This week was full of meetings. We had zone conference , first transfer training (for all the missionaries who are in their first transfer, so everyone I flew out with) and a special stake conference yesterday. It was a regional stake conference, so it was broadcast from Salt Lake to the entire Southeast region. I have spent the last three days learning ways I can be a better missionary and a better person and I absolutely love it! I came out of all of the meetings with a long list of things I need to do better but an equally long list of specific things I can do to improve! I love having things to work on and knowing that I can always become better than I am. We spent a lot of time in training working on teaching simply. We did an exercise where we taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ without using the words faith, repentance, baptism, Holy Ghost, or endure. It was surprisingly easy.
I love the simplicity of children's testimonies! Bernard, the 9 year old we are teaching, comes to church every single week and reads the Book of Mormon faster than I did as a 9 year old. He is already in 4 Nephi and he has only been taught since October! I get so used to teaching adults and thinking about the deep, complicated reasons behind things that I sometimes lose sight of how simple the gospel really is. Asking Bernard why we should be like Jesus ("because he is a good person") or why we should serve others ("because it is helpful") or why he likes going to church ("because I learn about Jesus") always put things into perspective. The gospel really is that simple. We do the things that Heavenly Father asks us to because they make us happy, because they are good. Mackenzie, the 8 year old son of a less-active member we are working with, got baptized ! He wasn't ever technically an investigator of ours but we still taught him, so it is just as exciting. In our last lesson with him before he got baptized, we were going over what baptism is and why it is so important and talking about the Holy Ghost. When we asked him why he wants the gift of the Holy Ghost, he told us that it is because "it makes me happy and I want to be happy all the time".
Earnest, one of our most promising investigators, taught me a lot this week. I am the one called to teach the gospel but I learn just as much, if not more, from those I teach than they do from me. Earnest was so excited to see us this week that he had been watching for us to come and opened the door for us before we even got to his porch! That was a very different response than we usually get :) We were about two minutes late and he said that he doesn't usually watch for people to come but he was waiting for us. It is amazing to see how the Lord is working in his life and changing his heart. Earnest is a very strong Baptist and was not completely sober the first time we met him. Not someone who seems like a 'golden investigator' but he is! He is so open to the Spirit and knows that what we are teaching him is good. His main concern is whether or not what we teach will bring him more understanding and bring him closer to God. Which of course it does, otherwise we wouldn't be out here teaching :) He is so humble and he just wants to do what is right and what God wants him to do.
Quotes of the week:
"Sacred things change you. You leave a different person than you enter."
"We go to school with the goal of getting a diploma. We go to the temple with the goal of getting an eternal diploma."