Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Miracles, miracles and more miracles

Dear Family and Friends,

We have just had blessings pouring down on us this week. We have been so blessed with referrals lately it's crazy. Usually it's a little more difficult to find people in a YSA (young single adult) ward because our pool of people is limited to 18-30 yr olds albeit in a geographical area of 3 stakes. But the past few weeks we have almost been overwhelmed with the number of people who want to learn or have friends who want to learn. We've gotten random texts from a couple people asking to learn more. We got a text from a former investigators saying she got a very clear message from God that this is where she needs to be and she wants to come to church again. We've had several members from other wards call us and tell us that they have a friend or daughter who they want us to start teaching. We've had several sets of missionaries from other areas give us YSAs that they've been teaching because our ward would be better for them. Not to mention the people God has placed in our path that we've been able to contact. We counted and we have at least 14 people who have come to us through no effort on our part. Many of those people are really solid and eager to learn. I keep trying to figure out what we did to deserve something like this and we really didn't do anything. It's just an amazing blessing from Heaven. Charlie was one of those people and he came to church on Sunday and loved it. He's like a sponge and learns so much and has such great questions.

Another one of these miracle people we taught this last week might be one of the biggest miracles on my mission. I don't even know where to start. There's this woman in one of the other wards that has a blog: where she talks about her experiences with grief and God as she has dealt with the loss of her 19 yr old daughter a year and a half ago. Hers is an incredible story of faith and dependence on the Savior. She felt prompted to start this blog, and through it many people have come closer to Christ. One of these people is Taylor who knew Maddie in kindergarten and when she found out about her death went and found this blog. She found out their family was Mormon and wanted to learn more. She messaged Jolynn, Madeline's mom, and Jolynn called us and we set up an appointment. 

On Friday, we got there at noon and sat down and started talking. Taylor is super intelligent and was eager to learn. She has mild autism, and is very sharp. She knew a lot already because she had researched all she could about the Church. We talked to her about the Book of Mormon... turns out she had read up to Mosiah already. Who does that!?! She's amazing! We ended up teaching her the entire Restoration which she accepted. She asked some questions and we clarified a few points and she was eager to keep learning. So we broke for lunch and then started talking about the Plan of Salvation. That was even more powerful because of all of Jolynn's personal experiences with what happens after this life that she was able to share. I know Maddie was there with us and that she had a part in helping Taylor find the Church. The Lord has a very specific plan for everyone and He works in ways that often we don't understand. It was one of the most incredible days of my mission. Taylor texted us the next day to confirm a baptismal date in the next few weeks. I am so excited for her progress and so grateful for the blessings the Lord is pouring out upon us.

We also had a baptism this week. We've been team teaching her with the Elders in another ward. She has grown so much in just the short time I've known her. She wasn't going to get baptized for a long time, but then when someone else started bashing on the Church she had this urge to defend it and realized she knew it was true, and she was baptized last Saturday! She is continuing to grow leaps and bounds.
I know the work of the Lord will continue to progress as we do our part. The Lord needs willing hands as He hastens His work. Our mission President has been talking to us about the importance of members, especially in finding. You are so important!! There is so much going on in this area right now not because of anything my companion or I have done, but because of the individual efforts of a few people who have invited someone to learn more. As we invite the Spirit can touch hearts and lead people to a desire to learn more. I know the Lord can use you in so many ways to help those around you. Ask him to be an instrument and He will direct you.
Here's a few quotes from some General Authorities and PMG to get you inspired :)

“We need to exercise our faith that the Lord has prepared people around us to be taught. He knows who they are and when they are ready, and He can guide us to them by the power of the Holy Ghost and give us words to invite them to be taught. … Pray to be guided by the Holy Ghost. … I testify that the Holy Ghost will direct you to those who seek truth as you pray and work for that guidance” (Henry B. Eyring, “How Great Shall Be Your Joy, Ensign, Feb. 2011).

 “We…need divine assistance to guide us in sharing the gospel. ... We must pray for the Lord's help and directions so we can be instruments in His hands for one who is now ready—one He would have us help today. Then, we must be alert to hear and heed the promptings of His Spirit in how we proceed.  Those promptings will come. We know…that in His own way and His own time the Lord is preparing persons to accept His gospel. Such persons are searching, and when we are seeking to identify them the Lord will answer their prayers through answering ours. He will prompt and guide those who desire and who sincerely seek guidance in how, where, when, and with whom to share His gospel” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Sharing the Gospel,” General Conference, Oct. 2001).

 “Fear will be replaced with faith and confidence when members and the full-time missionaries kneel in prayer and ask the Lord to bless them with missionary opportunities. Then, we must demonstrate our faith and watch for opportunities to introduce the gospel of Jesus Christ to our Heavenly Father's children, and surely those opportunities will come” (M. Russell  Ballard, “Put Your Trust in the Lord,” General Conference, Oct. 2013).

 “I testify that prayer becomes meaningful as we ask in faith and act.  I invite all of us to pray in faith about our divinely given mandate to proclaim the gospel. As we do so, I promise doors will open and we will be blessed to recognize and act upon the opportunities that will be provided” (David A. Bednar, “Ask in Faith,” General Conference, Apr. 2008).

Sometimes we take upon ourselves too much credit or too much blame when it comes to others accepting the gospel. It’s important to remember that the Lord doesn't expect us to do the converting. Conversion comes not through our words but through the heavenly ministrations of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes all it takes is one single phrase of our testimony or about an experience to set in motion the softening of a heart or the opening of a door that can lead others to experience sublime truths through the promptings of the Spirit…  Brothers and sisters, have faith. The Lord can magnify the words you speak and make them mighty. God doesn't ask you to convert but rather to open your mouths. The task of converting is not yours—that belongs to the person hearing and to the Holy Spirit” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “A Word to the Hesitant Missionary,” Ensign, Feb. 2013).

Thank you for all the amazing things you are doing. Love you lots! Don't be afraid to invite. The Lord will give you His Spirit to help you in the things you say. D&C 100:5-8
Speak the thoughts that I shall put into your heart and you shall not be confounded before men...and i give unto you this promise, that insasmuch as ye do this the Holy Ghost shall be shed forth in bearing record unto all things whatsoever ye shall say.


Sister Andreason

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