Tuesday, December 1, 2015

November 16, 2015 - Joshua, Texas

Dear Family,

Let me first clarify something. I've only "lost" one solid investigator in the sense that we had to drop her. However, I've had four investigators go missing in the sense that they ran away from home and nobody knows where they are. One of them was actually on my second day. He was living with a member and was taught one lesson in which he committed to be baptized and then that same week he walked out of the house, left all his belongings and is now homeless somewhere. Another one walked off a week or so before his baptismal date and got picked up by a Christian men's home about 20 miles away. That was around the beginning of October but he he showed up yesterday! So, I guess a better question would be is it normal to have four investigators choose to be homeless in your first two transfers? I'm sure it does happen more than we realize but I'm hoping it doesn't become a regular thing for me.

Back to this week though. We actually had a few solid lessons this past week. We met with an investigator again and his lessons are always super spiritual. Unfortunately he didn't keep any of his commitments from the lesson I wrote about in my last email. He has strong desires when we teach him but it just disappears by the next day. We sure aren't going to give up though.

Friday night was super busy with lessons. At 6:00 we had one with a new investigator who moved  here from Nigeria several years ago. Missionaries from other churches used to always stop by when he lived there and he said we were the first to come since he left. Right when we walked in he got all excited and said he was busy cooking but that we could teach his sister and her boyfriend who were there. Only the boyfriend was interested so we just taught him. Our actual investigator sat on the floor taking the nasty bits out of his pile of bean/seed looking things while we taught. Apparently that's what he meant by cooking. The boyfriend was one of those "It doesn't matter, we're all following Christ" guys so we tried to teach him about the apostasy and the need for one true church. It kind of went around and around for a while but we learned a little about other Christians from him. A lot of them believe that the priesthood is what people use when God works through them. Thus, if God is working through someone they must have been ordained. He had an issue with us claiming that anyone but Joseph Smith had the priesthood because he didn't understand that the restoration of the priesthood was a one time event and that Joseph Smith then had the power to ordain other worthy men. In this guy's mind ordination always had to come directly from heaven. Pretty interesting... but confusing. Anyway, this guy was super confused and we're trying to explain everything when our actual investigator stops everyone and fully explains the restoration with perfect clarity. Turns out he was actual retaining everything we said even though we weren't even teaching him.

By the end of that lesson it was 7:15 and we were late for our 7:00 appointment. This lesson was with a less-active family and their daughter who is over eight and wants to be baptized. They hadn't come to church since around January so the plan was to politely explain that they need to start coming again or their daughter can't be baptized. What actually happened was Elder Simmons got in there and called them to repentance for about 25 minutes and we were out of there. They totally accepted it though! We never would have planned on being so bold but it just came out of Elder Simmons' mouth like nothing. When we got in the car he said, "I don't even remember what I just said to them," so I recapped the lesson and he was pretty surprised. It's amazing what happens when you follow the spirit.

Saturday was probably the best day this week. The whole day was just us going to a returning less-active's wedding but it was surprisingly productive. It was an actual Catholic Sacrament of Matrimony in a Catholic church so that was interesting. I just walked in there with my nametag and pretended it wasn't weird. We got a couple looks but hey, we do no matter where we are. After the ceremony was over we went over to the social hall in the church and met one of the less-actives Elder Simmons has been looking for since he came. He was super nice and we talked with him for a while. After everyone was settled, the groom (the member) came over and asked if we were ready to do our Book of Mormon reading and if we knew where the bishop was. Apparently our Bishop was supposed to do the sand ceremony but he never showed up so we got asked to do that too. Again, we just got up there on stage and pretended that it wasn't weird to be reading from the Book of Mormon in a Catholic church. It went well though, no shouts of "Heretics!" or anything. At the end of the night the Bride's mother came over and gave us Michael Kors ties as a thank you gift. They're one of the kindest families I've met out here. Sometimes we like to call them our Catholic family. So, yeah, that's the story of how we got 1 other lesson and 2 Recent Convert/Less-active lessons in a Catholic church. It was a lot of fun and still ended up being a spiritual experience, especially when the groom mentioned taking their marriage into the eternities in his vows. YES!!!

Sorry I wrote so much this week but I just had too many stories to share. Have an awesome day!

Elder O'Brien (the younger)

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