From: Joseph Weiss <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: August 31, 2014 at 10:20:16 PM MDT
Boy oh boy. Too many numbers! I am tired of collecting numbers!! There is never any time at night to write in my journal. I've missed over three weeks!! So this will be a very good letter.
Last P-day was on a Tuesday. Because we forgot it would be on Tuesday due to a mtg, we had already set a two appointments and we didn't want to cancel them. Then during our studies we got a call from a member of the bishopric to go give a member a blessing because he couldn't make it. The hospital was in the middle of Liverpool: "The place of no parking spots". We drove around for ages before deciding to go park at this mall and walk to the library. We felt guilty not opening our mouths so we spoke to everybody and planted heaps of great seeds. Finally we arrived and began the search.
This hospital was massive. We walked for like 10 min. We gave the guy a blessing and he was already pretty right but he still accepted the blessing. We walked back to the car drove to email and shop after that we went home and played chess for an hour because it was raining outside and all the other missionaries took their p-day on Monday. I won and then we went to our appointment. No rest for the weary. My companion said he always wanted to work on P-day but at the end of this week we were so dang tired we realized P-day is a good thing.
While we were emailing I saw these two Maori ladies. Libraries and Maori people seem to be my secret finding technique. I invited them to let us come visit them and they said no. Two days later we are contacting at the bus station and guess who works there? The two Maori ladies! We talked to them again and found out one of them almost got baptized years ago, but she was living with a partner and so she let the flame die. We told her that her time is now to meet with missionaries again. She said," Maybe if we're lucky you'll just knock on my door" I said "You know what would make us really lucky is if you gave us your address!" So we got it but we have to pass it on because it's not in our area.
During that same time at the bus station another lady sat down next to us and said this is going to sound crazy but I want to talk to you guys because I've been to heaven. She explained how she did hard drugs and for one reason or another was comatose for a time. While she was out she said she went up to heaven and "saw the pearly gates" I felt like she was telling the truth. As we were talking her unbearable boyfriend came up and said "C'mon lets go" and lots of other choice language. So she walked away but we chased her down and got her details.
Later while we were talking to the Maori lady she came back so my companion kept talking to her while I talked to the coma lady. She started asking questions about missionaries and telling me more about her experience. This lady was not the most stable but I felt she was sincere. As we were talk the fifth bullet point from "How to Begin Teaching" came to my mind and I told her, "We all make mistakes in life. These mistakes create feelings of guilt and shame. These feelings cannot be relieved without repentance and forgiveness. Through the atonement of Jesus Christ you can be fully healed.”
As I spoke each word the spirit began to touch her heart and tears came to her eyes. I began to say the word "when" and the spirit changed what I was about to say and I said, "When you come to know that the things I'm telling you are true, will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone holding the priesthood authority of God?" She shook her head back and forth and said "yes" with tears streaming from her eyes. Her bus pulled up and she said, "You've gotta love you guys. This is my bus I've got to go." And she was gone. We'll pass her details as well.
Thursday night our Stake President called and told us that he and his wife would have an investigator over for our visit. HUZZAH!! Our Stake President is 34 years old and has two kids. He's been in his call for just over a year and he and his wife are making it happen. We taught this 19 year old Samoan girl. It was a hard lesson because the spirit was up and down and in and out. It was a strange experience. But she accepted the invitation to be baptized on Oct 4 but her Mum is pretty strong in her own church and they go to church every Sunday at 8am. Her dad is a less active member who is more or less keeping the peace by not attending his own church from what we can tell. President Shum (our stake president) will take the Samoan ward bishop to visit him tomorrow night to see what the situation is like. PRESIDENT SHUM!!! He DOES WORK!!
Saturday we received a training from Elder O’Rirden of the Seventy. He taught us exactly what was missing in that lesson. He said, "When you feel the spirit, INVITE!". We felt the spirit but kept teaching and talking and saved the invitation for the end. The first time the spirit filled the room we should have invited her to do something. But now we know.
Last Month the Brisbane mission baptized 107 and we did 16. Together we made plans to reach the goal of each companionship baptizing every month. I've tried extremely hard on my mission but it just wasn't happening. Elder O'Rirden said that if we expect each companionship to baptize, we as Zone and Sister Training Leaders must be setting that example by one baptism each month. As soon as he said it I got excited and thought to myself, "Either we can do it, or he is a liar. And I know he isn't a liar! LET’S GO!"
Earlier that same day (Saturday) we went to teach a Catholic man whom we met a week or so ago. We felt like we should knock some doors on the way back to the car and his was one of them. He said we could come back and that he would convert us. A bold statement I'd never heard from a Catholic person before. We said alright we'll come back.
We rocked up and he invited us inside and sat us down. I asked if we could start with a prayer. I prayed humbly that the spirit would be there as we spoke. We began talking and he stopped us and said, "Why don't you allow others inside your temples?" Like I've done a hundred times over on my mission, I thought of a scripture that my mother taught me. I resolved his concern using Psalms 24:3-4. He was satisfied and back off a little bit.
We began to teach the restoration and when we got to Joseph Smith he said, "No because Jesus Christ was the last and he left us the Holy Spirit." I recalled a scripture from my bible bashing days in the book of Acts. My fingers shaking I flipped to it and asked him to read it. "And in those days there came up prophets to Jerusalem from Antioch." The scriptures goes on the show that Saul and Barnabas listened to these prophets and did what they said. He said, "But prophet could mean something like teacher or disciple." I said, "But..." as put the scripture in front of him. He read it again and said, "That's probably and Greek translation of something else. Give me a minute." He got up to grab his massive old Bible off the shelf. This guy is a really well to do, highly intelligent man from Pakistan. I whispered to my companion, "I hope the translation is correct…"
I started praying with all my heart "Heavenly Father please let it be correct." He grabbed his Bible and we looked it up. His Bible had small historical explanations for each verse. He said, "Here, look!" I found the verse and the explanation and carefully began to read. The title read "Prophets visit Saul and Barnabas". I began to read out loud so he could hear. The translation WAS correct and then he really was puzzled. From that point forward he was all ears with what we had to say.
The spirit began to testify powerfully of the first vision. He said he believed that it could have occurred and admitted that it was powerful. As we talked about the restoration of the priesthood he said, "Hang on! It was never lost!” We said it was but he affirmed that the catholic church still had the authority. The only good argument he had...and we came to a stand still. He said he would study the scripture in Acts as well as a scripture on the apostasy that we left with him.
It reminded me of what D. Todd Christofferson said that "It is the Holy Ghost that will, in hostile venues, give you what you should speak."
Elder O'Rirden talked about how those who have the Holy Ghost shine. He said, "When you have the Holy Ghost people will stop and stare" That is my Goal: To shine so that people stop and wonder. He gave us a promise that as we are obedient, those that are prepared in our mission will start coming to us.
I love being a missionary. President Shafer's son (Stake Pres. from Vancouver, WA) goes home Wednesday. Scary stuff!
Love you all heaps and don't feel obligated to read this entire thing!