Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Learning with Elder Bednar

It's been an incredible week. Having Elder Bednar here was absolutely amazing, I don't think I've ever been in a more spiritual, life changing meeting. But I'll talk more about that in a minute. 

Last night [Sunday, November 17], we were able to finally get in contact with one of our investigators. He's a 50 year old black man, and he's pretty awesome. Last night he was telling us about how he found God after he'd been involved in drugs and stealing and stuff like that. He told us about how he went to church and went up and repented of his sins and as he asked to be forgiven a warm feeling came over him, over his whole body. He said "Drugs would only give me that good feeling in my mind, but this was my whole body! So I didn't want to use drugs anymore." Right now he's living with his mother-in-law, who's not a very religious person, so he wants us to wait to teach him until he moves out, which will hopefully be in a month. But he invited us to come to this singing time his church is having next Sunday, and we said we'd come, so that will be very interesting. He's AME- African Methodist Episcopal. So it will be a very different experience from what I'm used to. 

Yesterday was also the Primary program at church and so many less active and nonmember people came! It was great! The husband and mom, who's Baptist, of our friend who has returned to church came. They didn't stay for Sunday school, but we were really happy to see them there. I think as our friend continues to come to church and live the gospel more, her husband will join. He just needs her to set that good example and show him how much the gospel can bless their family. 

Now about Elder Bednar. It was amazing. We met with him for three hours on Saturday night [November 16]. He didn't talk to us, he talked with us. For that entire three hours, he asked us questions and called on people to answer them and then we asked him questions. But he never really answered anyone directly. Instead he would ask the other missionaries if they had any ideas, or he would ask the missionary a question, which would allow them to answer their question on their own. I'm sorry, I don't really know how to describe what happened very clearly. But the Spirit was there, and it was the teacher, not Elder Bednar. All he did was help us to hear what the Spirit was trying to tell us, and then he shared some stories and experiences with us. And we had so much fun! I can't even count the amount of times that we all just burst out laughing because of something that someone said; Elder Bednar laughed so hard a few times his face turned red. But then in the next instant something really profound and spiritual could happen. It was just amazing. 

I'll share one really cool moment that happened. This young elder stood up and asked Elder Bednar how he could stop overcomplicating the gospel, how he could teach it more simply. Elder Bednar asked him what he thought, and the elder said that he'd been thinking about it for the last 15 minutes, and he kept overcomplicating all the possible answers he was getting. Elder Bednar asked him why he thought he was doing that, and after he'd thought for a minute the elder said, "Because I don't trust enough." And just like that, he had found the answer to his question--trust in God more. That was how the entire meeting was. 

Elder Bednar talked a lot about the Book of Mormon. He said that if we would read the Book of Mormon every single day of our lives we would never fall away from the church. That made me think about all the less actives in Moncks Corner; I don't think many of them read the Book of Mormon. I think we're going to start asking them to read it daily. 

South Carolina Columbia Mission with Elder Bednar
So, it's been an incredible week. Transfer calls are on Saturday, and while anything could happen, it's most likely that I'll be leaving Moncks Corner. I'll be sad if that happens, but for now I'm just focusing on moving the work along here. There's lots to do. I love you all, and I'm so grateful for all the support that you give me. 


[We have been humbled and yet grateful for the unexpectedly sad and tender experiences of Katelyn's first investigator to accept a baptism date.  We will remember him, his family, and the members in Moncks Corner who cared for him.  The letters have shared this unfolding story.] 

I guess I'll start with the most exciting thing that happened- we have someone on date to be baptized! Last night, Sunday October 20, we went to visit a recent convert that we love. She has a friend, Bobby, who she's kind of dating. He's been in and out of the picture since I got here, but he's come to church fairly regularly, and he's been reading the Book of Mormon a little bit every day. Last night when we stopped by he was there and he asked us what he had to do to be baptized! We were very excited to tell him everything he needed to know. He's scheduled to be baptized on November 16, but we're going to try and move it up to November 9, since we'll be up in Irmo with the apostle on the 16. We're very excited for him. Sister Bell was so happy when we left our friend's house. So now we're going to do our best to help Bobby get a testimony, I don't think he really understands or believes in our church doctrine, but he likes the church and he wants to be a part of it. We're very, very excited to teach him. 

After Sisters Conference [on October 22, Katelyn's birthday], we got our new car. Elder Fenton told us to take the new one, and to give our elders our old one. . . . We didn't get on the road until about an hour later than we were expecting to. And then before we could get to the interstate our gps died! We got so lost. Finally we stopped at a Wendys to get some dinner and someone there gave us directions. We didn't get back to North Charleston till almost 9:30. The elders weren't very happy with us, they had to wait at the church for us to bring them the car for about two hours. We were really disappointed that we weren't able to teach Bobby that night. 

