Well, another 4th has come and gone without fireworks. Sad. We did go to a parade though. It was in Pekin. And it was REALLY hot and REALLY long. Most of the parade was political candidates and little girls that were running for parade queen and parade princess and then the rest of the parade was businesses that wanted to advertise. BUT, there were a couple cool parts. And we talked with a girl the whole time who had two little kids. She was friendly and talkative and humble. When we asked her if we could come talk more with her about the church she said we had to ask her husband. At the end of the parade he came up and we asked if we could come talk with them about the church and he flat out said no way. They did end up taking a Book of Mormon so hopefully it makes it to their bookshelf for someone to read someday. She was a really nice girl though.
|a guy dressed as a beat up Uncle Sam who was |
shouting into his megaphone, "We have to get Obama
out of office! I won't survive another 4 years!"
|More people who don't like Obama|
|The Hoosiers graven image of choice|
|one of the hillbilly clans that were in the parade...|
I don't know if it's a funny club for old people or what
but there was more than one clan in the parade
Brother Vonnahme had his heart cath and tests done this week. He has blockages that might end up needing stints but they don't yet. Hopefully some medicine will clear them up. Sister Vonnahme has still had really bad nose bleeds. One of the doctors in the ward brought her one of the clamps they use in the ER and she's been wearing it and it's hilarious. She likes it though because she's one of those people who waves their hands around while they talk. And before they got her the clamp she would forget she was plugging her nose and start waving her hands around and drip blood on her face. It's a good thing she has that clamp now.
|Sister Vonnahme with her curlers in and her nose clamp on|
We had an exchange this week. Sister Walker came here with me. We had a really good lesson with one of our "eternigators" (eternal investigators) named Wende. I really hope she follows through with the commitment we extended to her of writing down questions of the soul, questions she has for the Lord, and then reading the Book of Mormon with those questions in mind. We promised her that the Lord would answer her through the Book of Mormon. She seemed excited about it. I'm excited for her. I think this will help her form a relationship with the Lord and a testimony of the Book of Mormon. It's also a lot nicer than us constantly saying, "Don't forget to read your scriptures" but being able to ask how it's going and if she's receiving answers to her questions.
|My reuniting with Sis. Ford|
We taught Sandra (the young mom we found after the Jake Schmidt fall-out) TWICE this week. She's my favorite. She is at a point in her life where she can' sit idle. She has to make big choices or she'll stay in a miserable position. She's looking for answers. She's looking for a way out of the mess her life is. She's really in need of peace and I promised her that she could find it. We taught her the Restoration and the Plan of Salvation. After the Plan of Salvation I asked what she thought about the new things we'd told her and she said it made sense. She had never really believed that it was heaven or hell and that's it and there's no hope for people who were good who weren't baptized. She really liked the plan. Then I told her that when she and her sons were in the pre-mortal life that they had told Heavenly Father that they would come down to earth and do everything they could to make it back to Him. She stopped me with tears in her eyes and said, "But WHY? WHY would I have wanted to come here to earth? Why would I choose THIS?" I don't really remember or know what I said to her. That question has stuck with me. It's been shouting at me ever since we left her house. I probably said something like, "It will be worth it someday." or something like that. But I know that wasn't a good enough answer. Someone who is in pain and is miserable doesn't want to hear that the pain is good for them. They don't want to hear that someday things will make sense. Someone in the kind of turmoil she's in wants answers now, wants relief now. As I've thought about her question and her distress in that moment that has replayed for me over and over, I've thought about Christ. The reason Christ is the center of our message is because without Him it wouldn't work. The plan wouldn't work. Salvation wouldn't work. Happiness wouldn't work. What Sandra needs right now isn't so much knowledge. It isn't so much church or the Book of Mormon. What she needs is Christ. She needs what only He can give. She needs peace and forgiveness and deliverance. I can't give her that. Only Christ can. I can use the tools that bring people to Christ: knowledge, church, Book of Mormon, etc. No matter how much I want to relieve her pain and take away her guilt and fix her sadness, I can't. I am nothing. Christ is the Savior. Christ is the Miracle Worker. What a blessing it is that He allows me to invite others to come unto Him. Every time we leave Sandra's I pray that Satan won't be able to hurt her. I know he's mad that she's on the brink of discovering the truth. He sees the potential that she has and he's going to try his best to dissuade her. Cause when I look at her I see a valiant woman of Zion. I see her boys holding the priesthood. I see them as leaders and missionaries. I see her as the mother of two stripling warriors. A woman who lived a sinful life but was converted and when she was she taught her sons to trust in God and never doubt. And because of her testimony and example her sons had unconquerable faith. That's what I see in Sandra. Please pray for her. She's very special and the Lord has great happiness in store for her.
