Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Don't Forget Your Sword

To start off this email, I'll greet you all with a taste of my companion's Yorkshire lingo: "Aye up, monkeys?"

Well, the good news is Elder McEwen and I survived the transfers plague and we're sticking around for another one in Peckham! There was almost no chance of us getting moved, but our district is having some new changes. We're getting Elder Rivera who just got released from AP, and we're also getting Elder Reynolds, who was my second companion. I'm psyched to keep working here with all these great missionaries! Peckham has no idea what's coming.

Now for some not so awesome news. We don't dwell on the negatives in missionary work--or in life at all--but I feel that these experiences can provide valuable insight for you all on the ups and downs of missionary life because it's not all flowers and butterflies. I mean, let's be real!

The not so good news is that Michael, our one solid investigator, is becoming a flake! He's not keeping his commitments and he's not showing a whole lot of desire to progress. We're absolutely devastated, especially since he's the first person we spoke to and taught as a companionship. Hope and pray that he makes a turn around! But, the grind continues and we still sift through large numbers of people trying to find the elect and prepared. We're literally doing everything we can to build our area and firing on all cylinders, so I hope this next week will be different. It needs to be if we are to baptize this upcoming transfer.

The most devastating part of the week was yesterday. We had a solid appointment with what seemed to be a solid investigator so we were super excited to teach this guy the Restoration. He let us in and it turns out he had even invited his friend! We thought he was absolutely golden and couldn't help but smile. As we began teaching, I felt something weird in the air and I become somewhat suspicious. This guy's responses were too spot on to be normal and he had also served us water without even offering us tea of coffee...and everybody in England offers you tea and coffee. So this guy obviously knew a fair bit about us. Eventually the truth came out and this guy proceeded to teach US the Restoration in chronological order. I didn't have a clue what was going on. Finally he presented us with loads of anti-Mormon material that he found online and tried to fall the church by disproving the divinity of the Book of Mormon--which can't be done! Elder McEwen checked out because he didn't have a clue what was going on either. So it was all on my shoulders to sort things out. I did the best I could to explain the answers to all of his concerns, but he was past feeling and wouldn't accept anything I said. I finally just bore my testimony to him, invited him to take the Book of Mormon seriously and ask God if it's true, packed up and left. I was pretty frustrated, but my faith wasn't shaken. I know who I am and I know the experiences I've had.

Some people are relentless in rebelling against the truth, so we have to be relentless in protecting it. Some of the most relentless fighters of truth are found in the Book of Mormon. From studying their strategies and tactics, we can know how to counter Satan's work and his cunning devices. Knowing this is like knowing the opposing team's game plan, which of course is a huge advantage! Jacob, a Book of Mormon prophet, was able to stand firm when faced with opposition because he remembered the experiences he's had. We've got to do the same! We may not have seen visions, but we need to remember the times that we've felt the Spirit and trust that they are from God. Remember, remember, remember! In order to do this, we must always record spiritual experiences. If you don't feel like you have any spiritual experiences to hold on to, then read the Book of Mormon. Our companionship has a good way of remembering the Book of Mormon. Each morning as we leave the flat to proselyte, we look at each other and say "don't forget your sword, Elder!" That usually leads to one of us having to run back to the flat and grab a Book of Mormon to carry. I think there's an important lesson in that and there is definitely power in the book.

On top of that, we met a Book of Mormon hero this week. If any of you have ever seen the mormon message called "A Book of Mormon Story", then the name Chris Cook will sound familiar to you. He lived just down the road in Clapham and he attended our ward this week! Everybody knows who he is, so I had to get a picture with him. Proper Mormon celebrity, and a great teacher. If you haven't seen the video, watch it! It takes place in my area.

Hope these words have helped you along in your own journey, wherever in the world you may be. Hope you have a great week, and don't forget your sword! Take care.

Love, Elder Thomas


Chris Cook!

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