Hard to believe that another week has cruised by!
It shall be in this week that you shall see the face of the unknown one. (Craw!) This will actually be the last e-mail he will receive from me while we are both still set apart. W-H-O-A.
This week, Elder Tad R. Callister, one of my favorite General Authorities came to Houston and decided to hold a combined, Tri-Mission Conference. It was so awesome! He wrote a talk which made me into the missionary I am today- slightly below average. Just kidding. But seriously, he is fantastic!
As most of you know, I am a slave to fashion and fine foods. So during a missionary meeting this week, I gave a passionate, fiery sermon on why we needed to go to one of my favorite restaurants for lunch after the meeting. The place is called Culver's and they make the best grilled cheeses that I have found in Houston so far. Sourdough bread, only $1.99...... good stuff. But, it doesn't stop there- Culver's is famous for their frozen custard, and you all know well what that means. My meal of choice at Culver's is a grilled cheese with a small chocolate malt. SHABAM!!!!!
Well, after the meeting, we all go to this restaurant and keep running into people that we know or who have friends who are Mormons and now they suddenly want to take the discussions. It was amazing! Revelation can come through hunger! Who knew?!
It may sound like I am joking, but in all seriousness, it was really pretty cool. The missionaries in the area right next to mine are now teaching a lady who works at Culver's named Olivia who approached US about learning more!
I will be honest when I say that missionary work in this mission has turned out to be very different from what I thought. Our Mission President has received direct revelation that there are TENS OF THOUSANDS of people in this mission who are prepared to receive the Gospel. His direction on finding them is through working with the members of the Church. This is tough for me! I always envisioned missionary work as out knocking on doors, talking to everyone, going crazy, following the Spirit, teaching people on the streets, etc- and it is; but not as much as it used to be. Maybe I am just an old-fashioned guy. The direction our mission and the whole Houston area is heading is MEMBER MISSIONARY WORK. I love the members here, but this is proving very difficult for me.
In the scriptures, when the Lord says "Thrust in your sickle with your might" I imagine something very different than trying to get members to give me someone to teach, I imagined going out and finding them myself, THEN involving the members in fellow shipping and helping to teach them. So I have tried to follow the counsel we have been given by trying to develop deeper, more trustworthy relationships with the members of the wards. We have entered into their homes and taught them at times when I would rather have been out amongst strangers. But this has been paying off. Members of our wards have been giving us more people to teach, and this is a glorious thing.
Then last night I was given some insight. In 2 Nephi 33:1 we learn an interesting truth- "for when a man bspeaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth itunto the hearts of the children of men." Notice, the Holy Ghost carries the message UNTO, not INTO. He will not force Himself into the heart of the unwilling.
In the next verse- "But behold, there are many that aharden their bhearts against the HolycSpirit, that it hath no place in them; wherefore, they cast many things away which are written and esteem them as things of naught."
The prophet Nephi was a powerful missionary. "18 And it came to pass that they were angry with him, even because he had greater power than they, for it were anot possible that they could disbelieve his words, for so great was his faith on the Lord Jesus Christ that angels did minister unto him daily.
Nephi was so powerful that it were not possible that the people could disbelieve his words! And yet, just two verses later, we learn that "the thirty and first year did pass away, and there were but few who were converted unto the Lord."
This lines up with many other scriptures, the Lord will not force anything into our hearts.
Missionaries are called to teach by the Holy Ghost (D&C 50:13-14). As cool as it would be to preach so powerfully that the Holy Ghost blasts its way through people's hearts, this would be contrary to our agency, "for I know that he granteth unto men according to their adesire, whether it be unto death or unto life; yea, I know that he allotteth unto men, yea, decreeth unto them decrees which are unalterable, according to their bwills, whether they be unto salvation or unto destruction." (Alma 29:4)
Members can soften and open the hearts of their friends so that when missionaries do teach by the "power of God unto the convincing of men" (D&C 11:21), the Holy Ghost will be able to carry the message INTO the heart as a two-edged sword; quick, powerful, and sharp.
The mechanics of member-missionary work. Who knew.
So take this and ponder it. Maybe you can save some poor missionary some frustration and give yourselves more opportunities for miracles by understanding your calling and capacity for good as member-missionaries in this, the Lord's Church. I testify that this work is true! God is hastening this work and quickening us to better accomplish it. He rules in the heavens as a glorified and perfect being, but also as the personal Father of our Spirits.
I promise that as you prayerfully move forward in sharing the Gospel, it will mean more to you and your own conversion will deepen. You will find that as you do this, the Holy Ghost will also carry surprising things into YOUR heart as well.