Well this week was pretty awesome considering the fact that we now have a third companion as well. Friday night, we got a call from the Assistants and we're training! Elder Neilsen is from Medicine Hat (2 hours away from Banff) and is waiting for his visa to the Utah Ogden Mission. He hasn't been to the MTC yet so we're doing a lot of crash coursing on some things. Elder Neilsen is awesome and is very eager to learn so Elder Mercado and I are doing our best to show him the ropes and are teaching him the importance of obedience to the mission rules as well.
We taught lesson 1 to Florentino and his family this week. They loved it and were able to feel the Spirit as we taught. As we taught the apostasy, Norma asked, "Well then, which church is true and how will we know it?" If that wasn't a heaven sent question, then I don't know what one would be like. We taught about Jospeh Smith and the Book of Mormon and how as we pray about these things, God will answer our prayers just like He answered Joseph's. We invited them to be baptized on January 8th and their answer was an indication that they were applying our teaching to themselves. They said they wanted to pray and find out if it's true first. We asked them if they came to know of its truthfulness, would they be baptized. Norma looked at us like we just asked a stupid question. She said, "Of course! Absolutely!!!" Their daughters Jessica and Divine were at church on Sunday because everyone else had to work but we set up a return appointment for this Tuesday. They're a wonderful family and are very in tune with the Spirit.
Chris is doing awesome!!! We taught the first half of lesson 2 and committed him to read 2 Nephi 2. On Wednesday, we come back and he read the whole chapter! Not only did he read it but he was understanding it as well. He said, "Oh this is where you said we have agency and this is where you talked about Christ and this is about Adam and Eve." He also prayed before AND after he read. Elder Mercado and I were bouncing in the couch like little kids. We were so happy he had kept his commitments. We taught lesson2 and about eternal families. We watched a movie on temples and the work we do there. He saw a picture of the font and asked if he could get baptized there. We said,"Yes... in fact many times after you're baptized!" Oh, he's still preparing for the 8th of January. We taught about eternal marriage and after the movie, he said, "Man, now I gotta get my wife (his fiancee)!" We're meeting with him tonight and tomorrow.
The work is going well and we are doing our best to make every minute of the day count. We were doing service and one of the workers asked why he needed to read the Book of Mormon to know that Jesus Christ is our Savior if he already knew that the Bible was true. At first we were stumped. We tried talking about how the Book of Mormon strengthens the Bible and adds witness of Christ. He lost interest pretty quick and I felt bad because I knew there was an answer that would leave him thinking and wanting to read the Book of Mormon. After about 10 minutes of pondering and prayer, I went to Thomas and looked him in the eyes and said, "If you want to know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, you'll read the Book of Mormon." He had a look of wonder in his face as we left the thrift store. He wanted to do something for us for Christmas. We told him he could read from the Book of Mormon and he said, "Well then, you need to read from the Bible." Okay, no problem for us.
I love being a missionary and love the work. Prayer is real and God does listen and answer our prayers and I know Florentino's family will receive an answer. You too can receive an answer to the witness of this work and gospel even if you have already receviced your answer.
Here is Elder Madsen’s message for this week. In his e-mail to Jackson, he said it had gotten down to 20º below zero! We aren’t mentioning how warm it is here (80º today!) after reading this e-mail we are glad that we sent Filipino goodies to share in his Christmas Package!
All right, hold on to your seat for this e-mail. Starting on Monday night, Elder Mercado and I were finally able to meet with Chris and we taught the first lesson and extended the firm for January 8. He accepted! His main concern was that his fiancee wants to marry him in the Catholic church in December 2012. We encouraged him to continue to prepare for the 8th. His other concern is that he works on Sunday and isn't able to switch shifts. That's a real downer. We met with him Tuesday and watched the Restoration DVD. He said he had a good feeling in his heart as he watched it. We also read 3 Nephi 11 together and he said it was very clear and made sense to him. The Spirit was so strong that night that we told him these feelings could also be felt by his fiancee. He said he would talk to her about the church. He's so humble and very shy but prepared. He has a Filipno member friend and he talked to him about the church. He told us that Chris is very excited to be baptized! He just needs to find a way to be able to go to church.
