Wednesday, January 20, 2016

January 4, 2016 - Shalom Ya'll - Joshua, Texas

Dear Family,

This week was an interesting but successful one. It started pretty normal on Monday and most of Tuesday but then I made a bad mistake that afternoon. There's this one church out here that a lot of people belong to and whenever we ask their members about their beliefs they say "We're a New Testament church." So anyway, after talking with one of these individuals I made the mistake of commenting to Elder Balser, "Well that narrows it down. Every Christian basically belongs to a New Testament church!"

The very next day I was proved quite wrong. After district meeting, we decided to tract this one neighborhood in the middle of nowhere (there's a lot of those around here) that we'd seen last week. We got out of the car and were super excited because we'd been waiting to get out there for a few days. The first couple doors weren't answered but then we walked up to this one that apparently belongs to a realtor (his picture and company were on his truck) and I thought, "Ooo, he'll be a talker."

When we proceeded to the front door I noticed a sign with the words "Shalom Ya'll" hanging by his door. The guy whose face was on the truck answered and, as expected, he lectured us about the Torah for a few minutes and how we literally need to put the word of God in our doorway. Jewish people aren't very common here but it was normal enough. What made this man in particular a little odd was that he also believed that Jesus Christ was the Messiah. Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't the Jewish believe otherwise? Apparently not this guy. His final thoughts regarded how he refers to Jesus as Joshua or Yahweh. He sort of combined them into what sounded like Yeshua. Nice guy though we're just not sure exactly what religion he identifies with: Jewish, Baptist, Christian Jew, or Baptwish.

The confusion continued across the street where we met a Baptist Preacher who refused to even hear a verse from the Book of Mormon. Most of what he said is not worth writing about but he did say one thing that caught my attention. He said that he's helped a couple Jews accept Jesus Christ as their savior but they haven't become Baptist yet, implying that they are still Jewish but are also now Christian. My thoughts of course were, "I wonder if that includes his neighbor across the street."

Oh, and this preacher also chastised me for not reading the Old Testament. I think he was just in shock that I'd read the New Testament and didn't know what else to say. Long story, but I hope you can now see my confusion with this weird Old Testament Christian neighborhood.

Unfortunately, I was not able to place a single Book of Mormon on this street. I was sure at least one person would at least let it lay on their bookshelf for a few years if nothing else, but nope. It really is true that sometimes when nothing is happening it means something big is about to happen though!

On Saturday, we did a day in Godley which is a town about the size of Magrath with about 7 different churches. It's pretty secluded and far away so we don't get over there often but we finally got the chance this week. It's not exactly a "Mormon-friendly town" but we like to give it a chance anyway. For the first few hours we really had no success but then we decided to visit a less-active who lives even farther from civilization in what is still technically Godley but not really.

We drove on a deserted highway for a while and then through this narrow, muddy road for a few minutes but he wasn't home so we decided to tract this random neighborhood of nice houses around the corner. Nobody answered the first three or four houses but we were determined! The next house was answered by this teenage girl who was religious but not really active in her church. The whole contact was a little awkward but she invited us in to get out of the "cold" 45 degree weather. Her friend was also there and we just started teaching them stuff. At one point Elder Balser asked them if they'd ever wondered about their purpose in life and the first girl looked at her friend with a shocked face, which I think probably meant yes... The whole lesson went exactly like we always role play which never happens. She even accepted a restoration pamphlet and a Book of Mormon and said "Yeah, I'm actually really curious now! I'm gonna read it."

It was kind of funny though, at one point her dad came into the room and said, "We're not interested!" Followed by his wife who said, "Don't be so mean!" The dad then laughed and told us he was kidding. Talk about a mini heart attack! We're meeting with them next Saturday so I'll let you know what comes from it.

I could write a lot more but I've written too much already. Just know that we have some awesome new investigators one of which just came to church by the Bishop's invitation and wants to be baptized. Also, I'm staying in Joshua another transfer. It'll probably be my last so I'm expecting some great things. It's totally possible for me to get a baptism before I leave! Talk to you next week!

Elder O'Brien (the younger)

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