Well, I'll get to that in a minute, but first I want to tell you about how awesome this last week has been. Last Sunday I was supposed to give a talk after Matt Wood's farewell talk, but Bishop spoke for a bit and then Matt took 40 minutes, so I got postponed to next week. No problem though, Bishop's and Matt's words were so inspired and well delivered as they were mouthpieces for the Spirit - I wish you all could have been there - and I'll still get to speak this next Sunday (which could be my last in G-town because transfers are next week- but let's not talk about that).
Oh, and for anyone else who is wondering, the Nor'easter wasn't that bad for us in G-town. Other areas more west of us got smashed hard :/ but we were ok. Only a few inches of snow, not too many trees in the roads, and we only lost power for a few hours. Yes, the Lord really does protect His missionaries :)
So Sister Wilkey has a nephew who has a wife and 2 kids and they just moved to Gloucester a month ago. Why am I telling you this? Because Gloucester is in our area!!! Btw, Sister Wilkey is the only one from her family who is a member of the church, and she and President Wilkey have been praying for the last 37 years for an opportunity to arise where her family could have the seed of the restored gospel planted. So last week, we got to meet them, and they are just the sweetest family -- not really interested in the message we have, but still very friendly towards us. This is a big deal even to be able to associate with them, and to make a little more of a perspective for you, President and Sister Wilkey talked serveral times about it at Zone Conference this last week, and asked the mission to keep us and her family in their prayers -- faithfully hoping that her families' hearts will be softened and that Elder Busby and I will soon be able to teach them. So if you all could keep that in your prayers it would be greatly appreciated.
Speaking of Zone Conference! It was such a great one where we spent most of the day centered on Christ and the Book of Mormon -- two of my most favorite subjects ever! It really built my faith and my testimony and I really learned a lot of new ways to teach people and to go about this work. Oh, and afterwards we got to have a real Maine Lobsta dinner with some of Matt Wood's extended family! It was such a fun day!
Well anyways, wanna know what happens when investigators don't come to church?......
All progress ceases. This is the problem we are currently dealing with. Because the conversion process has 3 parts (intellectual, social, and spiritual), and church provides the environment for all three of those parts, so church attendance becomes one of the most vital choices an investigator can make. Maybe we haven't taught this principle clearly enough; maybe we haven't stressed its importance; but our problem is that we aren't even given the opportunity to do so. Even amidst all our efforts to contact and teach our investigators, we are having a very difficult time setting appointments with them and having them keep their appointments. If we don't get the opportunity to teach people of the blessings in store for them, and if they choose not to follow the path to receive those blessings, then all those which God has promised them will be withheld until they change. Oh, if only heavenly brothers and sisters could see how much we think about and pray for them, how much time and effort we put into planning for them, or how much stress we go through for the eternal welfare of their souls, then maybe they would choose differently next time. But it is not God's way for them to be compelled, but rather for them to exercise agency and choose freely.
These are the things that I have been feeling and learning recently, and so amidst this difficulty I recommit myself daily to the charge in D&C 4. I will continue to thrust in my sickle with all my might; I will fill myself with faith, hope, charity, and love - with an eye single to the glory of God; for this is what makes a Missionary, and this is what I strive to live up to every day.
From New England with love,
Elder Dustin Carr