Time sure does fly by. I can't believe it's been another week. It feels like I just got to Spartanburg, but as I check the calendar, I've been here for 3 1/2 months! Holy smokes! Before I forget, I would love the piano music. It would be great to have some arrangements to play. This week there were quite a few funny situations Elder Douglas and I found ourselves in.
On Tuesday, I brought Elder Merrill to work in my area. (Elder Merrill is a new district leader and I wanted to give him some training along with giving me the opportunity to build our relationship). We visited some recent converts of Elder Redston to encourage and strengthen, and then we went out tracting. We met one man who was walking down the street and he actually called us over to him and told us that we should come by and see him. This man's name is Monrow. We took down Monrow's information and continued working throughout the neighborhood. He lives on 530 Peronneau street. As we were walking, we actually came across Peronneau street and we decided to go down it. As we walked down the street, we came across a house that had three people sitting outside. I always feel weird yelling at a group and inviting them to hear the restored gospel. I did it anyways, and as I invited them to learn more, the two men just walked away without commenting, leaving an old lady sitting on the porch. We approached her and began to talk to her. Ella White, the lady, told us that she used to live in New York and she used to attend our church. I told her I did not think it was an accident that we met. She then continued to tell us that she is looking for a church. We invited her to come to church but she told us she was going back to the hospital for a surgery on her arm. We said a prayer with her and prayed that all would be well with the doctors. When we received her address to come back by, it was 530 Peronneau St. I recognized the number from early that morning and it turns out that Monrow lives with Ella, and at two different times in their lives they have been taught by the missionaries. Now they are living together (without being married, but we can work on that) and want the gospel in their lives. It was pretty cool that we met both of them on the same day!
We also had great lessons with Ervan and John Perry. Ervan loves the Book of Mormon, and is continuing to read. John made the comment, "you've hooked me on this book" as he held up the Book of Mormon. I hope and pray they continue to read from the Book of Mormon, so the Spirit may enter their lives and teach them the things that they must do.
On Wednesday, Elder Douglas and I had an interesting appointment with one of our investigators, John Davis (different man than John Perry). We were teaching him about the Book of Mormon and he once again had not read, so we were about to drop him when out of nowhere, he tells us he has struggled with a problem his entire life. He explained that he is gay and needs help. I was not sure what to do, but I opened up the scriptures and began to teach. I first let him know that Heavenly Father loves him, but in order to return and live with Him we must follow what he asks. Throughout, John kept saying, "I just don't know why I was made this way." I then explained the difference between weakness and sin. We all have our weaknesses that the devil will use to tempt us. I used myself as an example. I always have lazy thoughts of procrastinating and just relaxing, but just because I have those thoughts does not mean I am lazy. The sin is when I act upon those thoughts that enter my mind. It was really weird. I don't mean to toot my own horn, but I had never dealt with this concern before and yet the Lord just kept using me--He would flip my scriptures to the scriptures he needed to hear. The Spirit was so strong. I know he has a rough journey ahead of him, but I hope and pray he will apply the atonement in his life so he can receive relief from the weight of sin that has been on his shoulders.
On Friday Elder Douglas and I met Tate. Tate is very intimidating when you first see him. Tate is 6'6'' and 250 lbs and he has a golden grill for teeth. We talked to him on the door and he invited us into his house. Even though he has a rough appearance, Tate is confused and has almost lost hope in religion all together. He expressed that he was not sure if he believed in Jesus anymore because of all the horrible Christians in the world and how churches are all about money these days. We shared with him the first vision and when we explained that Joseph Smith was called to be a prophet and was given the priesthood, we forgot to say that he was commanded by God to reorganize His church. Without this knowledge, Tate responded, "I wish Joseph Smith would have made a church . . .no, that wouldn't be good because then the wicked people would have killed him just as they killed the apostles." It was the coolest comment! He truly recognized that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. Tate was not able to come to church because his family came in town.
Update on John Perry. John is still not sure about Joseph Smith and if the Book of Mormon is scripture. He loves to read the stories, but he has not received a witness from the spirit that these things are true. Because he has not received a witness, he is continuing to search elsewhere aka the Jehovah Witnesses. I have fasted and prayed that he would receive spiritual guidance and discernment, and we also reminded him that he his literally in Joseph Smith's shoes, trying to decide which church to join. He promised he would continue to pray and he committed to come to church. Unfortunately, he did not keep his commitment. John did not attend church. We tried calling him and when I introduced myself over the phone, he hung up on me. I'm worried about him. We are going to stop by his house this evening. I know that's not a good story to end with, but that's how our week ended. Nobody came to church.
Another week has begun, and we continue to work hard. I know the gospel has been restored to this earth by Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. They did appear to the young boy and revealed truths that had been lost. I am so thankful I grew up knowing these truths. I am even more thankful that I have the opportunity to share the truth with my brothers and sisters here in Spartanburg. I hope and pray you have a great week!