June 16, 2014
Hope everything’s going well for everyone! I am doing absolutely FANTASTIC! This week was full of fun stuff and craziness. As usual! 😀
First off: Exchanges! Holy crap, exchanges were WONDERFUL! I stayed in Ellsworth and Sister Cowley came down here. Sister Cowley is from Longmont, Colorado and boy oh boy do we have fun together as Colorado sisters! Aw yeah! I learned so much from her and enjoyed every minute of exchanges. Right from the start we were super pumped about the whole thing – we got up at 6:30 and power-walked around Bucksport and along the waterfront. Then our studies were fabulously full of the Spirit and great conversations. Our lesson with Pat and Charlie was the best one I’ve ever had with them in the six months I’ve been here. My goodness, that was a SWEET miracle! Our lessons with them usually consist of us talking at them, uncomfortable and awkward. Charlie can barely hear anything so he just sits and closes his eyes. Pat seems uncomfortable any time we talk about religion – it seems she just likes the company so she lets us keep coming. But this time was COMPLETELY different. We talked about the Sabbath Day and keeping it holy. We used pictures from the pamphlets, which I think, made quite a lot of difference. Pat was super engaged in the whole discussion and was really interested in it all. She said they might come to church sometime (hopefully this coming week because I’ll be playing piano. That is a great way to get people to come!). WOOT WOOT! Both Sister Cowley and I were pleasantly shocked and surprised (she’s met them a few times before on exchanges). It was GREAT!
We also did a lot of street contacting. Previously, I’ve hated it. Like, a LOT. It’s super awkward to randomly stop someone and start talking about the Gospel. My brain just goes completely blank and that makes it about 10,000 times more awkward. Also, it’s difficult to do when you have a super quiet companion who thinks it’s more awkward than you think it is, which means you feel like you’re doing it by yourself (Sister Buxton, I commend you for continuing to do it with me being like that. Sorry!) So once I got over my hatred of it, I then had companions that have been quiet and hate it more than me. So. Being with Sister Cowley was a sweet change and she got me wicked excited to street contact. As we power-walked all over Bucksport for a couple hours, contacting people, we practiced what’s called the SMR. AKA: Seven Minute Restoration. Which means – teaching about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in 7 minutes, using the pictures from the pamphlet. WOWZERS. That is fantastic to do! Have I said how awesome the pamphlets are? Because they are. The reason for the SMR? Teaching as simply as possible, bringing the Spirit as quickly as possible, letting them think and ask the questions so we’re not guessing what they want to know. When we visited James, a recent convert, we did the SMR with him, and then had him practice with one or two pictures. Now THAT was cool. He was really uncomfortable at first, but as we coached him through it, he got more confident and excited to try it out on other people.
That night, we went to teach Valerie, another recent convert, about the Priesthood. Her husband received the Priesthood yesterday, so we thought we’d go over it to help her understand it better and know what she can do to support him in his priesthood responsibilities. We taught using pictures from the pamphlets. Again. Have I said how WONDERFUL the pamphlets are? Yeah. They are. While we were talking with Valerie (this was before the lesson), her friend Scott tromped in. I’ve met him a couple times before and he’s obnoxious, crazy, gluttonous, etc…. Quite like Gaston from Beauty and the Beast. It’s interesting. But he’s also got the most hilarious voice ANYONE has ever heard. It’s pretty funny. After he went back outside to get something from Valerie’s barn, Valerie got really excited and said: “We should give him a Book of Mormon. Do you have a Book of Mormon?” I didn’t because I’d accidentally left it on the table at the apartment since I’d been carrying it around before we went in to eat dinner. So I suggested a Family Proclamation. She said that would work. Then brilliantly, Sister Cowley reminded me that we have a box in the trunk of our car that has some copies of the Book of Mormon in it! HOORAH! So. Before leaving that night, we gave Scott and Book of Mormon and a Family Proclamation. Which he gladly accepted and said he would read. Later, Valerie told us he was pretty excited about it. He also stopped us on the street a few days later to tell us he hasn’t started reading yet, but that he would – he sounded excited! Now, the best part of this miracle? My goal for exchanges was to give one person a Book of Mormon. All day, through all the street contacting we did, I hadn’t given one out yet. I’m not even kidding: 9:00PM, I gave one out. Last minute of the day, before we go home, and Heavenly Father provided a way for me to accomplish that goal. Whoo buddy! He is amazing, isn’t He? 🙂
Another fun story for you all!
