Monday, April 21, 2014

The enabling and strengthening power of the Atonement

     Howdy everyone!! I hope everyone had a great Easter week! It was such a great time to sit down and really ponder on the blessings of the atonement! I love this last week! It had its rough patches, but overall this week has been full of miracles and tender mercies! 

Monday night we switched and I went on an exchange with the district leader over in the Legends ward. And we went and really did see miracles. That night when I got there we just planned and were ready to set out and find a new investigator for the next day, and we wanted to get in with there bishop and with some other members to talk with them about some things. So we got that all set up and talked for a little while about how things were going with the work, and what we could do to help.  We were both excited for the next day to go out and just work.

Tuesday! I got to leave the apartment by 10:00am! That was such blessing! I have only been able to do that a couple of times on my mission, because of training missionaries. So we got out nice and early and got to work! We biked over to a part of there area, and we were thinking of which houses to knock. And I recognized a members house from a previous exchange I had done in this ward. So we went to go check on those members and just let them know we would be in there neighborhood and asked if they would know of anyone who would be interested in learning more. They told us a couple places to try, and so we knocked those doors. Many people on this street we knocked weren't very open, but we kept going  down and knocking. 

Well about an hour into it we saw a miracle! We knocked on this door, and a man named Kevin answered the door and invited us straight in and started asking us questions and we were able to talk with him. He wanted us to come back later that day and teach him the first lesson. Unfortunately we couldn't make it back that day so we said we would come by during the weekend and he said that would be great! That was honestly the first time on my mission I have seen anyone interested from knocking doors.  It was such a great blessing. 

Well we continued getting in with different members that day and we saw some different people. Well later that night after a good day of work we went back to the home they lived in. And they live with a non member, but the missionary forgot to grab his keys before he left for the day and the house was locked! And there was no way to get in! We had to get all my stuff packed up before we were switching back, and so in my head I said a prayer and asked to help us find a way to get in. Well the other missionary walked in to the garage and he saw a random key on a table cluttered with tools, and he picked it up and brought it out. He put it in the door and turned it and it unlocked! I know that Heavenly Father Answers our prayers and he does really listen! I was so grateful for that tender mercy, and immediately after we opened the door we both said a prayer thanking Heavenly Father for helping us out!

Weds we did some service and then we also met with Randy again in the park! And we just answered questions for him and then after we had planned to go to the water way to try and contact people. Well I had a thought that we needed to go and visit a different member who lives in a small apartment complex. So we went and visited with Brother Marks, and after we ran into another member who was talking to her nonmember friend about the gospel, and we were able to answer some of her questions. 

And then another miracle happened. A guy named Robert got off the elevator and saw us and asked where we had been? He said he tried to contact us and wants his girlfriend Courtney to get baptized. He told us to go up and set and appointment up with her. We were kinda confused and were in shock that this just happened, so we went up and said a prayer to have the spirit to be with us and know what to do, and we knocked and talked with her for a couple minutes. She said she wanted to learn more and wanted us to come back on Tuesday at noon for a lesson! So we will go back tomorrow to teach her, and here boyfriend Robert. And I guess Robert is a less active member that was baptized when he was young. So that was a great miracle. 

We had the great opportunity to have interviews with the mission president. It went really well and we received some great training on how we can do better at keeping our area books up to date. 

And then after that we went and helped out Roy(Our bishops neighbor) with some work around his home. He is getting surgery soon, and needed some help. 

Well to end the night we got a call from our mission President, and he asked us to go with him up past Huntsville to speak at a youth conference with him! That was pretty cool! So we told him we would love to go, and he said to meet him at a store near us and we would drive up together. 

We got a early start because we had to meet President at 7:15 am. We drove up with him, Sister Pingree, and his son Joseph. We were with him from 7:15 till around 3:00pm. It was a great day! The youth conference was Book of Mormon themed and so they had king Benjamin s tower, and also the youth were all dressed up in costumes. 

Just a fun thing we did, and for the record it was President Pingree's idea while we were waiting for the youth. So we did a cow pie throwing contest! And yeah I won! :) Look at the great form! :) 

Sunburn after being at youth conference all day.

We went and got to talk to 4 different rotations of youth about preparing and having a desire to serve a mission. Each rotation had about 80 youth in it. It was a cool thing! The spirit was so strong there and we were all able to testify about the great blessing of serving missions! 

I really tried to explain to them that the age change for the mission is a great opportunity, but it does not mean that you have to serve right out of high school! The decisions is very personal and is between you and God! So you need to diligently study and pray to know when the right time to go. And then I also talked to them about going where ever you are called to go. 

I told them that I took 5 years of Spanish in high school and I wanted to go and serve speaking in Spanish. And then I got my call and I was so excited and when read my call I was called to serve in the Texas Houston Mission English speaking. A couple of the youth thought it was a little funny, but then right after I was able to bare powerful testimony that if I didn't come here to Texas, I would never have met bother Marshburn. And I told them the story of how I met him! I know God is mindful of all of his children and that is why I have been sent here to Texas. There are people that I am suppose to find and meet! After it was all over, I was able to talk with some leaders and with some youth and they said it went really well, so I was happy for the opportunity to go that day!!! :)

We went around and tried to get in with different members and also just try to talk with everyone that we could. With it being the week of Easter we tried to share messages about Christ and His Atonement with people. And there were parts of when it was hard and discouraging! Alot of the time down here in the Bible belt the common response is, I already know Jesus, I am Christian, or I am saved and then they just reject us completely. 

And the reason I said it was hard wasn't just because of being rejected over and over, but it was knowing how much this knowledge has blessed my life and how it can help others, and then them not even wanting to try and listen. But that really is what happens alot, but it is so comforting to know that as we do everything we can to help others out, our Father in Heaven will bless us! I am so grateful for the chance I have to be out here and share the gospel with the people in Houston! I love it here and I would not change it for anything! I love being involved in this great work! And I testify that it is true! 

We had a wonderful sacrament, and the spirit was felt so strong, and I just love the peace that came from it. I love the time we have to partake of the sacrament and renew our covenants. I am so grateful for my Savior Jesus Christ! I know that because of Him we can receive help in all aspects of our lives. He really did suffer for everything thing we go through and he knows how to help us! He stand knocking at the door and we just have to open it up and let Him in! (Rev. 3:20) 

I know that Christ lives! He lives and He loves us and we wants to help us! He was resurrected and because of that one day we will all have the chance to have perfect glorified bodies! I know that this is true and this knowledge has blessed my life so much! I know through the Atonement we can be strengthened and do things that we didn't even think we could! We will be able to pass through affliction and trials with the knowledge that we are not alone! I testify of the truthfulness of these things and say that in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.

One other quick thought. This is an invitation the Mission President received from Elder Bednar. And he re extended this challenge to us. 

1. Find a paperback copy of the Book of Mormon.

2. Read the book cover-to-cover and highlight any passage that helps you answer the following question: “How can I use the enabling and strengthening power of the Atonement?”

3. Write a one-page summary of what you learned.

We were promised that if we would do this, we would come to know the Savior better, learn to access added strength from the Atonement, and become more effective servants of Jesus Christ. I know that this will bless y'all lives! I have just done it for a week and my understanding of the atonement has already increased so much!  

Well I hope y'all have a blessed week! 

Elder Joshua V. Christensen

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