Hey Family & Friends,
So our pday got moved to today because we were supposed to go to the temple this morning in Oregon, but because of weather (slushy snow) they cancelled it. :( I really needed to go to the temple and being from Utah this "snow" is laughable...but I will do as I am told.
Well, I'm going to be completely honest with you...this weekend was brutal. Satan is fighting with all his might on the Gonzalez family and M. Our lessons were strong about the atonement and praying, studying the scriptures and attending church with "real intent" to know. The Gonzalez brought their kids to mutual, they've all been reading in the BOM and have been talking completely normal about church and them bringing up that they'll see us at church and preparing for baptism. We've had members present and families in our branch have set up family nights with them the next two weeks, so their fellowshipping is going well. Then, this Sunday the Gonzalez didn't come to church...it was really weird, but we figured they had something really important come up and they usually text us if they can't come or need to change an appointment, but we heard nothing. So, we called them after church and left a really nice voicemail about how they were missed and we hope they are well etc. They then texted us a couple of hours later and the text was like someone else was talking...didn't sound like them at all. It was extremely formal and came as a huge shock to me and Sister Grass. They asked for our forgiveness for "wasting our time" and that "truthfully they don't feel the presence of God at our church...that we are always welcome in their home, but they are not going to come to our church...that they have felt the presence of God in the Catholic church."
Sister Grass and I were completely confused and broken hearted...we cried in silence, racked our brains with what could've happened between our last powerful lesson Friday and them telling us that they'll see us at church and then to Sunday and this text...totally unlike them to not say something to us in person after we had just discussed with them last week about where they were at and their feelings about the church and how they wanted to keep going and learn more and keep their commitments. So, we know it is God's plan and Satan always wants to disrupt it...he is working hard because this is an incredible family! We fervently prayed to do what the Lord wants in this situation. We feel that someone has told them misconceptions about the church and better yet that they are going to Hell if they keep listening to us or something...we don't know, but the formality of the text sounded more like fear than faith. We texted back later that we would like to see them this week and that it is never a waste of time with them and that we love them with all our hearts. They responded the next day very casual and positive...sounding relieved and inviting us over Thursday night.
Sister Grass and I are not discouraged...just dissapointed and doing our best to take that energy and make it motivation to serve all of our investigators and to do all that we can with the Gonzalez family. We plan to go to them on Thursday and tell them that we are confused, we do not know what changed and do they believe in what we have taught them and do they feel that they have done all they can to know for themselves. It reminds me of the Children of Israel and how many times with the people in the BOM who go back to their old ways no matter how much they've been taught...following fear instead of faith...not exercising their faith. We believe in them and we believe in the power of God to win...if we have but only planted a seed in the parent's and especially their kid's hearts (inparticularly their son J who we have felt very impressed is meant to join the church and build Heavenly Father's kingdom....his spirit and understanding and love for the gospel is more pure than anyone I've met on my mission so far.) that a lasting impression has been made so deep that it is impossible for them to forget this gospel.
We do not know the Lord's timing and we trust Him, although we are so confused. Thank you for your support and we are going to do all that we can do, but we understand that this is a matter of agency and choosing to know for themselves. We have taught them to the best of our abilities...this isn't about one more scripture we could've shared or a more heartfelt testimony...this is what Heavenly Father tells us in James 1:5, in 1 Nephi 10 in Moroni 10...ask Him! Then the pounding has kept coming from Satan as our other investigator, M, who told us that we are heavenly messengers and wants to be baptized...has quit drinking, working on quiting smoking, reading in the BOM, goes to church and has strong fellowshippers, got sick this weekend and when we checked on her, she told us that yes she has been studying and checking out this church on the internet and began rattling off questions from all sorts of anti-mormon literature...we again are not discouraged, but dissapointed and gearing up to say and do what the Lord would have us say and do at our appointment with her this week.
The Lord is blessing us. We have other promising investigators that I don't have time to write about now, but we had a breakthrough lesson with a less-active family last night after receiving some good advice from a member who said that because missionaries planted a seed in her when she was young, that is what stuck with her and why she went looking for the church as a teenager, she also shared an analogy from her friend, "Life has its ups and downs...but when you go to an amusement park, which ride do you want to ride? The ROLLERCOASTER of course! On the ride you experience how the highs are only highs because of how low the lows are. When you drop, the coaster keeps going because it takes that energy to go back up again. It may slow down a bit, but it always goes back up if it has momentum." So, we are taking that energy and building momentum, suiting up the armor of God and fighting the adversary back! This is the Lord's work and I have a strong testimony of that. I love my mission and let the war wage on. :)