Monday, October 21, 2013

"And the little children shall lead them..."

It's me again, emailing from the... interestingly landscaped Apple Valley, CA!  It's been quite a week and the missionary adventures continue to roll forward.  This week we had the opportunity to hear from Elder Lynn G. Robins, a member of the first Quorum of the 70.  He was a fantastic speaker and he gave the missionaries tons of advice.  He spoke once at a zone conference for all the missionaries in Apple Valley and Victorville and then he did a special fireside that was only for missionaries, recent converts, and investigators.  It was a fantastic fireside.  One of my favorite quotes from his talk was "You don't have to eat the whole pizza to know it tastes good."  He was talking about the Book of Mormon and how sometimes there's a prevailing attitude of "I like the Book of Mormon, I believe it's true, and I feel the spirit when I read it, but I want to read the whole thing two or three times before I'm baptized."  We read in the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament to "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.  Ye shall know them by their fruits."  The message of the Restoration of the Gospel, the truth that God has once again called a prophet and still speaks to his children, can be difficult to believe, especially if the concept is of a foreign nature.  That's why in these Latter-Days the Lord has brought forth the Book of Mormon to prove that  "God does binspire men and call them to his choly work in thisage and generation, as well as in generations of old;"
What a wonderful fruit the Lord has given us to bring us to a knowledge of the truth.  I know the power of the Book of Mormon and the essential role it plays in conversion.
Speaking again of Elder Robins, he told us missionaries some fun facts that he learned from President Packer.  When the Quorum of the 12 Apostles and the First Presidency make a decisions, they all study it out together and then vote.  If the decision is not unanimous, they then study it some more until they can come to a unanimous vote.  President Packer said in his 40 years as an apostle there have only been two decisions that were immediately unanimous and did not require any discussion.  The first was the decision to change the name of "Genealogy" to "Family History."  The second was the decision to add the subtitle to the Book of Mormon "Another Testament of Jesus Christ."  I thought those were pretty interesting.
So, before I relate what else has happened, I thought it would be relevant to include a special promise that was given to me in my setting apart as a missionary.  When the Stake President, President Nashiff, laid his hands on my head and gave me a blessing, he gave me a specific promise that I "would teach children first and their parents would come to a knowledge of the truth through them."  Even though I've only been out in the field for about a month, I'm already starting to see the fulfillment of this prophecy.  Here's how it happened:

One day while biking to a teaching appointment about two weeks ago we ran into a group of about 9 middle schoolers.  We talked to them for a bit and they responded about as naturally as any 14 year-old would when approached by two white guys in suits.  They were not very receptive.  We gave them all cards and asked them if they knew anyone else that would be interested in our message.  One of the boys gave us the name of a 17 year-old girl and her family that live across the street as a joke, because he has a crush on her.  Well, the joke was on him because as missionaries we don't care how, who, or why we get a referral, we will contact that person.
Fast forward to this past Thursday.  We finally had time to go contact this referral that lived at a little block of apartments.  We ride up to the entrance and lo and behold, eight children between the ages of 6 and 12 come running up to us and asking us questions.  They asked about our bikes, who we were, why we're here, why we both have the same first name (Elder), if we were brothers, and what do we do.  Now, I remembered the words of my blessing and recognized this as a great opportunity to share the gospel.  We showed them some of the pass along cards we have with pictures of Christ on them and they went nuts.  They wanted all the free stuff they could get, haha.  They started jumping up and down and practically were begging us to teach them "church lessons."  So we set up a return appointment the next day to teach them outside their apartments in their little dirt yard.  That's when we began to prepare to teach the "Sermon in the Dirt."
We came back the next day and found all the children eagerly waiting outside to hear from the missionaries.  We gathered them around in a circle and taught them the about the Restoration.  One of the kid's older sister, Nicole, a 17 year-old, wanted to hear the lesson as well.  They were initially talkative and jabbery while we were teaching until we related to them the story of the First Vision and the Book of Mormon.  They were amazed by this story and so was Nicole.  She was craning her neck to look at the picture of the First Vision and she was listening intently.  We pulled out a copy of the Book of Mormon and they all asked if they could borrow it.  I said, "I'll do you one better.  You can KEEP this book.  It's yours forever."  We gave them each a copy of the Book of Mormon and they all promised to read.  They wanted us to come back and teach them the next day!  So we did.
After we left, though, we decided that we couldn't keep teaching the kids as just kids.  They need their parents.  They can't act without them at this age.  So we drafted up a letter to give to the parents letting them know that we'd love to keep teaching them but that we need to split up the group and teach them in their families.  The kids were pretty disappointed about that, but we did manage to get a return appointment with Nicole's Family.
One of the boys in the group, Johnny, told us when we got back that he had read all the way to 1st Nephi Chapter 7.  We figured he was just trying to impress us and probably hadn't read that far, but then he said that it mentioned Abraham, which is the name of one of his friends, and Isaac, which is the name of his brother.  We were amazed because that's a reference from 1st Nephi 6:4, proving that he actually read all of it.  We were very excited for him.
So that was my adventure in teaching the children this week.  But the small children hilarity doesn't end there!  The Ranchos ward had their primary program this week, which is always hilarious.  Our investigator's daughter, Ella, who is four, was very excited to say her part.  She's been practicing her part for weeks.  Her part is: "Heavenly Father wants me to be married in the temple someday.  I want to be with my family forever.  I love my family."  She got up to the microphone and practically screamed into it her part.  She said it perfectly!  "Heavenly Father wants me to be married in the temple someday.  I want to be with my family forever.  I love my family."  ... Then at the end she added, "And I love purple pansies."  The problem was, do to her practically eating the microphone, the impromptu line came across as, "And I love purple PANTIES."  Oh man, the whole ward lost it.  The primary program came to a screeching halt for about two minutes because everyone in the ward was busting up.  It was a truly fantastic moment.
I have to sign off for now, but let me just say that the work here is real.  I know the gospel is true, and I too love purple pansies.
I will again leave you with a lyric from Sons of Provo.  This song is about a newly engaged couple and their young love:

"You make me feel so handsome
Like a shining dark stallion
I love the way you wear
Your Young Women's Medallion
I love you girl
But I hope you comprehend
This body is a temple
Buy you don't got no recommend."
Your friend,
Elder Carter David Morgan

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