We will go ahead and start off with a man named Clint. He is 41, loaded rich, and travels the world trying to learn languages and takes missionaries out for food. He learns the language by taking girls out on dates and just talking to them :). Luckily we ran into him. He got baptized about a year or so ago and is doing great. He is divorced, but his daughter sang in a choir with a number of Mormons when she was around the age of 16 and got interested through the other girls there singing. After she got baptized and he went to sacrament meeting for the first time to support her he couldn't go back to other churches. It just didn't feel real to him. He knew he was going to get baptized but was expecting a big answer for about 5 months. Once he decided to delete a few numbers from his phone and go all in, he fasted and prayed one Sunday. He woke up and then knew that he needed to be baptized. He is a strong member and you can tell he is really converted.
He took us to a "Secret Restaurant" called the Last Barricade. There are no signs for the place, in the elevator there is no labeled button for the floor, and when you get in it just looks like an average gift shop. It is located near Maidon where the terrorist act occurred a couple of years ago. If you go up to the person at the front desk you can say "Fight for Freedom" and he opens up a secret door and you are able to go through a couple more doors and sit down in a really nice restaurant. Cool idea. Good food. First time I have eaten out in a long long time!
He had us meet him at a spot at 2 o'clock and a girl came up and talked to us. First of all, it is really rare that anyone comes up and talks to us unless they are drunk. Second of all, she knew perfect English. She said that she was baptized when she was 13 and fell away. She is now about 20 and wants to start meeting with missionaries again. That same day we had some occurrences that were pretty non-coincidental. A man dropped his whole key chain and kept on walking, so we picked it up and gave it to him. Turned out he is deaf and it would have been really hard to find the keys again. We knocked on a grandma's door and had a conversation with her by writing on paper because it is very hard for her to speak. She is less-active and she came to church this last week and we now have a great friend.
We have a recent-convert who can't really sit still on lessons and it is hard for him to pay attention. He is 21 and we heard that he was working out on the street every night. We decided to rearrange our proselyting hours and that we would just accompany him and go lifting. I was in heaven. We were using object lessons to teach him about stuff like the Priesthood and testimony as we were lifting at an outdoor gym. It was pretty sweet.
Saturday was the best part of the week. We went back to the place that we were able to serve last week with handicaps.
- We talked to the lady in charge and she said that we could have 30 minutes to preach or do whatever we wanted. We showed up and instead of Korean Baptists this time there were Evangelists and they were not happy to see us. The Pastor came directly up to us and said that we would not have one word. He said that we interpret the Bible differently and that we can't be together in the same room. He wanted us to leave entirely, but the lady in charge wouldn't let him completely banish us, good thing she was there. We said that we had prepared a song and that we would at least would want to preform. Yes, I said a song. I have ZERO musical talent. I try to sing "bass" and just sing the melody an octave lower. However, I do know how to play 1 hymn. Sweet Hour of Prayer. I played that hymn every Sunday for about 2 years in Priesthood. I hadn't played a piano for about the whole time I have been out and I was able to by muscle memory play the hymn. The more I practiced it, the more I messed up because I started to second guess myself. The Pastor turned to us after about an hour of him going off and said we could sing. We go to pull out the hymn books and somehow they aren't there. This is what 2 years of repeatedly playing this song in Priesthood, while having all of the priesthood holders mad at me because it was literally almost every week that we sang it, prepared me for. The Pastor literally stood over my shoulder when I sat down and it was more nerve racking than my mom after she knew I hadn't practiced at all that week and I had to play in front of her :). I asked God that I wouldn't mess up too bad and it went really well. I literally used the only musical talent that I own. If we think back to Joseph Smith and the first vision the first things that Satan used were fear and taking away his able to talk. This Pastor took away our ability to "speak" and was pretty hostile for being at a little service opportunity for handicapped people. The only way we could get our message across was through music and through the spirit and that was what we were prepared to do. Music is a way in which we can bless others around us. It has unbelievable potential and no limits to what the Spirit can do with it.
-My main goal throughout the whole service opportunity was to have good relations with this Pastor and his fellow evangelists and to keep on smiling. After the event, we went up to talk to them and they didn't want a thing to do with us. I told them that what I have learned is you only need to get to know someone a little better and you always can end up having more respect for them and see things from their point of view. These are the main things that really made them think and I was happy that we could tell them about:
1. Temple work. At first, baptisms for the dead was a joke that was thrown at us. We then explained the reasoning and testified that every person will have a chance to repent and either accept or reject Christ in this life or in the next. God is a God of perfect mercy and justice.
2. The fact that almost the whole room doesn't really even need to be preached to. They are all already saved. They are all mentally handicap in some shape or form and cannot decide between good or wrong, so God will not judge them according to their deeds. We all know a mentally handicapped person and know their spirit. They have a one-way ticket to heaven and are just here to help others do the same.
4. Modern Day Revelation and The importance of a person being called of God to preach. I have never really understood the gravity of the revelation that Joseph Smith received when he knew his older brother, Alvin which died without being baptized, could be with him again with God and was not cast into hell. This Pastor is a very respectable person who knows the Bible very well. I did't feel the power when he spoke. He said that miracles have ceased. Other religions being bashed was the more part of the doctrine of which he spoke about. I looked around and everyone just looked sad. Now take that and compare it when Elder Holland came to our mission months ago. Night and day.
The last part was something that really hit me when I realized it. One of the other people there with this Pastor gave a great speech about the events after the resurrection of Christ and I went up to shake his hand after and to thank him. He told it by heart and very well. I was really impressed. When I went for the handshake he refused and kept his hands in his pockets. I have come across religions that refuse to shake hands and I was ready to just assume that this religion didn't do that. After the hour long conversation, my companion also tried to shake hands with him (He hadn't seen what happened earlier) and he again refused. If someone would have asked me what this Branch of the Evangelists believe in, I would have probably noted the fact that they do not shake hands. Upon leaving, I decided to give this man a friendly pat on the shoulder. His arm sleeves were tucked down in his pockets as if his hands were in his pockets. This man had a metal frame for shoulders on both sides. I was ready to tell everyone and judge this Church from a first impression of this man not shaking my hand. Turns out he doesn't even have arms! Let's now take this lesson and apply it to us. Someone could see a missionary or a member and know they are a Mormon. If one of us is not honest in our dealings, someone could attribute that to the whole church. If a missionary is not obedient or disrespectful, that is instantly reflected to the Church. If we are choosing which commandments to live by and which ones aren't convenient or don't "apply to us", others see that and that becomes the image of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints. Let us not jump to conclusions about people that don't shake hands because they don't have arms. Let us be examples to all and remember how blessed we are to know what we know.
Hope you all have a great week!
Enjoy some artsy photos from this week... I had fun taking them :)