Monday, March 10, 2014

March 10, 2014

Last night, I wrote:
Do you live in an apartment with just your comp, or other elders, too?  Do you get to do any tracting or is it just member referral work?  Do you drive a car, take public transport or ride bikes?    Did you buy bedding?  Please remember to answer my questions!  Love you!

Jantzen replied:
Sorry I haven't answered those questions yet.  Yes, I have bedding.  Up until today, it was just Elder Bringhurst and I, but starting today we'll be living with two Spanish elders.  We do a lot of tracting.  Our members don't give us referrals unless we work with them for a few weeks.  We ride bikes....everywhere.

I responded:
Thanks for letting me know.  I got the impression you only worked with referrals.  I'm actually glad you get to tract; that's how the missionaries found your Dad!  It's great you ride bikes---I can send more treatsEmoji.  Ok, now, write us a letter about your week.  

Then later, we received the letter of the week:
Mom, Dad, and Family,

This week has been SUCH A BLAST.  Things have just gone great.  Don't really know where to start.  It was the last week of transfers, which Elder Bringhurst and I were nervous for because he's never been with a companion for more than a transfer.  We were hoping we'd stay together because things are just picking up in the ward, and the members are starting to trust us and they're doing missionary work better.  We didn't want to have to have one of us or both of us get transferred out and have the ward have to go through that process again.  We stayed.  That, and Bringhurst got made district leader, he hasn't even been out for quite six months yet, either.  So we're pretty excited about that.  We had been living in our apartment by ourselves this last transfer, but this new transfer (due to the influx of missionaries), we're having a Spanish speaking companionship move in with us and the apartment that would be theirs is going to the YSA Branch sisters.  So that will be fun as well.

Elder Eckersley left to go to Upland, he's going to the Upland First Ward (I don't know if that's the Robbins' not).  He and I were pretty tight, so I'll miss him.  He was one of the ward-mates (we have two companionships for our ward).  Needless to say, Elder Bringhurst and I are pretty stoked for this transfer.

We got three new investigators this week!  That's more that we had the entire last transfer!  All of them are solid too.  We worked really hard this week and the Lord blessed us.  I guess He just wanted to see us work hard for an entire transfer first.  We had three potential investigators that were supposed to be at church on Sunday.  Yeah, none were there.  But guess who was?  That's right, Carla.  We had a lesson with her, reset a baptismal date and she's now on track to getting baptized.  God works in funny ways.

One of our investigators accepted everything in the restoration, is excited about the Book of Mormon and modern prophets, and he wants to hear about the Word of Wisdom.  He says that when he was in drugs, his relationships would just go bad.  He's pretty much ready.  He accepted baptism and now we just have to set a date.  He's awesome.

The other investigator we got this week is this really logical guy.  We were going to visit what we call an Eternal-gator (an investigator that doesn't keep commitments but is fine with us teaching him).  Well, our lesson fell through, but his neighbor across the street was working in his yard.  We started talking to him and asked if he had a faith in Jesus Christ.  "I believe in a higher power," He said, "I don't believe we came from any monkey." So we set up a lesson, taught him the Plan of Salvation, and he agreed with everything in it.  We got him to say the closing prayer and set up a return appointment.  Haha, we asked him what his belief was in the creation.  "Well," He said, "God already had his angels.  I guess He just got His creative side on and started making the earth." It was dumbfounded when I told him, "yup, pretty much."  He's super solid.

In 1Nephi 1:20, Nephi tells us about how when Lehi started to do missionary work, the people were "angry with him...and they also sought his life, that they might take it away."  I assume that there are people here that wouldn't mind if we died, but no one here actually seeks to take away our lives.  Rough situation for Lehi to be in.  "But," says Nephi, "I...will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are all over those whom He hath chosen."  My guess is that either Nephi had to be crazy, stupid, or a whole lot better at being positive than me to have the guts to say "tender mercies" right after "take away his life."

Turns out that he really is just better at being positive than me.  It is of my opinion that the Lord's tender mercies are all around us.  We, being mortal, have a limited scope of them.  So sometimes God gives us a trial, so we have to look for tender mercies in a place we haven't been looking.  After we find them, He might put the former mercies back.  He hasn't given us any more tender mercies than before, He has just broadened our scope of which ones and how many we can see.  Sometimes, though, He really does bless us more than before--that is if we "endure [the trial] well," (D&C 121:8) or at least, that's how it was for Joseph Smith.

My last district leader (Elder Patch) told me while I was on exchanges with him, "Circumstances are never the solution to your problem."  By golly is he right.  If they were, one would never have the ability to fix their problems.  The only thing I would add to Elder Patch's proverbial counsel is, although circumstances are never the solution, once the solution is found, your perspective on the circumstances will no longer be a problem, either.

The tender mercies are all around us.  Endure trials well and your scope will be broadened; you will be able to see.  Interestingly, the way to find the tender mercies is to follow Paul's admonishment; believe, hope, and endure. (1Corinthians 13:7)

With God, all things are possible (Luke 1:37), so "press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope," (2Nephi 31:20) and find the tender mercies.

Thanks for all you do back home and for your prayers, they really payed off this week, and I am truly thankful.  Please keep Carla, Arthur, and Jose in your prayers along with the ward.

Elder Russell

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