Monday, April 17, 2017

04/17/17 - Wilmington, North Carolina

Words cannot express the joy that I feel for the gospel!! This was definitely the best week of my entire mission!! Last Monday we took all the Elders in our district to go play disc-golfing or as I like to call it, frolfing! It was loads of fun, the course was set up all through the trees so we hit many of them haha! I got an Easter package from my Grandma as well last Monday and it had the most delicious chocolates in it!! After we had our share of frolf we visited Sharon, a woman we've been working with for a while. We brought a member with us to see her and it was a perfect match! Member relationships with the investigators are soo important!! We finally were able to identify what her concern is and we are helping her work towards baptism! That night Elder Brezenski and I went tracting for quite a while and no one was answering their doors so we decided to start singing hymns on the doorsteps! It actually worked haha!! Almost all of the ones we sang at opened up! They weren't exactly all happy to see us or even hear us, but at least they opened! :) Tuesday was a great day. We accounted with our zone in the morning and then had a member from the YSA branch come out with us on exchanges. We went tracting with him and were able to talk to many people! He took us to lunch at a famous place called PT's Grille and it was really good! We worked in Downtown that afternoon and we met a woman named Erika! She loved our message and asked if we could come visit her again the following day! On our way to our dinner appointment we saw one of our Congolese recent converts riding their bike, Gaston! We stopped and talked to him and he told us that he was going to move to South Dakota to get a better job and be able to better support his family! It was so sad, he left this past Saturday and I am going to miss him so much! We had dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings with a member and we all tried the blazin' wings! They were soo hot!! We were able to catch up with an investigator later that night that we haven't visited in months and he is doing well! He wants to be baptized but he is waiting to take a trip out to California first. The following day we had a zone training meeting and it was powerful! All of the instructions given were just perfect. We have some great leaders in this zone! Elder Brezenski and I gave an instruction entitled: "Bury your ego for Christ". We expressed the need for us to bury our weapons of rebellion like the Anti-Nefi-Lehi's and we emphasized that pride is the biggest one. What a great meeting, truly inspirational! My takeaway from the meeting is that I want to stop murmuring! I want to stop complaining so much! I want to be more grateful for what I do have and enjoy literally every moment I've been given to serve. :) I was blessed to go on an exchange after with Elder Johns, one of our district leaders. He is great at being positive and there was a lot that I learned from him! We visited Erika again and taught her the Restoration. She loved it and we set a baptismal date with her!! She is trying to turn her life around and she sees hope in the message. We then visited Jonathan and he is progressing towards baptism as well, he loves the things that he learns! All of our appointments called and cancelled for that night and despite our efforts to schedule new ones, no one was able to. So we went tracting! I love tracting. :) Although no one answered, a few people came into mind for us to visit. They are both people that we haven't found home in months, but as we stopped by, we found both of them home! We had powerful lessons with them and they both committed to come to church! I testify that if we have desires to serve God, we are called to the work! He will use us in His hands! We played Tennis the next morning with the other Elders for exercise and it was so much fun!! After we exchanged back, Elder Brezenski and I went downtown to do some finding, and we found a wide variety of people! Everything from a Muslim to a Baptist missionary that speaks Swahili to a very light skinned Honduran! It was a great morning! We then gave blessings to some missionaries and I loved getting to use the Priesthood! It is truly the power of God on the earth! My favorite lesson of the week was one that we had with one of our baptismal dates, Karen. She had previously committed to be baptized, but for some reason was telling us that she didn't know how she felt about it anymore! We did all that we could to simply listen to her and pray internally for the gift of discernment. We felt we needed to testify to her that she did in fact know this was the truth. As we bore strong testimonies of the truthfulness of the message, she finally admitted that she knew she knew it was all true. We asked her an inspired question and she began to reveal her concern. As we kept asking those questions, we were able to identify what it was that was stopping her! We have now set another baptismal date with her and have made plans to help her get there. She is excited to work through it with us! What a blessing the gift of discernment truly is!! Without it, we would have lost her. We visited our Congolese after and read another chapter of the Book of Mormon with them. Johnny our translator is working much more lately so we are usually on our own when we teach the Congolese! We get by though, we speak a lot more Swahili than before! Elder Brezenski is picking it up very very quickly!! We went tracting Friday morning and it was a great time! I got an Easter package from my family and it was full of delicious goodies! My sister is always so good at decorating the boxes!! Karen took us out to lunch at a place called Los Portales and I got a torta de