Monday, March 17, 2014

Hastening the Work of Salvation - February 3, 2014

"Behold, I will hasten my work in its time." - Doctrine & Covenants 88:73

It is an incredible time to be a missionary in an incredible place like Iowa! I testify that God is hastening the work of salvation and that missionary work, loving others, is the best work we can engage ourselves in in this life.

Here is how it is hastening in Waterloo.

You may remember how a few weeks ago I shared the experience of how Bishop Lasley, the Waterloo Bishop, had a meeting with all the missionaries and the Assistant Ward Mission Leader to set the 2014 baptismal goal for the Waterloo Ward. It is a lofty goal. With 15 baptisms in 2013, Bishop Lasley, using his priesthood keys, set the inspired goal of 40 baptisms for 2014.

Elder Newhouse and I have been constantly thinking of how we can involve our efforts more with the members. I won't lie, it is stressful trying to coordinate things with members. I always feel like I have to be perfectly prepared or else it freaks me out and I am super fearful of not having good interactions with members.

Tuesday, we were grounded. Wednesday, wasn't very fruitful as everyone we tried was not available.

Thursday, we had a lesson with a single less-active which she cancelled after we had set up for a member to come with us. Then we had dinner with a member. Afterwards, the Elder's Quorum President went out with us and we taught this lady named Flomata. We have taught her a few times before, she is from Liberia, and she just had a baby 3 weeks ago! She was very willing to meet with us and we taught her the Doctrine of Christ. When we left the appointment to go teach another investigator, our Elder's Quorum President said, "That is why we do missionary work." She is so prepared and wanting and ready to show her already strong faith in Christ by coming to church and being baptized, with her and her family.

Friday, we had a dinner with some members and then we went over to this wonderful part-member family named the Gerkie's (pronounced Jerky but with a Y). They are very into their Native American roots and we always learn something new in respect to Native Americans. We also have a great member family who is very Native American as well and they have been doing an incredible job fellowshipping this family.

Saturday, we had an appointment with a potential investigator whom we had the Sunday School President come with us to that fell through. That afternoon we had a member of the Bishopric come and teach our investigator Maurice about the Book of Mormon. It was a really neat lesson.

Sunday was the highlight of our week. We had a wonderful fast and testimony meeting. The Stake President was there unexpectedly and presided and shared his testimony about the importance of marriage and families. Heavenly Father wants us to come unto Him in our families, and a temple marriage is the only way!

Sunday evening after church, because church is now from 1 pm - 4 pm, we had dinner with our Elder's Quorum President and his family. We taught them the Doctrine of Christ and it was wonderful to get to know them better. Following that, our Bishop picked us up and we then drove to teach Teta Ross. Teta Ross works at a Nursing & Rehab Center here in Waterloo as a housekeeper. One of the active members of the ward here recently had knee replacement surgery and she has been there for a couple of weeks now. One day when the Bishop was visiting her, he started talking with Teta Ross and soon found that she was a very strong woman with an incredible faith in Christ. Civil war has ravaged her home country of Liberia and she sends money from her minimum wage job here to support an orphanage that she is the Mother/Caretaker/Founder of in Liberia. 50 kids live in this orphanage! Teta Ross shared how her heart is empty and how she desired to come to church and learn more. Last night we were finally able to meet with her and Bishop Lasley.

Bishop introduced us and we sat as she told us of her life. She shared some horrifying experiences from the civil war in Liberia before she came to the US and how, because of the horrible things she witnessed and were done to her, she came to hate God. She didn't understand why these things would happen to her. She continued to attend her Pentecostal church but she was empty inside and angry at God. Over time her heart has softened and she looks for solace. We began to teach of how God loves us and the pattern of dispensations (prophets coming and guiding the people and the choice of the people to not hearken to the voice of prophets and falling into apostasy). We taught about Jesus Christ and how he healed others and established a church calling apostles and conferring the priesthood to them. We then explained the sadness about the killing of Jesus Christ and his apostles and the earth again following into a prolonged state of apostasy, the Great Apostasy. She was riveted by the message and she related to each point we taught as she has experienced them in her own life. About this point in the lesson, she began grieving for her brother (she witnessed his beheading years ago in her country). I tried to comfort her using words, but that did not seem to be the solution that was needed. Bishop Lasley asked her if she had ever received a blessing by the laying on of hands. She said yes. He asked if she would like a blessing by the laying on of hands. She said yes. Elder Newhouse and I joined as Bishop laid his hands on her head and gave her a blessing of peace. As soon as our hands were on her head she was calmed. She felt the grief pull away and peace come into her empty heart. After that we showed in the Restoration pamphlet a picture of the priesthood being restored and I testified it was by this same power that she received the blessing just moments ago. It was a very powerful witness that the priesthood has been restored and that we hold it today. That lesson was one of the most spiritual lessons I have ever been in. It was so strong and you could feel our Heavenly Father's love for His daughter Teta Ross. She wants us to share the message with her family and friends and neighbors.

I testify that God has prepared in each of our lives and within each of our own circles of influence those "who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it" (D&C 123:12). In her prayer to close our lesson, Teta prayed for those very people who are looking for the truth and peace of the Gospel, but do not know where to find it, and that they may find us and we may find them.

I find solace in the words contained in Doctrine & Covenants 64:33-34:
"Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.
"Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days."

Elder Zachary R McKenzie
Iowa Des Moines Mission
D&C 6:34, 36
  Doubt Not, Fear Not.

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