Saturday, January 25, 2014

"nothing short of a miracle" 2013 12 09

Dear people,
    There is a saying out here in the East that goes like this, "If you don't like the weather, then just wait."  We have felt a little of that this week when out of nowhere we had temperatures in the high 50's.  It has hardly even snowed here so far.  So we had a little extra time on one of the warmest days of this week and went around trying to find some members the ward has not seen in a while.  Don't worry, I am getting to why this is all important. 

    Now if you had to guess, would you say that there would be people home at around noon on Thursday?  I didn't think that we would find anyone either but in fact every single house we checked at we found someone home, who was willing to talk to us.  I learned a little bit about having faith that the Lord will put people in your path when you are doing his work.

    So forgive me if I am retelling a story that happened in the past, but I can't remember if I wrote about it yet.  We ran into a member that had not been to church in over a year.  He told us that he was busy then because it was Halloween, but that he would like to have us over for dinner so that we could talk. 
    Well we came by for the time we set up to meet and we found something that in all of my time as a missionary I had never found before.  It was a letter taped to his door, on the front of which read "Dear Missionary Men."  The letter said that he was sorry that he had to cancel on us like this but he did not have our phone number or any other way to get a hold of us.  We thought it was really cool and kind of him to leave a note for us because most people just cancel without telling us or forget that we had an appointment. 
    Well we set up another time to meet with him and he decided that we should meet December 4th.  Now I do not think that December 4th is a special day but for some reason everyone wanted to meet with us on that day at 6:00 pm.  Elder Graff and I soon realized that we had a problem, because there was a ton of people that wanted to meet with us around 6:00ish on December 4th. 
    When missionaries have this problem they are allowed to split up with the members so that they can get all the work done they need to.  We had about 4 of these splits/hand-offs.  In the midst of all of these splits something amazing happened that we did not learn the significance of until Sunday
    A member named Brother Ax’ was going to pick me up from Brother Ay's house, the member we took to teach J’, to take me to visit the member who had left us the note.  He was already late and was about to turn back and go home when he decided that he would look one last time. 
    Just a little before this scene, Elder Graff and I realized that he might have a hard time finding the house and we should go stand outside and flag him down off the highway.  We were not out there long before he found us and we were able to go our separate ways and have an amazing night in several different places. 
    The member explained to me that the experience he had with us was nothing short of a miracle and that I do not understand the thoughts that went on in his head as he drove around lost looking for us.  Brother Ax’ then said that as he prayed for help, he found us there on the side of the road the very moment that he closed it in the name of Christ.
    I think I have talked enough about that story, and I can gladly say that the lesson with that member was worth the trouble and we will probably visit him again soon with Brother Ay. 

    I would now like to talk a little bit about what happened in a different lesson we had with the Creamer family.  Last time we talked about "who Jesus Christ is" and at the end asked them to pray.  When we went to follow up with what had happened we found something that was more shocking to them than to us. 
    So Sister Creamer had told us before that she did believe that Jesus was the son of God, but her son did not.  We asked him if he did what we asked and he then said, very confused, "I prayed to know if the things you taught last time were true, before I did, I did not believe it was true.  But when I prayed I felt that it made sense." 
    Those were not the exact words he used because he had a hard time explaining what he felt.  We had the wonderful opportunity then to testify of the Holy Ghost and how he is a person who can answer us in many different ways.  One of which is by bringing peace to our minds like the peace that he felt.
     I am glad that I have the chance to be here doing the Lord’s work.  I hope that I will never forget the joy that comes through service to my brethren.

Elder Erb

"How is it that you believe that Joseph Smith is a prophet?" 2014 01 25

Jan. 20, 2014

Hi again,

     I am going to apologize now and say that not a lot has happened this past week.  You can say that we have been at the mercy of the fellow members of our ward this past week because we only have 150 miles left for this month.  Luckily however we have learned how much we can rely on the members of this ward to help us out when we are in a pinch.  I was surprised to see how many members were willing to help us in our time of need over the past week.  Although, for the most part, most of the lessons we had planned fell through, I know that the members that helped us will still be blessed for the time and gas they used to help the Lord's missionaries.

    I don't want to make the week sound like a total waste; however, we were able to meet with all of our investigators that vanished during the Holiday season.  Many of which have now come to realize more fully the need of the gospel in their lives now that they have felt that spirit, and had it leave them.  It is always amazing to me how quickly the knowledge of the gospel will depart from a person if it is not constantly nourished by prayer, scripture study, and church attendance.  It is proof to me of the quote by Elder Eyring stating: "Great faith has a short shelf life."

    Before I end, I want to tell you about a new investigator that we picked up this week.  His name is J, and he was a name given to us by the system.  We set up a time to meet with him at the church so that we could answer his questions about the church. 

    We arrived, showed him around the church, and talked about the chapel and the sacrament and some of the pictures hanging on the walls in the hallways.  We sat down for the lesson on the couches in the foyer and he asked his question.  He said very sincerely and humbly "How is it that you believe that Joseph Smith is a prophet?" 

    I have been asked this question before.  We explained to him the restoration.  We talked about truth and how we find truth in this life and what is required of us to receive answers from Heavenly Father. 

    He then asked us how to find truth, and we gave him the Book of Mormon and told him to read it and to pray.  The spirit was there as me, my companion, and a member from the ward sat there explaining the message of the restoration straight from our testimonies. 

    As I said, we have been asked this question before, but I have not had it asked to me in this way.  When he asked it was as if he had begun to have the desire that it was already true.  He explained to us how he wanted to hear the rest of what we have to tell him and that he feels the Lord has been guiding him through his life to this church with his questions and his thirst for truth and understanding.  I would like to end this email by saying that miracles do not cease.

Elder Erb

Monday, January 13, 2014

Strengthening others to follow the Savior, January 13, 2014

Jan. 13, 2013

Hello again,
So it’s a brand new year with a new companion.  The reason I did not email last week is because nothing really new happened.  Right after my last email, we got a message from our Mission President telling us all to return home and prepare for a huge storm that was coming.  This ended up throwing off the schedule for all the missionaries to get their new companions. 
As a result, I got to spend some more time with my beloved companion, Elder Graff, as we were trapped in the house for the next three days.  We started the fun by cleaning out the bathtub so that we had some fresh water in case all the pipes froze in the storm.  Although I think we did an awesome job cleaning it, I am glad that we never had to use that water.  It is weird having that much time to do nothing.  It did not take very long before Elder Graff and I got bored out of our minds. 
When you go from doing so much all the time with not enough sleep to doing nothing all the time with too much sleep it really throws you for a loop.  We were glad to get back to work after it ended and gained a new appreciation for doing the work of the Lord.  I have learned that it is not the number of hours you sleep that gives you energy to do the work, but it is God that gives you the energy to do His work.
I am happy to say though that I do have my new companion now and he is great.  His name is Elder Calvert and he used to play for BYU's basketball team.  He has been out for under a year and is learning the area pretty quickly which is kind of scary because if he learns it too quickly there might not be any more use for me here and I might get transferred out. 
We are both glad that the holidays are finally over because now we can meet with all our people again.  As missionaries, we find that during the holiday season no one wants to meet with the missionaries because everyone is either out of town or spending time with their families.  Most people just tell us to come back in January.  Now that it is January though hopefully we will be able to have a ton of new opportunities to share the gospel.
So I do happen to have one story from this week about a member we went to visit that has had some struggles coming back to church after her long absence.  She told us that she did not feel worthy coming to church because she was breaking the Word of Wisdom.  She said that she knows now that she needs to be following them but that she does not feel right going to church while she is still sinning. 
These are the things that we said to her:  We told her that church is not for the perfect, that just as Christ came into this world to save the sinners from their sins, so, too, is church a place for the imperfect to come to purify themselves.  We told her that if only perfect people went to church you would find all our church buildings empty.  We then explained to her that church is for those that realize they are not perfect but are doing what it takes to make themselves better.  The reason that I share this story is because not always do the people we teach humble themselves to the words we say.  But this member did and because she did she received the words which we spoke into her heart and it changed her.  Even to the point where her fears of coming to church vanished and they were replaced with faith.
I am sorry to say this but I don't have any more cool stories from this week.  I am not sure if it is because nothing out of the ordinary happened this week, or if it is just because I am so used to all the crazy things now that it has all of a sudden become normal.  But I thank you all for the examples you set and the name which you bear.  And I hope that you do not forget the name you bear but that you wear it proudly and righteously.

Elder Erb