July 9th 2012
Hello Again Everyone! Sadly, I am not a very wise time-user during e-mail time, end up writing someone a ten page e-mail and then the rest are left with a couple lines. So I am going to start out with my letter to everyone and then I will read your individual e-mails and respond to them. Sorry I haven't been doing so good about that lately, and sorry for the not-letters. You will all be happy to know that I have continued writing letters to you, just not sending them yet. So someday soon you will all be bombarded.
This week was an interesting one. The 4th of July was exciting! Very patriotic here. TONS of people were out and about. We have been working in our 3 wards with some awesome investigators and families! In one ward, an investigator got baptized on Saturday (I need to get you pictures for that and Patrick's baptism) his name is Ben Pelkey, a 9 year old trooper-of-a-kid whose dad was killed in combat a couple years ago. There are two more baptisms set for July 21st at 10:00 am in another ward, a couple named Bruce and Oi Stofer. Oi is from Thailand and Bruce..... well he is just awesome! He is very knowledgable, but also very humble so we have great conversations! We are working with a man named Michael who is an ex-Marine missing a thumb in his 60's. He is set to be baptized the beginning of August. Additionally, we are teaching a sweet lady whose husband left her after 30-something years of marriage. She is really struggling now, and I love visiting with her. She has read the Book of Mormon twice and even typed up an outline of it and a page of questions she had. We spend an entire lesson answering her questions.
So there are many AWESOME people who are already beginning to see the blessings of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the coolest thing to be a part of this and teach them the principles, while preparing them for the ordinances! Even though these wonderful people are not baptized yet, it is more than evident that they are experiencing mighty changes in their hearts! Now this is no light thing, which is what is so eternally mind-blastingly incredible about missionary work- it alters ETERNAL OUTCOMES!!! It brings change of an infinite nature and consequence! There's no other work in the world that does that! NONE!!!!! This is why I think Joseph Smith said "After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the Gospel." Because preaching the Gospel makes a direct and eternal difference, in fact, our preaching of the Gospel is the difference between others and our own enjoyment of principalities, powers, kingdoms, dominions, glory, all heights and depths; or the glory of a lesser kingdom.
We met with our investigator, Michael this week (ex-Marine, missing thumb, awesome guy) and in the opening prayer, no idea why, but we asked to be guided in our conversation. Definitely a different thing to pray for. But, that prayer was answered, and I believe I see the wisdom in being led to pray for that. As we were talking with Michael about his reading, questions he has, and talking about the Law of Moses and circumcision (Thus were his questions) he asked about our method of baptism. Now, in our first meeting with Michael, we had done the awkward thing that you are taught to do at the MTC, which is to invite everyone to be baptized during the very first lesson. Most missionaries, I would guess, don't do this. It is most definitely uncomfortable, bold, very forward, and there is a high possibility of the investigator declining the invitation. But, this is something I have been trying hard to obey. So in that first lesson, we invited him to be baptized to which he, a little stunned replied, "I will get back to you on that. Some hesitation getting baptized as an adult."
Big deal, he didn't say yes the very first time. But I firmly believe that invitation worked within him for a couple of weeks until this meeting when he asked how we baptize. This was the perfect opportunity to read from the Book of Mormon how baptism is done by immersion. In a very reflective way he informed us that he didn't believe he had been properly baptized. He had told us before of his baptism in the Catholic Church in his much, much earlier days. But now, suddenly, he told us of how he has been coming to feel that his prior baptism wasn't correct and therefore he had not yet been baptized and would like to take that next step. It was a wonderful lesson. To see the Spirit working within him for weeks, and even then, at that very meeting was incredible! He cried as we set the beginning of August as the time for him to make this sacred covenant.
Oh my goodness....... AMAZING!!!!
Anyway, thought I would share that with you as this week's miracle! We tried to do what was right and our performance was consecrated for the gain of ALL when we invited Michael to be baptized weeks ago. The miracle was the Spirit working within him- for this is a mighty miracle!
"And as sure as the Lord liveth, so sure as many as were brought to the knowledge of the truth, through the preaching of Ammon and his brethren, according to the spirit of revelation and of prophecy, and the power of God working miracles in them..."
This week, your strange Duck of a son got to see this taking place- the power of God working miracles in someone else, preparing his heart to receive a greater portion of His word.
What a wonderful experience! How great is this work! How sad it is for those who submit to their reservations to get out and engage and therefore never get to see, feel, and experience these mighty blessings and miracles which flow naturally and abundantly in missionary work. YEA!!!!!!
This Church is true, my beloved family! With the gift we have, being among those to whom "it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world." Let us share this gift, upon which others, with their respective gift are dependent for the knowledge and testimony we enjoy, "To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful." (D&C 46:13-14). Let's share our gift with others and each other! Let your testimonies ring out in word and deed so that, recorded in heaven, angels may look upon and rejoice over them! Don't deprive yourself of having MORE of your gift as you exercise it and definitely don't deprive those who depend on you for their chances at eternal life.
Heavenly Father lives! Jesus is the Christ! Need we any further reason to labor?
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
-Elder Ryan A. Bell