Mormon Missionary Attends A Baptist Church

I bear my witness that God the Father lives 
and that 
He gave us the gift of His Beloved Son 
out of love for us. 
I know as surely as I live 
that the resurrected Savior lives. 
He atoned for our sins.
 And I testify 
that He is the Light of the World and 
the sure source of 
comfort, hope, peace, and joy. 
I pray with all my heart 
that we all will draw closer to Him, 
to feel the warmth of His light and love. 
In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, 
whom we worship and serve, amen.
--Pres. Henry B. Eyring, First Presidency Christmas Devotional, Dec. 2014

Monday, December 8, 2014

Dear Parents, Mom and Dad/Dad and Mom,

Thanks to everyone who wished me a happy birthday.

I did not watch the church's Christmas Devotional, because I was at the choir performance. Besides, they had the added stipulation that in order to watch the devotional, we needed a recent convert, less active, or an investigator in order to watch it. However, I may listen to it soon. It was an hour and seventeen minutes.

It sounds like you had a good week by keeping busy. And it sounds like California is still warm as ever.

As regards to personal funds and taking my companion out to a restaurant, I do agree with the idea. However, we have also obtained funds through members who know the rules, but find ways to go around them. I talk of not being allowed to receive money in reward for doing service. Members know that and I know that. What they do is say, "Here's some money; go out to lunch." We refuse and say, "No, it is alright. We cannot take it." Then, they refuse our refusal and eventually, we are stuck with the money.  We have obtained enough funds through this unfortunate trade to go out to dinner. My companion has chosen the place already and is dying to go.

Monday, we sailed across the river, hiked over hills, dashed through the forest, (fought creatures along the way) and came to the Enchanted Forest. Or rather, without such excitement, crossed the bridge to Warsaw and snaked our way to a piece of property that is so deemed the Enchanted Forest. Some person owns this piece of property. The reason it is called such, is that the person carves carvings into some of the trees and paints them. He carved simple things, such as horses, spiders, and flowers; and then, more complicated subjects, such as Dora the Explorer, Minnie Mouse, and other subjects. It is pretty awesome. After such an adventure, we retired to the basement, where we spent the rest of P-Day. We tried different people that night, one of them being our single mother investigator who has been investigating for the past year. She missed out on Fast Sunday and the awesome testimony meeting, so we wanted to make sure things were well. She had little gas, so she could not come. I will return to her later.

Tuesday, we spent part of the day tracting. We prayed to find somebody and we did. It, of course, happened to be the last house we knocked on one side of the street. We taught the Restoration and liked it. He was not interested in baptism, but knew we were definitely sent by God and there was a reason why we were there. Later that day, we went to the less active who wants us to just open our scriptures to see where God takes us. Out of a suggestion by the branch president, we put a marker on a place where we wanted to turn and so happened to open to the place. It was a good lesson. We saw our investigator who I worried about mental capacity. We gave him an enlarged portion of Mosiah 16, so that he can read. He enjoyed that. When we returned on Thursday, we discovered that he had read indeed and gave him another assignment. When we teach him, we blend in some previous lessons to help him understand principles. It works, so far.

Wednesday, we helped a member with cleaning the gutters of a elderly lady. I swept pine needles off the roof. It was not a bad thing to do with my back. If anything, it made my abdomen muscles sore the next day. It looked a lot nicer. And I did what I could do. It was funny, when I first started sweeping, the head of the broom flew off. During the day, we visited another elderly couple and read the scriptures. The man of the couple has dementia and we discuss the scriptures to help him understand. Later that night, we had dinner with a member at a Mexican restaurant. It was a really nice thing. Then, we saw an investigator, whose aunt had passed a few week ago. He told us that he is no longer going to his church (he even told his church that), because he realizes we can answer his questions, especially about the afterlife. He wants to know more in order to be ready for baptism. He is on date, which is exciting.

Thursday, other than planning, we had another member dinner. I was a small family with some crazy kids. The kids were obsessed with saying some weird word of some concoction of theirs. It was funny though. One kid bopped their little sister (who is about three) and she said it in response to the offense. Not much else happened on Thursday. Friday, we finally saw an investigator who we have not seen in a couple weeks, because she was cancelling her appointments. Her eyesight is bad, but she manages. We taught what was needed to be taught and it went well.

