Monday, August 8, 2016

08/08/16 - Raleigh, North Carolina

I am so grateful for the opportunities we have been heaven-sent to grow! This week has been full of a little bit more trials than the past few weeks, but don't you fear! Elder Shearer is staying strong, positive, and persistent! The first struggle came last Monday when we played some sports with a bunch of other missionaries. While playing a friendly game of soccer, I got kicked in the face! My glasses cut my nose open and I started bleeding! But hey, at least the glasses were intact. The next day was actually a really great one. We had zone council again! It is a meeting wherein the district leaders and zone leaders discuss the needs of the missionaries of the zone. It is very real and so intimate. Easily my favorite meeting. We brought up many good ideas and suggestions to help the missionaries and it got me really excited! Wednesday was another beautiful day. We had district meeting and I instructed on How to Begin Teaching. For those of you that don't know, How to Begin Teaching is a section in Preach my Gospel that us missionaries use to establish expectations with our investigators, members, and everyone we meet! Well this week while studying for district meeting, I came across a great eye-opener. While reading this section, I saw the words "our message" many times. I came to realize that these expectations are not just for our investigators to have. They are also essential for us as the missionaries to have. By changing the wording to read "your message" it speaks to us missionaries directly and teaches us many things. For instance, one point says "Our message cannot be learned all at once. Understanding will come over time through prayer, study, experience, and keeping God’s commandments." This helps the investigator understand the importance of patience and hard work. Now upon changing the wording we come to read it as follows. "Your message cannot be learned all at once. Understanding will come over time through prayer, study, experience, and keeping God’s commandments." This now helps us missionaries realize that we also need the patience and hard work to come to understand the message we share. As I shared this in district meeting, the Spirit was very powerful. Many of us were in tears as we put into perspective not only our expectations for our investigators, but also the expectations we should have for ourselves. And in turn, the Lord's expectations for us. I went on an exchange with an Elder in my district following the meeting and we had a great night biking. An hour to dinner and then an hour back! We also did some tracting in the nighttime and talked to some great people. I ordered some new tags from the mission office and they came this week! They say "Elder Cortador" which is the Spanish translation of my name. Super fun! Elder Summers had his birthday on Thursday and to celebrate, I took him out to lunch. He opened all of his presents including a name tag from me that says "Elder Veranos" and seemed to enjoy the day very much. We also had a member shoot of some fireworks to help us celebrate! I got a package the following day from my Grandma D! It got stuck in the mail for almost a month... I can't believe it! It was amazing. We had a lesson with the husband of our recent convert that just got baptized and he was completely different this time! His whole countenance has changed and he is definitely feeling the Spirit of the message now. We hope to baptize him soon. After the lesson with him, we came outside to find that our bike lights had been stolen! We rode home in the pitch black and almost crashed like 10 times haha! It was a good laughing experience... We biked a lot in the rain this week and biked some pretty heavy days miles-wise. We have also had many appointments fall through. On this past Saturday alone, we had all 7 of our appointments reject us. One of them even told us that she would much appreciate us never coming back haha! I loved it. After every single door that was slammed in our face, we just laughed it off and with a face of determination, set off to continue working in the work of the Lord. And as we kept smiling and pushing on, the Lord granted us a great tender mercy. While tracting, a woman by the name of Tracy pulled her car up next to us and shared her story. She let us know that her son was baptized in the church many years ago, but was now a less active. She too would have been baptized had it not been for a few things in her life at the time. She told us they had been searching for a way to get in contact with the church for quite some time, but didn't know where to look. She had prayed that morning that the Lord would send someone to her and later saw us walking. Not having much time, she gave us her number and told us to give her a call as soon as possible. It was incredible to see that the Lord really does have a plan for us, even when it isn't the one we initially expect! And one of my favorite experiences of the week happened as we were tracting one rainy night. After trying a few doors without any success, I was gentled reminded by the Holy Ghost to try a door I had tried many weeks before. I believe at this point I had tried this specific door at least 5 other times due to other strong promptings. Well this time, it opened! From the second the door opened, the whole mood changed. We immediately connected spirit to spirit and we began talking very openly with one another. She let us know that she is very frustrated and confused with religion and just wants the truth. I was without speech as Elder Summers and I left that contact. We just walked in silence for the longest time. And to top off the week, church was incredible! Josefina, Rony, and their family came and as they walked in the doors, Josefina said "Oh! My church! This is my church!" Rony paid his tithing too on a little bit of money he had made cleaning cars! They are so very strong. A member bore her testimony about the power of Priesthood blessings and told a story about when I gave her a blessing not too long ago. She said that the blessing was an answer to a prayer and through tears explained that it helped her come to truly know of the love of God for her. It brought me to tears as well. This week was a remarkable one. I am trying to look up, look out, and look now. Look up and be positive. Look out and put the needs of others before my own. Look now and enjoy what I have in front of me while I have it. I apologize for such long emails, but there are just too many stories I have to share each week! I hope they are bringing the spirit of missionary work into each of your daily lives. For I KNOW of the blessings that come when we do this, the work of the Lord.

Still squeezing the rain out of my shoes,
Elder Shearer

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