I'm not sure who is Mother Nature's boss, but I think she either needs to take a short vacation or come back from one, because 70 degree weather and no snow since last November is a bit weird! Seriously, where is all of the ice and snow and gloom that the good people of Arkansas has predicted since last June? Well, while it is warm I'm not going to complain; Nothing the matter with hitting up the rays in the Winter when it's warm out! =D
And speaking of hitting up the rays, check these pics out. This is what happens when you see a spooky forest-shrouded road leading off in the distance and follow it just because you could:
Somehow we ended up on the Arkansas river! It was truly awesome! That was a fun little adventure, but because we, as missionaries, are supposed to be serious and sober in all of our conduct the pictures of our practicing yoga on top of a small rock will not be shown. ;D\\
Now, on to the nitty gritty! We have been teaching a woman named A*** for a while now, and she is super awesome. She's been seeing the missionaries for over a year now, and has really taken off. She's one of those really rare people who not only like reading from the Book of Mormon, but also want to read from the Pearl of Great Price and D&C as well. She's been going through some hard times lately and recieved the revelation to ask the Elders for a blessing. I was able to go over there yesterday and give her that blessing with Brother Peterson, the previous bishop of the Morrilton Ward. Elder Petty was sick with a nasty 24-hour bug so he and Elder Ford got to stay home. (Elder Ford was perfectly fine, but someone had to play nanny for a bit! #SightAndSound) The Spirit was super strong during our conversation, and we were able to share out testimonies of how we all are children of our Heavenly Father, who knew us long before the foundation of this world. (See Acts 17 and Ecclesiastes 12:7)
Lately I've been focusing my studies on becoming a more consecrated missionary. While I am focusing on it for how it applies to me as a missionary, for obvious reasons, this applies to everything else that we do, whether we are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Missionaries for said church, fellow Christians, or just someone who is trying really hard to be a better person. Simply, there are things in each of our lives and conduct with others that we need to get rid of or change. They may be secret and known only to us, or seen by others openly. These things keep us from true happiness and block us in moving forward spiritually.
For missionaries this can include pride, inappropriate thoughts and feelings, reading/watching/listening to things that we shouldn't, or something I didn't list. You know what your own things are. The thing we have to do is give them all up to the Lord, place them on the proverbial Alter of Sacrifice. If something is keeping us from being happy long-term we need to get rid of it, no matter how pleasing it may be in the moment. If something is preventing you from coming closer to God, remove it, because nothing is worth that price.
Last week I did my very best to do exactly that. I gave up everything I could think of, including my fear of sharing the Gospel. The day that I did that we had more success than we had ever had in the past 2 weeks. Was it all because of me? Absolutely not. But I did change, and because I was closer to the Lord He was able to do more miracles in our lives.
I know that this Gospel is true and that it can bless and change people's lives for the better. All we have to do is open our mouths and share it for everyone to be blessed. One thing that I find rather sad is some of the fear that the members here in Morrilton have, particularly in sharing the Gospel. The last two Sundays we have been giving out one copy of the Book of Mormon to one of the brethren in the Ward to write their testimony in and give to a friend. The first time one of the youth, a young man preparing to go on his own Mission for the Lord quickly volunteered to take it. He brought back the story the next Sunday (yesterday) of how easy it was to give to his friend while they were playing racquetball. After he shared his story I extended another copy of the Scriptures for another person to take and do the same thing. There was a deafening silence in the chapel as 40+ men and youth looked at the ground and tried to avoid eye-contact. After about a 60 seconds the bishop said he would take it and everyone hurriedly got on with the planned lesson.
Why is it so hard for people to share the Gospel, particularly when this area just barely grew to Ward sizes within the last year due to missionary work? Because they are afraid. How do you get rid of fear? You grow your faith and act on that faith. If you don't act on your faith, then it will die (James 2). I know that if the members of this Ward begin sharing the gospel as they once did last year then the work here wouldn't be able to be stopped, even if one individual tried to stop it. It just takes that first step.
So the next time a missionary asks you to do something, or the Lord comes to you and tells you to share your faith with another person, just do it. Don't listen to your doubts. The blessings gained from doing so won't be able to be measured, especially once we lay all of our imperfections on that Altar of Sacrifice.
Stay strong, and be of good courage.
~Elder Jayden Barker
"Arguing with the devil is like arguing with an idiot; he will drag you down to his level and then beat you with experience."