Monday, August 11, 2014

The Burden of Those Called to Bear the Messianic Message

Heyyyy Y'all!!!

Coming at ya live from ABINGDON, VIRGINIA! Yep we came up here to spend P-day with my precious trainer Sister Weight and her companion Sister Cox! It's been great so far. We're going to have a good day. We passed a creepy cool cemetery on the way here so I'm going to make sure we check that out. I'm weird. I know.

So I wanted to start out this email with a quote from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's most recent conference talk because it really has been coming to my mind so often that it has become my theme for my outlook of the work in Bristol:

"Here we have the burden of those called to bear the messianic message. In addition to teaching, encouraging, and cheering people on (that is the pleasant part of discipleship), from time to time these same messengers are called upon to worry, to warn, and sometimes just to weep (that is the painful part of discipleship)."

This week we have had many of the pleasant parts of discipleship. We taught Rocky our investigator from Guatemala. He barely speaks English so we have taken on the challenge of using our rusty Spanish skills to teach him in his native language. We read from El Libro de Mormon in 3 Nefi. He read out loud in Spanish while we followed along in English. We understood a lot of what he was saying so it wasn't too hard. As Rocky said the closing prayer I picked out the words "saber estas cosas es verdad" or something like that...(to know these things are true). I loved it.

We were able to come back in contact with our investigators Travis and Katie. We talked about having real intent. Travis admitted that he was struggling to find real intent because he was comfortable with the nondenominational church they currently attend. Travis told us that he enjoys when we come over because there is always so much soul searching and he can feel it. Gosh, isn't the spirit so great?

At dinner last night we were able to talk with Brother Ronquillo about how he grew up in the church. We asked him if he still believed the Book of Mormon to be the word of God. He told us that he is still Mormon and always will be. He still has a testimony. This was an answer to prayers because we had been struggling to understand where he was at. He told us he can feel the spirit when we come around. I was so humbled to hear that. I am grateful that he could feel God's love through us. We now feel more comfortable to share the doctrine of Christ from the Book of Mormon when we join them for dinner every Sunday evening.

The painful parts of discipleship also were also experienced this week. We went to visit Don and we showed him this Mormon message that we felt really related to his experiences of struggling to know God:
As we watched the message, we saw tears come to his eyes. We saw him feel the spirit. It was such a tender moment. Afterwards when we began to discuss his thoughts, Don told us that he knew a divine power existed but he didn't think it was a loving Heavenly Father. I began to cry; which was weird. I never cry in lessons. I don't cry in front of people, that is so weird. But there I was crying because I consider Don to be part of my family. I didn't want him to feel alone and like God wasn't designing a path specifically for him. It is so hard for me to understand how someone so Christ-like can feel like he doesn't know God or Jesus Christ. Regardless, we will continue to help Don feel the spirit and hopefully he will continue to make progress. He's still reading the Book of Mormon every day!

I love being a missionary. I love it here, even though it's the hardest thing I have ever done. The pleasant parts are wonderful and spiritually uplifting, and the painful parts help me understand the suffering that Christ felt for each of us. I want to stay in Bristol forever. Saturday we were going a lil' bit crazy because we spent the day trying to track down some of our 125 less-active members on our ward roster. We took a break and walked through a cemetery and evidently saw the grave of the inventor of Dr. Pepper (I'm not sure if it's the for real guy but a lady that we met at the cemetery told us that so we'll take her word for it).

Have an amazing week!


Sister Andrea Kate Merrell

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