So this week has been quite a rewarding week, but definitely not in the ways that we were expecting. Remember all those potential investigators that we planned on inviting and having them become investigators this week? Yeah that didn’t happen. One who we invested a lot of time in nurturing spiritually and getting to know threw a curveball at us during our lesson with her. When just talking to her, she very friendly and chatty and open. As soon as we entered into the lesson setting though, she completely shut down on us. Poker face the whole time, like she was determined to not give us any sort of foothold in teaching her. That was really unexpected for us and it became one of the most awkward lessons I’ve had in a long time.
We talked a long time to one of the senior couple missionaries about how the lesson went to see if there was anything else that we could have done to make it a better situation where maybe she would have accepted the message, but he assured us that we’re not here to convince people of the truth. Our job is to share the message that we have been called to share and provide an environment where we can invite the Spirit. One of the promises that comes to my mind is quoted in a scripture: And now I, Nephi, cannot write all the things which were taught among my people; neither am I mighty in writing, like unto speaking; for when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men.
This was a principle that I learned a long time ago, that we only have the ability to invite the Spirit to come before the heart of a person (hence the word “unto”). But Heaven respects every person’s ability to choose so much that it will never force that person to accept and bring that Spirit “into” their hearts. That is completely up to that person. If they choose to do so, then the Holy Ghost can work His magic and testify to them that what we are saying is true. It’s a cool principle that I’ve never really noticed in action until now. In lessons like that, we teach and testify, and we feel the presence of the Spirit in the room, so you know it’s there. But it’s almost like the other person refuses to acknowledge it’s presence by not opening themselves up to it.
We had another situation like that with our other potential investigator. She invited us over to her home to share a message out of respect for a friend of hers who’s a member of the church back in America, but she said from the get go that she had no intentions of changing religions because she felt she was too old and along in her life to change her ways now. So even though we already knew where her heart was, it was an opportunity for us to share a message with her and give her an opportunity to hear what God wants her to hear. Unlike the last lesson, this one was complete fire! She and her daughter were there as we shared with her and honestly everything that came out of our mouths felt guided and inspired. The Spirit was there. We felt it, the member that we invited to come help us felt it, and her daughter felt it. As she listened to us expound upon where we came from, why we’re here, and where we are going after this life (things that before this she had never thought about before), her perspective was expanded and she said that she had a very good, heavy feeling inside of her. Her mother on the other hand did not open up her heart to allow the Spirit to come in and testify to her.
So to summarize, for all the prospective missionaries out there who are worrying about how to convince people about the truthfulness of the gospel: stop worrying about it. That’s not your job and that’s not your calling. It is the Holy Ghost who does the convincing and it is up to the investigator to choose whether they want to listen to what you have to say. All you have to do is love the people, share what it is that God needs you to share with them, and testify with all your heart and soul that you know these things will bless their life.
Teaching was such a small portion of my week this week, but there’s was so many other things that I learned, but it all generally revolves around inviting the Spirit into yourself so that you can share it with others. I’v had a chance to see that in various exchanges and discussions with other missionaries and planning throughout this week that let’s me know that God is there and quietly, subtly guiding the work. It’s interesting how a Being of such infinite power and knowledge plays such a seemingly gentle role in our lives, noticeable only to those who focus and genuinely try to seek out His presence and influence.
To close my email for this week, I wanted to end on some good news. After a long journey, lots of lessons, and many weeks of learning and evaluating and slowly progressing, our investigator Sơn is finally getting baptized. He was interviewed and found worthy of baptism this last Saturday and will be getting baptized this next Saturday! It’s been a privilege to be on this journey with him and watch him grow, because we sure have grown a lot with him. Because we’ve invested so much into him, I can honestly say that I love the guy. It makes me wonder how much God loves and has invested into me. Food for thought for the next week…
Pictures: just some missionaries being missionaries 🙂