Thursday, October 24, 2013

Magandang Hapon! We got transfer calls this weekend, and I'm excited to stay with Elder Sumrall for another six weeks. We're moving today into a house with a 30 year old ex-MTC teacher who taught Tagalog (that's where I learned magandang hapon...). It's such an incredible bachelor pad, we've got 500 square feet of space all to ourselves, a bedroom, bathroom and study room. Add dinners on top of that and all the food we get from members and you get a mission where everything's pretty much taken care of for you and you can devote all attention to the work. I love it.

We've realized now that at least in Idaho, we cannot be nearly as productive with the work as when we work with members. Right now we're scheduling as many appointments with members as we can and keeping a record of who we talk about and the plans we make to help them come to Christ. Most people here just don't trust us, and so we're trying to rely on members to add another witness to establish the truth of our message. A member took us with him to meet some of his neighbors and the man who answered the door had tears in his eyes and thanked him for bringing us.

We got in our temple day this transfer on Friday, I absolutely loved it. The Spirit you feel there and the learning is so incredible that I'm mentally spent about 2/3 of the way through it. For so long, people have felt a "famine... of hearing the words of the Lord. And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it." We spoke with a Christian woman on Sunday, and she feels the Holy Ghost just through feelings of love for others, which agrees with the Bible, but the gift of the Holy Ghost only available in the Restored Church of Jesus Christ is truly one of God's greatest gifts he can give us in this life.

One of our investigators is now going to jail. I was stunned when I heard, because he's one of the nicest people with one of the biggest hearts I've ever known. Struggling with his aunt's death he went and got inebriated, wrecked his mom's car and got arrested for a DUI. It's his second within 10 years so it's not looking good. We'll write letters to him and help him through this. His is the greatest friendship I've developed so far on my mission.

My ride's leaving early, there's so much work left to do, and it's up to us to best position our lives to build up the Church. I know God lives, He's manifest it to me by the Holy Ghost, and similarly I know that Joseph Smith was His Prophet of the Restoration and that President Monson is his authorized successor. Thank you so much for all the support, I love you all.

With all my heart,
Elder Szendre

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Working in this part of the vineyard has been frustrating.

Abraham Lincoln once said that if you want to unite someone with your cause you need to be their friend. For instance Willie has been making progress towards praying, coming to Church and reading the Book of Mormon. It's just taking time and friendship. He's such an incredible person though, and riding rugby wheelchairs have been pretty fun. Another investigator we've just been really good friends with, he's been pretty humbled by his father's suicide. He now reads the Book of Mormon every day. It's harder though as a missionary because you want to spend so much time just enjoying the moment and then you have to teach the gospel at the same time. It's little wonder why they're asking members to extend friendship to all. Be yourself, but adjust your actions and personality to be able to be a true friend to all.

The work is true and Jesus Christ lives.

I pray for you daily,
Elder Szendre

Monday, October 7, 2013

Conference was incredible. We spent some of the time with investigators watching it but it was sad seeing how many people weren't listening to it, and the difficulties that could be avoided. It's frustrating because technically none of our investigators are progressing right now, meaning keeping commitments. It's hard enough to get appointments with them, let alone get them to do what you ask. It's heart-breaking to drop them, though. With the new Amulek training we've been relying on members to do the work, and they've come through, inviting their friends to dinners, etc. It's been exciting.

About that miracle we were asking for, I had incredible outpourings of the Spirit while going there, but to my astonishment she didn't want to hear more. Her beliefs on eternal families had changed, however, and she does believe it. We'll give it another week, pray for another miracle and come back. The work must go on.

We ran into the father of our Yugoslavian investigator. It was straight out of Alma 20, his Greek Orthodox father told us not to bother him, that he didn't need new religion. He's an immigrant and has not had it easy here in America at all. It's too bad he didn't speak Russian. I tried sharing the message of the Restoration, told him that his son is my friend and to take the matter up with him. He saw the reason behind that, but we'll definitely be sensitive to his family situation.

