Well, it has been a great week here in Ottumwa! We taught some people, we found some people, we learned the gospel better for ourselves, and we are becoming stronger in the faith of Christ. All in all, it has been a typical week in the life of a missionary.
I don't know that there is anything super out-of-the-ordinary this week, but I will share some of the happenings and some of my thoughts about them.
Last Monday we didn't have Preparation Day because of our attending the temple takes the place of our preparation day, but we were able to teach a Nicole about the Gospel of Jesus Christ (see PMG Chapter 3 lesson 3). Nicole is a 16-year-old sophomore who has a wonderful testimony of the Book of Mormon and the restored gospel. Missionaries have been meeting with her for at least 18 months and she comes to church occasionally, she attends young women's occasionally, and she reads and prays about the Book of Mormon almost daily. She is very converted spiritually. She has not been baptized because her family isn't supportive of the action. But we continue to push forward with her. She has great faith and she meets with us regularly!
This last Tuesday wasn't as productive for us as Tuesdays usually are, but it was still great. We had dinner with a family, and the father of the family was in Trevor Walker's Zone on their missions. Small world!
I have talked about exchanges many times in these emails, and we went on them again last Wednesday. Both of our Zone Leaders came to our area for what is called a "blitz" both companionships work in one of the companionship's area. Our investigator Doug was interviewed for baptism and he was cleared to be baptized! We taught some of our recent converts and we taught some of our investigators, setting a baptismal date of with Steve, the one that came to the church asking for the Book of Mormon.
Thursday was marvelous. We had a district meeting. We didn't have a district meeting the week before because we had a zone meeting, so we had an extra week to prepare for the district meeting. Right before I was called as a district leader, my district leader had the same amount of time to prepare for a meeting. So he called up each missionary in the district, and invited each of us to study a Christlike Attribute for the next week in preparation for district meeting. He had selected the Christlike Attribute he wanted each of us to study and told us to "really dig deep, study it more thoroughly than you have before. Once you think you have gotten all you can, go deeper." So we studied for 10 days, thinking of this Christlike Attribute, not exactly sure what would be asked as a result of our studies. When district meeting came around, our district leader told us, "the Christlike Attribute you were given was prayerfully selected. Now you will have the chance to go into a room with your companion and take 20 minutes to share with your companion what you learned. Because each of you studied this Christlike Attribute for your companion." It was a very uplifting experience and I attribute that to one reason Elder Newhouse and I were so close, is we had that opportunity to share with each other that Christlike Attribute had been prayerfully selected. So I borrowed that idea from my previous district leader and applied it in this district, giving each missionary a Christlike Attribute that I had prayerfully pondered and selected, and giving each one 10 days to prepare for it. It was a really neat experience and invited a Spirit of learning, humility, and unity into our district. Thursday night we ate dinner with a wonderful older couple and discussed member-missionary work.
Friday we were able to visit a somewhat-active family that we have been trying to meet with for the last 6 weeks. Appointments are very hard to set with this family so we were grateful to sit down with them! We talked about the Temple and their desire to go to the temple to be sealed as a family. They committed to improve the frequency of their family prayer and scripture study. We also taught Andy and Daniel on Friday. Andy is 10 and Daniel is 9. They are the sons of this family in the ward where the parents and the older sisters are members. They are a very fun family and it is fun preparing them to be baptized on ! The biggest issue is their attendance at church. They are a Hispanic family and, like most Hispanic families I've met on my mission, have a hard time coming to church. But it is a gradual work in process.
One thing that Elder Schwendiman and I have been heavily involved in ever since I came to Ottumwa is Family History work. We live 2 blocks from the church and there is a Family History Center in our building. The ward is preparing for a large Family History Event we are hosting at our building, involving the communities around Ottumwa. The Director of our Family History Center has recruited us to help people search for their ancestors and prepare their own family trees. So we go to the FHC once or twice a week to know our way around familysearch.org better so we will be prepared for this event. It is awesome actually finding people! I am adding to my own family tree and helping others. This one man has been coming in for awhile and the past two times he was there, the FHC director recruited us to look for his family. We have had great success and we are finding his relatives.
Malachi, the final prophet of the Old Testament said:
5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
-Malachi 4:5-6, Old Testament
5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord;
6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
-3 Nephi 25:5-6, Book of Mormon
The Angel Moroni, when visiting Joseph Smith quoted Malachi, but a little differently:
1 Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
2 And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers.
3 If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.
-Doctrine & Covenants 2:1-3
36 After telling me these things, he commenced quoting the prophecies of the Old Testament. He first quoted part of the third chapter of Malachi; and he quoted also the fourth or last chapter of the same prophecy, though with a little variation from the way it reads in our Bibles. Instead of quoting the first verse as it reads in our books, he quoted it thus:
37 For behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly shall burn as stubble;for they that come shall burn them, saith the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
38 And again, he quoted the fifth verse thus: Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
39 He also quoted the next verse differently: And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.
-Joseph Smith-History 1:36-39, Pearl of Great Price
This prophecy was fulfilled in the Kirtland Temple on 3 April 1836:
13 After this vision had closed, another great and glorious vision burst upon us; for Elijah the prophet, who was taken to heaven without tasting death, stood before us, and said:14 Behold, the time has fully come, which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi—testifying that he [Elijah] should be sent, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord come—15 To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with curse—16 Therefore, the keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands; and by this ye may know that the great and dreadful day of the Lord is near, even at the doors.
-Doctrine & Covenants 110:13-16
This scripture is the only scripture to be found in all 4 of the Standard Works of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine & Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.
This "Spirit of Elijah" has become more fully part of my life in the last 6 weeks and I pray it will come manifest in yours. Visit familysearch.org to learn more.
Study the Doctrine of Christ daily and apply it in your life. It will change your life.
Elder Zachary R McKenzie
Iowa Des Moines Mission
D&C , 36
Doubt Not, Fear Not.