Hey guys. How was everyone's week. Mine was sick. Literally sick. I came down with something Wednesday night leaving me with the chills, bodyaches, headaches, sore throat, stuffy nose, and cough. When I woke up Thursday morning I felt really hot but Welch took my temperature and it said 97.4 so she figured I was good. Is that normal to be below 98.6? Anyway, all I felt like having was light blue gatorade and popsicles and saltines. So that whole day I slept in 1.5 increments. I would sleep. Wake up. Sip some gatorade, eat a popsicle, and then konk out again on the couch. I felt sick from Wednesday night to Saturday night. On Saturday I got a call from Sister Balmforth who is serving in my old Silverdale area. She had called to ask me something and sounded terrible. I asked her if she was sick and told her that I was sick, too. We had been sick with the same symptoms and for the same days. So we got the brilliant idea to go on a "sick shifty." Welch and I got permission from President to drive to Silverdale where Balmforth and I would stay home sick together and Sister Welch and Balmforth's companion could go out and do some work. We went over to Sister Grave's house and hung out there for a few hours. I swear, just crossing into Silverdale city limits lifted my spirits and I even felt physically better. So fun to see them.
We had to head back to Manette in time for our baptism!! It was a good thing I conserved all my strength that day so that I could attend the baptism of our golden investigator, Peggy. Wow. Talk about a lifetime convert. We really tried to make her baptism a special and sacred experience and a little less "McDonaldized" that some of the other baptisms that usually happen in Bremerton. I mean we talk and teach and promise about baptism with these investigators for so long and then we end up having these rushed and impersonal baptisms that aren't really that memorable. So I wanted to get back to how I used to do them in Silverdale and really make them an event to remember for those getting baptized. Peggy is such a special lady. She signed my testimony journal and wrote that Sister Welch and I literally saved her life and that she is eternally grateful for the service we rendered to her. Everything about Peggy from the time we found her to the lessons we had with her to her fellowship to her baptism to her conversion and testimony was just perfectly timed and orchestrated by the Lord. We watched it all come together so seamlessly. MIRACLE.
Yes, the murderer is still loose somewhere on the west side of Bremerton. At least everything that has happened has been on that side of town and on the other side of the bridge. President Weaver though has finally now come to the point where he asked us if we feel like we should be taken out even sooner than transfers this next Wednesday. At first we were immediately thinking yes. Our work here was finished. We did what we came here to do. Let's leave. He asked us to think about it on Sunday and pray about it. Sunday night we went to the chapel and individually prayed about the decision. After we both felt like we had come to a conclusion we shared with eachother what we thought we should do. Welch said she would be ok with leaving. So it was a surprise to me that the answer I received was that there was still work here that we needed to do. It wasn't finished. I sat in silence as a blankly stared ahead contemplating what that might be. Or who it might be. We baptized our teaching pool. All of our other investigators had dropped us. I guess we could just tract all day for the elders. But then that trickled back to avoid being out on the streets as much as possible. The thought came to my mind to look up the hymns that were posted up on the wall that the Bremerton ward had sung that day in Sacrament. 3 out of 4 songs were about the Prophet Joseph Smith. I thought about the signifcance of his life and the work that he did. The physical peril that he faced and endured. I read the line in "Joseph Smith's First Prayer":
When the powers of sin asailing, filled his soul with deep despair,
Yet undaunted still he trusted in his Heav'nly Father's care
I felt that Heavenly Father was telling me that while evil and harm is swirling all around me that if I trusted in Him, He would protect us for another week. Wow. Not exactly the answer I was expecting. But we went with it. We called President Weaver and told him our decision to stay here one more week. He seemed surprised but relieved that we were not afraid or too worried. If anything I was just anxious and a little annoyed that we were staying because we have nothing to do. Go out finding all day for a week, only to hand them all over to the elders. But I know that if that's what he needs me to do, then we have to do it. There is one investigator, Mark, that I would love to see baptized before we leave. He was ondate to be baptized around Christmas time but relapsed with his alcohol addiction and felt unworthy and discouraged to keep coming back to church. Well he showed up a couple Sundays ago which was a huge miracle. I had dropped off a hobo bag at his door and wrote a note that said, "we haven't given up on you, so don't give up on yourself." He has lost hope, which is the driving force behind any little drop of faith. HOPEfully we'll be able to see him this week.
I know I can relate to the feelings he is feeling. I have felt so much heartache, sorrow, frustration, and hopelessness here in Bremerton. It all started with becoming lax or complacent in my dilligence. My dilligence in saying prayers everyday, in reading the scriptures, in being exactly obedient, in working hard everyday all day. I think I reached this really high height on my mission. I was seeing a lot of success. I was becoming "learned and wise" in my knowledge of the gospel and the scriptures. Skills needed to be a successful missionary were coming easy for me. I began to become prideful. I forgot the counsel of Ammon to boast not of myself but of my God. I wouldn't publicly boast. But I was proud in my heart. I stopped studying really hard and started writing in my journal or doing other still good things. I began to loathe companion study because I felt like it was an hour that I was just teaching my comp and I wasn't getting anything out of it. I became more selfish. I started gradually becoming less and less exactly obedient. Going to bed at 10:45. Writing letters not on Pdays. Seemingly petty and inconsequential infractions to the rules. It all snowballed and I soon had what the real root of pride is: enmity. Enmity or hostility or hatred towards God or others. What once was an equally yoked team then started to feel like I was the one carrying my companion. My will and desires that were once completely flush with God's would become combative. I never ever ever intended it to get that bad or go that far. I don't think anyone really ever does with any sin. Yes, pride is a sin. Last time we emailed, I had a little time left over and so I went to LDS.org. I felt like I should search "President Ezra Taft Benson" in the search bar. I immediately clicked on his talk entitled, "Beware of Pride." Read it. It was the spark that would begin the change and repentance process in me to forsake my pride and return to being an obedient disciple.
There is this quote I also found that I love by Elder Neal A. Maxwell:
"Hope is a particularly needed in the hand-to-hand combat required to put off the natural man. Giving up on God and on onself constitutes simultaneous surrender to the natural man."
Ouch. If you are not familiar with the natural man. King Benjamin in the book of Mosiah teaches us the "natural man is an enemy to God." In the context of the scriptures natural refers to fallen. Fallen in the sense that we are subject to sin and choosing to sin with our gift of agency. I don't want to be an enemy to God. I never did want to be one. I never will want to be one. The rest of the verse tells us that we can overcome the natural man within each of us through the atonement of Christ and become like a child; submissive, meek, full of love, longsuffering, willing to submit to whatever the Lord seeith fit to inflict, like a child doth submit to his father. I raise a warning voice and one of invitation : The only way to be happy is to live the gospel of Jesus Christ. True, lasting, unmatched happiness and joy only comes through and in the Savior and being obedient to his commandments. Period. Anything else will just give you a fleeting, temporary, water-downed version of contentment. Choose to be happy by choosing HIM.
I love you guys,