Wednesday night, we met with a family whose dad we met on the street. They asked us a lot of questions about our church and about missionaries. They said they wanted to meet "friends from our church". So we told them about sacrament meeting but unfortunately they work on Sundays as well (very common for the Filipino culture in Banff to have to work on Sundays in the hotels and restaurants). They said that next week they would like to hear a message about our church!
Thursday night (careful, there's 2 miracles on this evening) we had dinner with the relief society president and her friend, who is a former investigator and her son, Thomas. Sister Ganter-Pomares told us that Thomas is the key in terms of both of their conversion because the mom, Kat really relies on Thomas for a lot of things. We bonded very well with Thomas and invited both of them to church this Sunday. Kat really wants to go but Thomas wasn't sure. Sister Ganter-Pomares talked him into it and they both accepted. We then met with Florentino and his family on Thursday night. We asked if we could have a lesson but Florentino wanted his wife to be there as well before we taught so that the whole family could be there. So it turned out to be a good meet and greet session but we will be teaching him and his family this week as well. He and his wife also work on Sundays which is also unfortunate.
So all in all, we have about 13 people that we're really focusing on. I absolutely love the Filipino people. Not only do I have an awesome Filipino companion, but the families we are meeting are wonderful and have such an awesome spirit to them.
I'm so grateful for the success we're seeing and the miracles that are happening. This week is going to be so busy for us!!! We're so excited. I've had good nights of sleep unless I worry too much about our investigators, then it's not so good.
Well, I love each of you. Christmas is only 12 days away. I have something to send to you guys but I don't know if it will be there in time. You'll like it too. It's a Candianized Madsen style Christmas package so I hope you enjoy it.
(Note from Kathy: He is referring to Mira Mesa’s football team making it to the CIF finals at Qualcomm tonight, NOT the Raiders upsetting the Chargers yesterday!)
Wow, that's awesome about the football team!
Well, Banff is still beautiful and I'm still here. All of last week, I had really good feelings about this transfer and wasn't really too sure why. After this weekend, I realized is what simply a foreshadowing of what was to come. On Friday, we had our branch Christmas party. It was by far the best Christmas party I have ever been too. Out of the 70 people that were there, about 20 were nonmebers. The night was wonderful but the only complaint was that there weren't enough missionaries. Elder Mercado and I were running around trying to talk to everyone we could. Our food got very cold by the time we were done.
Here's the best part. Every year, the Relief Society sponsers a famil that stands in need of things. President Yawney selected this Filipino family and found out through one of his employees that this family needed a television set. So, President and Sister Yawney found a T.V., DVD player and stereo system all in an entertainment center for about 100$.
Here's the even better part. Elder Mercado and I were eating (our very cold food at the time) and we saw a man waving to us. We walked over and he wanted to talk to President, so we introduced them to each other. This was the father of the family who was sponsered. Tears were coming out of his eyes in gratitude for the generosity he had received. President said it was from the whole branch and that he should come to church sometime. Unforutnately he works on Sundays but he gave Elder Mercado and I his address and phone number so that we could meet his family. Miracles I tell ya, miracles.
Now for some more fun stuff. Elder Mercado and I were walking in downtown Banff and Elder Mercado felt we should trun down this one street. I agreed and sure enough, as we were walking, I slipt on some ice next to this older man. I apologized saying, "You'll have to excuse me, I'm from California." He laughed and said he was from the Phillipines. Elder Mercado jumped in and started speaking Tagolog. We both eventually bore our testimonies about the temples the mas said he had seen in the Phillipines and how our families can be together forever. He said we could share a message with him on Wednesday.
Miracles are happening up here, it's just that we've got to go find them and have faith that they'll happen even though there's lots of adversity and challenges with rejection and mockery. This one couple was walking out of their church and we had to approached them before. We had a casual conversation and asked how their day was at church and asked them what they learned. The man said, "Not to talk to strangers!" and laughed. All I could think was walk away and wait until he stands accountable to God about how he treated two representatives of the Lord on that day. I'm realizing a change in myself because if that had happened to me 7 months ago, I would've said some clever or sarcastic comment that would've left him feeling very bad about himself and would not make me happy at all. Now that doesn't mean I didn't come up with a comment inside of myself that would've probably made him cry so I still have some things to work on.
I hope all is going well with you. I know the Lord is watching over you. Whenever you feel abandoned or alone, read D&C 121-123. Our adversity will be for a small moment and will be for the better.