| the stainglass they have in the chapel in the Salem hospital. |
On the right is the steeple of the courthouse
Brother Vonnahme gave us the name of some people who live on the outskirts of the county in a no-stoplight town called Livonia ("lie-vone-ee-uh"). We drove out there and knocked on the door and the man was not at all interested. It was a bummer because it's a waste of miles. On the way back though, there was a house that the Spirit prompted us to stop at. We did and we met a guy named Derek. It was funny because he kept talking to us like he was going to say no but then he wouldn't. He'd say, "I'm not really sure that's something I'm interested in... but it is an interesting idea." I kept waiting for him to say no and I think he kept wanting to say no, but he couldn't. He took a Book of Mormon and wouldn't commit to reading it and wouldn't commit to letting us teach him... but he told us to stop by again sometime and see. We directed him to Mormon.org so hopefully he'll look at that and feel the Spirit. He asked us what makes our church different than other Christians. We told him about our belief in the need for a restoration and the need for a prophet and that our church had been restored and we did have a prophet. He thought for a second and then he was like, "Yeah, but I'm really happy with my church." So I asked him how important it would be to know if God had restored a church and he did have a prophet. And if those things were true, how important would it be to go to that church rather than one of the many other Christian churches. He said it would be incredibly important. I told him I know that's a bold claim, but that's what we believe. That's why we're on his doorstep in the middle of Livonia while it's raining. That's when he decided to take the Book of Mormon. He said he'd have to talk to his wife about it which lately for us hasn't been the best omen. BUT, even if it doesn't pan out. A seed was planed. And I know it got some wheels turning in his head. The Spirit is so awesome. The Lord is aware of all of His children. He works with them and is so patient with them. He's patient with me. Brother Hobson was telling Sister Walker his conversion story on Friday and he had run into the missionaries off and on and in varying ways for 31 years before he was baptized. He was mean to some and he ignored some and some said things that they won't remember but he remembers verbatim. Those missionaries have no idea that that grumpy man from Salem has years later joined the church. The thing is that this work isn't the missionaries' work. It's the Lord's work. He knows that people have different timetables. In the scriptures it tells us that if we plant the seed but don't see the reaping, we'll still be blessed. And in the end, the Lord plants the seeds and does the reaping anyways.
While Sister Walker and I were meeting with Brother Hobson on Friday, Creeper John saw us and came and sat down next to us and started talking. He told me that he bought a new house and that he's going to open up a shop in his garage. He said for me to deliver a message to someone in our ward that he knows. He repeated the phrase over and over till I had it memorized. (John's last name is Bortka) Here is it: "Bortka's got the bling shop, shinin' in Canton. And it'll shine when it shines." Then he told us about the time he saw his grandma who had passed away. She was an angel and had huge white wings. BUT, the wings weren't made of feathers, they were made of pitbull fur. (John has albino pitbulls... I'm guessing that's where the idea came from). He then told us how he's still saving up for a gold tooth and then he left. Haha. Sister Walker's trainer had served in Salem and had told her all about Creeper John. It was such a treat for her to have a run-in with him on the one day she was here in Salem.
Sister Hunt and I are going through the less-actives in the ward (which is most of our ward's membership) and there's a lady we visited named Gay Barbara Douglas. Well, we had figured she'd want to go by Barbara. When we met her she told us she prefers Gay. Later that day Sister Hunt and I were discussing something that I thought was right and she thought was wrong. That's when she said, "It wouldn't be the first time I was wrong today: I thought Gay Barbara Douglass would prefer to go by Barbara."
One of the members here who is 22 has a boyfriend from Mexico. He's here for the summer right now and we were over there yesterday talking to him about the Book of Mormon. We read 3 Nephi 11 with him and after I asked him how he felt as we read and knowing that Christ loves all of His children. He said, "It's hard to say. It makes me feel like if I was walking down a dark street with bad guys waiting for me that I have a policeman behind me so I feel safe to walk down the street. Safe. It makes me feel safe." I thought that was such an awesome description of the Spirit and how He makes us feel. I really hope that he'll let us teach him. At church he told us he'd have to think about it. But after church we went over and had lunch and that's when we read from the Book of Mormon with him. He said he'd read the Book of Mormon and pray. Hopefully he'll let us teach him. I know he felt the Spirit because that's what he described to us. It was awesome.
Quote of the Week: "I am SICK and TIRED of looking like a scarecrow!"
Thanks for all your prayers. I hope the fires die down out there. I love you all. The Church is TRUE! Share it!