He Had Been Crying, A Friend Passes Away

For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. -Revelations 7:17

Monday, March 16, 2015

Dear Parents, Mom and Dad/Dad and Mom,

I talked to President Wilson about the soliciting and trespassing signs during my interview with him this past week. We are legally protected in what we are doing; this has been proven in the courts. If people say we are doing either of those things, we can go on to the next door. Yes, I will take precautions, but I will keep on going forward. It will be interesting to see how it goes.

I am the designated driver; it is one designated driver at a time. As for roles in leadership, it is true that is a role I do not want. It is hard to explain why. It is not about leadership to me. I rather focus on people rather than missionaries and key indicators. I like to work on a one-on-one basis with people; what makes me happy about missionary work is teaching people. I cannot fully express my thoughts and feelings about this without the right questions. But, I know this. I have made strides and improvements in my own life that has come from this. I have personally healed and became better. It makes me think of something I realized this past week. As I have been leading the area, I have been drawing only on past experiences, impeding (if impeding is the right word) the Spirit to guide me. By allowing myself to be worthy of the Spirit and focusing on spirituality, I have been able to receive revelation for the area and confidence. I know that as I keep the Spirit in my life and continue to be converted and to be consecrated, my life will be abundant. That is something I realize that I want in my own life and for my own family. I want to have the Spirit with me by putting God as a priority. Without having the Spirit at the home, we allow ourselves to be darkened, which in turns allowing the adversary to take effect in the family, damaging lives in the process.

This past week has been a great one and a step of improvement. 

Monday, I got a haircut. We tried a referral that we received from the Spanish elders. We were invited by an elderly woman (who is this referral's sister) and this elderly man came out to talk to us. We started talking about the Restoration and he was, "I am already a member." So, as we looked at the ward directory a bit later, he is a member, who had recently moved into the area. Previous missionaries had found him and, it seems, left him behind, forgetting all about him. We talked to him for a bit, before leaving. We decided to work with him, so we made plans to revisit him later in the week. 

Tuesday, we had district meeting. We then tried to see some potentials (individuals that may have an interest in our message), but none were home or too happy to see us. We tried another referral that we had received from the Spanish elders. He is an ex-Marine (excuse the "ex" Semper Fi), which changed his views on God and religion. He seemed generally interested in what we had to say. He is willing to read the Book of Mormon. We know that the Plan of Salvation will help him, especially with knowing our purpose here on earth and understanding God more.

Wednesday, we, with a member, visited a single sister, who is not a member (although her husband is a member, but less active). Lots of confidential material here that I cannot explain. (Information in this part of the letter was left out intentionally. Let's just say that one of the gifts of the Spirit is discernment of things seen and unseen.) After this appointment, we visited part member families out in Goochland. Few were home; one was a less active member, who potentially was offended in another ward up in Woodbridge. We spent a good portion of our day, trying to do this before we went back to the city to tract an apartment complex. We started knocking on doors. One lady told us to be careful, because she did not want to see us get kicked out. We went up the stairs of her part of the complex, when I noticed a man, who had his door open. We had previously knocked on his door, although he did not answer. I also noticed he had a golf club in his hands. He and I made eye contact, allowing him to motion for us to come over. I was thinking, "Oh no, here we go again." When we got over, it was evident that he had been crying. As he explained to us, he was praying to God for help and guidance. And lo, we knocked on his door during his prayer. He was happy to see us and glad we could talk with him. He explained his thinking of God and such. He believes in reincarnation, multiple Sons of God (e.g. Jesus Christ, Buddha), and God visiting the earth multiple times to help put us on the right path. It was interesting, but we started to talk to him about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He enjoyed it, yet he tried fitting it into his beliefs. When we return, we will go over the Plan of Salvation.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.-John 14:27
Thursday, we did our usual service at the health center. I must say, for your information, "Mama" (for those who have not followed this journey Mama is an elderly woman that Seth had met in another area and treats all missionaries as her sons.)  was quite sad; her best friend, who was in perfectly good health for a ninety year old, passed away on Monday (and Mama saw it happen), which is odd to think. We saw her on Sunday, the day previous, and she was, as I said, in perfectly good health. It is sad. But, service was great; we helped Mama sort through the clothes of her best friend that her best friend's family gave her as well.

We did more tracting. We saw our elderly gentleman friend, that we saw on Monday, and gave him a large print Book of Mormon to read. We read some with him. 

Friday, we had interviews. We weekly planned. We tracted and contacted a referral that we received. That referral was Mama's roommate, which I am not sure what we can do with her. Not much else happened.

