North Carolina Charlotte Mission

Behold, O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are your brethren; therefore, give unto us, O Lord, power and wisdom that we may bring these, our brethren, again unto thee. -Alma 31:35

Thursday, March 7, 2013

3/4/13 "And he prays"

Big news first:
Due to all the missionaries coming in because of the age change announcement, the MTC has shortened its training period by a third. So, while I was at the MTC for three-ish weeks, all English-speaking missionaries henceforth will be there two weeks; medium-difficulty language missionaries will be there for six, and the hard language missionaries will be there for eight, I believe.
(This brings up an interesting observation that a member told me: English-speaking missionaries come back scriptorians. Latin-speaking missionaries come back fluent. Everyone else just kinda survives for two years.)

The first batch of 2-week missionaries comes in today. (Our mission will have received about 40 new missionaries by the end of this week.) Transfers were shortened by a week to account for this change. What all this means is that my mission just got one week shorter. So it's very probable that I will not have served a full two years by the end of my mission. Crazy, huh?
The other crazy thing was that President Craven asked me to be the trainer of one of these missionaries. I just finished two transfers with Elder Shumway, so he's completed his training. President Craven told me that he generally doesn't have his missionaries train twice back-to-back, but he trusts me, so here I go again. I'm most likely going to be here in Pineville for another two transfers (three months). I'm feeling much better about being a trainer this time around. I'm so glad that Elder Shumway has been such a patient and teachable companion.
Well, this last week has been one of those weeks. Elder Shumway and I spent hours and hours each day trying to find people to teach. Didn't get all that much success in a numbers sense, but this week has been chock-full of little miracles and fun stories all over the place. On Friday we helped some nonmembers move in, which included getting a washer, a dryer, and one of those fold-out beds up into their second-floor apartment. On Sunday we helped an Iranian couple with their yard work on the spur of the moment; they were extremely impressed that we were fasting at the time and made us dinner afterwards.

Whoever is in charge of the weather here must be watching YouTube while he's on the job, because it's been jumping all over the place. Not that I'm ever hot or cold, it's just that it's irksome to be switching coats on and off all the time.
I was thinking a lot about repentance this week. Repentance is the most essential aspect of the Gospel of Christ. We have faith so we will repent; we get baptized to commit to repent; we receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost to help us repent; and the phrase "endure to the end" just means "keep repenting." Repentance is the process of changing our view of everything so that it aligns with Heavenly Father's view of everything. If we have low self-esteem, well, we need to repent, because Heavenly Father knows that we are of infinite worth. If we don't feel like being obedient, we need to repent. If we do something wrong, we need to repent. It is all part of the crucial sanctification process.
I was reading about Alma the Younger's conversion experience in Mosiah. I always thought it was interesting that he describes himself as "snatched" from endless misery. "Snatched" is a very unique way of putting it. It puts in my mind the thought of a person falling off a cliff and someone diving to catch their hand at the last second, saving them. So frequently the Savior is referred to as the Good Shepherd. It came to me that so often we, as the sheep of His flock, wander away from the safe pastures into forbidden paths. However, the Shepherd cannot forget His sheep. He was aware the second we strayed away, and He was already moving to our rescue that very instant. If we fall off a cliff, we can rest assured that He will be there to catch us and pull us back to safety.

That is such a comforting thought to me; if we ever feel that we are trapped, or cannot escape, or that things are getting too hard, or that we cannot ever possibly repent or be forgiven -- just remember, that the Shepherd is on His way. He has not forgotten you. He knows exactly where you are, and how you feel, and He will not rest or stop until He has returned you safely home. And He doesn't mind just how many times He has to do it. That was His promise. The Shepherd loves you, and He will never forget you. He cannot; we are, after all, engraved upon the palms of His hands.
Jesus Christ lives. I've said it many a time, but that's because it's true. The Church is true, and I love all of you. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

2/25/13 "Which witches?"

"Are you a good witch? Or a bad witch?"
"We've found a witch! May we burn her?"
"I'm not a witch! I'm your wife!"
* * *
So, Elder Shumway and I bumped into a witch while out finding this week.

