Tuesday, March 24, 2015
This week has been great! Elder Kunzler and I are staying another transfer here in Owego together. We are excited. It has still been cold here, but it has warmed up a little bit to around 30 degrees. And yes, I am surviving fine. Haha. Elder Kunzler and I are really working well together, and we are seeing miracles. This week we picked up 3 new investigators this week and started teaching a less-active member who has been out of the church for at least 15 years. And there were miracles all around as we started teaching each of them. Carlton Gooding, the less-active member who has been less-active for years, let us right in and Elder Kunzler and I got to know them and started teaching him. But Elder Ricks and I had stopped by brother gooding's place before soon after I got there, and he was totally uninterested and almost stand offish. Wouldn't even let me share a quick scripture. So when we decided to stop by and introduce Elder Kunzler as the new missionary in the area, I wasn't expecting him to let us in and be all friendly and let us teach him. I know that something happened during that time after my first visit. The Lord softened his heart and prepared him to receive or re receive the gospel. He's doing great. He even asked us what time church starts without us even mentioning it. We also picked up Mike and Sandy as investigators this week. They are so sweet. Very nice couple. The only thing apparently that prevents them from getting baptized is the fact that they enjoy their wine every once in a while when they go out to eat. But they said they drink even less than they were when the missionaries stopped visiting them a year or so ago. And they see the commandment as a rule or restriction. Once we help them see that God's commandments not as a rule or restriction, but as instructions to live a happy life and receive blessings, they'll be solid. And we picked up a pastor named Bob Seamor this week as well. He is open to us and the message, although he will take some work because he believes he is born again and saved. But his wife had recenlty passed away, at the end of January to be exact. So I'm excited to meet with all of them. In addition to finding all of those people and begin teaching them, we are still seeing great progress from Esther. She wasn't able to make it to church due to the snowstorm and additional 6 inches of snow we got yesterday. The fact that she is babysitting 4 kids and had to prepare for a funeral that is taking place today didn't help. But she loves the gospel and was "tickled pink" when she found out Elder Kunzler and I were staying together. I am confident that she will soon be reactivated. She is the one who had the stroke and forgot almost everything about the church and gospel. I've actually taught quite a few less-active members like that, who don't remember anything and are pretty much investigators. But I love seeing conversion. Whether it's an investigator being baptized, or a less-active member coming back to the fold and regaining their testimony. Hector is also doing well. He has one of the greatest hearts of anyone I have taught on my mission. And he is even starting to remember the principles of the gospel that we teach him. We figured it out this week that we have to be really simple with him and just tell him how it is, rather than using the pamphlets or other materials. For example, for the sabbath day, we briefly explained it and then asked him several yes or no questions of things to do on sunday. He would say yes if it was an ok thing to do on sunday, and no if doing it would result in breaking the sabbath. He got every question right. So he's getting there. Unfortunately he did ask yesterday if we could pick up a gallon of milk for him and bring it to him to the lesson. We will probably have to push his baptismal date back. It's on for march 28th right now. He comes to church every week and is living the commandments, but we will have to review a few times so hector actually the simple truths you need to be aware of to make and keep the baptismal covenant. Mike Glanville should be back in town, so we will start teaching him again, and Geri Hopefully should be back in another week to 10 days. And the biggest miracle this week was the change in the Mercer family. The Mercers I have taught since I have gotten here. Brother Mercer knows the gospel true, but hasn't been baptized because he can't quit smoking. His wife Vicki is a less-active member, but not the less-active member without a testimony. They both have testimonies and great desire to to get to ultimately, the temple. But they haven't come to church once since I've got here. Elder Kunzler and I were debating to drop them since there has been very little progression. But we decided to teach them about sacrfice with Brother Haner. Brother and Sister Haner were recently called to serve a mission in the new mormon trails mission in wyoming. So Brother Haner came and talked a lot about pioneers. And the mercers love pioneer stuff and westerns. We related the sacrifices they made to the sacrifices we have to make, and told them boldy of the sacrifices they would have to make for steve to be baptized and for both of them to get to the temple. They responded very well, and said that was the best lesson they have had in a long time. Brother Mercer didn't make it to sacrament meeting due to the storm. But we saw them again and the thing with the Mercers is we often have one good lesson and then a few lessons were they just don't get excited or anything. We talked about the enabling power of the atonement and how he can overcome smoking and can make it to church despite health challenges because of the enabling power of the atonement of Jesus Christ. We showed him the mormon message reclaimed. It went really well, and he said he really liked that lesson and well, and he seems like he's really going to make changes in his life. He also met with the bishop, who inspired him. He asked Steve if he's going to choose what he wants now (smoking) or what he wants the most (his baptism). So they are progressing as well. The work is really hastening. Looking back on the mission so far, it's amazing to see how many lives have been changed as I've served because of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And I love continuing to see lives change as they become converted to the Savior and his gospel, and look forward to seeing more and more miracles as I continue to serve. I love you all back home. Have an amazing week.
Elder Tyler Richins