to get to the other side of our area, so we only go over there when we're driving through for like a meeting, or we get to the end of the month and somehow have excess miles. Well on the other side of our area is a little town call Van Wyck (Pronounced Wike like a bike). It's comprised of a gun shop, a post office and about 3 different churches from the early 1900s. Well we decided it would be a lovely place to tract, and we met a lady named C___and we ended up talking to her for close to 3 hours.
A couple of weeks later we were back in the area and thought "hey... That one lady was super nice and liked talking to us, maybe we could talk to her about religion?" So we went back, talked to her for a couple hours again, and happened to still be talking to her when her daughters got home from school. They invited us over for Thanksgiving dinner. We didn't know how serious they were about it, we showed them a quick Mormon message and left.
For our Thanksgiving dinner we were eating with one of 3 families who live on the other side of the river, so we were out there again. We decided that after dinner we would drop off a thanksgiving card for them and go home and hand out a bunch more thanksgiving cards. Well, lucky us, right as we were pulling into their driveway, C___ was walking out the door. She was super excited to see us and invited us in to have pie with them. We shared a thanksgiving Mormon Message, and we were getting ready to go, when we mentioned that transfers were the next week. One of the daughters was super sad and told us to hang on real quick and she ran into another room. She came back with two pieces of pottery she'd made in art class and told us she wanted us to have them in case she'd never see us again. The nicest people.
Other plus sides: 4 friends came to church, we taught 18 people (on a holiday week too! Yay!) We had like 5 new investigators, and we have 2 new people to teach with who are already in the process of coming back to church :) So yeah, life is grand and God is Good! (Now we just pray really hard that He will keep helping us, cause we are gonna need it!)
So anyways, I will probably wrap up this epistle of a letter to y'all now, but once again thanks for the stories! I love hearing about everything! Sure love ya!
Happy P-daay! From Elder Branch
PS: Cook Out makes pumpkin pie milkshakes with real chunks of pie in them and they are to die for! Random, but I had one today and thought you should know. :)
I Love the Book of Mormon!