Monday, March 14, 2016
One of my sweetest best friends Sestra Holly Higgins, serving in Croatia said the following in her email, but I am stealing it to describe the work here in California.
"WOW! Okay, I am so sorry for everyone else right now because me and my companion must be taking all of God's attention right now because we sure are seeing His hand in just about everything. So many tender mercies and miracles are happening here."
Great week! My favorite day was Sunday. It was the one day that it didnt rain and the Spirit was so strong. Fasting brings sweet & special Spirit to the day. Gaby, Tristan, and Jessica all came to church for all 3 hours. Jessica is getting baptized March 19th! Tristan had to move his baptismal date to March 26th due to this huge scouting event. So lame. But God's got it all figured out. Gaby is planning on April 16th!
Some of you may remember Keith, an older homeless man we taught in January. He dropped off the face of the earth and we hadnt heard from him in a while. He texted us this week, found a place, and wants to keep meeting with us!
Best story ever about Tristan. Our invitation to him was to read the Book of Mormon every day. He said he was in class reading it on his phone. The teacher asked him to put his phone away. Then he remembered that he had a Book of Mormon in his backpack so he pulled it out and said (in his head), "you cant stop me!!" Hahaha I love this story because I love seeing other people fall in love with a book I love so much. I love seeing their sincere desire to do what is right and change their lives.
my district leader called us yesterday and was like
"hey i am calling on behalf of the zone leaders. There is an emergency transfer happening. Sister Fetzer you are going to Richmond and Sister Brinton you and getting a new companion, Sister Ricks."
My heart DROPPED into my stomach and my stomach hurt and my throat was in a knot and I almost started crying and I wanted to throw up I started freaking out I was SO sad!!!!!!!!!!!! Like legitimately sooooo sad and sad and sad for her to leave.
Then he said
ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh I was so mad. It took me like 20 minutes to calm down.
But it was kind of cute because we had this big hug and it made me realize how much I loved her and didnt want her to leave. And how FAST it has gone by!!
We had the beautiful opportunity to teach Relief Society yesterday. In our lesson I shared a powerful story that my Daddie shared with me before I left on my mission. He had a good friend growing up who wasnt a member of the Church. My Dad never really shared the gospel with him or invited him to church. Fast forward 20 years. My Dad's friend called him and they caught up after not being in contact for a while. The friend told my dad that he had met with the missionaries and been baptized. My dad was, of course, THRILLED for his friend and his conversion. Then the friend went on to ask my dad, "Paul, why did you never share the gospel with me? Why did you never invite me to church? You had this beautiful message of hope that would have helped me through so much. I went through so many trials all alone, lost, suffering. I would KILL to have known of Jesus Christ earlier. I wish you would have shared this beautiful message you had with me earlier." This story hit me with such power and Spirit, I haven't been the same since. I dont mean to demean my father or point out his failure to share the gospel. I share this story because of what it has meant to me in my life. My righteous, kind, obedient, hard working, loving, patient, charitable, forgiving, converted father is one of the most Christ-like people I have ever met. He was a powerful missionary who changed hundreds of peoples lives and is STILL reaping the blessings from his service. He still is a missionary and an example and friend to all those around him.
I hope we can all understand how LUCKY we are to have Jesus Christ and His gospel in our lives! Then, like Lehi, have the desire to share it with others.
"And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy. And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet,above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen.And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit."
1 Nephi 8:10-12
Sister Brinton :)
Emma and her companion have been asked to speak in church this Sunday, and she has been working on her talk and she sent it to me. I wanted to share it because it's awesome.
In John Chapter 4 we read of the Savior leaving Judea and traveling to Galilee. To get to His destination, He had to go through a city in Samaria, where the Samaritans lived. Jews and Samaritans had extreme hatred towards each other. Most Jews extended their journey by many, many miles to avoid Samaria at all costs. Do you think Jesus Christ, He being a Jew, avoided Samaria? Of course not. In fact, He went directly into the city. He arrived at a well, tired, exhausted and worn out from His travels. While He was sitting on the well, "There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink." She was shocked and said, "How is it that thou, being a Jew, asketh drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria?" In Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage is says, "Jesus, seemingly forgetful of thirst in His desire to teach," taught the woman. I will paraphrase what the loving Savior response was to her question: If you knew who I really was and what I could give to you for free, you would not be asking me that, but you would be asking me for the living water. If someone drinks the water of this well, they will eventually be thirsty again, "But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst." The woman's sincere reply touches my heart,"Give me this water, that I thirst not." I imagine that Savior smiled when he then invited her, "Come."
