This week has been a wonderful whirlwind of a time. The word "wonderful" has really been making it big in my vocabulary as of late. However, whenever I use it I always have to accompany it with "wild". The two just go together here in wild and wonderful West Virginia.
The awesome week started on Monday. That night, we taught a woman with five children. She is married, but the husband doesn't seem too interested in hearing our message. Anyway, they are super awesome. All of the kids are under the age of 9, and they were everywhere. They thought we were so cute. It was amazing teaching the gospel with the little children. They are truly inspired. We taught the first half of the Restoration (basically teaching them what they've already learned in Catholic school). Every time they talked, their words led perfectly into the message. "I know God talks to my mom," one said. It was the greatest connection to the importance of living prophets to lead and guide God's children in our day. When we asked to say a closing prayer, one of the sons asked, "Which one should we say? Our Father?" We got to teach him that when we pray to God, we can say whatever we want to him from our hearts. It was a wonderful lesson, and we are going back tonight to teach them about Joseph Smith.
Tuesday we went on exchange with the zone leaders in Parkersburg. Elder Colligan is still serving there, and he is now with Elder Brandt. I went with Elder Brandt to Parkersburg. We met this old man named Ron who was a little louco in the cabeza from a head injury he had a while back. He was pretty skeptical of our message, but still nice enough to talk to. He asked, "How did Joseph Smith just happen to dig in the ground near a tree and find some gold plates?" We hadn't even told him about Joseph Smith and gold plates yet, so we knew he had done some research (probably from a preacher from an antagonistic sect). We responded that an angel showed him where to find the plates. "Ahah," he said, "wasn't his name Moroni? All of the angels from the Bible had names that ended in -el (Gabriel, Michael, Raphael). Why not the angel that appeared to Joseph Smith?" It was probably the strangest objection I had ever heard to the Book of Mormon. Stranger enough, I was prepared for it. Just the other day I had randomly read in the Bible Dictionary about Hebrew naming patterns and the meaning of -el suffixes and other things. I never thought that would come in handy, but somehow it did. My answer seemed to stump him because he seemed a little lost after it.
Thursday we had an eye-opening experience with our investigator Mary. We've been teaching her for a while, but she just isn't humbling herself properly to get an answer to her prayers. Elder Lyman and I had a role play earlier in the morning in which we had received some pretty cool inspiration. Mary doesn't have a baptismal date right now. In fact, she makes a fuss anytime we talk about baptism. I wish I could explain her better, but email just isn't the best way to describe her. Anyway, how can she receive an answer about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon unless she has a desire to follow through and be baptized? What is the purpose of the Book of Mormon? What does Mormon say in the title page? It is to convince people that Jesus is the Christ and the covenants that God has made with his children. The Book of Mormon is designed to bring the Spirit into people's hearts so that they know the truthfulness of the latter-day work, choose to change their lives to follow Jesus Christ, and enter into the waters of baptism. If people read without this in mind, they will not have the "real intent" required in Moroni 10:4 to receive a witness of the truth. Anyway, we didn't even get that far with Mary. As we were talking to her, we realized that there is an even greater concern standing in her way from obtaining an answer. It is her anger. Read Moroni 9:4-5. That describes us trying to teach her perfectly. Anyway, we asked her why she's not willing to let go of her anger and forgive others. She said she just wants to get revenge. She prays to God to get revenge on people. Then we asked her if she has ever prayed to have help to give up this anger. She said something very telling. She said that she doesn't want to pray about that and have an interaction with the Spirit that will tell her not to get revenge. She knows the Spirit would tell her not to get revenge, so she pushes the Spirit away! No wonder she hasn't gotten and answer. She knows that if she feels the Spirit, then she will have to change and not get revenge. She is resisting the refining and refreshing power of the Spirit. In our lives, we must give ourselves entirely over to his influence if we wish to be guided by him in righteousness. We cannot harbor secret sins or desires and still expect to be privy to the holy and sanctifying influence of the Spirit.
Friday was district meeting and interviews by President Pitt. It was such a joy to be able to meet with President Pitt. He is only filled with love, kindness, and knowledge. He is one of the best men I have ever known. I told him about some of my current challenges, and he was very understanding and helpful. Then at the end of the interview, he asked if he could have your phone number. He said that he wanted to give you a phone call. It seemed to be something very personal he wanted to do for me. As you can imagine with me and my emotional self, I broke down crying. I could only imagine you at home receiving a call to let you know that I was doing alright. Thank you for all of your support and love.
Saturday the Belpre elders had a baptism. The water heater wasn't working so the water was pretty chilly. We might as well have gone out to the Ohio River and chopped through the ice. :D
Sunday was wonderful. Elder Lyman and I had a great discussion. It is so good to have a companion that I can rely on totally. I am so sorry, but I don't think that I have talked about Elder Lyman much in my emails. He is the greatest companion I could have ever asked for! I love him so much, and he has really become my best friend. He has five brothers, two of which are unmarried and Sarah's age. We've decided that we're adding them to the queue of eligible bachelors. Also, I taught Elder Lyman how to do family history this week and we discovered that his pioneer ancestor, Amasa Mason Lyman, came over from Lyman, New Hampshire!!!!!!!!!!! No wonder we get along so great, he's got ye olde Shire blood.
I love you all so much. You are my favorite people in the whole wide world. Do you know why? It's because you're my family. I want to be with you for eternity. We sing silly songs, we play silly games, we tell silly jokes, we celebrate silly holidays, we make silly faces, but in the end we are bound by the serious and glorious truth that Jesus Christ came to this Earth to redeem us from weakness. I know he lives. Let us give ourselves over to the Holy Ghost which will prepare us for an endless eternity of progression, growth, and love.
Love, Love, Love, Elder Parker Ayer
P.S. Remember that RLDS lady from a couple weeks ago? No joke, but she's a former investigator and she invited us over last night to teach her on Wednesday. Super Crazy!