"Do you see what's in my window?" she demanded.

I looked.

"ADT security?" I volunteered.

"No!" said she. She pointed to a circle with a star inside of it, resting a few inches back from the window pane.


She was a tad cranky, since we woke her up, but she was actually pretty friendly in her own, witchy, paranoid way. She told us how she knew all about how our church started; how Brigham Young went out in the desert and had a vision and consulted with his Indian friend about it, who told him that he needed to go on a spirit journey, which is why us missionaries go and do what we do: we're on our own, two-year spirit journeys. Didn't you know that? By the way, you really shouldn't have your name out and visible for everyone to see like that, kiddo, because then theycan find you. Keep it hidden! Or else they'll find you and hurt you and write your parents in Utah about how bad you are. It's a good thing there are two of you, you do it for protection purposes, of course, but anyways, I know all about Brigham Young, but you don't know anything about me, so I'm at the advantage there. That's the first rule of converting people, you've got to know what they believe better than they do. I'm a witch, you see; I had to be one. I didn't have a choice. I'm a good witch, though, you can tell because I have the star pointed up, the bad witches have the star pointed down, so remember that! If you see a star pointed down, that's a bad witch and you shouldn't even try. By the way, my neighbor's a solid Baptist, and she'll run you off, so you shouldn't even try her either. The lady upstairs has an attractive daughter.

It was a very interesting conversation.

This was a week of great spiritual guidance. It seemed like we were getting directed by the Lord left and right. On Monday night we picked an area we'd never been in before to try and go find in. It turned out to be a pretty shady place; I'm pretty certain we witnessed at least one drug deal take place. Nevertheless, we managed to find a young man who really wanted to change his life, and we managed to teach him a lesson. I was the one who was spiritually on-cue that night, because Elder Shumway was about to skip his door by accident and I stopped him.

Then, on Saturday, as we were proceeding to our planned finding spot that night, Elder Shumway told me to stop. I did, and he said that we needed to go to our backup finding area. I let him take the lead, and then he went to a third, entirely different area to find. Fourth door in we met someone who had a lot of member friends, at the exact right time. On Sunday Elder Shumway was prompted to go try a Spanish investigator, Jose, that we'd met way back during his first week in this area. We had passed Jose over to the Spanish elders, even though he speaks English, because he reads best in Spanish. Anyway, it had been over two months but we decided to give him a try. We reached his door a few seconds after he got home, and we were able to teach him the Gospel of Christ.

Brother Green finished the Book of Mormon this week. Elder Shumway and I got him a large-print Triple Combination so he wouldn't have an excuse to read his larger print apostate Book of Mormon. He is such a wonderful man.

Finally, I had an interesting thought this week. As I was reading through 3 Nephi 11, which is the chapter where the Savior comes to the Americas, I was thinking about the voice the Nephites heard. They heard a voice from heaven, which pierced them through and caused their souls to quake. Why would a quiet voice do that, I wonder?

And then it occurred to me that the voice they were hearing was Heavenly Father's voice. We do not know what Heavenly Father sounds like, and we probably cannot imagine how He sounds, but I'm willing to bet that if we heard His voice, we would recognize it immediately. The sound of that voice would be able to pierce the veil of forgetfulness placed upon us at birth, and our soul would remember hearing that voice, long, long before we were born. We would hear it and think, "This is my Father." Not our earthly father, but our real Father. Hearing that voice, after such a long time apart, would cause any person to tremble.

Our Heavenly Father knows us very well. For all we know, we had millions of years to spend time with Him; personal, one-on-one time. We loved Him, and talked with Him. He made us, and He knows us, and He loves us very dearly. I think it is critical to remember that the very first word spoken in this dispensation by the Creator of all was the name of one of His sons: "Joseph."

Heavenly Father knows each and every one of you. He knows what you're going through. I am but a tool in the hands of His Son, Jesus Christ. The people I see every day are people Heavenly Father wants back home, and He will do whatever it takes to help them.

The Church is true. I love you all, and I love my mission!

Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher