Does God Answer the Prayers of Those Who Pray Frivolously?

September 23, 2013Dear Parents, Mom and Dad/Dad and Mom,

I am forgetting which weeks are what. (Well, I definitely am losing myself in the work). The lady did drop us, which was unfortunate, and did so over the phone. She said that she was set and that she had received no answer about reading the Book of Mormon. So, she figures it is just best to stick with what she has. My idea is, okay, so she knows me and my companion, but I can work around that. I will keep her in mind and every new pair can go visit her and help her progress. (Don't get us wrong we read, study, and pray about the Bible but when someone asks you to pray for an answer to your prayer, how would you pray? If you really wanted an answer don't you think you would clear your mind of distractions, pray with real intent, humble yourself before the Lord and perhaps even fast? Yet, when asked to pray do you really think God is going to answer a prayer where your mind is made up, where you made no effort to study and ponder, nor made any effort to humble yourself before Him? If we are going to learn anything from God don't you think it will take some effort, experimentation, and pouring out our soul before Him? Yet who is willing to do this?)

I have heard about the Utes (University of Utah) winning. I heard about it several times yesterday. In fact, I even told my companion I would be hearing about it through your email as well. It is really good news and it really did make me think of home. Even in Virginia, the rivalry is there (between the U of U and BYU). 

I did hear about Denice's mom through Denice herself (Denice is a friend of Seth who is a member and her mother has decided to join the church). Denice has been emailing me a bit. I also got a few letters from Sister Oberst and Aurora Oberst. I will definitely try to correspond back. I have some letters to work on, but that is fine, I am not at all late (I got the letters just recently). 

It sounds as though Mom is really busy taking care of Sean's house. Maybe they will notice a difference when Mom leaves. I am glad to hear that they are taking care of Mom, which is really nice of them. It is good to hear how Sean and family are doing. It brightens up my day.

I am using my manners. I try to be as professional as I can. (Also, nice reference to Ecclesiastes.) (. . . there is a time for everything under the sun) I say thank you and do all the proper things even with my companion (though my companion could use some manners). I try not to be late, but it does factor into some people talking too much and you cannot get them to be quiet to say, "Okay, lesson is over. Who would like to say the prayer?" (I do not say that; I make light of what I am saying). I know to be careful of what I say and try to be a respectful person. 

Even yesterday, my companion and I went to an investigator's house and his pain in the neck friend who disrespects God was there. (He was the same guy about a month or so ago that tried to question us and annoy us and derail the lesson.) This guy was really after me, trying to push my buttons. I simply ignored him, because there were other people there that wanted to talk and were trying to make conversation. My companion finally pissed him off by saying, "God is your dad." That guy got so angry and left. It was awesome. (Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. Acts 17:29; And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Galatians 4:6)

But, my week went fairly well. There were some bad times, but all is well. Last Monday, we had a district hike and most of the district came. The place we went to was Caledon State Park and it was absolutely beautiful. (My companion and I are planning on going back to go biking.) There were some areas that were quite nice. Hopefully, I will be able to send pictures of the area.

The charitable man was supposed to be baptized this week, but unfortunately, he did not. He said that he quit tobacco; he said that he accepted the Book of Mormon and our teachings. He said that he wanted to be baptized, but the day of his baptismal interview, he did not show up. He had personal business that took too much out of his time that he could not have made his baptismal interview. We understood, "Yeah, he is a busy man." What is extremely frustrating is that he has not contacted us since and he has been ignoring us. I am trusting these people to be honest and I try to make them honest. May God work things out. 

Also, do not get Sprint, ever. I understand that it is cheap, which is good for our Church, but do not get it unless you want to lose your sanity. In our residence, we do not have reception as well as most places in Virginia. Perhaps it is due to the trees, I do not know, but still, you expect to have service. I volunteered myself to call the Sprint place to get help on how to fix our phone. It was rather ironic, because the help called another department and their call dropped on them. Other than that, they did not help and I was so confused by their instructions. I felt literally drained from talking to them. Please forgive me if I sound negative, especially in the last two paragraphs or so. I am keeping a positive outlook, because it is in God's hands and things will work out.