Saturday, we did our progress record and we started to tract. I have been carrying my scriptures, because, my book bag recently broke. It was raining on Saturday and I needed to wrap my scriptures and pamphlets in a Wal-Mart bag. We returned to our car. We had been neglecting a problem with our car and we noticed it needed to be taken care of. You see, our two front tires need air pressure in them, but the caps were metal, instead of plastic. We could not get them off and we eventually called Elder Sopp to tell him, who told us to go to tire shop, which we avoided until we saw our tires on this particular Saturday. Our tires looked slightly flat, so we postponed tracting to go to Jiffy Lube. They told us that they could not help, because, one, they do not do tires and, two, the metal caps were rusted on. We took to another tire shop and through a lengthy process, we got two brand new tires for the front of our car. We headed for dinner immediately afterward.

Dinner was great; we were listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir during it. We had to share a quick thought after dinner, because we had an appointment with our Bible fundamentalist. Funny thing was the Mormon Tabernacle Choir beat me to the punch of my testimony. We were talking about missionary work and how we need to be more Christlike to be examples to others. I started to bear testimony of Jesus Christ as our Savior and Exemplar when the Choir piped up, "THIS IS THE CHRIST." Yes, thank you, choir. (It reminds me of a time in Appomattox where I was called to say blessings over the food. Prior to this, instrumental music of different movies were playing. Nobody turned it off. As it so happened to be, as I said the prayer, the music got louder and it was for an epic scene of a movie. I would have to say, it was the most epic prayer I ever said.) 

Well, off we went to our Bible fundamentalist; the bishop (pastor) came out with us for this appointment. My companion and I decided to talk about the apostasy (from the church Christ established) and reemphasize the need to the Restoration. I had been praying heavily for divine help. I am not sure how it all came about. We were talking about the apostasy and we mentioned priesthood authority. We mentioned again that it was lost. Somehow from that, we talked about the priesthoods (the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood) and how it has been on the earth for a while. We talked about how John had the Aaronic and Jesus held the Melchizedek. We talked about how the priesthood is lost. One, you have the leaders being killed off, who held the authority. It would make sense that they would quickly pass on the authority, right? Well, that is point two, you would think that, but you also have to keep in mind that even local leaders who were left in charge of the churches in the various parts of the known world were apostatizing. (See Acts 20:28-30; background: Paul, returning to Jerusalem, called for the local leaders ["elders"] of the church in Ephesus to Miletus.) For our Bible fundamentalist, it clicked. He mentioned the Catholics and their claim (and we brought up the Reformers, how they were break offs in trying to reform the Catholic Church and they were missing authority) of the priesthood, which he disagreed with. He completely disregarded it until we helped connect the dots. It gave him a lot to think about; we invited him to read Alma 13. It was a very spiritual lesson.

Sunday, we had church and we had a lesson with our ten year old investigator. We read the Book of Mormon with him, because the Spirit was not there in the house.

It has been a good, spiritual week that is full of miracles. Good things are bounding. I do believe the area will steadily progress to a steady foundation. This is week three that we have now entered; I am going to continue to push forward. It will be great.

We are working with the ward (congregation) and gaining referrals. We have been emphasizing the ward mission plan with member dinners and creating their own family ward mission plan. We have been trying to help the ward get missionary focused. We are trying to gain their trust. I do feel that we are trying to overcome the mistakes (both unintentional and intentional) that previous missionaries have made. I know of at least one family that has expressed that they are watching us (in their own way: "You know, the last missionaries said they could do later appointments, but you say five is the basis..." "When I was ward mission leader, I asked to see their planners..."); rather than worry about their expectations, we are going to focus on our vision and push forward. I find that a balance is healthy for us, because, well, if we spend all our time tracting, we burn up our energy and we neglect those that do need our help. Plus, we have Goochland. And to keep our purpose as missionaries with less actives, we invite them to attend the temple. We have now been giving time to track our temple invites. The ward is good here, but like I said, I do think there can be improvements.

Tout va bien! Alles wohl!


Elder S. Todd


P.S. I asked President Wilson about your idea of Skyping this next with some time with you two and with Bria, which he said is okay as long as I do split up my time equally and keep it under. They both would total together; the base is 40 minutes (I know, we really have not been doing that), so it would 20 minutes with you and 20 minutes with Bria. We will worry about this later.

Yes, thank you for the new package. We have greatly enjoyed the green bouncy balls that light up. It has been the most amusing fun.  My companion said he wants to thank you two, but I am not sure he will be able to when he wants to. It all depends on what occurs in the next couple of weeks.

I am definitely pushing forward. I say that a lot, especially in this email. My primary focus has been on the spiritual to keep my own focus to allow myself to receive guidance and help. I have seen the blessings of that. Whether or not you have my itinerary for my departure (because I have no idea when it will come or if it will come to me or you), thanks for not telling me. And this is not a sarcastic thank you. It is a real THANK YOU. I am going to focus. 

#Virginia Richmond Mission

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