On Sunday, we had a lesson with a lady in a better part of North Hartford. We arrived and as we went in, a lady asked for our ID’s and asked us to sign in. There were only ladies in the house, and we started realizing that this might be a little more interesting than we expected. The lady who contacted us told us that she wanted to come closer to God and to join our church. That’s a golden experience right there! We had our first lesson outside on the porch while the wind was blowing and it was good. On Monday we had our second lesson and taught the Restoration with Sister Buswell, who is super awesome! It turned out to be a good lesson, even though we also taught it on the porch in the cold….(no male figure present…). She accepted all of the commitments and accepted a baptismal date, which is good, but it was almost like it was too easy for her, so we will be going more in depth with her about the importance of baptism and the commitments it entails. Monday afternoon, we went to the State Capitol with the Bloomfield Sisters and had a really fun time! The architecture just blew me away and the size of the stone in the building. There were also giant statues of what is called the Genius of Connecticut, a big angel that used to be on the capitol dome, but had to be brought down because of damage done to it by the weather. There is also a bridge in Bushnell park that is called the Saints and Soldiers Bridge and we tracted the little doors on it 🙂
Tuesday we had a lesson with a guy named Ricardo out in Windsor. He works at Amazon, but his free time is to us and taking the lessons, so we sit in our car and teach him the lessons! He is really cool and really has a desire to learn, so we are hoping to help him progress! That night, we also visited with the previous ward mission leader named Brother Leavitt. He asked us how we were feeling in the ward and how our experiences had been. We had a good chat with him, but there were some things that I really pulled away from talking to him. He asked how we knew our investigators were reading besides them just giving us ‘lip service’, which caught me off guard. It really made me think about the questions we ask investigators. He encouraged us to give them specific readings and then to give them questions to answer for our next meeting that will lead right into what we are teaching. He also encouraged us to Teach not Tell. Many, many missionaries will just tell, not teach. We have to ask the questions that will make them think. The ones that will help them self discover. That is when the true learning happens. We need to check for understanding, because they can tell us what we just told them, but maybe it will sink in, but not really sink in, if you know what I mean. Helping them Understand is what is going to cause lasting conversion.
Wednesday we had a lesson with a lady named Angela. Angela is an investigator who Elder Clements and Elder Tilly picked up last transfer. She lived near some members for a while and was struck by their genuine interest and love for her. (This is what makes missionaries so happy! Investigators prepared slowly but surely by strong members who care so much for them). Now she is taking the lessons! She has a new baby, and her family situation has been really rough for her entire life. She has been really humbled and has a strong desire to learn. We had a lesson this week in a Dunkin’ Donuts, which was a weird setting to have it in with the music blasting, but it went well. We did some How To Begin Teaching and answered a lot of her concerns. She has a lot of potential and we are excited for her! If you could pray for her to have the strength she needs in her home life and in her progression in the Gospel, that would be amazing! Later that night, we had the Book of Mormon Reading Night at the chapel with the lady we met on Sunday night. Her comprehension was ok, but we will keep working with her since she has a baptismal date!
Thursday we went to the Temple!! We helped set up chairs in the Celestial Room and in the Sealing Rooms! The organ that will be used for the dedication was in there and the organist was practicing. And to add on to everything else, I was sitting in the chairs that the General Authorities will be sitting in in the front 🙂 It was pretty awesome! I also found our the hard way how expensive the front doors of the temple were….don’t worry, I didn’t break anything! It was an amazing experience to be able to just be in the temple, even though it wasn’t even dedicated. Speaking of the dedication, that will be held this Sunday at 9, 12, and 3, and the Cultural Celebration will be broadcast at 6 EST on Saturday. I’m not sure if any of you would be able to watch it, but if you are, our Stake is the ones with the Pilgrim Costumes 🙂 After the temple, we headed down to New Britain and taught Lisandra. We had a great lesson about Baptism with her and at the end, we extended a baptismal date to her, and she accepted! She also called her husband in and told us to ask him the same thing, and he accepted a date too! We are a little concerned they don’t fully understand baptism, so we’ll sorry about that at our next lesson, but they are super devoted to God and to their family, which are the core of our religion.
