My group of missionaries, the group that came here before us, and the group before that together make up a good third of the mission. And one of those groups finished their mission this week. It's just crazy how fast time flies. I had a bunch of friends in that group. We all graduate high school in 2014, came to the mission, started around the same time...and we'll be going back at the same time, too. Nuts. I saw a bunch of these guys when I went to Quito this week (we were there a couple days for visa stuff for my companion), and I can get a sense of what it'll be like to come home. I think it just happens...so fast, more than anything. So darn fast.
Anyhow like I said, we went to Quito, not only for visa stuff, but also for something called "verifications." At the end of a new missionary's first transfer, they bring him and his trainer back to Quito. They just make sure that the trainers are doing a good job teaching the newbies how to plan, use the are book, etc. It was a good experience.
In that meeting, President pulls out two small wood statues that he had made in Ibarra. they're of missionaries - one kind of unfinished, with a lot of rough edges still, and the other nice and shiny and finished. He talks about how we all start out with a few rough edges but eventually become like the well-polished, finished missionary. It's a tough process, and involves a lot of refining from the Lord's part, but it's oh so worth it in the end. Like it says in Malachi, "for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap." It testify of that, but I'm glad to say that I feel like most of my rough edges have been worked out and sanded off. I know that if we put our lives in the Lord's hands he will make something of us far greater than anything we would make of ourselves!
While I was in Quito I also had the opportunity to work with one of the missionaries in my group who's now a zone leader in Quito. It was cool working with him, but what most impacted me was the change that he had had as well in the mission. He'd told me a bit of his story from before the mission, and for me to see the change from what he'd told me before and what I saw was amazing. I testify that Christ can change us and His Atonement allows good men to become better! There's really nothing He can't do.
Learning about impossible things this week, I also liked reading a talk from last conference by Elder Arnold. While in the offices I finally got my hand on the conference Ensign. I like what he says about going to the rescue:
President Thomas S. Monson, who has sounded the clarion call to go to the rescue, noted, “Our members need to be reminded that it is never too late when it comes to our … less-active members … who could have been considered a hopeless cause.”
Like many of you, I have shared the gospel with some who are soon baptized or activated, and others—such as my nonmember friend Tim and his less-active wife, Charlene—take much more time.
For over 25 years I engaged Tim in gospel conversations and took Tim and Charlene to temple open houses. Others joined the rescue; however, Tim declined each invitation made to meet with the missionaries.
One weekend I was assigned to preside at a stake conference. I had asked the stake president to fast and pray about whom we should visit. I was shocked when he handed me the name of my friend Tim. When Tim’s bishop, the stake president, and I knocked on the door, Tim opened it, looked at me, looked at the bishop, and then said, “Bishop, I thought you told me you were going to bring somebody special!”
Then Tim laughed and said, “Come on in, Merv.” A miracle occurred that day. Tim has now been baptized, and he and Charlene have been sealed in the temple. We must never give up.
Never give up! I suppose we had our own little experience with that this week - we'd been teaching a less-active called Andres and his wife for a few weeks, but they'd had minimal progress. Well, none whatsoever, really. Yesterday we'd even planned on how to we would drop them in the next lesson we were going to have with them that night. When we got there, we followed up on their commitments, and weren't surprised to hear that they hadn't done anything. But something stopped me from sharing what we had planned. Instead, we read King Benjamin's speech with them, because they'd talked about how grateful they were for their blessings. I've always loved these scriptures:
20 I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice,and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another—
21 I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.
22 And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land;and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.
Well we felt the spirit in that lesson and decided to keep helping them! I know that this is a labor of love, and we really want the best for these people.
Our other investigators with a baptismal date are doing well, which was a huge blessing, considering the fact that we had lost so much time in Quito. Anyhow, that's that. Hope you're all doing well at home!
|We found a good encebollado place in our sector.|
|Coming back from Quito in the bus.|
|Some scenery in the sector.|