Tuesday, January 26, 2016

January 11, 2016 - Joshua, Texas

Hello family!

This week definitely had some ups and downs but it was good overall. On Tuesday we had to drop our 85 year old investigator. I don't remember if I've talked about her a whole lot but Elder Simmons and I found her while tracting back at the end of September. She was progressing pretty well until she finally came to church in early December and then decided she wasn't interested in reading and praying about the Book of Mormon anymore. There's not really a whole lot else to do when people lose interest so completely.

In other news, we started teaching a Jehovah's Witness this week. He was actually the one who bishop invited to church last week. Turns out he's not quite as open to baptism as we thought... Spoke too soon. We tried teaching both him and his wife but it turned into him asking question after question without giving us a real chance to answer them. Eventually he went to bed because, apparently, it was a little too much to take in. Luckily we had a member with us so we could continue to teach the wife. She was a lot more open to what we had to say and the lesson went well. We had both of them go to a fireside with President Ames last night so hopefully that answered some of their questions. We would've gone too but we couldn't find a ride.

The lessons were both pretty draining because of all the questions but I did learn a ton about Jehovah's Witnesses. They believe that:
-Jehovah is God and that Michael is Jesus Christ
-our bodies and spirits do not separate at death. We just lay in the ground and our "breath of life" (not a spirit) returns to Jehovah until resurrection
-the 144,000 will be the government in heaven and the rest of us will reside on a paradisaical earth
-to become an actual Jehovah's Witness you must receive a letter from the angels saying that you are. (I might have my facts slightly wrong on that one but it involved a letter and some Angels)

Also, some of them don't even bother trying to teach members of our church.

The next day was a whole lot better because we had a short mission conference with Elder D. Todd Christofferson. I'm not sure if you've seen the pictures yet but if not they'll be on the Facebook page soon. They didn't want us telling anyone about who was speaking because then some members might try to come in uninvited and they wanted to keep it small. Our poor ride was sitting outside of the building from an apostle and didn't even know it. Some missionaries' rides actually walked in at the end to find Elder Christofferson. I bet they were a little shocked.

At any rate, the meeting was pretty awesome. It was a little different because I've gotten so used to doing spiritual things around spiritual people that having an Apostle there felt almost natural. We all got to shake his hand as we walked in so that was cool. When Elder Christofferson got up to speak he started by saying, "I always get excited when I send missionaries to the Fort Worth mission and I don't know why. I probably assigned some of you here," which was neat because I was just thinking about that a couple minutes before.

The rest of the meeting was Q&A and let me tell you, there were some deep questions! I'll just share a couple. The first was how resurrection and judgement work if the time of our resurrection (first or second resurrection) is based on righteousness. His answer was that we will be resurrected with the body that pertains to the kingdom we will inherit but we will not actually inherit that glory until the Final Judgement. He backed it up with D&C 88:28-31. Don't quote me on any of this by the way, that's how apostasy happens.

The second question I'd like to share was, "As a special witness of Jesus Christ, what does he look like?" Elder Christofferson paused for a second and, half laughing, said, "Not like His paintings!" The whole room gasped a little. Take from it what you will but I'm not lying to you. He then pointed out that Apostles are witnesses of His NAME which means His authority, His Atonement, and His identity. Most people just focus on the identity part, hence the question.

What stood out to me the most was when Elder Christofferson talked about our callings as missionaries. He said that we are serving the Apostles' mission and that we are their companions. We don't hold the keys for missionary work but we are called to help carry it. It made me realize just how great of a work this is. I'll leave you to ponder on that this week.

Love y'all!
Elder O'Brien (the younger)

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