We had zone conference (this is when missionaries get together from a wide area to discuss things) this past week. It was nothing too interesting, until, of course, President Wilson ( the mission leader) spoke. I learned a few things. But, funny that you mention manners, because we were extremely late to zone conference for a very good reason. So, a recent convert's sister (the sister is not a member) was sick and the recent convert needed somebody to deliver medicine and Gatorade to the sister. We did so and had a nice discussion and first lesson. The sister was not too interested, but at least we planted a seed. It was a real life application of what was practiced during zone conference. President Wilson thanked us for helping, though she needs her home teachers or visiting teachers to do the delivery next time. (Members are assigned to visit a certain number of members of the congregation to see how they are doing and if they need anything. All of this gets past back to other leaders and ultimately to the Pastor.) (By the way, please do your home teaching (men) and visiting teaching (women). I am beginning to see how important it is.)

On Saturday, I helped a family move (out of the ward into a close, but distant ward). Their new place that they are renting is in a basement of members. The place is not that bad, because the land they are on is huge. It is acres upon acres. Interestingly enough, the people that own the land grow pumpkins and cantaloupe to claim their land as farmland and have reduction on property tax (even though they do not sell the pumpkins or cantaloupe). The man of the house (which I believe the family that owns the house is an elderly couple) builds coffins and transports the deceased (I believe to the morgue). On the way back, my companion and I got a ride back from the member's brother. He has a major in forensic science, though, due to the economy and job availability, he does not have a job in it. He still knows a lot. We talked about CSI and how those types of shows are just entertainment. I still like watching them even with what I know and that is how I view them, which it makes it possible for me to look at, say, the autopsy scenes during CSI. He talked about the CSI effect, or the effect of these types of shows on the public, to which I surprised him by speaking about it and sharing what I know about the CSI effect. We also talked about the different ways of packaging evidence, which all depend on the crime scene. (For example, you would package evidence from a crime scene in a river differently from an arson crime scene.) He was quite surprised by my knowledge, to which I explained that I took forensic science in high school and that I want to be a forensic psychologist. He actually took a psychology and law class, which was awesome to hear about what he did (he had to diagnose certain serial killers). He told me that he hopes that I have a stomach for the job (which I do believe I do; it is just other stuff that I will have to get used to). He gave me the suggestion that it would not be a bad idea to intern while in college. It was so great to actually engage a conversation with someone, which is something I am not too skillful at. It was great practice and plus, it was a normal conversation (Let's put it this way, it was normal for Seth. Not all of us know about the different ways of packaging evidence, let alone care.).

Yesterday, sacrament meeting was quite different. The bishop decided to have nothing, but special musical numbers. He wanted us to listen to the Spirit and learn from the Spirit. The music was absolutely beautiful. Someone did a soul and Southern Baptist version of Amazing Grace, which was quite interesting for most people (I absolutely like it). I do admire music. I love the violin in particular. I think of the violin as a window into human emotion. There's some beautiful examples of the violin, though I think of one  that has really powerful violin music, which is the soundtrack to Schindler's List. I believe they used the violin, if not the cello, but I am pretty sure it is the violin. I do admire the bagpipes as well for its power and our heritage. (My companion, unfortunately, does not like the bagpipes). 

Oh, and I love the Ensign (the church magazine for adults). I have been reading a lot from the Ensign, even older editions. Man, I missed out on a lot and I love reading them. If there are any at home that are still around and you do not want them, save them for me when I get back. I love the Ensign and they are absolutely good and I am not saying this because I am just a missionary.

The man who got baptized recently is doing well. We showed him a video of the temples and he is so excited. His fiance who is a member is also excited for him. He got confirmed (an ordinance done by those with authority to bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost and to confirm them members of the church) yesterday and was so excited to continue to progress in the gospel. He is so spiritually open and spiritually minded. Some of his friends of other denominations basically tried to sway him, but he knew that they did not know for themselves. It was amazing.

All is well.

Elder S. Todd

Without hard work, nothing grows but weeds. -Gordon B. Hinckley