And then Wednesday afternoon we got a call from his friend in the ward telling us that Bobby had been in a serious accident at work. He had been in the bed of his truck unloading something, when a lady hit his truck, and he went flying out. She completely totaled both cars. Bobby broke every bone in his face, and several ribs. He was in a coma for a few days, but he'll be ok, but it's going to take awhile for him to heal. So things with him are kind of on hold for now. He's down in a hospital in Georgia, which is where the accident was, but hopefully he'll be moved closer to here soon. 

Halloween night we had to be in our apartments early, by 7:00, so Sister Bell and I used that extra two hours to start redoing our area map, because it badly needed to be updated. We were right in the middle of that when we got a phone call from one of the members of our ward. She told us that Bobby's friend had just called her and told her that Bobby wasn't going to come out of his coma, so his family was going to let him go. We were absolutely shocked, since the last we'd heard, he was going to be fine. We immediately called his friend, and we had a very emotional phone call with her. We found out yesterday Bobby's family is waiting for a second opinion before they let him go, but he's basically gone.

Having an investigator die is something I never expected to have happen to me on my mission. At first I really didn't know how to handle it. And of course, Sister Bell and I both immediately started talking with each other and with our friend about the plan of salvation, about how Bobby can still be taught and baptized, and about how God knows what He's doing and everything happens for a reason. But at first just saying all that didn't really bring me that much comfort. But as I've prayed about it, and as we've talked about it with other people, those words have begun to bring comfort. Especially driving home from ZTM, when Sister Bell asked me how in the world we were supposed to share a postive, uplifting email with our family when we'd had such a tragedy this week. And as I told her "We'll tell them that while we won't get to teach Bobby, other missionaries will, and while we won't get to baptize Bobby, he will still be baptized," the full meaning of those words finally hit me. And I felt so at peace. And although it's still very sad, and I'm still disappointed that we won't get to teach Bobby and see him change and see him accept the gospel, he will still have that opportunity. And at some point on my mission, I will have that opportunity to teach and to baptize.

In a way I've kind of already had that experience, with another sister in the ward who has come back to church. We had dinner with her on Friday night, and as we were talking with her, she told us how much happier she is now that she's coming to church. And she said that if it hadn't been for us coming by so persistently and for her member friend encouraging her, she wouldn't have come back and she wouldn't be as happy as she is now. When she said that, it made me so happy! If for some reason my mission ended right now I could go home happy, knowing that I helped one person to find the joy of the gospel again. Moments like that really do make all the other hard times worth it. 

Tuesday afternoon, we found out that Bobby had passed away. We knew that it was just a matter of time before we got this news but it was still very sad. His friend went down to Savanna to see him, and when she got there the lady at the desk informed her that he had "expired" the day before. She was the first one to find out. . . . It was really hard for her, but she's hanging in there. His heart just stopped, which in a way was good. . . .  At least this way he went on his own. It's been kind of a bittersweet weekend, because this was the weekend he was scheduled to be baptized.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Fish and the Fair

We've had a very good week. We had a great time at the fair. The fair is a big deal down here, there was so much to see and do. Since we couldn't ride any of the rides, we just walked around and looked at things and ate food. Most of it was deep fried. It was all very good and we left the fair very full. 

 We went on a really good exchange this week with our Sister Training Leaders. I went down to Summerville. It was really cool to see how the work is going in another area. The Summerville sisters have lots of people to teach, so almost all of our time was spent teaching people or trying to set up return appointments with people who had indicated they were interested in hearing more. It was a really inspiring exchange for me and Sister Bell. We came back really excited about missionary work and much more optimistic than we had been before. It was amazing to see how many people we were able to meet and teach while we were on the exchange and then the couple days afterward. I think it just goes to show how much attitude affects our work, because as Sister Bell and I have been more positive and more excited about going out and talking with people, we've been able to find more people who are interested in learning more. Preach My Gospel talks about that, if we lower our expectations then our effectiveness will decrease. I think Sister Bell and I have definitely learned that this week, as we've changed our attitudes and seen that there really are people out there who are interested. 

We also had a No More Strangers fireside this week, which meant that all the missionaries in our zone got to be interviewed by President Holm. The first thing President Holm said to me was, "Sister Rudy, you're a low maintenance missionary." I'm glad that President Holm doesn't worry about me, that he trusts that I'm being obedient and working hard. He was also very sure to tell me that if I ever did need anything he wanted to hear from me. That's the thing that I notice most about interviews, I always leave them feeling very loved. It's amazing how inspired President Holm is, he always seems to say exactly what I need to hear to feel reassured that I'm on the right path and I'm doing enough. 

Sister Bell and I are both very excited for this Saturday, to hear Elder Bednar speak. I'm sure that's going to be a great experience.