Here are a couple of mini-posts about the "other" work we do besides the humanitarian projects.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
It was great to be back in our little branch again and be able to hug and greet our good friends. Although the numbers are still small, what a loving spirit is present. I cannot sing in our branch without a lump coming to my throat, no matter the song. There was some confusion as to who was going to teach the priesthood lesson and I was asked to do it after Sunday School. I had a few minutes to gather my thoughts and prepare to give a lesson on the priesthood restoration. Two weeks ago I had given a lesson on the priesthood being a part of each dispensation so I decided to briefly review that and then see where it took us. I quickly looked at the lesson in the book and then relied on being inspired from there. My silent prayer was answered and it worked. The time flew by and everyone, including an investigator, seemed very engaged in what was being taught. It was a great feeling to have the lesson flow like it did. Teaching here is a different challenge as you have to watch your word choice, speech speed, etc. and stick to the gospel basics. Sister Tanner had a similar experience only she was asked to give the Relief Society lesson as the sisters were entering their room. She and the Relief Society president shared an inspired lesson decision and an equally wonderful experience. I think there is an assumption that the missionaries, elders and seniors, are able to teach on a moment’s notice. But what great opportunities we are blessed with while we work to shadow lead on planning, organization, and leadership, and support those called as best we can by demonstrating a willing to serve example.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Dr Ryder and his assistant Menesha came over to our house around 11 AM. He had called Monday night and asked if he could come and discuss some things about the church with Sister Tanner and me. Of course we would do that. After visiting him once with the elders and spending time with him on the dam inspection trip, I was wondering what it would take to touch his heart and get him to commit. He has certainly been faithful attending church whenever in town, so we have hope for him.
What a great visit it turned out to be. I believe he is honestly considering baptism, at least thinking about it. And Menesha, I believe, would be baptized now, but out of deference to her employer she is waiting for his lead. Among the many things we talked about, he began by asking about the Word of Wisdom. His concern was why tea was prohibited and it is such a part of Indian culture. After a brief background on the revelation, we went right to the scripture and read most of Section 89. Dr Ryder made a great observation when he shared the thought that after one had given up tea, then each occasion where tea would be offered, or would have been taken in the past, would now be a reminder in the present of the new commitment. There was a great spirit during our entire meeting. I could feel sincerity and a desire to understand from both of them.
Next up was a question on the best way to read the Book of Mormon. My advice was to read it cover to cover the first time and then continue to read and study it in a manner that they determined fit their style. I told them I had read it through many times and each time I discovered new insights and truths or found validation for something I had learned. I shared an experience during our mission of discovering something new, the what and how paradigm, and I know there are many more such experiences awaiting me.
Sister Tanner shared some things that were right on. We really teamed together well in the discussion. The most significant question asked though was along the lines of, “after baptism, then what?” which allowed us to go into the service aspect of church membership and what it entailed. There were opportunities to go to the Book of Mormon many times in our conversation and what a powerful tool that book is.
We talked about the intellectual aspect of the gospel and the spiritual confirmation that is necessary to have a strong testimony. How the mind and the heart must both be converted. Earlier I had shared an experience from my mission about discovering the parable of the sower. We read from Luke 8:15 and talked about the good ground and those with “an honest and good heart”. At the end of our conversation, I held the Book of Mormon in my hand and stated that if it was true, then Joseph Smith must have been a prophet, and if he was a prophet, then the restoration of the gospel and the church of Jesus Christ has taken place. I said it was really that simple and they agreed. And I tied it back to the parable of the sower as we read the promise in Moroni 10:4-5 again. I felt it really hit home with both of them.
As I write this, it amazes me that we spent around 2.5 hours talking and answering questions and discussing and the time just flew by.