It was hard to celebrate the 4th of July without Hayden here. He always loved this holiday and would take photo after photo and even made videos of the fireworks shooting off in town. I, on the other hand, don't appreciate the noise and the crowds, but I made myself take some firework photos and emailed them to him, because I know that he loves it so much. There are just certain things that you can't take part of during a mission, but that's okay, he is very willing to be obedient and returned to his apartment early that evening, as counseled to do.
As far as the weekly email goes...all seems well. Enjoy!
"First off for this week, "L"s baptism was postponed to this upcoming weekend because he encountered a minor set back during the baptism interview. All is well though, he just needs to make a minor change and wants to make the change!
"L" is awesome. He's a funny fella! He is still trying to recover from the accident 16 months ago, so he goes out to walk and strengthen his weak leg. He started walking toward the corner store to preach to his old friends and convince them to stop drinking. The first day he did this he had them sit down on boxes and he read the Book of Mormon to them. The next day one named "M", asked for a Book of Mormon and read it to the group as well. By the fourth day, "L" had convinced these old friends to stop buying alcohol and to buy a pizza and 2 Liter soda together while they read the Book of Mormon.
We have not yet seen this group, but if all of that is true, that's a testament to the power of the Book of Mormon. If it can get people begging for money in front of a corner store to stop buying alcohol and buy a pizza instead, it can certainly improve the quality of your life too!
"M" who was baptized, is doing awesome. He's still reading the Book of Mormon and preparing to receive the Aaronic Priesthood. The Spanish Branch was assigned to clean the church building this week; he went and cleaned with them! Now everybody knows him. Wonderful. Things are looking good for him!
On the 4th of July we had to be inside the apartment at 6:00 pm. We caught up on journal writing, updated the area book as much as we possibly could, and read a lot of the Book of Mormon and talked together. Quietest 4th of July of my life. Only missionaries!!!!
We met President Mackay July 5th. It was an inspiring meeting. After some introductions, he trained us a bit on using the Book of Mormon and remembering the "Pearl" of it all---Jesus Christ. I'll expound on that.
I knew during those interviews (we called the meeting interviews, because we did interview very briefly 1-on-1, but most of this was with the Hanford Zone as a group, that President and Sister Mackay had been called of God to be here in the great California Fresno Mission. Before President Clark left, in that final Zone conference, one of his two addresses was about Temples and Family History. He said we should prepare to start using it more; he felt inspired that the Mackays would be using it as an effective auxiliary tool. And sure enough, Sister Mackay declared she was a family history buff and hopes to help people and missionaries use family history effectively to receive the blessings of the Temple. Prophecy fulfilled.
Concerning the Pearl, President Mackay recounted a parable:
A man has a precious pearl of great price.
This pearl is so beautiful that he wants to share it with everyone so they can receive joy from it's splendor as well.
The man decides he cannot simply have a pearl on display.
He seeks out a craftsman, and requests that he make a beautiful box for this beautiful pearl.
As a result, the craftsman makes a box greater than any he has ever made in a long time.
The man smiles and takes the box, excited to display this pearl.
And he puts the pearl on display.
The first few moments, he watches everyone's reactions with anticipation,
but much to his surprise everyone is commenting on the box!
"Oh what a beautiful box!" "Did you make this fine box?" "It must have taken a skilled artisan to craft such a work!"
Almost everybody forgot about the pearl. A few people saw it and rejoiced in its beauty.
But the remainder ended up focusing on the box.
And the man was disappointed that not everybody saw the pearl.
What does this mean? President then told of the follow-up activity. Looking at pictures of things and defining them as "the box" or "the pearl." This was done in a training of many church leaders.
The first picture was of one of our church buildings. The question was asked: "box or pearl?" some leaders felt that it was a box as a church houses people. Others said it was a pearl because it brings the blessings of honoring the Sabbath Day. The leader declared it a box.
Next were the scriptures. Bible and Book of Mormon. Same question. Varying answers. They are declared a box.
Next was a picture of President Mackay apparently. Everyone knew this was a box. (XD)
Then a picture of Thomas S. Monson and the First Presidency. Also a box.
Finally, the Temple. Also a box.
And last, a picture of Jesus Christ. The Pearl. The only pearl.
Jesus Christ is the center of everything we do. Whether we're in our families or at church, reading the Book of Mormon or attending the Temple, studying on our own or discussing with friends. The means all lead to the end--Jesus Christ. All the boxes profit us nothing if we don't let them strengthen our testimony of Jesus Christ in our lives!!!
President Mackay then shared a video of a training/talk that Elder D. Todd Christofferson gave to this generation of new mission Presidents. (President Mackay was there.) The talk was about focusing our missionary efforts on the Book of Mormon. In the end, an individual cannot come to an accurate conclusion that we have the truth and the Restored Gospel or not unless they come to know that the Book of Mormon is true. (Or if they feel, a fraud.) Either way, the answer must come from the Holy Ghost, most likely as an honest prayer to be sure.
He said we would start strong by making the Book of Mormon a bigger focus of our proselyting and teaching, and the Spirit was very strong in that comment. The Spirit confirmed in my mind and my heart that that is what people need. They need the Book of Mormon! It has the answers!
So whoever you are, member or non-member, religious or not, the Book of Mormon can help you! Will you try it?
That was quite the start for a new Mission president. God magnifies whom he calls.
We had an exchange. I was with Elder Lopez (Hernandez) again. He is just a ball of energy. We did a lot of hard work and talked with a lot of people. His bike was flat when we left, and so all of our street contacts began with: "Hey I know this is random, but do you have a bike pump by chance?" I guess it's an icebreaker! He helped me improve my street contacting. Critical skill to have. This weekend Elder D and I were talking with everyone and it felt great. It's the only way to meet prepared people!
That's the low-down here in Selma and the California Fresno Mission! Until next week! Read the Book of Mormon! It will bless your life!