Baamle yokwe!! :)
We also had an AWESOME week for finding new people to teach this week!! We found and started teaching two young girls who are friends with T and E (the two children who got baptized last week) and while the kids are VERY excited about the lessons and church and everything, we are still working on trying to get through to the parents who seem... well... less than enthused with the whole idea... but it's ok! God works in mysterious ways and this would not be the first time I've seen him work through two little nine year old girls to soften the hearts of those of us who are a little older and act as if we "know better".
We also started teaching a new family that we have been trying to contact for quite some time now and while they were a little hesitant at first about everything, once we really got into the lesson and they started to feel the spirit it was like you could see something change from inside them and they committed to read and pray about the Book of Mormon and we have a return appointment set up and we're just super excited about it!!! :)
So we also have one of our young men who has just been a SUPER awesome member missionary for us these past few weeks! He lives right next to this other part member family that we have been trying to work with and have dinners with all the time and one day we were talking with him and his friend walked up and we kind of knew the friend already, but he just stopped his friend and asked us, "hey elders, can anyone go to youth conference?" and of course we said "yes, as long as they get registered beforehand." Then he turned to his friend and said "hey, you should come to youth conference with me this year!" Both my companion and I were struck by his boldness in inviting him to not only attend youth conference but also in inviting him to take lessons with him from us, but I think more so than anything I personally was just astonished and impressed by his sincerity in everything he said! I mean when he invited him to come with him and meet with us, you could just tell that he was not doing that out of obligation or just because we were standing there and he wanted to look good in front of us. He was simply being a great friend and reaching out to someone he obviously cared about and trying to share with him some of the things that he enjoyed doing like going to youth conference and meeting with us. I might add this boy has asked us before on multiple occasions to teach him lessons, not because he is less active or because he wants to show off to his friends or anything, he just wants to learn for the sake of learning!
Anyway, I was also super impressed with how he went about asking his friend because he didn't say "hey will you meet with the Elders!" or even "can we teach you about the church" or anything like that. He said "elders can you have a lesson with the two of us". That may be paraphrasing a bit... but basically it was just super cool how he said it because he was super humble and the way it came across was pretty much "hey man, I'm still learning too but I do know that what the missionaries teach is important and so I want to share it with you, so will you come over to my house and we can have lessons together and then we can help each other to come closer to Christ." I don't remember his exact words but the message of what he was saying was super clear and super humble and sincere and it was just awesome!! I think Elder Teerlink and I both learned a lot from the example of that young man and I know that he will be a great full-time missionary someday, because even now, without a name tag or fancy bag, he is still being an amazing full-time missionary in everything he says and does and just the person he is!
Anyway, so we started teaching his friend (who I might add is ALSO amazing and super humble and sincere and just a really really great guy! I mean this kid is just solid!!!) The lessons have gone GREAT so far! In fact within about a week’s time we taught all three of the main lessons we teach people (The Restoration, The Plan of Salvation, and The Gospel of Jesus Christ) and all three of them were super spiritual lessons and the whole time I (the new youth we just started teaching) was quite literally "on the edge of his seat"! He was tuned into not only us but more importantly he was tuned in with the Spirit and was progressing great... until the realization finally set in of just what our message meant for him....
You see... his family are all very active over at the Assemble of God church and they are very strong in their faith and their relationship with Jesus Christ, and so while he was and still is EXTREMELY enthusiastic about learning more about the man whom he has already committed his heart to... when the reality set in that he would have to kind of leave behind his current church to attend ours, it was a tough break to him... and honestly seeing the look in his eyes as he tried to comprehend everything, I couldn't help but feel just the slightest a twinge of sadness and sympathy for him. I mean it is a really tough thing we are asking not only him but everyone we teach to do... I was at a loss for words and while the lesson still ended on a great spiritual note and we went our separate ways still as close as before, it was a really tough lesson and a hard situation just because, well it's not easy to ask people to change!
I mean, I've been asking people to change their lives now for over a year and a half and I thought I had it down, but then in that single moment, I saw myself, sitting there on a small crate in what can only be described as the slums of Waipahu, having missionaries pose that same question, in that same circumstance, to me. I saw myself, just for the smallest moment, as if I was in his place, and man... IT WAS TOUGH!! I mean, I have had to make some really tough choices in my own personal life before, that choice, in that way, was never really one of them. And so I believe with all my heart, that just for the tiniest instant, God let me see myself through I's eyes... he let me feel in even just the tiniest way, how it feels to be on the other side and WOW did that soften my own heart.
Sometime I think we can become a little complacent with just how big of a deal the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ really is and we take for granted those truths that have become practically common place for us and stop giving them the absolute awe and wonder and significance that they truly deserve! Even more so though I worry that as members of his church at sometimes that we might even lose sight of just how big of a deal TRUE CONVERSION to the gospel of Jesus Christ really is! I don't care if you were baptized when you were 8 or 80! We still ALL need to become TRULY CONVERTED to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and realize just how big of a deal that is!!
Anyway, so in other HUGE news!! We had a baptism this past week also!!! :D It went GREAT! J is a SUPER solid kid and hopefully will be just the example that his family and friends over at the pink building need to start coming out more frequently! We're excited to keep working with him and help him as he prepares to get the priesthood now soon! :) The child of record was also great and she and her family are of course excited about everything as well! :)
Well, I hope you know just how much I truly do love you all and that you will as always be in my thoughts and in my prayers. Please remember to try and find ways to help our those around you this next week and to be a missionary at all times, after all we're all full-time missionaries because everyone is constantly watching us and we need to represent Christ appropriately just like we promised we would when we were baptized! :) haha!) Well, have a FANTASTIC week and as always DON'T FORGET TO BE AWESOME! :)
Kommol tata im bar lo eok!!
Yokwe eok!! :)
p.s. Here's a couple fun pictures from this HUGE Marshallese party we went to for this man who turned 93 last week! :) haha! While 93 is of course a very exciting age, I think these people will just find any reason to throw a huge party anyway! There is seriously a party like this at the church almost every week! haha!