That night, we served at the Relief Society and Young Women Dinner. The Relief Society President had decorated the place and it was finely decorated. It was a night in Bethlehem indeed. In fact, I could consider myself a publican at that moment for I had to collect taxes, in order for people to attain their food. (The women were furnished with burlap bags with pennies in them to pay their taxes for the food. For example, ham was two cents.) It was excellent. My companion discovered that the new sister missionary (we have a set of sister missionaries in addition to the senior couple in the Branch) and him have a best friend in common. The words were well said, whoever said them, "Small world for Mormons."

Saturday, my companion did the progress record while I did family history. I have looking at the siblings of people who we are related to and look at their spouses (who some may or may not be Mormons). Sometimes, I can see where there is work to do, which makes me excited. I look at it to make sure that their work is done and if it is not, then I am excited, because there is great potential there. All the more reason to go to the temple on a consistent basis when I return home. If I do not do their work, then who will? Much excitement in that area of life.

We saw the single mother investigator. Her kids were there for opening prayer and quickly trickled out. . .  AND SHE FINALLY PRAYED! It was much needed one step forward with an additional three steps back, but it allowed us to see what was holding her back from committing to baptism. It was a true heart to heart. So, she prayed and her two friends were, of sorts, her answer. They both brought up a concern that related to the idea of truth and tolerance. (It is amazing to see how God prepares us for certain situations.) One of them is an ex-Mormon (I am sure he is less active) who did not have a great experience as a child growing up in the faith. There was a lack of tolerance towards others. The other mentioned a different issue, but it related back to the idea of truth and tolerance. I love Elder Dallin H. Oaks' CES Devotional (found on or called "Truth and Tolerance." There is a need to be tolerant and there is a way to hold to the truth while being tolerant. It is upsetting to see a lack of tolerance, because there is really good people in other faiths'. As Elder Oaks points out in his devotional, Jesus taught kindness in our communications (and I add our actions) while having firmness in the truth. That is some of the things I brought up. I do understand that there is a fear to bring up our religion, because of criticism. I mean, for quite a while I did not mention that I was a Mormon. In fifth grade, I did not mention where I went to church. I have no idea why. I was even afraid to say the name Christ. All of these things I helped her to understand, which she understands. Then, she mentioned the principle of the Word of Wisdom. She has no issues or problems with breaking the Word of Wisdom. She has an occasional drink of wine (her last drink was a year and a half), but she believes it is healthy. We began to realize that her saying that the Book of Mormon is true and Joseph Smith is true is merely a head testimony. The idea that it is true makes sense to her, but there is no spiritual basis behind her claim of knowing it is true. We again invited her to read and pray. We finally have a concern we can work with.

I will combine Sunday with the rest of Saturday, because it involves stake conference. Stake conference was great. There were really good talks that I enjoyed. I really cannot speak much of it, because there are things I need to do beforehand. People remembered my birthday and people wished me a happy birthday. It was great. We did not do much on Sunday. Thanks for the shirt and tie. It was very much appreciated. I had a good birthday. It was simple.

And also
on Sunday, I went to a Baptist church. 
That was where the choir recital was. After a long choir practice, we headed off to the Baptist church. The church had a main floor and a balcony. We were sitting at the balcony. Many of the choirs sang to a track. There was a lot of pomp and cheer. It was quite interesting, because it is not the normal thing that I am used to. I am more of a traditional person, probably in part of the LDS culture that has been part of me. It was nice and rather loud. It was interesting to see the different music each church has. There were seven Baptist churches there, two Methodist churches, and us. Some of the music was quite nice. I mean, I am slightly interested in different church's music, because it is my curiosity in understanding different faiths.  This was to raise money for an Emergency Ministry, which goes about helping families in this one county that are in need. So, for the first time in my life, I put a dollar on the plate as it went around. The LDS choir members also did likewise. I was not alone in this different kind of offering.

So, we were not the worst choir there, but we were no means the best. That is being honest, because we did mess up during Gloria Patri. In the middle of the song, the different voices split. I am listening to each person to understand where we are at. Incidentally, we messed up that part. Other than that, our other song went well. We left with our ride after our song. It was close to curfew.

A bit of humor. Kind of how "they just can't get my nose right," they just can't get our name right. We were, according to the program, "The Church of Jesus Christ & Latter Day Saints." One choir member jokingly said, "It sounds like a band name: Jesus Christ & The Latter Day Saints." Talking to someone else later that night, "It makes us sound like we are Catholic."

It was a busy, busy week. And it went fast. I am actually quite surprised it has gone by. And a new transfer has officially begun.

Oh and we have a Christmas tree that is real. It is a humble Christmas tree, but it is a Christmas tree nonetheless.

All is well!

Shalom and Love,

Elder S. Todd