So I learned a ton this week! There was a lot of good that happened! It was a tough week. None of our investigators will set a return appointment, our baptism dates dropped and they aren't sure anymore, and yeah. It's a busy time of year though with school starting up so we'll keep working!
One quick thing that they do out here that Utah needs to adopt. They do "Tax Free weekend" where all clothes and shoes are tax free for back to school shopping! That would be nice!
So one more thing before I get into what I learned I'll share some quick experiences. We had one great teaching experience out in Washington. I was on an exchange with Elder Garner from South Jordan and we felt like we needed to get out there and see him. We drove out there and he was standing outside his house. We talked to him and we just began teaching. Preach my Gospel says, "Instead of asking if they have a minute so you can share a message, immediately start teaching," so that's what we did! We taught him the restoration. He said he likes learning about different religions, and was telling us about what he knows. Anyways he said, "I just hope the spirit was with those who were on the council compiling the Bible. Who's to say they didn't leave something out that they should have kept in?" We got so excited when we heard that! We gave him a Book of Mormon and explained how we got it and why it's important! He said he'll read it and pray about it. His name is Tracy. He's the husband of Janette, the lady that we talked to last week. He let us pray with him a while ago and he said something along the lines of "I already go to a church but I guess you can come back." We get that a ton. "If you guys can catch me then you can come back I guess." Then we'll go back like 5 times and they'll finally tell us they aren't interested. That darn Okie Hospitality!
The other cool experience was this morning we had the opportunity to do some service. The Spanish family that I think I've written about, well, we finally got contact with them. Turns out their house is basically empty and they have almost nothing, so we had a member in our ward who had a bunch of stuff from a garage sale that he didn't sell (things like pillows, blankets, plates, cups, knives, etc...) that we went and gave them! It was really cool and so much fun to see how thankful they were for it! They're such a nice family!
Ok last one which is more funny. So remember that lady who stood up for us to her husband? Well we went and knocked on their door and her husband was sitting there and we could see him and he's like shewing us away. Well Elder Owen and I both just started looking around. Like anywhere but at him so he finally came to the door and started cursing us out and we just stood there, wait for him to finish then said, "Is Carolyn here?" He wasn't too happy. Well anyways we tried back a couple days later and he has some bounce in his step! He hopped right out of his chair to come curse us out! So we just waited, asked if Carolyn was there, then left. It was pretty funny how fired up he is about us not teaching Carolyn! We might just send him a letter asking for his permission to teach Carolyn. I dunno just to show respect toward him. We'll see how that goes I guess.
So this week was temple conference! The temple here is really really small. But it was so sweet! President Walkenhorst and I talked a ton. We talked a ton about basketball, all the experiences and places he got to go and fun things he got to do then all the things I got to do. He really wants to come back and watch me play I guess! That will be really fun! He's such a cool guy though! I learned something amazing from him. He read 2 Nephi 2:4 to us and told us what he thought Lehi was telling Jacob. His interpretation was, "Jacob, I know you didn't see all those miracles we had. And you won't see Jesus either. But the spirit is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The spirit will testify of these truths, and you will feel the same feelings as the people who will walk beside Jesus, touch him, and witness the miracles he performs. That same spirit will testify to you. So you don't need to see Christ. You don't need to see Joseph Smith or the Gold Plates. The spirit you feel testifying of it's truth will feel the same as if you are seeing it." I thought that was really cool!
The next thing I learned was that people really don't know our purpose here. In Ecclesiastes there's a verse that says, "Our spirits will return to God." That's not exactly the wording, but it says return. Question. How can we return somewhere we've never been? Boom. Pre-earth life! Ok but hold up. What's our purpose here? Well let's see. If it's just to be with God and Christ, then why did we come here in the first place? Analogy time!
You have $100. You worked hard for this money, and you love this money. Would you give it to me hoping that you'd get the same $100 back, but knowing that most likely you're going to get maybe $70 back if you're lucky? That doesn't sound like a smart business deal... Isn't God supposed to be smart?
Now would you give me that same $100 knowing that you were going to get some jewels, and some diamonds, and some gold out of it? That seems smarter to me.
