I wish that words could capture the emotions I am feeling!!! I am sooo privileged to be serving a mission! I am blessed to be witnessing so many miracles and it fills me with an indescribable joy that is unlike anything else! Last Monday we had a hilarious encounter at the Walmarts. We were just going about our business shopping for bagels and things when a random stranger approached us! He was at least 7 feet tall and he was roughly 60 years old. He asked us if we were Mormon missionaries and we replied emphatically that we were! :) He then proceeded to bash the church and went on a 10 minute long rant about how Mitt Romney is in charge of all of the narco-trafficking in America. He told us that our church is trying to get rid of the constitution and put the swastika in instead! He continued to bash us and tell us that we are to blame for all of the drug trafficking in America. He screamed all kinds of horrible accusations at us and then he told us that he was sure we already knew we were terrible people! He let us know that he believes in Jesus and in the Bible, but he "doesn't agree with anyone that's stupid enough to worship him!" He told us that we believe the Garden of Eden was in Missouri and that we believe Jesus Christ walked on this continent. I looked him straight in the eyes and with the biggest smile I had, I said "Yes sir, we do believe in that!" He stepped even closer to me and raising his voice even louder screamed "Well that just proves how stupid you are! You could believe in anything and you choose to believe in that ****! You might as well believe that Trump is a Christian!" He then stormed off and before he got too far I yelled out with another smile "God bless you sir!" He turned around and cursed at us for wishing blessings upon him. He told us he already had everything he could ever want! Another random man then approached us and asked what had happened. We told him that he didn't like us or our church very much, but that it was okay! He said "No kidding! I was four aisles over and I could hear him screaming at you!" We continued to shop and as we checked out, I saw him again! As he walked past, I yelled out "It was so good to meet you sir, have a great day!" He just snarled at us and left. As we took our shopping cart out to the car, we ended up seeing him a third time! As we unloaded our groceries her turned to us and yelled "Just remember! God always wins and you devil worshipers are going to hell!" I just smiled at him and honestly felt compassion for the man. My testimony was strengthened that the gift of charity is real! I didn't feel any kind of anger towards this man, quite the opposite actually! I felt genuine love for him! I would serve him in an instant! I actually was very grateful for this experience. I felt much like the apostles of old when in Acts 5:41, "They departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name." I rejoiced that I was able to suffer ridicule for the name of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! It was funny because driving away from the store, I couldn't stop smiling! We had a fun district activity playing sports here at the church afterwards and it was a great preparation day! We accounted with our zone on Tuesday and we met many people! We found a very elect Hispanic woman and the Spirit was felt strongly on her doorstep as we shared the first vision! We also found a very elect YSA investigator, he is looking for an uplifting, positive church! We stopped by one of our Congolese families and set up an appointment with them in Swahili and as we spoke to them in Swahili, their eyes were so wide and they were laughing they couldn't believe it! That night, we met another interesting stranger! As we were knocking doors, a man approached us (obviously very drunk) and introduced himself to us as JR. We asked him how long he had been living in those apartments and he told us he moved in a month ago. We asked what brought him over to Wilmington and he told us he shattered his leg in the Philippines! We asked why he was visiting the Philippines and he told us he lived in Asia for 6 years! Haha we had a funny back and forth and then he asked us if we wanted to "join him in his quarters to indulge in some tacos"! We really wanted to say yes, but it was late and we had to head home.. He wouldn't let us leave though and he insisted on us having a gospel conversation! I asked what he wanted to talk about and he told me to pick the topic. I asked him what he thought about prophets, like Moses or Abraham. He said "Well, that takes us back to Ishmael and Isaac. Now you see, you can only get water out of one stone. So you don't think Muhammad was a prophet? Cause I know that's where you're going with this!" I thought for a moment and said "I believe that God speaks to everyone in different ways." He paused, looked at me intently, and said "Wow, that's beautiful!" He then took a huge swig of his alcohol. Haha it was one of the funniest