|Elder Schaff, Matilde, and Elder Mendez|
|Preparing to enter the waters of baptism|
Alright, so this week we've been surviving some controlled chaos. Three of our investigators were unable to meet with us this week, which was really too bad, as these three have all been doing really good. One, "L", is ready and wanting to be baptized. The others are still hearing lessons, but learning and hearing intently.
We found a new investigator this week, "Antonio," whom Elder Matienzo and I found on an apartment stairwell that last week doing splits. "A" is trying to stop drinking alcohol, but has become reliant on it to the point that if he gives it up he gets the shakes and "me temblo" as he told us. We promised him the gospel will help him stop drinking, and he believes it will. We taught him to pray and he was on the verge of tears after that. The peace of the Holy Ghost was super strong during that whole lesson graced by Antonio's prayer as we taught him the restoration of Christ's gospel through a prophet Joseph Smith. "A" needs to buy some glasses to see, and until then he can't read anything we'd like him to, so he can only pray. He is going to pray to know if Joseph Smith was a prophet, but he said he feels he already knows. So teaching him has been exciting.
For the most part of this week though, we were teaching Matilde, "G", or less-active members. "G" has now been taught all of the parts of a required lesson for us to teach: The commandments. She has really liked learning about the gospel, and how it can bless our lives if we are obedient. She had been trodding along through the Book of Mormon, and is currently on 1 Nephi Chapter 8. She understands things really clearly, but because she has to watch over all of her grandchildren, she can't ever come to church. We're not exactly sure what to do about that. We can at least continue teaching all the required lessons and reading the Book of Mormon with her, but the day may come when we need to put that time elsewhere, if she can't come to church. (Worst case scenario, missionaries in the future teach her when those kids are grown up, right?)
We've been inviting all members, less-active, or active, to share family history cards with their friends and others in an effort to invite more of the people here in Fresno to connect with their families and hear some of the blessings of the gospel such as eternal families in a non-threatening "come join our church!!!" sort of way. Because that's not what it's about. The church is here to help each individual receive support in their personal path to returning to God. There's a lot of structure to it, but that's the essential goal. And that's why I'm out here and so are 70,000 other young adults about my age, teaching the gospel and inviting others back to their God.
With all of our teaching, Matilde was scheduled for baptism yesterday, and was baptized! The Spirit was felt so strongly at that baptism, confirming that these things are true paths to happiness. It was a good inspiration for all, and a personal reminder for me that I'm not wasting my time out here, but changing lives for the better. Next week Matilde will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and be confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
This week I've been studying the Book of Mark in the New Testment, and various passages from all over the Book of Mormon searching for the Character of Christ, and why the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion. I learned, in a summary of about 20 pages of notes from Mark, that Christ-like character was most apparent in Christ's offering of forgiveness to all, despite constantly being accused of things He did not do, in the which had He been taken, He would have been given no forgiveness from the lawgivers of the time. Christ came that all might be entitled to "celestial justice," essentially, mercy before the laws of God if we sought to use Christ's Atoning sacrifice to receive such mercy. I know that's pretty complex, but I'm summarizing the best lesson of an entire book of the New Testament, so try your best to take something from that!
I've discovered that the Book of Mormon brings immediate peace into people's lives. Investigators who have read the Book of Mormon since we last saw them always seem to have a brighter disposition and are more excited about life; they are finding more joy in living every day. So that's the invitation to everyone reading: If you read the Book of Mormon you can find peace and joy. It might sound a bit crazy, that a book can make such a change in someone's life, but if you give it a try you'll see for yourself. The talks "Look to the Book, Look to the Lord," and "There is Power in the Book" from this recent general conference session should shed some light on the topic for those that are interested in learning more.
The miracles I've been seeing everyday have been those of having great hope for what I might accomplish for others, even amidst difficult and trying conditions for myself. The gospel can change our perspectives into a brighter, happier view of life!
|Missionaries serving at the Red Cross, Elder Schaff is in a blue shirt, 6th from right|
|Eating with the Sister missionaries at In n Out Burger|
|I think a member helped these two purchase complementary sweaters|