Monday, May 28, 2012

Raising our Vision and Increasing our Faith
     I'm not sure how much I've told you about the Standards of Excellence in our mission, but they are number of standards that we have set as a mission to help is raise our vision and increase our faith.  These standards are to account weekly for the number of baptismal dates, investigators at sacrament meeting, lessons taught to investigators with a member present, and new investigators; they were first set for the mission, then zones set them to reach the mission's standards, and so on for districts and individual areas.  Our Zone Goal this transfer is completely catered towards helping reach these standards – the goal is for each area to reach their standards twice during the transfer, thereby reaching district, zone, and mission standards twice during the transfer as well. 
     So it has been really fun lately to see the growth in the zone and the incredible amount of standards that have been reached.  For us here in Brewer, we had hit each of ours once except for baptismal dates.  So we did a lot of careful planning and had some sweet miracles.
     We weren't able to get many member lessons – most of them fell through – but on Friday night, we had 1 hour left of proselyting time, and we had not found any new investigators yet, so we set out to contact some referrals we had.  The first lady we went to see told us from behind the door she wasn't interested, but instead of turning around, I felt the need to knock again, explain who we are, who we are looking for, and what we have to offer.  As soon as I did, Linda came to the door and we spent the next 20 minutes teaching her all about how much The Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ can bless her life.  Not only did she need our message, but she was prepared for it – she had already read in the Book of Mormon up to Jarom!!!  So we set a return appointment, said a prayer, committed her to church and to searching to find answers to anything weird she might hear people say about us, and we finished by asking for a referral – it was perfect!!! 

Sharing the Gospel with EVERYONE!
      Then we went and contacted another referral, John, and had nearly the same experience!!! SO LEGIT!!!  Anyways, we were just 1 away from hitting our new investigators standard, so we contact another previous referral that had dropped to appointments with us, and as we did, we taught her a bit about the Plan of Salvation and helped her feel more at peace with the recent death of her youngest son.  She also invited us back for another day, and so we were able to then reach our New Investigator Standard!
     For Church Attendance, we worked so hard in our weekly planning to cover all the parts in step 4 of PMG ch. 8 for each investigator; then we set time aside during Friday and Saturday night's dinners to make all the necessary calls.  From all that work and preparation, we were able to have 7 investigators committed to coming, and even though not all of them came, the Lord still made sure that 4 of them got there, which helped us to then reach our Standard of the number of investigators at sacrament meeting!
      And lastly, for our Baptismal Date Standard; we had 3 already and we needed to set at least 1 more.  With 30 minutes left of proselyting time on Sunday, we went to our appointment with a fellow who has been taught off and on for over a year and has never accepted a baptismal invitation.  We went into the lesson with a bit of an idea of what to teach, but no idea how to direct the lesson towards a baptismal invitation – yet still we went forward with faith.  Well he had a friend there, and as we were explaining to him about the Book of Mormon, we were led into a brief summary of The Restoration. Then he surprised us as he started to teach his friend what he knew and then said, “I know that Book of Mormon is true; it's a great book.  And I think they've got the right church, in fact I could see myself getting baptized and joining it!”  My heart was racing and my breathing was rapid; his statement came out of nowhere!  I looked around at my two companions to see the same expressions on their faces, then turned to our investigator and simply asked, “Well, you've finally figured it out, and we're holding a baptismal service on July 21st, will you prepare yourself to be baptized on that date?”  With a big smile he replied, “Well why not July 10th?!? That way it'll be on my birthday!”  So we explained what will be required for him to reach that date, he accepted, and we set it.
       It was so amazing to see how the Lord had blessed us for striving so hard with all diligence and faith to reach our Standards of Excellence.  Through prayer, effective planning, hard work, and faith, we were instruments in the Lord's hands in bringing about some sweet miracles.  I now have a strong testimony that these Standards of Excellence were inspired, and if we strive the reach them, the Lord will bless us to do so, as He Himself will work alongside us – helping us to raise our vision and increase our faith : )
     Before I wrap up, I wanted to express something else I've learned this week.  I've noticed that ever since the last Zone Conference, I've felt the Spirit and his promptings much more present in my life.
At District Meeting this week, I was asked to give a final testimony, and when it was my turn to do so, I stood without any prior thought or preparation as to what I would say.  My thoughts were of a simple
nature and they revolved around the joy I have felt since I have felt the Spirit influencing me more each day.  One Elder wrote down some of the things I said and quoted me later as saying, “True joy comes when we invite the Spirit into our daily lives.”  This is a simple, yet golden truth I have learned that will shape my life forever.
      From Maine with Love,
      Elder Dustin Carr

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