Friday, 17 April 2015

Trials and Triumphs

The Botshabelo Elders are sick and afflicted. Yea, let me start with that. Elder Ocitti has been struck with the infamous influenza, whereas Elder Smith awoke one morning with an ailed digit. Thus making our mornings as such:

Elder Smith awakes at 04:00 with a shooting pain in his big left toe; inflamed, hypersensitive, bleeding, and with limited mobility. Elder Ocitti pulls himself out of bed ten minutes after the designated time and wraps himself in a blanket for as long as possible, looking up as much as possible; congested, sneezing, and coughing at random intervals.

But there is work to do, so I grab the first aid kit, and we muster up the strength to prepare ourselves and perform our labours; a prayer of faith pushing us through as the work goes on unhindered. And it is in the area we notice something awry this way come.

On Tuesday, we went into the area with the Zone Leaders to interview a candidate for baptism - Tumelo. However, things didn't go as planned. Suddenly, their attitude changed and they were completely against the idea, stating that the Book of Mormon was just too new for them, and that they needed more time. Tears streamed from his eyes, and it felt as if a dagger pierced my heart.

Immediately I thought, "We're here to interview Tumelo... the one with a testimony." I mean, the reason we have baptismal interviews is to make sure that the candidate is prepared to make the covenants he/she is about to make - that they are, in fact, ready. Moreover, if God has told him that he needs to be baptised, who are we to say no? If he was under age, I'd understand, but he's twenty.

In the end, we agreed to respect the family's wishes (especially considering he lived with them). Our goal is to work with the family to make this transition as peaceful as possible. By the end of May, he will be baptised. We were able to have a powerful lesson with his brother, in which Tumelo bore his testimony.

On Friday, we went to see a Part Member family; we're teaching and preparing the daughter for baptism and working on bringing the father and sons back into activity. As we arrived, we noted that the daughter wasn't home. We asked and found that she'd left home to stay with her grandmother. When we asked why, they said something about her wanting to go back to her old church.

Wait, what? Why would that make her leave home for good as well?

I committed her brother to visit her and to tell her that God loves her, that he loves her, and that he wants to walk with her to church on Sunday.

We started teaching a lady whose husband is a member. In fact, she tracked us down and said, "Hey! My husband's a member of your church - you need to see him." It was great. We were able to start seeing him, rededicate him to scripture study and prayer, and even bring him back to church a couple of times - he's working on a schedule with his boss and colleagues that would allow him to come to church every Sunday.

When we met with his wife, though, we were surprised that she, being a non-member, knew the restoration inside and out, even the doctrines of the church, and wasn't even opposed.

She said, "Who prayed for tate to find a place when he was moving from church to church? Who thanked God when you missionaries started teaching him? Who went to his baptism in Thaba 'Nchu? Who went out to find you and bring him back to church when he stopped going? Me! I did that. I will support him where he is, and I pray that he stays in this church until he dies. I'll even be there for him when he's ready to go to the Temple."

She even quoted 1 Corinthians 1 when Paul said "Is Christ divided?" to support her love for the Church. "But I'm too old to change churches now," she said. She's even got a strong calling in the church she's in, pulling everything together.

We even have a you lady who's been investigating the church for years already, but she keeps postponing her own baptismal date. Even a recent convert whom we asked to fellowship this young lady said, "I'm not even going to bother trying."

But all is well in Zion. Tumelo is still coming to Church. His brother even said, "Who am I to deny it?"

The Part Member family we're trying to bring back to Church actually came (they're even reading and praying). The branch even had a record attendance of 73 (it used to average 35), with 13 investigators (the members were even responsible for two of them).

The recent convert I asked to fellowship the young lady came up to me and said, "I did what you asked, and I got my answer. I'll do it." Together we were even able to chat with the young lady, and she agreed that there was no real reason for postponing her baptismal date - rescheduling for an earlier date.

And thus we see the tender mercies of the Lord. Hard work, faith, and obedience with exactness pays off. We keep working, we keep praying, and we keep believing - no matter how hard it seems to get.

And that brings me to other news. I'm losing my baba. Transfers are happening on Tuesday and my trainer is being taken to the coast to become a Zone Leader.

My new companion will be Elder Gwebu (from Johannesburg). I will need to rely on my skills of direction (yes, keep laughing, especially those of you know those skills don't exist). My new companion will also be the new District Leader.

For those of you who don't know, training is twelve weeks, so this is unusual.

Further news is that we'll be changing boardings (closer to the area). Elder Ocitti is healed. And I even found an Old Testament Manual with Elder Martin's name in it - another sign that we'll be companions some day.

This past week, according to the training package, was to focus more on Prayer and the Holy Ghost - and to most this seems really simple, but in the world we live today people don't see it as a two-way communication between God and man. We've developed a culture of recited prayers. And, frankly, that needs to stop! If you're reciting the same prayer as you recited yesterday, stop.

There is a better way. God's way.

Heavenly Father has, countless times, through the scriptures and mouths of His prophets told us that we need to pray to Him. It is a commanment - even that we do it often.

The pattern for this has been set: We address our Heavenly Father, express the feelings of our heart, ask specific and direct questions, express gratitude, and close "in the name of Jesus Christ, amen."

We need to develop a culture of talking to our God, avoiding vain repetition. We need to realise, recognise, and believe that He will answer us through feelings (Galatians 5:22-23), thoughts, and ultimately a sense of knowing.

So this is my challenge for you this week, ask God. And I will be bold. If you trust God, ask Him if the Book of Mormon is true. If you don't have one, we'll get you one. And if you aren't even sure God is there, ask Him. He will answer.

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