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Well, for this week, I just wanted to share a major driving force that has recently been re-ignited in my missionary flame. This force is the Tender Mercies of the Lord.
"But behold, I Nephi will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance." (1 Nephi 1:20)
So what started all of this was a visit from the Assistants on Saturday night. They were leaving very early Sunday morning to get back to their Branch at 9 Benin time because they had a confirmation. When they came by, I received a letter package from my grandpa. I opened this package to find a booklet written by a religious professor at BYU, Mark Ogletree. I saw the title, "Tender Mercies and Thomas S. Monson," and was greatly intrigued. However, as we were entertaining company, I put it aside or the night.
The next morning, Sunday morning, I decided to read it during the few minutes I had before heading off to church. What I read was both impressive and inspiring. Pretty much He described what a "tender mercy" is, and then he went on to explain the many examples of President Monson's life. This marked the importance of several things for me. First, we need to pray for specific opportunities to help someone draw closer to God, or to go "on the Lord's errand" as President Monson put it. Second, we must listen to the promptings of the Spirit and specifically look for opportunities with faith, knowing that God can show us where He needs our help. Third, we must heed the promptings which are given unto us and trust that we are doing the Lord's will. Lastly, we must record these precious experiences to strengthen us in times of need. Also, recording these experiences shows the Lord just how precious they are to us, and it gives us more
opportunities to see them in our lives.
After Church on Sunday, I was able to finish reading the booklet. With the many, many stories of President Monson and the example that he gives to all of us in heeding the promptings of the Spirit to run the Lord's errands, I was greatly inspired. Before going out to teach Sunday afternoon, I prayed that the Lord would bless me with His errand, that I might be an instrument in his hands for touching the hearts of His children in ways out of the ordinary. As we left the apartment, my faith was full to the brim.
As we were walking to our first appointment, Elder Bile explained that if the man that we were teaching first didn't progress this week, that we would drop him. Every single week he tells us that he'll try to meet with us, but because his schedule isn't too sure, it's hard for him to commit to come. I completely agreed with Elder Bile, even if I didn't exactly want to do it. We started the lesson with him, picking up where we left off the week before. We answered a few of his questions, and everything was going well. After bearing our testimonies with his last question, there was a brief pause of silence. Then, the man we were teaching broke the silence and explained, "You know, I think I'm going to visit you guys this week. I know that I've said that before, but I've got my schedule situated for this week, and I'll have time to come to church on Sunday morning. So yes, I WILL visit you church this Sunday." I didn't look at Elder Bile, but I know that we both had peace in our hearts, for our worry had been resolved at the heart of the problem. We finished up the lesson a little bit afterwards, and this was definitely the best lesson that we had with him.
After finishing up our first lesson, we went across the street to a girl named Giselle. She is a young mom, and she has become more and more interested in our message the more we have shared. Since she hadn't come to church on Sunday morning, and since our second appointment wasn't very sure, we decided to just go ahead and teach her. The lesson went very well. Thank goodness we didn't have too many distractions as are common with her, plus we were able to bring this point up with her, and she completely agreed, so hopefully we will be able to find a better place to talk without distractions.
After praying to finish the lesson, she brought up one question that we hadn't planned on. Elder Bile and I jut kinda took a few seconds to look at the time and register, as our next appointment was fast approaching, but finally we decided to just go ahead and respond to her worry. We spent about another 10 minutes with her on that, and she understood, but we didn't respond to all of it, so we'll have to return to finish responding.
As we left Giselle's house, we were a bit pressed, as our next appointment was also a bit far. However, as we were crossing the street, someone yelled out, "Hey! Missionaries! Elders!" We stopped and looked to find a guy sitting on his moto. As we approached him, he giddily shook our hands and exclaimed, "I'm a member of your church! I was baptized this past year in Ivory Coast, and I have been looking for you guys out here in Baguida since August! Now I've found you! Where's the Church here?!" Elder Bile and I just kinda stood there, mouths gaping, eyes widened by his enthusiasm, as all of that information took its time to process. Then, all of the sudden, it processed, and we were like, "OH MY GOSH!!!" Well, long story short, his phone is broken, and he took our number and said that he knows the area of where the Church is and if he needs to he can borrow someone's phone and call us when he gets around there.
Wow! Anyways, so as we left, a little more bounce in our steps, we decided to call our last appointment to see if he was there, as we were decently late at this point. Turns out, he had left two hours earlier anyways, so we wouldn't have been able to teach him anyways. We decided to spend the few more minutes that we had visiting the few less-actives and investigators that live near our apartment. Reflecting on the experiences with the first appointment and then the man we met on the moto, Elder Bile and I both realized that the Lord had responded directly to our prayers. In fact, right before going out, Elder Bile had prayed specifically for the man in our first appointment, that he would progress. I took the man we met on the moto as a direct response to my prayer previously that day. Needless to say, I recorded these experiences in my journal Sunday night. There are no coincidences in this world, only miracles and tender mercies of the Lord.
My dear family and friends, I love you all so much. This work is truly the Lord's work. God knows each of you and me personally, and He is very aware of our lives. He is there. All that is needed is faith and action on our part, and He will do the rest. He will manifest Himself to us through His own ways, notably His own "tender mercies". It is my prayer that we may all look for the Lord's hand in His tender mercies throughout this next week, and that we may all be blessed with His love.
Have a great week.
Have a great week.