It's been a good week! Unfortunately we still aren't seeing the success in numbers that we would like to but, we are working hard and, as our mission president's wife recently invited the missionaries to do, count our blessings.
We did manage to find a great family this week that seems to have a lot of potential. We knocked on their door one afternoon, and a man in his 50s or 60s answered and let us right in. He immediately directed us to his two little grandsons, and told us that they needed to learn about God. He explained that his daughter (their mother) had gotten into a bad crowd that lead to drugs and a bad lifestyle, and that he and his wife are essentially taking care of them. He told us their mom hadn't taught them anything about God, and that he had taught them what little they knew. The 3 year old wasn't paying much attention, so we focused on the 6 year old, Angel, and explained that God created everything, is our Father, and wants us to be good. He's a really intelligent kid, and understood everything and asked great questions. We taught him to pray and set an appointment to come back.
When we came back, the grandfather (Martin) and his wife (Elizabeth) said Angel had changed a TON in just the 3 or 4 days since our visit. They said he was praying every night and behaved a lot better, and Elizabeth said, "I'm Evangelical, but I'll convert to your church if it's what my grandchildren need." Obviously we need to talk to them about motivations a bit, but the great thing is that their hearts are open and they recognize us as servants of the Lord. What made it even better is that the grandkids' father pulled up as we were talking on the porch, so we introduced ourselves as we were leaving. He told us he is from Guatemala, and when we asked if he had ever heard of our church he said, "Oh yeah, I always attended your church. I knew missionaries like you." He said he'd be willing to meet with us, and that he would come to church! Unfortunately he and the kids went to the city to the city on Sunday which stopped the family from coming to church, but they seem very prepared and we're excited to see what happens.
In Preach My Gospel it recommends that as we try to get referrals, we should ask people if they know anyone who recently had a baby or a death in the family, or recently moved to the area. We realized that the latter was the one we need to focus on, because the religious competition in Longview is fairly intense here. A week or two ago we saw what looked like LDS missionary impostors--two clean shaved, young men in a white shirt, tie, and slacks. Elder Vasquez told me he's bumped into them before and that their from a local baptist church. Go figure.
I've been praying a lot recently to strengthen my testimony in the Book of Mormon, and something that keeps popping up is the Testimony of the Three (and Eight) Witnesses. Most members of the church already know this, but it's pretty hard to explain away why all three of the original witnesses--Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, and David Whitmer--never denied, and even zealously defended, their testimony of seeing the plates and hearing the voice of an angel, even after leaving the church. When accused of denying his testimony of the plates decades after leaving the church, David Whitmer went so far as to seek out and obtain dozens of signatures from prominent people in his city, affirming that he was of a sound mind and an honest man, in order to disprove the accusation. To the day they died, every one of them affirmed the truth of what they saw, and the divinity of the Book of Mormon.
The Book of Mormon is true, and the Holy Ghost will testify of that to anyone who sincerely asks. For those who object or doubt, they must face the witnesses of 11 other men besides Joseph Smith, Jr., of it's veracity.
I love this gospel, and I'm grateful for my Savior. Thank you for your prayers, love, letters, and packages. They boost me up and help me move forward. Until next week,
(and with love,)