Power Week! Woohoo! It was absolutely nuts. We completed three of the six assignments, and came close on some others. Throughout it all, we found many potential investigators, including one currently progressing investigator named Jeff. We are happy with the results, and the growth of faith that we had during this experience.
We talked with one guy that pretty much outlined the destructive mindset that many people out here have (I'm also pretty sure it's the same in America to an extent). He was an old man, in his seventies, and he was standing out in the road staring at a pigeon eating bread and vegetables on the ground. We tried to talk to him, but he wasn't really responding positively, so we asked him a thought provoking question: "What do you think is your purpose in life?" He stood silently for a moment, and then pointed at the pigeon, "We're like that bird. We're just here to eat, and then we die." And the thing that struck me was the sense of perfect satisfaction that was in his voice as he said it. I was thinking, Man, if that's all to life, what's the point of living?
I reflected later on a letter I got from my father a few weeks ago concerning the "Terrible Questions", such as "Do we continue to exist after we die?", "What is our purpose in life?", and "Is there a God?". I grew up pondering those questions all the time. In contrast, I've met tons of people that have never even conceived these questions. I can't help but wonder, what drives them? What motivates them to keep living? I must conclude that they are unaware of a spiritual realm, and are only concerned with the temporal, the things they can detect with the senses. How do we become aware of the spiritual? We simply believe it, and then act on it. You know how they say that you can't ever win a race unless you believe that you will? It's the same thing with spiritual matters. You will never know there is a God unless you believe that if God exists, then He will answer your prayers. I would also add that you can't ever win a race unless you participate in it. You must do the work in order to learn spiritual truths. You must pray in order to receive the spiritual confirmation that God exists. It is when we step out of our comfort zone and try our faith, that the Spirit will grant us knowledge and wisdom.
I've been studying a little bit about this "trial of faith" recently. This week I read the parable of the vineyard in the book of Jacob. There was one point when the Lord of the vineyard examined the tree planted in ground that was "choice above all other land". The interesting thing about this tree was that it was the only one that seemed to be having trouble with producing good fruit. It reminded me of a recent Liahona article in which one of the Apostles talked about the importance of having trials together in marriage. He recounted a story of a young couple who had everything given to them, free from worry or care, only to be divorced three years later. The Lord puts us through trials of faith, or refiner's fires, to strengthen and fortify us against the blistering winds of the oncoming storms of the adversary. If we do not have trials, we are therefore not prepared and will buckle under the weight of these storms. When I think about this in the perspective of helping investigators and recent converts, I would think it is important that we give them opportunities to try their faith, such as challenging them to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. It is also important that we give ourselves opportunities to grow our own faith, such as setting high goals or doing challenging things. Power Week was one such example of trying our faith.
We wrapped up Power Week with an amazing reward: One of our previous investigators, Brother Ke, got baptized! We met him a month ago, and taught him three of the four investigator lessons, only to find out he did not live within our area, so we had to refer him to the elders down south. Only a month elapsed from the time he met the missionaries to the time he was baptized.
The baptism was both really happy and really sad to me. I was happy for him and the decision he made to make this sacred covenant with God. I was depressed at the huge lack of Ward support. There was practically nobody at the baptism. It is so hard for people to step out of their comfort zones and throw themselves into a world that has a culture completely foreign to them. It is important that we remember as members that they are sacrificing a world that they belonged in, were comfortable in, to enter an environment that is completely different than anything they had ever previously encountered, even for those coming from a Christian background. We as members must band together and fellowship these new converts! We must be supportive of them, understanding of them, and learning and growing together with them. I have grown much in appreciation for those who are converts and have stayed true to their baptismal covenants, especially for my mom. If you want a good story, just ask her.
I love all of you, and I eagerly await the opportunity to write you again next week!