Monday, December 12, 2016

"Wherefore We Labored Diligently Among Our People"

Buenas tardes everyone, it was another really productive week out here in Waller. Here's some of the highlights from this past week:

On Sunday night as we were out contacting, we stumbled across a group of five Hispanic men who were all very open to the message of the Gospel and English class. So we stayed and talked with them and they were really cool. They were good family men who work hard to provide for their families and they fed us carne asada which is where they throw tons of fajita, chicken, and salchicha(sausage) on the grill and serve it with a plethora of tortillas and salsa. After we ate we shared the message of the Restoration with them and they all liked it, so we are going to return whenever we're hungry. 😋

On Thursday Francisco had his baptismal interview and didn't pass. He explained to Elder Tidwell that he was paying a certain amount of money each month in order to pay off a debt to the bank. He said he would be able to pay his tithing when he finishes paying off the debt. So we explained the situation to the ward council and a couple members decided that they would help him budget his finances and help him with his light bill if he paid his tithing first. So we presented the plan to him yesterday and he accepted it without problem and is now good to go for his baptism on this upcoming Sunday

As well we started teaching Carlos, Yadira, and Carlos and it's gone really well. They are all really engaged in the lessons and have strong desires to receive answers to their questions. We are going to set a date with all three of them this week. 

We taught Deseret and Enrique this week a couple times and they still want to be baptized, which is a good thing. The only obstacle we can see is that their mom is trying to get papers so she can be here for the baptism. If she's not able to do that, then we will have to postpone the baptism until she arrives, which might end up being a good thing because she's not a member herself. 

On Thursday we stopped by a potential family named the Reyes and shared the why of the Book of Mormon with them and promised tons of blessings and they felt the Spirit and told us they would read. When we came back, they hadn't read, and didn't seem all that interested in learning more because they were celebrating the day of the Virgen Maria a little early, because that day is the 12th of December. 🙃

But either way we are still on the lookout for even more people to teach and guide to the safety of the waters of baptism. In an area like this it is crucial that we receive member referrals and teach people in the homes of members. So we have been doing all we can to gain the trust of these fine members so that they can trust us with their friends. 

Something I've come to realize while I've been on my mission is how important it is to be persistent in persuading people to come unto Christ. Obviously I don't want to be overbearing when inviting others to learn about Christ, but at the same time, when someone opens their door, looks at us and says "No" without even hearing what we have to say, they need to be asked why. This is the most important message that anyone could ever hear, so it's our responsibility to make sure that they understand at least a little bit what they are rejecting and how we are only trying to help, not Bible-bash. I also came across a scripture in the Book of Jacob that drives this point home

7 Wherefore we labored diligently among our people, that we might persuade them to come unto Christ, and partake of the goodness of God, that they might enter into his rest, lest by any means he should swear in his wrath they should not enter in, as in the provocation in the days of temptation while the children of Israel were in the wilderness.

That's about it for this week. God bless you all. 

Elder Barrus

I Love Waller

This post is from Monday, December 5, 2016

I'm starting to love Waller more and more the longer I'm here. At first I thought that it would be kind of a slow area because it's the country and there's more cows than people out here, let alone Hispanics, but we have been blessed with a lot of teaching opportunities. We taught 15 lessons this week, which is the second most lessons I've taught in a week thus far in my mission. I wouldn't really say that the success can be attributed to us because this branch is incredible. It all starts with the priesthood leadership and they do a great job of making assignments and making sure that people are visited, fellowshipped, and spiritually nourished. As I was sitting in branch council I marveled at how the branch presidency mentioned how we as missionaries shouldn't be teaching lessons without members present in the lesson. It makes our job as missionaries a whole lot easier when we have members willing to fellowship our investigators and share their conversion stories with them because sometimes it's hard to believe a couple of 19 year old kids from Utah who haven't been around the block as much as them. So I am just so grateful for the members here and will cherish my time serving in Waller. 

Anyways, to give an update on Francisco, we went by on Thursday and he told us that he was all good to be baptized on December 11th, but there was one thing that might hold him back. He said that he is retired and receives a social security check from the government each month and with that money he is able to pay his bills, but he only has $20 left over after he pays his bills, which is much less than the 10 percent needed to pay tithing. He said that if it was acceptable paying $20 for tithing instead of 10 percent, then he would get baptized, but if not, we would have to delay the baptism in order to work something out. So we told him we would ask our mission president about it and get back to him. Knowing full well that he would have to pay 10 percent I dreaded our next lesson with him. As I studied, pondered, and prayed about how we were going to overcome this barrier, I reflected on why the commandment of tithing even exists. God doesn't need our money. He has super rich people like Mitt Romney paying tithing that could probably cover all of the church's expenses and leave some to spare. I came across this quote from Elder Tad R. Callister of the Seventy in a talk titled "Becoming a Consecrated Missionary" that explains the principle behind tithing beautifully:

"Years  ago  my  grandfather  was  serving  as  the  president  of  the  Rotterdam  Branch  in  Holland.  He told  of  a  woman  who  came  to  him  destitute,  who  had  earned  the  equivalentof an American quarter  for  the  entire  week.  She  asked  if  she  needed  to  pay  tithing.  He  looked  at  her  for  a minute  in  her  impoverished  condition,  and  then  said:  “Sister,  if  this  were  my  church,  I  would  not take  your  tithing.  But  it  is  not  my  church;  it  is  the  Lord’s  church,  and  tithing  is  a  principle  upon which  blessings  of  the  Lord  are  predicated.”  (LeGrand  Richards  Speaks,  P.  185.)  She  paid  her tithing. 

