December 1, 2014
It just occurred to me that I share my middle name with the bold and eloquent senior Apostle of the primitive church, Paul. Whenever I thought of my middle name before I'd usually just think of the giant lumberjack Paul Bunyan and subsequently some form of large ox, and a "painful bony bump on the big toe" to follow it. Lately, I've been targeting Paul the Apostle in my personal study and using a lot of his words in the New Testament during lessons. I don't know why I hadn't noticed it before, but now I'm very proud of my middle name. Paul, in his epistles, sets forth some of the most beautiful and essential doctrines to Christ's church - then, and in this dispensation. We find his name right there in the 13th Article of Faith: "Indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul - We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things." And look! Now I find myself as a missionary, just as Paul was, only instead of writing this epistle to the Philippians I'm writing it from the Philippines. Thank you for the name, guys. I dig it.
It was a pretty eventful week for learning from our investigators. When I go into a lesson I really look for ways that the missionaries and the investigators can enlighten one another, through inspired questions and the guidance of the Spirit. Afterwards, the investigator learns something new, I learn something new, and we both have something worthwhile to take away. The Spirit especially helped us this week in teaching clearly the doctrine we needed to. Several times we were prompted to teach a principle from another lesson to an investigator, finding that it was clearly more effective than anything we might have had in mind. My favorite lessons this week were the ones we didn't expect, and that became centered on a scripture passage we were prompted to open up to spur-of-the-moment. We were blessed to be able to fulfill the promise in D&C 100:6(Or 84:85) several times and it was truly rewarding.
We've been visiting an older man by the name of Victor Ramos as of late. He suffered from a stroke about 10 years ago which makes his mobility limited, and sometimes he slurs a bit in his speech. Fortunately, however, he maintains his very sharp and often inappropriate sense of humor which leaves us never in absence of entertainment. Haha. On Saturday we had a really special experience with him. We began talking and joking with him as usual when we came to the subject of his two young grand-children. He unexpectedly burst into tears, saying how much he loved them, and how disappointed he was in one of his relatives for not raising them right. He said often they were left without food and there was nothing he could do to help them, given his health condition. We read with him from 3 Nephi when the Savior blesses the Nephite children individually and testified of the Saviors love for all of us, and that He indeed has a plan for our happiness, and we will not be abandoned or forgotten. On a previous lesson we had invited brother Ramos to pray, but he informed us that he wasn't that good at speaking aloud and didn't want to be embarrassed. We still urged him to pray, reminding him that God understands our hearts. This lesson, we asked him to pray again, and he pulled out a little notebook with a page full of writing on it. He told us he felt bad about not praying the last time, so he wrote a prayer down that he could read for us this time. I became very emotional when he began reading that prayer aloud. It was one of the most honest, pure prayers I've ever heard in my life, and we all felt acknowledged and loved by our Heavenly Father. It requires no eloquence to express love for God.
On Wednesday we were punted from one of our less-active family appointments, and didn't have a back-up plan. We started talking about what we should do, and Elder Rebojo said, "did you see that girl sitting on the bench we passed by? Let's talk to her." I didn't remember a girl on a bench, but regardless, we went to the place he said he had saw her. There she was, on the bench. Immediately when we walked up to her, she got a huge smile on her face and said "Come in! Come in!" Her house was just besides the bench she was on. We entered, rather shocked at how positive her response was. We asked her if she had known missionaries before and she replied we were the first ones. Her aunt and uncle came out, along with one of her cousins, and we began teaching them. Originally their family is from Amulong, and apparently they still spend a great deal of time there. The lesson went pretty well, and she seemed very focused on everything we said. As we were closing the lesson we asked her(Rovelyn is her name) if she had any questions. She did, actually. "How can I join your church?" My jaw hit the floor. That's an excellent question! We told her to read the material we had given her and to pray about our message. Unfortunately, due to her busy schedule, we can't visit her very often, but we have her number and are keeping in contact. So that was pretty remarkable.
Overall this week I've had a deep appreciation for being a member of the Church, with an obligation to become like Christ and to spread the light of His Gospel to all those who will receive it. Our lesson with the DelaCruz family went really well, and they seem very set for the 20th of December! Bishop joined us in the lesson and he was really helpful and cheerful in answering their questions and making them feel comfortable. I love these people so much. Every single one of our investigators, less-active members, recent converts, active members, people we meet on the streets... they are so dear to my heart. I have found a deep and abiding love of God by simply interacting with His children, no matter how imperfect they are. Life is beautiful.
I leave these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.