Dear Mom, Dad, Will, Sarah, and (last but CERTAINLY not least [have you seen this boy? He's a full-grown man!]) Christian,
I love you all! I would like to officially address your dearest pleadings for me to be your Valentine. I heartily accept. Thank you for the wonderful Valentine's Day package full of punny notes and tasty treats. I have already downed my mammoth heart cookie. I was tastefully surprised when I bit into what I thought was a meat pie to find an apple pie/crisp instead. :D Nothing can compare to my Mom's cooking! The elders here think that I am some sort of master chef because I know how to make stir-fry and pancakes, hahaha.
Well, there isn't much to report since the last email. Elder Lyman and I went back to teach Kristen and Mark with Brother Walker from the ward. (I went to Brother Walker's house for dinner that first night I was in the field 4 and a half months ago). We were worried that it was going to be a disheartening lesson because of what Kristen had said to us the other day. Apparently Kristen was just having a bad day the other day and decided to spew out all of her absorbed Anti-Mormon stuff at us. They are still moving forward, but we need to help them understand why it is important to know that Joseph Smith was a prophet and then to gain that testimony. One thing that Kristen said in the lesson is that we talk about Joseph Smith all of the time and not about Jesus Christ. I was a little dumbfounded. I think she might have been regurgitating something her CofC friend said to her. The last time we talked to them about Joseph Smith was when we actually talked to them about the Restoration of the gospel. Since then we have had several lessons in which we talked about the Plan of Salvation, the Atonement, faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, and baptism. All of those things are focused on the Savior. Even our discussion of Joseph Smith is focused on the Savior; Joseph Smith is only important because his work guides us closer to the Savior.
Anyway, Elder Lyman and I had another interesting experience since I emailed last. We knocked into an 89-year-old Baptist man who invited us into his home. He knows some members of the Church, and knew us to be good people. One of the Mormon families (the Lee family) that he knows the best live only a couple blocks from his home in Vienna. We have gone over to their home several times. They are a good family; Brother Lee is a high councilman; they serve in the family history library during the week; they work in the temple every weekend. When we meet, we ask them whom they know that we could teach. Every time they say that the only people they are friends with are already members of the Church. That makes sense. They are very involved in Church activities. However, this man that we knocked into (Glenn) knows and worked with Brother Lee. Anyway, Glenn allowed us to tell him about Joseph Smith and the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He found it interesting, accepted a Book of Mormon, and set up a time for us to come back to talk to him on Thursday. Well, P-day was moved to Thursday and we weren't able to go see him. We didn't have his phone number either to contact him. Nevertheless, Glenn called Brother Lee to let us know that he was away during our scheduled appointment, but still wanted to meet with us. That was very cool. In this case, we were more flaky than the investigator. Also, Brother Lee really does know someone who has shown an interest in talking to the missionaries. We never know who will be open to learning about the restored gospel. Does that mean we invite no one? NO! That means we invite everyone until we find those who are ready and willing to accept the message. Even acquaintances are divinely appointed and prepared so that God's children may be reached in every place that they may be.
It is my testimony that God has a wonderful work going on. This work takes shape in individual hearts to strengthen families, communities, and nations. I am privileged to be the messenger to deliver Heavenly Father's personal Valentine to each one of His children. When we allow the message to change our hearts, thoughts, and actions, we say to the Father, "I will be your Valentine!"
Thank you for the strength that you give me. I pray that Heavenly Father will strengthen you.
Love, Elder Parker Ayer