We are given the scriptures and stories like this to "liken" to ourselves, to apply them in our own lives. I am sure you can only imagine what I, being a full time missionary, am going to relate this story to. Missionary work!
We read about how many people avoided Samaria because of a certain group of people who lived there. Do we do this? Do we refrain from sharing the gospel, knowledge of the Living Water, with our friends because they are a certain way? "Oh, she will never accept my invitation to come to church because she smokes." or "He wouldn't accept this Book of Mormon because he hates to read." Did the Savior avoid Samaria? No! He marched right in there. The Savior loves EVERYONE. His gospel, His Living Water, is for ALL.
"Behold, hath the Lord commanded any that they should not partake of his goodness? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden."
2 Nephi 26:28
One thing I have absolutely LOVED about the Bay Area is the diversity! Every single door we knock on is from a different country. Some of my investigators have been from Sri Lanka, Norway, Mexico, and China! I love it! God is the author of diversity. He loves ALL His children. He Atoned for ALL of His children.
When the Savior asked her for water, she was shocked! Are our friends shocked when we talk about the gospel to them? Let it become a part of our everyday conversations.
Remember when Jesus said, Oh man, if only you knew who I was and what I have to offer (John 4:10). How many are "kept from the truth because they know not where to find it?" (D&C 123:12). It is our job to invite! To show them. To present a choice. We are given the gift of agency here on earth, but we cannot exercise our agency unless we are presented with a choice. "Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by one or the other." (2 Nephi 2:16)
"The measure of our success as member missionaries is not whether people are baptized or take the missionary discussions-though these are the outcomes we hope for, of course. We have succeeded when we invite someone to learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Whether they then use their free agency to choose to learn and accept the truth is up to them."
(The Power of Everyday Missionaries)
Jesus Christ says, "Whosoever drinketh of this water [from the well] shall thirst again" (John 4:13). So many of us and our friends are searching for relief to our thirst from worldly sources! Sources that only last temporarily. Temporary pleasure, temporary peace, temporary happiness. The Savior is the ONLY one who can TRULY quench our thirst. He provides a happiness, peace, and relief from our "thirst" that ALL of us long for. He is the Prince of Peace, the Living Water.
Then comes the beautiful, merciful, hopeful, sweet PROMISE of the Savior:
"Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst" (John 4:14)
Never thirst. Ever. And that's a promise! We all know how miserable it is to be thirsty, on a hike or on fast Sunday with no water. We also know how painful it is to be searching for truth or answers or relief and finding no source of hope. BUT, there is hope! There are answers! There is relief. It is Jesus Christ. He has promised us that if we turn to Him, we shall never thirst. We have this knowledge, but not everyone does. In fact, most don't. It's like we are all in the desert, blazing hot, and we are holding this brand new bottle of fresh, cool crisp, delicious water. Our friends around us are thirsty! Let us help them quench their thirst by inviting them to partake of the water, the Living Water, through Jesus Christ.
The "Living Water" is eternal life or the love of God. In 1 Nephi 11:25 it says, "I beheld that the rod of iron was the word of God, which led to the fountain or living waters; which waters are a representation of the love of God." Doctrine and Covenants 63:23 explains, "But unto him that keepeth my commandments the same shall be in Him a well of living water, springing up into everlasting life."
I tried to narrow it down to a few of my favorite verses, but they are all so beautiful. The term "Living Water" is found in all four of the books of scripture we study: The Book of Mormon, the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Doctrine and Covenants.
"Therefore with JOY shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation."
2 Nephi 22:3
"Come, everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters."
2 Nephi 9:50
"If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink."
"Yea, if they will come, they may, and partake of the waters of life freely."
The way this story even started off is the Savior "being wearied with His journey" (John 4:6) and asking for water. He was tired and wanted a drink. We are ALL tired and need a drink. Even us who have the gospel! We know where to turn for this relief. How grateful I am for this knowledge and the relief He has provided me after much searching and thirsting. Most don't know where to turn. Let us show them the way, the truth, the light, and the Living Water, Jesus Christ.
I say these things humbly in His name, Amen.