Ok so why would we have come here if our goal is to confess Christ and be satisfied with life? Don't get me wrong, that's part of our purpose, but why would we want to go back to live with our Heavenly Father the same way we came? Shouldn't we want to go back with a body, having done everything that we can to improve, gaining as much knowledge as we can, becoming LIKE Him? Why would he send the children He loves so much down here, knowing that some wouldn't make it back. I think that there's a really really good reason for it.... The only reason I can think of that would be good enough is if we came back able to have all He has. That's the only thing worth the risk!
Next thing is I've been wondering a ton about what it means to be saved. Everyone here "got saved when I was 13" or "I was saved when I was 25". Saved from what? Well thanks to True to the Faith I know! So confessing Christ does mean we're saved. But we are saved from 6 things and not all of them can be done just by confessing Christ.
1) We are saved from sin. Not saved IN sin, but FROM sin. That means that we can't just keep sinning. The girls we were teaching know repentance to be ABC. Admit, Believe, Confess. Well when I heard that I was like, "Ok can we put a D in there?" They were confused, not knowing what the D could stand for. I said "Don't do it again!" Haha but yes confessing Christ does save us from sin. However we are never fully done with being saved from sin until we become perfect or die. Most of us will die first.
2) We are saved from death. This means that because of Christ's atonement, and because of the resurrection we will be reunited with our bodies. Everyone on earth gets that gift.
3) We are saved from a second death. This means that if we confess Christ we won't experience a spiritual death after the resurrection. Almost everyone will be saved from this.
4) We are born again. I didn't really understand this prior to this morning. We are, as Jesus and the Book of Mormon teach, born again when we are baptized BY THE PRIESTHOOD AUTHORITY OF GOD. That part gets overlooked out here. Everyone must do this, or else you cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. (It's like being pulled over by an ice cream truck vs being pulled over by a policeman. One you won't pay the ticket because he doesn't have the authority to give you a ticket. The other is one you are going to pay because they had that authority given to them. Same thing with the priesthood. We believe that authority has been physically given to us through Joseph Smith by Peter, James, and John, who received it from Christ himself.)
5) We are saved from ignorance. We are saved from not knowing the truth because we know, and accept the full restored gospel. Because of all this knowledge we are saved from ignorance.
6) We can inherit the kingdom of God (aka the Celestial Kingdom or Heaven). We cannot obtain this until the judgement day. No mortal can obtain this. So yeah, no one on this planet is saved like this.
So these are the 6 ways we are "saved" (see Salvation in True to the Faith). So yes a lot of people out here are partially right. Most everyone has already been saved in at least 2 ways, and 3 ways if they're Christian. But the blessing the Church gives to us is the opportunity to be saved the other 3 ways. THAT'S WHY PEOPLE SHOULD LISTEN TO US!!!!! Hahaha but oh well.
Well I hope that you guys learned something from all this. A lot of this is just thoughts and I guess personal revelation I received this week. And I wrote it down so I wouldn't forget it!
Well the work that we've been doing has been great- it truly has! But we in the Oklahoma City mission believe the Lord has a greater work for us to do! (D&C 35:3) Sorry I wish I had my scriptures with me so I could give you guys more references so you didn't think I was making all this up. But I pulled them out and replaced them with shorts, a shirt, and my shoes! We about to go hoop! Haha but I love you all! I get so fired up about this stuff because I want everyone to have these blessings, and I don't see why people turn them down. It's not that I want everyone to be a Mormon. I want everyone to be baptized into our church so they can truly be saved! And all the blessings of family and love and all that other stuff that I didn't even begin to touch on in this email. I'm sure you all have heard Dad's thoughts on love! If not ask him about it because it will give you quite the perspective on life! Haha
Well we gotta get going. Just know I'm being taken care of very well out here! The people here are amazing! I love being here and I'm excited to see what this week brings! Like one of the apostles once said, "Come what may, and LOVE IT!" 2 Nephi 2:27 "Adam fell that man might be, and men are that they might have joy." Everything in this life is for our joy! Things that are hard and sorrowful only teach us how to be more happy. So be happy! That's why everything happens to us!
Love you guys!