This week was another one with ups and downs. I seem to be seeing a trend here! lol.
Some of the downs were most of the people we had found last week we were unable to see (yet). Failed appointments are nothing new, but they were still a bit disappointing. The part I want to focus on though is the ups, the awesome things that happened. We had a large meeting on Jacksonville this past Friday which took up most of the day. During it we received some truly excellent instruction on how we can better work with our ward and branch leaders, how we can better use the BoM in our teaching, and also try and speak to a few people in the area itself to use some of what we had been learning. We were able to find a fairly solid family for the elders there to go and teach which was really exciting.
Before getting sent out into the city for about an hour we were assigned a different companion to work with, perhaps just so we can get to know a few of the other missionaries and learn how they work. I was put in a trio with a missionary who had spent nearly all of his time over on the Memphis side of the mission (about a year) and with a missionary who had only been out a few weeks. As we walked we asked each other the usual questions: Where are you from? Where have you served? and How long have you been out? When I responded that I had been out about 21 months the young missionary stared at me with an expression akin to a young child staring at the skeletal remains of a dinosaur. It provided no small amount of amusement for me.
Another HUGE highlight is being able to work with a less-active family, a mother and her son. Their names are R*** and P***. They were baptized about 4-ish years ago in Kentucky and eventually moved down here to Jonesboro. I might have shared some of their story with you before, about how Elder Price and I met them while getting free hotdogs at the park. Anywho, We had been working with them for a while, but this past week we were able to teach them the Word of Wisdom again, and help them with their Family History work. They both have such a strong desire to get to know their ancestors and preserve the memories they have of their family who has already passed on. Richard in particular has a desire to go to the temple and be sealed to his father. This past Sunday they were also able to come to church for the first time in a very long time. A member named Freddie helped us out with that. I'll send a picture of all of us here in a bit.
We also were able to see D***J***'s mother for the first time in a while. She has been letting us teach her kids about the Gospel for some time now, even allowing us to bring them to church, but hasn't taken an active part in the lessons at all. Yesterday evening we were able to talk with her about the scriptures, about revelation, about prophets, and, most importantly, God's love for her as an individual. We were able to share some scriptures on the Atonement with her, Christ on the Cross in Mathew 27:46 and what he did for us there and in the garden of Gethsemane, explained in Alma 7:11-12. It really touched her and (finally!) got her interested in what we had to say. We left her with some passages from the Bible and the BoM for her to read and for us to discuss when we come back again tomorrow.
I've been learning that this work truly isn't about numbers; if you looked just at our numbers for this week one might say that it was a dismal failure. But it is in the lives we touch by our simple actions. I've heard this compared to a football game. If you have two teams and one of them has more passing yards, more time with the ball, more interceptions, more successful sacks, but the other team has more points on the scoreboard, which team truly did better in that game? Last week we were able to touch at least 3 people's lives for the better, and ultimately that is all that counts.
I know this work is true. There is a reason it cannot be stopped. There is a reason people join the Church every week by the Hundreds, and that reason is not because Elder Barker is a perfect missionary. This is the only organization I know of that can send young adults between the ages of 18-26 out into a strange land with an apartment, food, cell phone, and a car, leave them mostly unsupervised, and have them accomplish anything meaningful. Ask a buisiness executive about if that sounds like a good idea and he would double over laughing, and yet work it does. The Lord's hand is over us and this work. I close with Joseph Smith's own words:
“The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.”
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
~Elder Jayden Barker