Wednesday was district meeting, and the Sister Training Leaders and Zone Leaders came (Elder Crockett, Elder Jessee, Sister Cowley and Sister Houston). That’s always fun to have them there. The meeting went well – I did a doctrinal study with Elder Jessee about the Atonement, using the picture in the Plan of Salvation pamphlet (fabulous things, the pamphlets are). Wow. One of the best doctrinal studies I’ve had in a while! After the meeting, we were waiting for those four elders and sisters because they’d gone somewhere for a minute. Now for a bit of background: Elder Hansen, our district leader, went down to Manchester for a leadership training meeting with the Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders. While on the way down or back, somehow, it comes up that he is TERRIFIED of clowns. And Somehow, it turned into a challenge for them to scare him sometime – he basically told them they would never do something that mean when one of them joked about it. So they took it as a challenge. Alright. So. After district meeting. Elder Hansen is facing away from the doors (half of us know what’s going on and have our cameras out). Then, the elders and sisters come in the door with clown noses on. That’s it. Just the big red noses. Elder Crockett goes up behind Elder Hansen, puts his arm around him and says “Hey Elder. How’s it going?” After a second, Elder Hansen looks at Elder Crockett, screams and almost falls over. They wouldn’t take the noses off for a few minutes, but told him they did so he would look. The video that Elder Jessee’s camera got is great. Such a funny story. Thankfully, Elder Hansen, was forgiving and doesn’t hate them for it.
On Friday, we were walking around Bucksport, hanging flyers and street contacting (or trying since it was rainy and nobody is out in that weather… even though it was barely even raining). We went to McDonald’s to hang a flyer and walk out and get stopped by this older couple who say: “Hey sisters! We’re up from Virginia, visiting Bar Harbor!” Well that was cool! We chatted for a minute, they asked if we needed anything and the guy pulls out his wallet and hands us 20 bucks. Oh man… I love members. They are so sweet, and they don’t even know us. Blessings from the Lord. 🙂
So this week, we taught Relief Society, which was about the Priesthood, taking from what President Joseph Fielding Smith taught during his time as the prophet. I started studying at the beginning of the week, because I knew it was going to take more than just one reading for me to grasp. I don’t understand the Priesthood as well as I’d like, but I do have a testimony of it. So, I dedicated my studies to it in order to better understand it so that I could better teach it. Boy, was that rewarding! 🙂 I learned a lot and really enjoyed teaching the Relief Society.
There are more adventures throughout the week, but I’m running low on time.
Throughout the week, I also had a few awesome studies that really strengthened my testimony of why we need the Book of Mormon, even though we have the Bible. The Bible is fantastic, and is totally the word of God. I love the Bible and I love studying from it. It truly is wonderful. However, how many times has it been translated? A lot. How many different translations of it do we have today? A LOT. How many different meanings do we have because of those translations that contradict each other? A LOT. Throughout the years, things have been lost through translation, or they’ve been lost because people translating it couldn’t read the writing, or didn’t understand what it meant or said, so they translate as best they can, or they’ve been lost because people take things out or change them because they simply don’t like what was being taught. So, if those things have happened to the Bible, how are we to find the whole truth? How do we know what exactly Christ taught, what God said or what we need to do when things have been changed? How do we know what was in the original writings?
As I read from 1 Nephi 20 in the Book of Mormon, I realized how, even though the differences are subtle and seemingly unimportant, they can make all the difference in the meaning of the message. 1 Nephi 20 is Nephi quoting the prophet Isaiah (Old Testament prophet) because he wants to “more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their Redeemer…liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning.” (1 Nephi 19:23). While I read it, I had Isaiah 48 open and was comparing them, word for word, and thinking about the tiny differences. Like I said, though they’re small and subtle, they make ALL the difference in what the meaning is. It was really amazing to see.
The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ that goes right along with the Bible. It doesn’t replace it or change it. The Book of Mormon supports and clarifies the Bible. It was written between 600 BC and 421 AD – same time as the Bible was being written. The Book of Mormon, as the Bible, was written by prophets – men called of God to guide and direct the people on the earth. Because of difficulty in communicating across oceans during that time period, Heavenly Father gave the people of the Americas prophets, just as He gave the people of Jerusalem prophets. If God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34), then doesn’t it make sense that He would give ALL of His children guidance and direction, if they are righteous and willing to listen? I think so.
The more I read from the Book of Mormon and the Bible together, the more I come to know how true both books are. I know they are BOTH the word of God and that they BOTH testify of Christ. They BOTH teach the things we need to know in order to return to Heavenly Father. I know it because I’ve read them both, and I’ve prayed to know about them both being the true word of God. I know that if you take the time to read and pray for yourselves, you can know the truth, too. And I know that that knowledge will greatly bless your lives in ways you would never think you could be blessed simply by reading a book or two.
I love you all and thank you for your wonderful love and support! Have a fabulous week!