This is the title of my letter this week: Find the Lambs, Feed the Sheep
Hahaha in companionship study this morning my companion Elder Hyer was sharing what he had learned in his personal study and he had read a talk by President Hinckly with the same title and it just seemed like a motto or something so we both committed to using it as the title of our weekly email.
The work in Maricopa progresses! We now have a solid teaching pool and lots of members in the ward are FIRED UP about missionary work! It's like a chain reaction, as soon as people start seeing success in missionary work it becomes contagious and all the fears of finding and teaching people melts and every member becomes a missionary. The struggle for most wards is getting that kick start to ignite the chain reaction.
I've never been happier in my life. I know I'm doing what I should be doing and the work is blessing in me in countless ways. One of the greatest blessings is the friendships that I'm developing with the people I'm teaching and the members here in the Maricopa 4th ward.
I got a super cool experience to go on exchanges with the one and only Elder Diaz! I've mentioned him a few times in past letters. Me and him came to Arizona on the same day although he is a spanish speaking missionary and I'm English. He lives in Argentina and since Houston airport is a huge south american HUB we are both assuming we'll be flying home to Houston on the same flight :) We're super close friends though so it was really exciting when I came to Maricopa and learned he was a District Leader in the zone. His area is way way out in the boonies. He covers the little town of Gila Bend and Ajo which is a total of perhaps 500 square miles. It's HUGE. Me and him spent the day in Gila Bend and had a great time teaching the gospel to EVERYONE. As a zone a big focus for us is to live up to our call as missionaries and open our mouths and be teachers. Preach My Gospel says that we should avoid the habit of asking people if they have a minute we can share a message with them but rather just start teaching them so they can feel the spirit. One of our opening lines in conversations with people that day was "Are you the Golden's?". People were pretty confused so we just explained that we were looking for the Golden family but then proceeded to teach them. It was funny for us and left them a bit confused but it kept them from just shooing us away so it worked well :) The blessing of it was was that we found a golden family they just had a different last name :D
There's a young man we're teaching here in Maricopa that is a blast to teach. He loves football so we make a lot of sports analogies. The fellowship we have for him is a priest in the ward who is the funniest kid ever. He's super energetic and a little quirky but so cool to take out with us. Before one of our lessons with L, we asked our priest to invite him to church with him at the end of the lesson. He agreed and we went in and taught. At the end I said, "Now Stephen has an invitation for you L." Stephen looked at me all funny and then said, "I hate it when the missionaries do this to me..." He paused for like 5 seconds and then said, "It would be a huge privilege to me if you would let me baptize you." Me and Elder Hyer were so confused but L said yes and so we put him on date for the 24th! After that I invited L to church which he also agreed to. Hahaha it must have been the spirit giving Stephen a stupor of thought which kept him from remembering that he was supposed to invite him to church and not baptism.
(I'm inserting a portion of Elder Janis' letter to his dad here):
"I had a really great week! We taught a TON of lessons and had some really great experiences! Since I got in the area we focused a lot on finding and now we're preparing multiple people for baptism which should all happen in the next few weeks. I love the people that I'm teaching so much. We're becoming close friends. Here are some of the people were teaching and working with:
L: 15 year old kid who's had a tough life but wants to play in the NFL one day and wants to be a mormon. He's getting baptized on the 24th this month. His lessons are super fun because we try to make football analogies to any principle we teach.
D: 30's and is super sincire and wants to find truth. He's been looking his whole life and has never been satisfied with what he's found. He is hard core studying the Book of Mormon which is really inspiring to see his commitment. If he finds a testimony he will be baptized on the 24th as well.
G: 40's grew up in the R-LDS faith and is now married to a latter-day saint. His lessons are fun because his beliefs and doctrines are very close but in some areas are slightly off. It would be easy to get into arguments about little doctrine with him but if we play it off then he bends and accepts our doctrine as the truth. It's hard to fight the spirit :) He'll be baptized near the beginning of next month. We're working on nailing down a date.
M: 30's played basketball in college at University of Wisconsin. Super cool guy and hasn't been very religious in his life. He's married to a mormon lady as well and has been to church with us twice. He's interested in learning more and is seeking for a testimony.
Mrs. B B: 82 and is the sweetest lady EVER. She has never heard much of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and is excited to be meeting with the "Mormon Missionaries". We love her and she has a very open mind for her age."
This week was amazing! Next week will be even better! I love you all!
Love Elder Janis