Merry Christmas! It's been a great week down here in Arizona. The weather has been pretty interesting lately. Every morning it's dark and cloudy, then the clouds disappear and the sun comes out and it's in the 70's and 80's. On Thursday we had a zone meeting that lasted all day, and it poured rain the whole time (hence the picture with the umbrella). Elder Browning hit a pigeon in the car on the way there, that was pretty weird. Anywho, the other pictures. One is of these really ridiculously tight pants that Elder Abel bought at Savers and thought would fit him. They don't. They don't fit me. They don't fit anyone. I tried 'em on and looked like a goof. I put on Elder Abel's shoes and Elder Bush's glasses. Mom, you've raised a fine lookin' son. Spitting image of his father, if I don't say so myself. Sis, sorry you're related to him, but I know you miss him. He certainly misses you. The last picture was the result of a long day of tracting in lower Garden Lakes. We found a kitten. He sat at the door with us while we tracted. Fun day.
This week really has been pretty good. We're still trying to meet with Stephanie, but she's so hard to get a hold of. I did, however, have two great teaching opportunities I'd like to share. The first is the Kramer family. The Kramers are way less active, in fact they're totally inactive. Their daughter, Elli, is 9 and wants to go to church and be baptized. Mom wants nothing to do with church, but is ok with her going to church. We go to their house to teach Elli, but Elli wasn't there this week when we stopped by. It was me and a member of the ward on splits, so we taught Sis. Kramer. Her husband is always out of town for work, and he's not a huge fan of church either.
We taught Sis. Kramer what I like to call the primary answers, prayer, scripture study and church. We focused mostly on prayer and church. At the beginning of the lesson, her 6 yr. old daughter wanted to pray to open the lesson, but wanted her mom's help. Mom said, "No, have the missionary help you." It broke my heart. What mother doesn't want to help her child with prayer? So I helped her with the prayer, and I was determined to invite Sis. Kramer to pray by the end of the lesson. During the lesson, we uncovered the iceberg of why she's uncomfortable with prayer and church. She doesn't feel worthy. She doesn't want to be judged by the ward. She doesn't feel worthy to pray just because of her past. She wants to learn the things that will help her become a better parent, but is afraid of going to church. After a long, powerful lesson of my personal testimony and a few scriptures, I invited her to pray. She laughed and said no. At this point her daughter was asleep in her lap. I thought for a moment, and reminded her of what she told me. I said, "Sis. Kramer, you told me that you wanted to learn things that will help you better raise your children. Your daughter told you she wanted to pray, and you didn't want to help her. She's learning that prayer is important and can help her in her life. You need to show her that it is." She was a little shocked at what I said, looked at her daughter in her lap, and said to me, "He won't hear my prayer, I sound like a child when I pray." I looked at her again and asked, "Do you think that your Father in Heaven hears your daughters prayers?" She said of course. I promised her that hers could be heard too. It could be the same vocabulary but as long as you were sincere, He will hear and answer your prayers. I reminded her that when she was baptized as a child all those years back, she was given the gift of the Holy Ghost, and was promised that it would be with her at all times if she merely asked. I asked her one more time to pray. She paused for a while. It was kind of a long silence, but that's when the Spirit is the strongest, and is carrying the words into her heart. She said ok, and gave a simple, wonderful prayer. When I told Elder Abel and Bishop Johnson about that, they both were very happy to hear that. She hasn't prayed in a long time. We're going to try and see them again this week.
The second teaching experience I enjoyed this week was Scott. We met Scott a while back and have finally been able to teach him. We taught him the Plan of Salvation and The Gospel of Jesus Christ lessons this week. One was even in the church. He really enjoyed the church tour and was eager to come to church. Bro. Call, the greatest member missionary ever, drove him to church yesterday. Scott even had a suit! He was welcomed by the ward, and a lot of people introduced themselves. He feels pretty welcomed. He loved Sunday School and Elder's Quorum, and even participated in the various lessons. He's continuing reading the Book of Mormon and loves coming to church. Like I'm telling Elder Abel, he's getting baptized...it's just a matter of when.
I hope you all have a great Christmas. Please keep in mind its true meaning. We hear this all the time but it's so true. It's the time when we focus our hearts and minds on the birth of Him who came into this world and performed that great Atonement so that we may be able to return to our Father in Heaven as a forever family. I'm ever thankful for this knowledge and for the sacrifice which He made. I love you all and can't wait to hear from you. Mom, dad and sis, I'll talk to you on Saturday at noon your time!
Take care and be good.