This week was a fairly fantastic one. There's many things I'd like to share about what happened, but because of time I'm going to be limited to only a couple. One of the more mild, yet interesting, things that happened this week occured just yesterday at a time with Joel and his family.
Elder Slater was teaching a room packed full of people about the prophet Joseph Smith. He is still a pretty young missionary, so when he came to the First Vision, he tried to hand the time over to me. Because I wanted to see him go for it, and I was feeling slightly lazy, I told him that he could do it. He turned back to face the people in the room and launched off into the final portion of the Jospeh Smith story. At that time I started prayng in my heart that he would have strength and that he would be able to quote the First vision accurately and powerfully. Up till that time, he had never been able to quote the whole thing. But this time, it was different. He charged off into it, not skipping a beat, not even pausing to think of what the next word was. The Spirit was there to testify to the people of the account's truthfulness, and I know it was there to help him do what he had never done before. It was amazing.
Also during my prayer, I asked God if he would bless us with some kind of food during the day, because it was Sunday and we couldn't buy anything and our usual lunch appointment had canceled on us. I asked that if it was His will, to please give us some food, somehow, someway. The very next time after Joel and Co., we went to a time of a lady and her family who had just come to church for the first time
that day - we had only found her a week ago. We walked in and they said, "Eat!" We quickly declined, not wanting to steal any of their precious, and in short supply, food. But they said, "Really, we have tons of food just for you guys! It's all ready! So come eat!" Not wanting to deny the invitation another time, and not wanting the miss the blessings of the Lord when they are staring you in the face, we sat down to a huge meal of rice and ravitoto (squished up grass). It was really good, but the best part came when the woman's husband - whom we had never talked to before that time and who did not know we were coming - said, "When I was making the rice and ravitoto for lunch today, God told me to make way more food then usual, because we had vistors coming. I usually never make this much rice and food for just
me and my wife" - and it was a ton of food - "but the Lord just told me to keep pouring the rice into the pot. And here you are, the visitors the Lord told me to prepare for. But really," he said with emphasis, "I never ever make this much food for just us!" Now that's a miraculous answer to prayer if I ever saw one. I know that a prayer of faith can turn the world around, move mountians, and even get some grub in your hungry belly when you are in need. Just believe.
Transfer news is coming out today, just so you know. Elder Slater is probably moving on, and I am probably training again. For fourth child, he shall be. Specifically, my second son. I'll give a full report of what goes down next week....
The last story which I will share is one of the best I've ever had in my entire time here (which generally far exceeds anything I experienced in America). Elder Slater and I went to our seven o'clock time with a fmaily that we had high hopes for. Before we could even open the time with a prayer, the mother of the family said matter-of-factly," So I remember you guys saying last time that we needed to come to yalls church when we received an answer to our prayers about the Book of Mormon." We nodded our heads. "Well I gotta tell you that," she continued," we are not going to be moving churches any time soon. In fact, we're never going to switch churches. Ever. We really like you guys and it sure would be swell if we could keep learning from you guys, but we have responsibilities in our church."
At this point I asked her if when she truly received an answer to their prayers about the Book of Mormon, a 100% solid answer, if they would come to our church. She said emphatically, "No. Never." Then I asked her that if God came down himself, and he proclaimed to her personally that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the only true church on the face of the Earth, would she move churches then. To this she said, "No. I'm a deacon at my church and no matter what I cannot switch churches."
To this we bore our testimonies as powerfully as we could, invited her and her family to come to church if they ever changed their minds, and left.
Walking for five minutes down the road towards what we taught was going to be our last time, we heard someone calling for us behind. "Please stop! Wait!" she said. The woman who sprinted towards us in the pouring rain was not someone from the family which had just been dropped, but was another lady who had come to church the Sunday previous. We hadn't been able to find her house during the week, so we had just hoped that she'd come back to church. As we walked towards her house, she was literally crying and saying, "I'm so sorry...I'm so sorry. I was just so sad that you guys weren't able to come to my house on Thursday. Since that time I've been crying and absolutely devastated. I prayed to God so hard that I'd be able to find you guys somehow so that you could give me the Word of God. I'm so happy I found you now!"
Just to clarify, had we not walked out of our rotten-egg appointment, this woman would not have seen us. She never would have in fact, because we are almost never in her area and she never comes to the places we usually frequent. This is another example of an absolute answer to prayer. When we got to her house we taught a time that was one for the record books. The Spirit was almost tangible in the room, which happened to be filled with 11 people, plus 2 in another room who were standing at the window to their room which gave access to the one we were in. Hiantra, the women who had chased us down on the path bore testimony to everyone there that the church was true, and she knew it by the power of the Holy Ghost when she came into our church building. Incredible. This women had not even had any kind of a lesson from us
before this time.
At the end of the lesson we all prayed together, and I asked them to pause for about a half a minute after the end of the prayer, in order that the would be able to feel the Spirit, and know the will of the Lord. For about a minute after the word "Amen" we all sat perfectly still, eyes closed, drinking in the power of the Holy Ghost. It was fantastic. Afterwards we asked everyone how they felt and they said things as, "Light." "Free." "Excited." "At peace." "I feel the Spirit, and I know that you," pointing at us," are messengers from God." We've been doing this 'pause after the closing prayer' a lot lately, to amazing results. The Spirit cannot be stopped in such circumstances.
Dad, good luck on the backpacking training. I remember quite well when one year ago, I first came into country. At that time I was tired all the time, hungry, disgruntled, and especially, my feet were turning into swollen balls of blister. It was horrible. One vivid memory I have is of me taking a knife to the back of my heal, to open up the enormous blisters, and finding that the skin was a quarter of a centimeter thick and the blister structure had blossomed into multiple levels or 'chambers'. It was a ghastly process and quite painful as well. For an entire month I had to wear mulitple layers of socks on my feet to try and bring down the level of movement in my shoes. So....I hope your blisters aren't anything like that!
This week has been filled with the most spiritual lessons of my entire mission, along with several miracles of garden variety and one of extremely unusual happenings.
Well that's all I have time for now. I love you guys and pray for you all every single day. And this past week has shown me, more than anything else, that within prayer there is power.
PS: Please tell Brother Krampota thank you for the Christmas card he sent me. Give him my best wishes!