Yes there is a tree right smack dab in the middle of the road, and that's not the only one! There's 2 others we saw around town. I thought that was pretty hilarious. We then had another one that was fantastic, we have a wifi spot we use to sync our area books and it's in the middle of a parking lot for a gas station (no idea how wifi gets there but it does) and we tend to use wifi and talk to people as they fill up their cars. Well this guy came rollin up and I made it a mission to talk to this man. Thank goodness I did.
How cool is that!!!?!?? He had been talked to I guess plenty of times and gave us the cold shoulder but we asked about his car and if we could get a picture of it and he opened up a bit and asked about what a mission is like and the logistics of it. It turned into an awesome conversation and he shared with us his advice in achieving the dream of having a car like that. He said, WORK HARD IN SCHOOL. Seems like a no brainer. But he said how those who sacrifice parties and fun and work hard, even though having a spot of fun is good, if you work harder than the rest especially in college, you can do whatever you want to. I thought that was pretty cool. He was a super nice guy and he had much more respect and softened heart when we told him how we pay to be out here and the circumstances of a mission. Pretty cool.
The spiritual thought for my letter this week is how important it is to proclaim this gospel to all and don't be afraid to do it. The story behind it is this new investigator we met named Candace. She is an amazing person going through a difficult time in life. We got a referral from a man somewhere out of state for her that instructed us to call him first. We did and he told us the situation. Candace had lived in Utah before and had been around the Church of Jesus Christ before a lot. She had even attended a bit but they got really weirded out how the members wouldn't leave them alone and showed up at their house when they didn't come to church and just felt overwhelmed. She and her family came to Texas and haven't had any contact since except through her friend Lavar. Well a crisis has occurred and her friend Lavar began asking for info so he could refer her to us. She knew what was going on but her heart softened and she decided to see what we have to say. So we had our first appointment with her and she is fantastic, she was open to what we had to say and had some genuine questions she's never had anyone be able to answer until us. We answered all her questions she had and she began to tell us all of what was going on, as we sat and listened, the Holy Ghost filled the room and we were able to testify of the gospel of Jesus Christ and how it is exactly what she needs to fix this issue. We all began to cry from the spirit around and she was able to identify the warm feeling of the Holy Ghost and recognize that it was testifying of our words to her. My point in this is saying that if Lavar had backed down, knowing the Utah experience they had, knowing her situation, if he had stayed quiet or just tried to have been a small comfort, she would not be where she is now. But because he opened his mouth, he asked and went out on a limb. Candace is now learning and coming closer to Jesus Christ. Not just in a figurative sense either. What the missionaries teach, it is not to convert to the church, it is not to bolster the numbers, it is not to degrade or tear down existing beliefs, no our purpose is to teach and invite others to come unto Christ. We believe in truth anywhere it can be found, the reason for this one church and importance of being a part of it is Christ himself has appeared to Joseph Smith, and through him has restored the priesthood authority of God to lead and guide his children. Proof of this for all weighs on if the Book of Mormon, translated by that very same priesthood restored, is true. Many don't know this and many need encouragement to find out! This message we share, this, if it is true, means that eternal salvation hangs in the balance whether they read that book of not. This is a matter of our brothers and sisters eternal life. And if we don't share it, if we sit complacent and happy that we already have it and don't share it, we aren't progressing. I want to testify that the Book of Mormon is true, I wouldn't be on a mission if it wasn't. I have read it and read it and read it again looking for anything that might suggest it's not, but through prayer and answers by the Holy Ghost himself I tell you all now that that book is true. Which means the authority of god is here and families can be eternal through that priesthood, that salvation is found through those holding such authority and they are members of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Now I invite all of you reading, members or not, to reread the Book of Mormon, to pray each time and ask god if it is true. He will answer, he always does. And when you remember the sweet joy of knowing that this is the gospel of Jesus Christ restored here on earth through modern day prophets, think of how awful it would be to not know about it! How can we fix that? Elder Ballard gave great council. Go to October 1986 in general conference and read "We Proclaim the Gospel." Enough of this, "oh man that's a great talk," and then doing nothing with it. Let us follow Jesus Christ's prophet and apostles and experiment on their words, for they speak the words of Christ! In the talk it talks about setting a date and lists four steps. Take those steps. In the name of Jesus Christ I invite you to as a family or individual take this seriously, pray for a desire to share the gospel, and then follow this council in the talk. In that order. Discover the joy that can be had when we follow the example of Jesus Christ and invite all to come unto him by helping them receive the restored truth we have here on earth. I promise in the name of Jesus Christ that as you do this, your own life will become happier, you will feel the spirit more, you will come to know in a very real sense that god is there, he is overseeing his restored church today, and there will be great blessings in store for you. I testify in the name of Christ that this message is tailored to fit every single person walking this planet right now, that these words are true. I have tested them myself and people know I'm more skeptical than not, and they are true. Missionary work is something put on the back burner for many right now, but that needs to change. "12 For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it--" We as full time missionaries are charged with inviting people to come unto Christ, well that's hard when we don't have anyone to invite. We knock doors because we have to sometimes, but that isn't our calling. We are here to help everyone with their missionary work, so I invite all to pick up the slack, Our savior is coming again and we need to hasten our pace as the lord hastens his work. Pray for a desire. Then get on your feet and let's partake in the joy that Jesus Christ has for us. Christ is the key to everything, he is much more than a name, than a reason for Christmas, than a good thought, than a good role model, this life is but a blip of time in the eternal plan of happiness set in place by God. The only reason this plan works AT ALL, is because of Jesus Christ. He lives, he is a real being, with flesh and bone. Never forget just how real this all is, religion is not just a thing people do, it is not just a Sunday service, it isn't just a unifying thing that works for some people. The restored gospel of Jesus Christ restored to the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is a lifestyle, it is the path we can walk to find happiness here and eternal joy in the next. It is the plan! To remove shame and guilt, to remove heartache, to remove pain, to forgive sin, a foundation which is Christ that if we build, we will never fall. It works for everyone, because everyone is child of God. Lastly, invite the missionaries to teach you the first lesson, and then proclaim it to others, and set a date. I love each and every one of you and am so thankful to be on a mission. It's truly amazing to be on a mission and come to know that Jesus Christ really is alive with our Father in Heaven and we are their work and glory. But you don't have to be in a mission to find that out, you don't have to have a tag to be a missionary, so let's do it.
In the name of Jesus Christ, our eternal Savior and King. Amen.
P.S. This was one of the dogs Candace and her family own. Her name is Molly and she slept on my lap the entire lesson. It was awesome!