chorizo. It was sooo good!! I got a horchata too and it was to die for. We visited Jerry again and watched some Bible videos with him for Easter. We asked him afterwards if he would ever consider trying to be baptized again and he said no. It was really too bad! It is difficult to meet these people and come to love them so much and then to see them not willing to progress! But regardless, we will keep working to find those that are ready to accept the message. We had a wonderful meal with a YSA member and afterwards went tracting for the rest of the night! We went to a pretty nice neighborhood and within ten minutes of us being there, a truck approached us with a woman yelling at us to get out. Apparently they were the neighborhood watch and some people had called complaining about us being there. There weren't any no trespassing signs or anything though and it was a very well lit up neighborhood! Haha Elder Brezenski would have none of it and he just kept walking on. The lady kept screaming at us telling us that she was going to watch us turn around and get our car or else. We kindly explained that we were trying to find families home and that our message was of utmost importance. She was pretty persistent and eventually the truck stopped and a man got out. He approached us and tried to talk us into leaving and knowing we weren't doing anything wrong, Elder Brezenski just walked off! I followed him and the man followed us! We eventually realized they were not going to leave us alone so we gave him a card and went to a different neighborhood. The first door we knocked on we had another lady try to kick us out of her neighborhood! We kept working and although we didn't find anyone, we knew we tried our best! We are never easily defeated. We started Saturday by visiting Johnny and having a Swahili class with him. We learned so much! We then went down to Carolina Beach to visit a man that had requested a Bible and he was very open to our message! We are excited to meet with him again! There is a famous doughnut shop down there in Carolina Beach so we decided to go there for lunch. The line was quite long though and we didn't have much time to wait so we decided to come back another day. While we were walking back from the shop, a man stopped us and yelled right in our faces "Why don't you get a real job??" We simply smiled and kept walking. Another group of people approached us and after screaming various things at us, one man told me that I had nice "****-boy glasses!" It was only the beginning to a day of opposition! While tracting later that day, we met a man that began to bash us hardcore. He was trying to get us to doubt our testimonies and even answers to prayers we've received from God! He asked us how we knew that it was the Holy Ghost that spoke to us and similar things on the subject. I bore a firm testimony that I know my Father's voice and that I would not deny the things He has told me. Elder Brezenski told him we had gotten this many times before and that we would not change our knowledge of the truth. The man asked us why we thought we had heard it so many times and I told him frankly that it was because Satan was trying to confuse us and destroy our relationship with God. We attempted to leave but he wouldn't let us until he gave us each one of his books that he's published, it turns out he is a tri-county missionary for the Bible! We walked away feeling honestly bad for this man and the hardness of his heart but also feeling bad that we had wasted so much time talking to him! With unshaken faith nonetheless we kept on tracting determined to find God's elect! We met another man that night that insisted on convincing us the Book of Mormon was not true. After listening to much of his ridicule, we asked him if he had ever prayed and asked God to know if it was true. He said he had not. We let him know that he would never know the truth until he did just that. He immediately began to say a prayer and asked God to show us the truth and to save us from our ways. The Spirit overcame me and I turned around halfway through his prayer and walked away. He heard the footsteps of us leaving and it shocked him so badly that he yelled out to us and chased us down. I kindly told him that his prayer was not sincere and that I would not stand there and listen to him mock God. The Spirit overcame him and his whole attitude changed. He apologized to us and thanked us for our sincerity. He told us that he wished more people were like us. With prayers in our hearts for him, we wished him a Happy Easter and went on our way. We also had many great things happen that day! A man came to the door while shampooing his head! That was pretty funny haha. We visited a Hispanic potential as well and despite his efforts of trying to brush us off, we made our way inside and watched the Easter video with him. The Spirit entered the room and changed everything. He opened up and we testified of the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ to change lives. He is now excited to investigate the gospel. Sunday was a beautiful day! Church was incredible and many great talks were given! As we went tracting after church, a woman told me that I have a permanent smile on my face haha! We had a great Easter meal of 3 hard boiled eggs and some chicken nuggets after and then we visited the Congolese! There is a youth temple trip this Saturday and they will be going to do baptisms there! President has given us permission to go with them! We are so excited to take this step with them. It was an incredible week. I know that Jesus Christ lives and that He is our Savior. He has the power to change our lives and our very nature if we let him.

Singing on the doors,
Elder Shearer

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