I can't remember but did I mention that Elder Sumrall's name is Hyrum? Pretty cool, eh? Things run so much smoother when we're charitable. Moroni 7 is so applicable in our relationships with others, "And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." In college we were able to just distance ourselves from each other, but here we have no choice. It's so important to watch our behavior and take a moment to distance ourselves from the situation when we're frustrated.

Our investigator on probation had a really good court date, but no changes about his baptismal date yet.

I've come across so much sorrow and pain. It's terrible, people telling us the same sad stories every time we visit with them. Jesus Christ lives and understands us perfectly, and it was repeated twice in Conference that he suffered what he did so that he would be able to heal us from our wounds (Alma 7:11-12). The gospel's true, and holds the answer for so many of the world's problems. I believed it, but I know now the truth of it. There's just so much evidence, the Book of Mormon and "the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things" (John 14:26, see also Moroni 10:3-5). The Holy Ghost truly is the greatest gift God can give us in this life, not yet being able to enjoy Eternal Life.

Elder Szendre

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

I love being a missionary! This is such an incredible experience, and one that I am eternally grateful for. Me and Elder Sumrall - we have apostle names (Joseph and Hyrum)! 

We've got three member present lessons today, all of them on the Restoration. Can't wait. We're being very productive, and will invite our investigators, potential investigators and less actives that we've seen recently to watch General Conference and get members to have them in with them.

Devoting all my time and energy to the work has it's effects. One morning my companion woke up to me sleep talking. I said, "How can we help you members of the Ward Council?"

If you could pray for our investigator on Probation, he has a court date today and will find out if he has to wait 5 months or 5 years to get off probation. If he fails the lie detector he'll return to juvenile detention. He has such an incredible hatred for the crime he committed, and hopefully he'll not have to suffer too much more to be freed legally and spiritually. However, there's still hope because the First Presidency grants 200 exceptions to baptism every year for investigators on probation. Still, though, we'd rather have him get off sooner rather than later. I've reflected on this, and it's incredible that God doesn't deal with us with justice alone. As the scripture says, "And thou didst hear me because of mine afflictions and my sincerity; and it is because of thy Son that thou hast been thus merciful unto me, therefore I will cry unto thee in all mine afflictions, for in thee is my joy; for thou hast turned thy judgments away from me, because of thy Son." (Alma 33:11) I'm so grateful that all the stupid things I do each day can be forgiven and with the Savior's help, my weaknesses can become strengths (Ether 12:27).

We had a miracle recently that we will see the fruits of tonight. There has been this Russian family in our area that just doesn't want to see missionaries. They won't let their kids play in the house of a nearby member because they have pictures of temples and signs that families can be together forever. I recently found this out, and so we spent this Fast Sunday fasting that their daughter who died from leukemia would appear to them in a dream last night and let them know that families can be together forever. It was something that we only had small manifestations of the Holy Ghost that it would happen by faith. "Behold, I say unto you that whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him; and this promise is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth." We had the faith that it would happen, and then this morning I was wondering if I would get a confirmation that it happened, because we had the faith that if it wasn't His will that would be all right, too. After personal study today, it came very strongly, that their daughter appeared to them last night. We're going by tonight and can't wait to see them with the member there and a message about how families can be forever. Notice that it was needed, in order to further the work for this family. This is a rare opportunity to hear the gospel preached to them in their own language. 

Pray for miracles when they're needed in church, family or with others. There's no other way for this work to go forward at the pace that's needed. Get a vision of your endeavors. We weren't called to maintain what has been done before, but to energetically and fervently go forward. Pray and fast for miracles when needed. I promise they'll come. Our mission is anticipating 200 baptisms a month, two per ward per month.

I know the work is true, every day my knowledge grows that Jesus Christ lives. I haven't seen him with my own eyes, but the depth of spirituality, answers to prayer and experiences with the Holy Ghost are real. We keep journals so we record when things we believe become things we know to be true. "And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things." Moroni 10:5. Jesus Christ is the Son of God, his divinity and mission is especially manifest in the Book of Mormon and He did actually call Joseph Smith to restore the Gospel of Jesus Christ in its fullness back to the earth. I love the Lord, He's there and wants to hear from each of us in prayer. May we always be true and faithful.

With all my love,
Elder Szendre