(I hope you can sense my sarcasm through those little letters.)
We've had a very busy week! Sister Abril and I have been battling a cold, which happens in the summer since we're jumping between incredibly hot and humid outdoors to extremely cool and chilly indoors all the time. We're doing swimmingly now! Even though we had some congestion, we were blessed to be able to bike this week after giving the car to the elders. I've learned many a-trick for keeping my skirt from flying up while biking, and I'm now the master of getting on and off a bike in a skirt, too.
Sister Abril and I have far more opportunities to talk to people when we're biking. People are always walking around Biloxi, which makes it easier for us to stop them on the street and talk to them about the gospel. I feel that Heavenly Father puts more people in our path when we're out walking with His children. For instance, on Sunday, Sister Abril and I were extremely busy with stake conference and branch meetings, putting us working in our area around four o'clock instead of one o'clock. That gave us four hours to teach people before dinner. That's plenty possible when you don't have to weekly plan -- but we still had to do that! That cut down our time to an hour, maybe.
We walked to an apartment complex nearest to ours so we wouldn't have to take our bikes out. After having no success tracting those, we gave out hefty sighs and turned back. We were determined to teach one other lesson, but both of us felt that we needed to head home.
On our way back, we ran into a man who'd been drinking. He admitted it to us when we saw him, too! He paused and asked, "Are y'all witnessin'?" We told him yes, we were! He then asked if we were Jehovah's Witnesses, which we get asked quite a bit. After explaining who we were, we offered to share a scripture.
Now, sharing scriptures to drunkards is a missionary's favorite pastime. Many missionaries have great stories of sharing little lessons to those who are under the influence, but this man wasn't too far gone, and he told us he would "make time because it was the Sabbath." After sharing a scripture, he told us to visit a girl he worked with. He told us her name, and so we now plan on going to see her.
God helps you achieve your goals, even if those goals are achieved through a place least expected.
This week, we were also able to have Zone Conference. The entire Gulfport Zone gathered at the Gulfport building, ready to receive revelation for ourselves, our areas, and our investigators. I love Zone Conference. There's a special spirit whenever we have one; all of us come in our best clothes (not tattered by bicycle chains or stained from dinner appointments), our cars washed and prepared, our spirits and minds ready for revelation. We're all ready to help one another, and I think that is really what brings a spirit of unity.
We learned about prayer, the Holy Ghost, our mission culture, and repentance. All of these topics had a spirit of their own, but one that impressed me in particular was repentance.
In a lesson with an investigator this week, we emphasized heavily the doctrines of faith, repentance, and baptism. This was our third lesson with this investigator, and Sister Abril and I wanted to really get somewhere with him.
"What would you do," I asked, "if you came to know that these things were true?"
Our investigator looked puzzled. "What do you mean?" he asked.
"If you received a witness from the Holy Spirit that what we're teaching you is true; if you felt in your heart that the Book of Mormon was the word of God, and if you knew that Joseph Smith had really been called to be a prophet -- what would you do about it?"
His confusion grew. "I gotta do something about it?"
Of course you do! As I've been serving, I have learned that many people don't seem to notice that the gospel is a gospel of action! We Mormons have this weird misconception; it's a twist of doctrine that I hear quite a bit while I'm out. People tell me that you don't have to do anything to receive Jesus Christ's love; you don't have to do anything to be saved; you don't have to "work to get to Heaven."
Well, partly true. I am a firm believer in grace. It is by grace we are saved, after all we can do (2 Nephi 25:23). A lot of people have a problem with that. It isn't that we think we have to do a million things to receive our Savior's grace and blessings -- no! He wants to bless all of us, of course. And He has. If you believe in the resurrection of the dead, you know that all will be resurrected. Paul teaches this to Felix in Acts, that there will be a resurrection of the "just and the unjust." That is made possible only through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We are not subject to the bonds of death because of His atoning sacrifice for us. That is a work of grace, and we are saved from physical death in that way.
However, we all know that you must repent of your sins and be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost to receive a remission of your sins. After all I can do -- after all the remorse, the praying, the reading, the serving, the sacrificing that I must do to repent, the only person who can make up for the parts that I lack; the only person who can give me forgiveness is my Savior. That is not a disputable doctrine; that has been taught by our Savior Himself. When we as missionaries are asking those we teach if they will do something about it, we are asking them to do just that -- to repent and be baptized.
Jesus Christ's gospel is a gospel of love and action. Faith leads to action; when you have faith, then you know that you can do anything through Christ. But you must do. Jesus Christ asked His disciples to cast aside their nets and follow Him; He exhorted the multitude to be humble, to be meek, to love one another; He has taught to act, to go to church, to read the scriptures. He is asking us to take action. He always has, and He is still doing so.
It is a commandment to change. To repent is to have a change of heart and mind (see the Bible Dictionary). This gospel asks us to act so we can change and become more like our Savior. If we are not changing, then are we really doing anything at all?
The Atonement is there to help you change. Christ's grace is there to help you change. He did not die so you could lie back and do nothing; He died to make the path He's asked us to walk easier to bear, so that we can make it to the end, carried in His arms.
Thank you for all that y'all do. I'll talk to you next week!
I hve my camera back now :)
|On our way to district meeting, a friend popped out on our car! And stayed there the entire time!|
|These are the weirdos who've had my camera (Elders Castrejon and Paxton)|
|(see next caption)|
|These are things that are always up around Biloxi. I have no idea what the alligator's for, but the shark is for my favorite place ever: Sharkheads.|
|Actual, necessary signs.|
|(see next caption)|
|But...you're from Idaho.|
|Why, Elder Paxton?|
|I am so funny!|