Monday, March 9, 2015

The Joyful Burden of Discipleship

March 7th - Happy 20th Birthday to our Missionary!

This week has been a good week! We had so many great adventures this week. We had MLC this week, and it was such an inspiring meeting. 

President Mortensen had us ponder on the question of, " What would we need to do differently as missionaries in order to double baptisms." As we were there we were able to council as zone leaders and sister training leaders about how we could accomplish this. President Mortensen then told us that this is the new vision that the Lord has in store for our mission! And immediately the spirit testified to me that this was true! President Mortensen then went on to explain how the missionary department will be taking our missionary count from 270 to about 200. Now this wasn't to big of a surprise for me because in previous transfers as an assistant we counseled about which wards we would pull missionaries from and where we would place the ones we have to still get the same amount of work done. 

 But we came together as zones to discuss what we could commit to in terms of how many baptisms and our efforts with setting dates. And we felt like for the month of March we could commit to 6 baptisms as a zone. So that is what we committed to. And so we continued to council and discuss what kind of efforts it would take in order to accomplish the new vision that the Lord has for our mission. And at the end President Mortensen said to us, " this might sound arbitrary but I want each of you to say your committed if your in." And he proceeded to go around the room 1 missionary at a time, and each missionary then said they were committed. At this point again the spirit filled the room and testified to us this is what we needed to do. So I am excited for what the Lord has in store. 

After the meeting I sat pondering on the best way that we could take this back to the zone. This was exciting to hear, but at the same time you felt this wonderful burden upon you to make sure you could present it well to our zone.  So I continued pondering and my thoughts went to some of the great missionaries we read about in the scriptures. 

I started reading through Alma 17 and 26, describing the way that they prepared themself, and as well as the success they were able to have. Well I pondered on this over the next several days, and little by little I felt I was able to receive revelation of ways that were could share it. Elder DeLuca and I counseled about what we wanted to accomplish and how we would go about teaching it powerfully. And we truly were able to feel the Lords help. And we felt that as we got up on Friday to teach that we were able o help elevate the vision of the zone. The spirit truly was strong this week as we taught. 

It was also a testimony builder to me because this week as I have looked back through the baptisms that took place over the last year here in the Klein zone, I found that we averaged to 2-3 baptisms a month. Well this was exciting to me because like I said before during MLC we committed that 6 would happen. And so we can see that the Lord is having this doubling baptisms take place! Right now for March we have a potential of having 9 people baptized into the church! How exciting is that! The Lord is truly hastening his work!   

But we also knew that the meeting would not be enough to  get this change to take place. It would take consistent follow up and accountability through our district leaders and the zone. So that is now what we are working on in order to elevate ourselves to a higher level of commitment.  

Also this week we were able to meet with our investigator Brenda. And she told us earlier in the week that she was ready and excited to be baptized at the end of the month. She said she was ready to be baptized for a remission of sins and feel clean again! We are so excited for her! 

We met with her yesterday also and when we first arrived she said, I have kinda  a weird question for yall that is kinda off topic. But I hear so much about the temple but I have no idea what it is. And then Elder DeLuca and I  just looked at each other and smiled. We came prepared that day to teach about family history and temple work. As we told that to Brenda and the spirit began to fill the room.

We taught about the importance of baptism and how it is needed in order for us to return home and live with God. It is the "key" that can unlock the gate that leads to him. And we asked her about everyone else in the world who had died with out a knowledge of Christ and his gospel. How would they get that key? And she just looked at us and said I am not sure, but I feel like the Lord would provide a way for them. 

We then testified that he would and we talked about how in the spirit world they have that opportunity to learn about the gospel. But because they don't have bodies they can't be baptized. And we then talked about the temple and about baptisms for the dead. We talked about her ancestors and how she holds that "key" for her ancestors salvation. And the spirit was so strong and she felt it! What a wonderful blessing it was to be able to teach her about the temple! By the end of the lesson she could not stop smiling! It was amazing. 

Well to finish the week, we were out knocking doors for almost 2 straight hours in the rain! We knew with this new vision that we had to make sure we are still out finding. And we knocked over 30 houses on this long street, and each of them said they would not listen to us, and many of them were in all honesty very rude. But door after door we kept going because we knew what our message could mean for a family. We knew that we would find someone who was being prepared.  

We finished knocking all the houses on the street. We were very wet by the time we had finished and on top of that as we were walking back to our car a police officer pulled up. Someone had called the cops and said that there were two guys dressed in dark slacks and coats who were going door to door. But this is where the Lord blessed us, we tried to still be as happy as we could, and the cop got out, and it turns out that she was a member. She looked at us and laughed and said so you are the two guys who are going door to door? We laughed and said we are, we are trying to find those who the Lord has prepared.  

She saw how wet we were, and she said that there was no problem with what we were doing. She let us go, and we continued back to our car. It was a tender mercy that she was a member. I have had other times on my mission where cops are called and they aren't always the nicest. But we went home that night knowing that we had done all we could that day to find who was prepared. 

It could have been so easy to just give up half way through, and go back to the car. it could have been so easy to say the people here aren't interested, and it is too cold and wet, but the fact is the message of the restoration is far to important.   I know how important this message is to the world. I know of the power and the peace that it can bring to the lives of families. 

It truly is a joyful burden that we are blessed to be able to carry to the world! At times it may get rough, but the Lord will always be there to help lift our burdens as we come unto him. I know this to be true! We are all blessed to be able to be instrument in the Lord's hands in bringing souls unto Christ. I love this gospel, and I know it is true. 

Please continue to do all you can to share it with friends or family. I know as you do so it will bless your life forever. And know that you truly do have the Lord on your side and he will guide you on what to say and what to do. I testify of that!!

Well I hope y'all have a great week!

Elder Joshua V. Christensen

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