Monday, April 11, 2016

Testimony, fleas, and sink showers

I had an intercambio with my trainer, Elder Ryan!! Super fun. He tried to pull a leaf off of a tree, but the whole branch came down. 
Elder Ryan trying to get some lunch
We have an investigator that reminds me so much of my uncle Nick. Same personality. Fleas are eating me alive. I have 8 bites just on my left bicep. My legs are like bleeding. This was our second week of taking sink showers. The mornings are frigid and the water is cold. A drunk guy talked with us and was 6 inches away from my face. He was falling onto me the whole time and I had to keep him standing. My companion told him we are here to share the gospel and the drunk said, "Chill out gringo!" My back is worse, by a lot. Wednesday, I’m going to get a scan, and then talk with a doctor next Monday. This whole experience has helped me be more humble. 

Spiritual experiences:

We were walking in the street and I didn’t want to do any contacting. I hadn’t done one in a while. So to break out of the shell, I just talked to the guy coming towards us. He looked pretty hard and like he wouldn’t want anything. But I just had to start. It was one of the best contacts I’ve had. HE CAME TO CHURCH!!! He wants us to visit with him. He has a wife and an 8 year old daughter. We found out he lives in a different sector so we will pass on his information as a reference.

On Sunday, a less active lady we are working with (she reminds me so much of Aunt Andrea and Uncle John, like personality wise) bore her testimony. Another less active member came to church. Mini miracles that made me really happy.

On Monday, we were knocking doors. I was frustrated. And missions aren’t easy. And I was bummed out. I opened up to some scriptures I have tabbed for times when I am down. I opened up to 1 Nephi 21:14-16. It is where Isaiah is speaking about Israel saying that the Lord has forgotten them. Then the Savior says that as absurd as the thought that a women might forget her nursing child, even more absurd is the thought that Christ will forsake us, because he has me, Elder Jacob West engraven in the palms of his hands. The Spirit hit me so hard. HE HAS NOT FORGOTTEN ABOUT ME. 

The next day we had a zone council to talk about the new mission focus for the month. It is about becoming a better disciple. We focused in on the atonement. We broke into groups. My group read scriptures on the resurrection. I was asked to present what my group had learned. As I shared, I told the zone about my experience from 1 Nephi 21 and bore my testimony. The Spirit was testifying to me so strongly that Jesus Christ was resurrected and that He lives. A very special experience for me. Later in the consejo, we took a moment to ponder individually on how we felt as we heard God’s plan for us, that we would need a Savior, and that Jesus Christ would do it. Again, the Spirit testified to me. I felt so grateful for the choice I had made to come on the mission and be having this special spiritual experience, strengthening my testimony of Jesus Christ.

A youth that is preparing to leave on a mission here told Elder Ryan, after a cita, that they should just testify all the time. He said that when they teach, it is good and all, but when they testify is when the Spirit comes very strong, and the power and authority of their calling is manifest. Just testify. I’ve been seeing that throughout this week.

Elder Smith and I knocked a door. It had been a long day. A guy came out. Obviously rich. I could see his pride. He told us he didn’t believe in religion. I had the strongest prompting to share my testimony with him. I testified that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true church upon the earth, that the Book of Mormon is true, that God has a plan for him, and that He loves him. I felt the Spirit very strong. I started crying in front of this guy as I bore my testimony. I didn’t resist the tears. I kept testifying. After, the man let us in, and I had one of the most powerful restoration lessons of my mission. We testified with power and authority. Earlier that morning, I had been feeling weak in my testimony of the restoration, that this Church is true, that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. I prayed and asked for help. I then studied all of Joseph Smith History and asked for an opportunity to bear my testimony of the restoration. God answered my prayer. I left that cita feeling the Spirit so strongly. I know through our testimonies the Spirit brought the message of the restoration to that man’s heart. It is his choice to open his heart and accept the message. But we did our part.

We taught a less active man whose son is paralyzed from the waist down. After sharing a lukewarm plan of salvation lesson with him, I remembered the words of that youth who said we should just testify. I told this hermano that I wanted to share my testimony with him. I testified that God knew him and his situation, that He loves him, and that his son will be resurrected with a perfect body one day. As I testified, the Spirit touched his heart and tears came to his eyes. Man! What a blessing it is to be a missionary!! Elder Ryan said he loves his mission because this is the only time that we will ever have to be a missionary like we are now.

For my last experience, I was walking. This has been a hard area for me, with the circumstances and everything. I’ve grown so much here. But I was frustrated. I started a prayer. In the mission, the missionary you train is called your hijo (son). I started praying for the future hijo I might have in the mission. This cambio has really helped me become a better missionary. As I was praying for my future hijo, the word slipped and it changed to hijos (children). Then through the Spirit, the idea dawned on me that this hard time in my mission is preparing me for my future hijos (children). It is preparing me to be a father. I thought of my Dad with hard areas he had and how it prepared him to be my father. I started praying for my future family. I felt that my future kids were looking down from heaven and feeling grateful that I’m having these experiences here and going through preparation. 

Elder West

Elder West & Elder Ryan