Monday, November 17, 2014

Shirt Burning!

One Year Mark....
Burning of the shirt!
Mom and Dad,
This week was good. Can't believe I am already halfway done with the mission. It doesn't seem that long. I did burn the shirt though. Things are picking up in Owego although it is definitely getting cold. It has snowed the past 3 nights in a row, although it melts by the end of the day. This week flew by!! We  played volleyball last week on preparation day after email with the missionaries of the binghamton ward, the greene branch, and a member named brother butts. We are probably going to go play again today. We were able to see some progress in Brother Mercer. He has been trying to quit for years, and once he quits, he will be baptized. But he says it is so hard to do. He said that the Lord has never taken away his desire to quit, which frankly will never happen. He will always have the temptation, but the Lord will allow him to resist it as he puts his effort in. But the temptation will still be there. We taught him this week about the priesthood, and then it was my privilege to give him a blessing of counsel on how to quit smoking. He seemed a bit hesitant the first time we brought up the idea, but after the blessing, he said it was a good one and he felt like it worked. I can't remember the words exactly, but I do know that he will quit if he acts. That's one of the lessons that I have learned repeatedly here. Is that God respects our agency and ability to choose and act for ourselves. He doesn't make things happen for us. The less-active member Tom Thomas asked us to stop visiting. He says he can't believe in the Book of Mormon as the word of God, and we will probably have to drop our investigator Valery. She was showing progress, but she has gotten caught up with deep doctrine and won't let it go. She said a few weeks ago she couldn't find any fault with the mormon church, and know it seems she is using the deep doctrine as a reason to find fault with the church. Oh well. We are going to visit her one more time and see if she can drop the issue. If not, we won't be able to keep wasting our time. We taught her about how she has to have faith and stay true to what she knows to be true and not let her doubts get in the way. But she doesn't seem to be able to do that. But sometimes that's what happens.  You can't make people accept the truth. We did pick up Caleb this week. He is the husband of Amber, one of our investigators, and they have a little baby. It's going to be sweet. Teaching families is awesome!! We also started teaching a less-active named Brother Hartjen this week, the son of the active brother hartjen from Schoharie. He is very interesting. He told us that once he truly believed, and how he wanted to go on a mission, but then things happened, and now he doesn't even believe in God or Jesus Christ, but he is open to the fact that they exist. He also says that he "wants to believe the Mormon Church, because of how perfect it is. Every question and concern can be answered, you can live with your family forever, etc.," I then asked him  if he had ever read the book of mormon and prayed to know if it is true. He said that he had read parts of it, but never the whole book, nor did he ever pray about it and receive an answer from the Holy Ghost that it was true. And so We talked naturally about how important the witness of the truthfulness of the book of Mormon is. Hopefully he will read and pray about it. Because everything comes down to the truthfulness of the book of mormon. If it isn't true, then everything in the church falls with it. It is always cool to be reminded of that truth and the great blessing it is to me that I have a testimony of the book of mormon. I also went on exchange with Elder Wilson this past week, and during that exchange, I had some crazy experiences. A 14 year old that I taught in my last area  but stopped teaching messaged me about how the Jehovah's witnesses stopped by the door and she told them off by showing them the bible we gave her. I then asked her about Elder Bond (the new missionary with Elder Jepsen in Schoharie) and tried to get her to commit to meet with them. Out of nowhere she sent me pictures of her boyfriend and told me how they have been together for four months. It was so random and I had no idea what to do. Then a less-active who apparently threatens she is going to commit suicide texted us about that (and I at the time didn't know she often threatened that without ever doing it) so that was interesting. We do have thanksgiving dinner planned out. We will have it with the Knudsen's, who are the members that we live with. (Our apartment is part of their upstairs). We also went to two baptisms this week. One for the Vestal Sisters, and one for the Owego Sisters. Our district includes the Owego Elders (us), the Endicott Elders, the Owego Sisters, and the Vestal Sisters. This week will be good. I get to go to both Elmira and Endicott on exchanges!! Since Elder Ricks is the district leader and I'm his companion. Oh and happy birthday Mom!!! I love you so much and am so grateful for your incredible example and all that you have done for me. Take care and I love you all. Have a great week.

Elder Richins

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