Thursday, March 6, 2014

From Feb 24:

Honestly there's nowhere else I want to serve. Yes people are pretty well off here, and me and Elder Nelson are getting along pretty well. 

We're hitting a point where we need to rely on miracles for the work to progress, we have a lot of work coming from investigators and less actives here, but it quite frankly doesn't take up the 70 hours a week of proselyting. And even though working through the members is the key here, I don't think they would appreciate us taking the remaining 50 hours a week in their homes, although some would. 

Speaking of member's homes, it's hard sometimes to leave member's homes because they love us so much, the other day this member let us in, told us to get comfortable and wait 5 minutes out by their pool while he rushed out to get wood for his stove and we ended up getting pictures of us looking frustrated sitting next to the fanciest pool and hot tub known to man. It had lit up streams of water and the most incredible lighting system you could imagine. and a legit waterfall. I would've disliked to have plastered that pool, the nicest ones have to be meticulously scrubbed via scuba gear and when the water is 60 degrees and the senior laborer is too cold the inexperienced junior has to join in. We were able to escape, though, afterwards, and only needed to talk about one thing in particular.

We're finding so many more opportunities to serve now that it's spring. It gives us such an easier time talking with people now that we can legitimately serve them, (they'll never let us clean their homes and during the winter that's all there was to do), except for when it snowed, which opened up a lot of opportunities. We just started talking to this one guy and we're going by tomorrow to clean up his yard, there's still people that haven't even raked up last year's leaves. It's like unemployed people, you just kind of have to see the need and fill it, you really can't rely on people telling you they need help, or be super judgmental when people do ask for help, who are we to judge the magnitude of someone's difficulties from their outward or physical trials? "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it."

Kevin is still on for baptism. He's really committed to the decision, and is convinced the Church is true. We're stuck between trying to get him to meet with us three times this week and then an interview on Sunday to be sure he'll pass (for a grand total of 5 Church visits in one week) or spreading it out over 2 weeks and giving it a chance that it'll be announced in Church and then cancelled.

Michael, we have no idea what's going on with him. We're going to drop by tomorrow and see if we can't start talking with him. If they don't know how to keep the Sabbath day holy or why it's important, why come to Church? For some people it can be a huge hurdle to come to Church.

We had an excellent lesson with Galyena and Yuri, (Dad I almost need to skype you in on one of those lessons, I heard of some California missionaries skyping their mother and having her answer an investigator's questions... Mom, you'll be the next Dear Abby after my mission here). I brought a member that speaks excellent Russian, he tried doing what I had been doing for the last three weeks, trying to help them understand that the Book of Mormon is just like the New Testament. There are so many different claims and they have a completely different life experience than me.
Wherefore, I the Lord ask you this question—unto what were ye ordained?
To preach my gospel by the Spirit, even the Comforter which was sent forth to teach the truth...
Verily I say unto you, he that is ordained of me and sent forth to preach the word of truth by the Comforter, in the Spirit of truth, doth he preach it by the Spirit of truth or some other way?
And if it be by some other way it is not of God.
They understood what we were saying, didn't accept the claims we had, and had I persisted in helping them understand our message when they really understood it I would have joined the last 19 centuries of rhetoric and dogmatic arguments. We brought a copy of "I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee" from conference (the Prophet's talk in I believe Saturday Afternoon) and when we were there I felt so much joy and peace wash over me, and the knowledge that if they would read it and pray about it they would feel the Spirit confirm it to them. For whatever reason they became Pentecostals when they came to America (most of our Ukrainian investigators have been Pentecostal strangely enough) and so they understand very strong spiritual experiences and have had a few (that I know of) during their lives. They don't come frequently, but after diligence in keeping the commandments and serving God they do come.

I know the work is true with all my heart, I know I've probably quoted this scripture 10 times in my letters but I know it's true:
Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.
Just have the faith to keep the commandments, repent when you don't (feel sorrow, stop, ask forgiveness, make restitution, keep the commandments, acknowledge the Savior) and then renew your baptismal covenant by the sacrament every week, even if you're constrained like Nephi, "O wretched man that I am" take it if you're sincerely striving to live the Gospel, but do go to the bishop for serious sins.

The Gospel is worth it while in this life! It's not going to take long to "break even". They're closing the family history center down. So take care!
With much love,
Elder Szendre

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