The Lord doesn't need our money. He needs our faith. Our faith to believe that even if logically we aren't going to be able to pay our bills if we pay our tithing first, that all of our needs will be taken care of. So we explained the situation to our ward mission leader Hermano Alvarenga and he and another member visited Francisco on Sunday after church. They helped him write his expenses down, make a budget, and helped him realize that the Lord will take care of him if he pays his tithing first. So after a stressful couple of weeks we got the news that Francisco was all good to go for his baptism, he just needs an interview first. 

As far as the rest of the week went, on Thursday we had our weekly planning but before that we went to a barbecue place to get baked potatoes. That's really all Waller is famous for but that's okay because they were really good. On Friday we had an inspiring zone meeting about faith and finding people to teach. The zone leaders talked about how sometimes the mission president and his assistants give us commitments that sometimes seem like they are too lofty. When I first entered the mission field I would receive these kinds of commitments from my leaders in the mission and resent them because I thought they were unrealistic. Over time I've repented and really put forth my best effort to fulfill those commitments. In zone meeting we discussed how we need to have the faith that these things can happen. One of the scriptures that hit me was 2 Nefi 27:23:

"For behold, I am God; and I am a God of miracles; and I will show unto the world that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and I work not among the children of men save it be according to their faith."

Sometimes we think that the miracles of the Bible can't happen today because God has already done his work. That is just not true. Biblical type miracles are happening every single day, we just have to have the faith to believe them and recognize them. Which brought us to the next point about finding those who are prepared. We need to be putting forth our best effort to ensure that we are bold and helping people understand what they are either accepting or rejecting. So we were able to put that to the test Friday afternoon after district meeting when we visited a potential named Gabriela. Early in the lesson, she mentioned how she had been looking to come closer to God and had prayed for guidance just a few days before we showed up. So she took that as a sign from God and we testified that it was. That was a real testimony builder to how God is preparing the hearts of many to receive the message of the Restored Gospel. Later that night we taught another lesson to someone named Tyreke who said he had prayed earlier in the week for guidance. So we showed up. 

Anyways, I think that's all for today, but I am grateful for the opportunity I have to be a missionary and to see the lives of others change for good. 

Elder Barrus

We made gingerbread houses with the Smuins and they made us missionary snowmen. ☃️

We had a good zone meeting

Monday, December 5, 2016

You Only Serve in Waller If You're a Baller

So I got transferred this week out to Waller, an area which covers 4 towns of about 5,000 people each. We cover a Spanish branch and an English ward and there's plenty of work to do. I came in at a good time, Waller currently has 3 baptismal dates and lots of potential to set more. My new companion is Elder Wells and he's from Alpine, Utah and he came in with me to the mission field, so he has the same amount of time in the field as I do. 

On Tuesday we taught a few lessons, did some finding, and knocked on some doors. 

On Wednesday, we did some service at a thrift shop for an hour, knocked some more doors, ate dinner with a part member family, taught their unbaptized 9 year old son Anthony, and attended a couple of meetings. 

Thursday, we planned, ate Thanksgiving dinner with the Schilde family, and watched them shoot some clay pigeons with their shotguns. Then we finished our weekly planning, knocked on some more doors, and visited a potential family named the Reyes. A week before I got here the missionaries had helped them fix up their house a little bit, so they let us right in and fed us some more Thanksgiving dinner, and let us teach them the Restoration. There were 3 families there, and about 9 people participated in the lesson so that was pretty cool. They mentioned that they were pretty grateful that the Elders quorum and the missionaries had come and helped them fix some stuff up around the house. They said they would come to church and didn't, so we're not sure how interested they really are, but we will try again this week. 

On Friday we had district meeting and taught Francisco, an 82 year old guy from Mexico who has a baptismal date for the 11th of December.  He had accepted the Word of Wisdom and law of chastity without much issue, so we weren't too concerned about him. We taught tithing and he did not accept it as a law of God at all. We used Malachi 3:8-10 but he still didn't budge so we invited him to pray and ask God about it. He said he is going to rethink his baptismal date because he didn't believe that the true church of God would have its members pay tithing. However, we let him think about it for a couple days, and then had our ward mission leader visit him on Sunday. Francisco said he still wants to be baptized and asked how to fill out a tithing slip, so I think the Spirit has worked on him. 

On Saturday we taught a few more lessons that weren't anything to write home about. 

On Sunday we had church with 6 of our investigators there and a couple meetings. Then we stopped by a potential investigator named Ryan and taught him the Restoration. He said that he believed in Joseph Smith's first vision so we invited him to be baptized. He said he's already been baptized, but prayed to know if it's something God would have him do. So there's some potential there for sure. 

All in all, it was a positive week and we are looking forward to building on this momentum. 

Elder Josh Barrus
Waller District