Friday was Zone Conference!! We drove down to Groton, CT and my entire MTC district was there! It was pretty amazing! Along with them, Elder Woodward, and the Hingham Stake, where I was serving last, was also there! I got to see pretty much everyone I have served with in my short time here! It was a really good Zone Conference. The first breakout we had was with a Senior Couple and they taught us about budgeting and we came up with a lot of cheap meals, which is always good! The next session was with President Miller, and he focused on Teaching People, not Lessons. We need to pray for inspiration, know the doctrine, ask inspired questions, and then teach the doctrine simply. The simpler we teach, the better. Sister Miller talked about the importance of dinner appointments and the opportunity it is for us to strengthen the member’s faith and to find referrals. The AP’s closed it off with a training on how to use the scriptures in lessons. We need to introduce it, read it, and then apply it. There is a really good section in Preach My Gospel about using scriptures that every teacher should use! It was a really spiritually edifying day, but also a really tiring day. Later that night, we had dinner at Sister Donat’s house. She is a member who moved to America from Turkey and she is the best. Whenever we go to rake her leaves, she makes us dinner, and spoils us! Her husband is not a member, but at this lesson, we committed him to read the Book of Mormon with his wife. It was kind of rough because he kept talking about politics, but we hope that it will strengthen their marriage and help his faith.
Saturday was all over the place with visits to referrals, a solid investigator named Jacob Locke who can’t get baptized till next year, but comes to church of his own accord, Sister Roman who has the strongest testimony ever, and lots of other great people. We also had a Weekly Planning Session with the Zone Leaders. Weekly Planning has really not been my strong point on my mission, so it was super nice to be able to get good direction on how Preach My Gospel, the Area Book, and the Daily Planner all lay out the information the same way and make planning so easy. Seriously, the gospel is true.
Sunday was great! We had the Primary Program and the Bloomfield Sisters brought an Investigator to watch it! We had Ward Council in the Morning and are continually building a better relationship with the ward! We had a Linger Longer and talked to a member couple who both served missions, the husband in Finland and the wife in Philadelphia, and they want to be able to come out with us to appointments, which we are really excited about! After the Linger Longer, we went and had a lesson with a Pastor from Uganda. He is a refugee who was originally from the Congo, but went to Uganda to escape danger, and after living there for about 15 years, he finally made it to the US! He was very welcoming and what he believes is very much in line with what we believe. When we taught about prophets and how there is a living prophet on the earth, it was a little bit of a new concept for him, but he has a desire to learn (which is very important) and accepted a Bible, Book of Mormon and the Pamphlet for the Restoration. His name is Hategeka, but he goes by Roger 🙂 He is a super cool guy and we are excited to teach him again! That night we had dinner with the Biggers, one of my favorite families out here. Sister Bigger’s dad is actually a mission president in the Texas Lubbock Mission, which is where my friend Amber Hewitt is serving!! The Biggers are super solid, and their son Clark is the smartest baby in the world. He fully comprehends what they say and can communicate what he wants, but he does things on his own terms, so they have fun with that…Great members are really what makes wards great. Keep being great members!!
I found a gem of a scripture in Mosiah 1:6-7
O my sons, I would that ye should remember that these sayings are true, and also that these records are true. And behold, also the plates of Nephi, which contain the records and the sayings of our fathers from the time they left Jerusalem until now, and they are true; and we can know of their surety because we have them before our eyes.
And now, my sons, I would that ye should remember to search them diligently, that ye may profit thereby; and I would that ye should keep the commandments of God, that ye may prosper in the land according to the promises which the Lord made unto our fathers.
The scriptures are the key to knowing how God wants us to live our lives. I add my testimony to theirs. I know the Book of Mormon is true, and that by living the principles in the Book of Mormon, we can have the blessings of God showered upon us. Read it, Ponder it, and Pray! Love you all!!
*****MOM NOTE: I still can’t get the Capitol photos off of the google drive. There is something wrong, so I am sorry they aren’t posted here!