Michael finally gets to enjoy General Conference, which is always a hit among missionaries. That’s good. Advice this week: hakuna matata. Oh, and read your scriptures.
Subject: "It's not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me."
General Conference! They never disappoint, do they?
First of all, I might have to side with Elder Ballard as my favorite talk. That guy just knows how to throw it down on missionary work. Now get to it everyone!
I think President Uchtdorf's was really good too, if I remember right. He was the one that mentioned all the meetings and things that our church asks of us, and the guy was like, "why would anyone want to be a member of your church?" "I thought you'd never ask." Right?
Other than that, we had a pretty good week. We've been trying to find new and better families to start teaching, and it has really been paying off. We've found six new families this last week, all of which seem really interested (especially the fathers, which are usually the most difficult to get!). So yes, we're pretty happy with how things are progressing.
Our stats our down a little this week (thanks to ten hours of conference), but we still feel content with the outcome. Our branch is starting to help us by befriending investigators, and we are handing out baptism dates as quickly as we can. Dad also suggested teaching about the temple, to show people a grander goal than even baptism, and we have been following it. And I think it's helping. I'm not sure if these new people that we are teaching are just more ready than the old ones, but they are reading pamphlets, asking questions, and trying to understand.
Interestingly, many of our old investigators are also having a change of heart. Many of the people that kept telling us that all churches are true suddenly broke down in our last lesson with them, seemingly out of nowhere.
At first they had been convinced that any church is fine, but now they have looked at us and said, "we understand that only one church can be right. But how can we know WHICH church is the right one?" I thought you'd never ask.
And that's not just one investigator. It's like three or four families, all suddenly understanding what we've been telling them. You gotta love being a member of the true church, eh?
We spent about an hour tracting this last week, and while we were at it this old grandma walked up to us, inviting us to her house. Why not? So we followed her to this pretty nice house, where she lives with ALL HER FAMILY. Or, as missionaries call them, PREY.
We had a nice talk with her in which she promised to read a Restoration pamphlet, and we set up a return appointment. We haven't gotten back yet (this happened on Saturday) but we think that this whole family might be willing to talk to us, which would make Elder Stokes and I a pair of very happy missionaries.
All in all, no complaints. You've got your ups, and you've got your downs, but I find that if you focus on the ups, you'll be happy. If you focus on the downs, you won't be happy.
Elder Stokes, for instance, is working to get really good at Malagasy (he dreams of being as good as me one day! Haha). Sure he makes mistakes, but since he focuses on trying new things and getting better, being happy with the progress that he is making, he is happy. Whereas people that beat themselves up all the time just get stressed out, and make life more difficult for themselves.
As the Lion King puts it: hakuna matata!
We've also been looking for small, simple service projects that we can do each day. One of the most well known members in Madagascar is President Jacquot, who is also the brother of our current branch president here in Sabotsy Namehana. Jacquot's first contact with the missionaries was when a pair of white guys with white shirts and "black squares on their shirt pockets" stopped to push his car so that he could pop the clutch and drive away.
The missionaries walked away without talking to him.
More than two years later, a pair of white guys knocked on Jacquot's door. These two were also wearing white shirts, with black squares on their shirt pockets. He invited them right in, was converted, and has been a strong member ever since.
It's also noteworthy that after President Jacquot was converted, he introduced the gospel to his family, adding several more strong members to the church.
So Elder Stokes and I figure that if we can find just one act of simple service to do each day, it will probably pay off some day. And if it doesn't, hey, you can't go wrong in doing a good thing.
One final note, regarding scripture study. DO IT. If you're not doing it, do it now. As President Brigham Young once said, in effect, "at the times when you don't feel like praying, get on your knees and plead with your Father in heaven until you DO feel like praying." The same thing applies with scripture study. If you don't like doing it, do it more.
And with that, I challenge each of you to study for 30 minutes every morning of every day this week, studying the standard works and Preach My Gospel, looking for what YOU as a member can do this week to progress the missionary work in your ward/branch, to help save the soul of ONE of God's children. Start with one. Think of a person you know that needs the gospel (ie: EVERY person you know) and study how you can help them accept the gospel. If you can't think of anyone, pray for opportunities to find new people and prepare for those opportunities through studying the scriptures.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to use thirty minutes of scripture study every morning to help you push forward the work of salvation in your ward/branch.
Thank you all for your support, your emails, and your love. Elder Stokes and I are doing our best to represent you all out here in Madagascar.
I love you all,
- Elder Arrington