conversations I have ever had! As we walked away we wished him a good stay in the apartment complex and he said "Yep, I moved in last night!" Great stuff.. We went down to Southport for District Meeting on Wednesday and then we exchanged with those elders. I went with our District Leader Elder Jones and we had a great night! We taught the gospel boldly and set some baptismal dates! We went to a special bakery named "Burney's" and the only other one I have ever seen was in Clinton. We used to go there all the time in Clinton! It was amazingly delicious. The following morning as I got out of the shower, I saw that Elder Jones had made me breakfast! It was so kind of him!! What a great Elder. We exchanged back and Elder Nadauld and I went to visit Jerry, the coma man! We watched a movie called "Our Heavenly Father's Plan" and it was super cheesy haha.. He liked it though! We visited our recent convert Congolese family that night and they were sick! We made a speedy run to Walmart to buy them drinks, medicine, and gloves and they seem to be doing better. It was so sad how sick they were getting from the cold weather! They are having a difficult time affording their rent so the following morning we spent a little time trying to find them a new apartment. We then took Cody, a YSA member, out with us on an exchange and it was great! We knocked into some awesome people! We finished the night by teaching Esmi, one of our Hispanic investigators! We showed her some videos from the church and let her watch a talk that President Monson gave in General Conference. The Spirit was so strong and she loved it enough that even when we left, she was still watching mormon messages! She is getting baptized in a few weeks!! Saturday was a great day. Our YSA Branch mission leader took us out to both Breakfast and Lunch and we went out on an exchange in between! It was a lot of fun to go tracting with him and visit our YSA investigators! We stopped by Johnny to help him prepare for his sacrament meeting talk the following day and he was so excited, but nervous as well! He told us that he was going to stay up all night and practice his talk. Haha he said "You can never be tired for the gospel!" I gave myself and another Elder a haircut that night and it was a great day! Sunday was incredible. Johnny gave his talk in church on his conversion story and it was amazing!! He did it both in English and then in Swahili! And during Elders quorum meeting, he gave Elias the Priesthood! It is amazing to watch our Congolese progress so well in the gospel! A photographer from the church was there and she wanted to take pictures of the Congolese with us in them! She said it might get in the Ensign!! In the YSA branch, a Hispanic member was assigned to give a talk so I was up there right next to him translating the whole thing. It was a great talk! And then the same talk that was given a few weeks ago about the Word of Wisdom was given again the YSA branch! It was terrible.. The work has been so busy here! Our ward mission leader told the ward council that this is the busiest he has ever seen the Elders in all of his years of being the ward mission leader! So great to be working in the Lord's vineyard! We finished the week with one of the best nights of my mission!! We visited a girl named Karen. She is Hispanic and is in her twenties. Technically she should go to the YSA, but she likes to come to the first ward with her mom. Her mother is a member, but Karen has never joined the church. She has been taught by the missionaries for years and years and she always told them that although she would listen to them, she would never change her religion! We had an incredible lesson with her last night. She started by telling us that she had had a dream the night before. She dreamed that we had texted her inviting her to church! In her dream she texted back and promised us she would come! So she woke up and started to get ready but then while looking at her phone, she realized we never texted! It was definitely a sign from God! We read a powerful chapter out of the Book of Mormon with her and her mom about baptism and then we asked the mom to share her conversion story. The Spirit came in very strongly and we could tell that Karen was getting antsy. I told her I knew she was feeling the Spirit and I asked her how she felt about baptism. She told us that lately, she has been thinking quite a bit about it! She told us that she decided she wants us to be the ones to baptize her! We set a date with her and we even wrote it in on her calendar! It was amazing to hear her pray at the end and tell God that she wants to be baptized. We were very bold with her and it payed off. We walked away jumping up and down full of joy! I am so truly honored to be here in this area at this time serving God. I testify that this is His work and His glory. He is preparing His children, it is up to us to open our mouths and invite!
Rejoicing in the chance to be ridiculed for Christ,