A few weeks ago I talked about meeting the super awesome family while we were equally super late. We've been back a few times to go and talk with them, and they are just more awesome that I could have possibly imagined. The first time we went back to go and talk to the M***family there were kids running around all over the place just being crazy, with the mother, C***, frantically trying to calm down the horde. B***, the father simply pulled out a folding table and several chairs and we began to talk. We were there for probably close to an hour and a half, longer than discussions normally go because we don't like taking up too much of people's time. The first discussion is that of the Restoration, simply how our church came to be, why we have the Book of Mormon, and why people should care about any of this stuff.
B***'s son was sitting there with us for the majority of the lesson asking questions about who Christ was and why He needed to come to earth, what the role of a prophet was, things like that. As we gave explanations and showed scriptures from the Bible to help explain it all B*** was all like "Yeah! I believe all of that!" and added to what we were teaching. It was the coolest thing, because this is a man who just 9 months ago did not know anything about God and did not want to know anything. He had an incredible spiritual experience that helped him to want to change all of this around, and he hit the ground at a full sprint. Both he and his wife had addictions, but now B*** has completely turned everything all around and is sharing his story and his work with anyone and everyone who would listen. He's studying the scriptures on a daily basis and in the past 9 months has memorized more scriptures than probably both Elder Raiford and I combined. He's so awesome!
Anywho, when we started talking about the Book of Mormon and telling what it was and why it was so important his eyes just lit up. He was so excited at the thought that there was more of God's word that he could read and just loved the idea that not only does He still live but that He sent us more scripture so we could come to know Him even better. We invited him to read from it and to pray about it to find out for himself if it is truly the word of God, which he eagerly agreed to. After all, this part's important, how can you try to find spiritual truth unless you go to a spiritual source? Wikipedia will only take you so far; eventually you have to turn to God if you want to know the Truth. Otherwise you are just selling yourself short.The Spirit was so strong in that home, and I could see so easily that our Father in Heaven truly has blessed this family.
The next time we went by to see him, 5 days later, he told us an awesome story. Shortly after we had met he had his Bible Study with the church he is attending. The sermon for the day: Don't talk to Mormons because they're not Christians anyway. B*** said he just sat there throughout the entire thing thinking that his preacher didn't know what it was he was talking about. At the conclusion of the sermon he went up and started talking with the preacher, telling him that he had met with the Mormon Missionaries just the day before and that Mormons didn't actually believe or do any of the things that the preacher had said we did. He was very much not happy and flat-out told B***that he should stop meeting with us and throw away all literature we had given him. A few of his friends also tried to tell B*** a bunch of lies about us, which he just sat there and listened to. Here's the best part! After he drove got home the first thing he did was break out his Bible and read it. Next he got on his knees and started praying. When he was finished he said he completely disregarded everything his preacher and friends had said, because they hadn't read it and thus didn't know it was true, and also because God said it was true. So there!
Elder Raiford and I just looked at eachother with our jaws hitting the floor. It was all I could to do to not jump up and down screaming "HE KNOWS IT'S TRUE!! HE KNOWS IT'S TRUE!!" *ahem* I was a little bit excited about it. We have been wanting someone to just actually pray to know if it is true for the longest time, and then IT ACTUALLY HAPPENED! He says he'll be baptized as soon as he can, which may not be for several months because of some continuing legal obligations. Super excited for him!
This past Sunday has also been crazy awesome. We had 5 Inactive members come to church, one of which hasn't come in years! Elder Raiford has been working with her for over 7 months, doing all he can even before I showed up to help her come. Last week, she did. #HappyDance! As an added bonus, that week was Potluck after church, so we all got to pig out a little bit. I love how they make banana pudding here in the south. Not sure what goes in it, but I'm sure it's just as bad for me as it tastes good.
Yesterday Elder Raiford was able to go to the temple, which I was super happy for. Unfortunately I was unable to go with him because the Bartlett, TN temple is tiny and barely had room for all of the missionaries who were supposed to be there, let alone the ones who weren't, so I got to chill out with Elder Diaz, a Spanish elder serving in Jonesboro. He's originally from Guatemalla/Virginia (dual residency) and is as fun as he is short. He can put some of my friends back home to shame. haha. Anyway, Raiford and I didn't get back to Walnut Ridge until about 6 pm so we didn't really have much time to email, as the library was closed. Hence why I'm on today.
And now, transfers. I am staying in Walnut Ridge, but my companion is sadly leaving. As in both leaving sadly, and I'm sad that he's leaving. We got along very very well the past 4.5 months and I think we've got a lot done. Here's the really ironic part: Elder Raiford has been working with the inactive-no-longer woman I just mentioned ever since he got here, and often times joked around that it would be the day before he got transfered that she would finally come to church. Well, she finally came, and the next day, Monday, we called the missionaries in charge of Transfers and they said we were both staying! We were very happy, Elder Raiford particularly as he has less than 6 weeks left in his mission. Then at about 9am this morning we got a second call from some elders saying that Elder Raiford was shipping out and needed to pack and everything that day. So today's plans have pretty much been kiboshed, and we are going to go say goodby to everyone as soon as possible. I'll find out who my next companion is tomorrow in Memphis around 2pm-ish. Should be fun.
To my friends serving a mission right now, if you read all of this incredibly long email, I salute you. To my mother, you are welcome. ;D
Remember your Savior. It is only by his grace that we even get to be alive, and should we take the time to thank Him for all He does for us we will recieve more blessings than we will know what to do with. Which is a pretty awesome thing in my opinion.
Until next week!
Elder Jayden Barker