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.
We had a good zone meeting