What a wonderful week. Things did not go as planned (go figure :) But just as Elder Calton stated in his homecoming talk, we must trust in the Lord and he will provide, and boy did He provide this week!
Tuesday we had a church tour set with Melissa. Melissa has been investigating the church for three and a half months. We continue to work with her for she desires to learn and grow. We had Sister Leckie come with us. We had a great lesson with her in which we shared Joseph Smith's experience with her and the spirit was really strong. I don't know what it is, but whenever we teach Melissa I always have to fight back tears. :P Melissa feels Joseph Smith is a prophet, but she will not be baptized for she "does not feel ready." We continue to love her and encourage her so that one day she can let go of the regret and hostility she has for others and allow the Savior to heal her wounded soul.
Tuesday night we were able to go with the Easley Elders to Daniel Langley's home. Daniel is the nephew of a recent convert who lives in my area. Daniel came to church with Brenda and we all assumed he lived in our area, so Elder Fisher and I stayed with him throughout the meetings, but we found out later he actually lives in the Easley Elder's area. We decided that it would be best for the first lesson to have Elder Fisher and I present since Daniel was comfortable with us, and then we would be able to transfer the teaching over to Elder Keller and Elder Geslison for the rest of the lessons.
We went over to Daniel's house and everyone was quiet, (it's a little awkward having four missionaries teaching). I just began to ask Daniel some questions about church and the thought came, "Invite him to be baptized." I thought that was a little silly, since we had not taught him much and we had just arrived at his house, but the thought came again, "Invite him to be baptized." So I did. :) Daniel accepted very quickly and continued, "I have been wondering what I needed to do to join your church." The other missionaries were shocked. First, by my invitation at the beginning of our meeting and also by his sincere desire to be baptized. It was a testimony to me of the power of the Spirit. Ultimately, we are here simply to invite. The Spirit will do the teaching. It's not by our eloquence or the way we speak, but by the "still small voice" which inviteth all to come unto Christ. Daniel has given up his chewing tobacco and cigarettes in preparation for his baptism. :) I can't wait.
Wednesday we were able to meet with James Marrow who recently was baptized. We had a great lesson with him and answered some of his concerns with the Restoration. We then met with another recent convert, Robert Williams. He came with us to teach Ken Madden. Ken really wants to come to church, but with how is radiation treatments are set up, he has no energy on Sundays. He's really close to being done with his treatments, so I feel he will be able to progress much quicker once that is all done.
Wednesday night was scheduled to be Alex Stancell's baptismal interview. We were not able to visit with her because she was sick. :( but it worked out that the zone leaders were able to visit with her the following day to complete the baptismal interview.
Thursday was the major miracle. I am running our of time! I We were walking down a street and a we said, "hello" to a young man as he biked passed us, and then he asked, "Is smoking weed a sin?" We explained that it was and we introduced ourselves. The young man's name is Zack. Zack proceeded to ask some really good questions. We introduced him to the Book of Mormon and he said, "I have that and the Doctrine of Covenants!" We were surprised, but we set up an appointment to teach him that night. We went over and he had so many questions and wanted to learn everything. We invited him to be baptized on the 5th of March. He accepted. We looked at his quad and it actually is from the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We did not have time to explain what the difference was, but we set a return appointment at the church for a church tour. Zack would not accept a ride to the church, but said we should ride bikes. We agreed.
We also received a call from Sister Hill concerning Alex. Alex's grandfather was going to perform the baptism, but at work, he spilled chemicals down his stomach and legs, which resulted in second and third degree burns. He is in no condition to baptize. We asked Alex what she wanted to do and she wanted to wait until her grandpa got better. Her baptism did not happen this weekend, but it will happen on the 26th of February! :)
On Saturday we rode with Zack to the church. What an adventure. My pedal fell off, Zack"s back wheel kept coming loose, and almost came off. I suggested we call a member, but Zack said, "I promise you that if you have faith, we will be able to make it to the church without your pedal falling off again." We also stopped at Walmart to see if they had a crank wrench. While we were there, we ran into a member and Zack introduced himself as, "I'm going to join your church!" :) Walmart did not have the part, but we continued the journey with faith. Zack's prediction came true. We made it to the church. We had Cody Maughn waiting for us there and we gave Zack a church tour. The spirit was really strong. We explained the difference between the RLDS and the LDS churches. He decided he needed to pray and ask God for the guidance. He knelt in prayer and asked a very sincere prayer to know if he should be baptized. As we finished the prayer, he got up and he had received his answer. I love Zack. He has such a sincere desire to do what is right. Zack is 16. Zack has had a rough life, drugs, kicked out of school, but at the end of our lesson, Zack said, "I want to serve a mission after I join the church." He's the greatest!
On Sunday, Zack came to church and felt right at home! It was a great day. In priest quorum, the teacher asked, "Why would the devil come after you as a priesthood holder?" Zack answered the question. He hit it dead on. He spoke about the potential they had to change the lives of those around them. The spirit was really strong. The bishop began to cry from Zack's response to the question. He once again told all the priests that he wants to serve a mission. Before he left the priest quorum, Zack volunteered to fellowship a less-active girl at his school in attempt to get her back into the Lord's church. It just amazes me at the faith this young man has! Zack is on date for the 5th of March, but if he continues at the rate he is now. He will be baptized before February is over.
I am so thankful for the opportunity to serve a mission. I wish everyone could see my mission from my perspective. The Lord has given me everything in my life. Every experience I have is at the exact moment I need it. I have been praying for a "Mike Cowan" convert. I feel it's my debt I owe for the missionaries who taught Dad. I'm now at the tail end of my mission and this wish is coming true. I know that all blessings are proceeded by obedience. If I were not obedient before my mission, I would not be here in the South. If I were not obedient throughout my mission, I would not be having this experience right now. I love this work. It is true. I love you all!