Tuesday, March 25, 2014

going south, but not THAT south

Dear Family,

This last week has been great!!! The transfer is just about done, and it's weird looking back and realizing that it was 3 months ago that Elder Lyman and I first met each other. Almost half of my mission so far, WOW!

Well, the greatest experience of this last week was Elijah. Do you remember him from last week? I think that I mentioned him, but I never knew that he would become our South-American-turned-American miracle. He's not really South American. He really is American. He also is a miracle. He was a media referral from a few weeks ago that we tried to get a hold of. We weren't able to meet with him for a while because he has a strange schedule working at Planet Fitness, and he was usually asleep when we went over. From the sounds of it, he talked to a Jehovah's Witness woman at the bus stop about a month ago. He gave all of his information to her. Then we showed up on his doorstep. I don't know what happened, but it sounds like there was a divine intervention and a JW ended up referring this golden man to us. How great! Well, last week when we met with him we invited him to be baptized at the beginning of May. This last week, we had to move it up to the beginning of April. He told us that he missed coming to Scout Sunday last week because he was up the entire night looking at everything on mormon.org. We were glad he did. He has now read all the way to Alma 19! What a superstar! He is married, owns his own home, has one daughter, has twins on the way, can't read very well, but remembers everything he learns about the Church and the Book of Mormon. He can't to Church this last Sunday and enjoyed it. In the opening exercises for priesthood meeting, we reported on the fact that we only get fed about once a week. We weren't complaining, we were simply reporting on how we had been bearing our afflictions with patience and were desirous for more good food. Well, our meal calendar didn't really change at all. However, Elijah did call us an hour after Church and ask us if we wanted to eat dinner with him. He is so great! After dinner, we got to teach Elijah's wife and mother-in-law. His wife, Alecia, isn't very interested (yet), but his mother-in-law, Debbie is very interested. We met with her this morning and she is planning on baptism for April 20th. They are all so cool. I never thought that I would get to see such an amazing miracle in North America. It just goes to show ya that God is a God of miracles. Where there is faith, there will be miracles. Where there is faith, there will be repentance. Where there is faith, there will be baptism. Where there is faith, there will be glorious redemption through the reception of the Holy Ghost. Elijah said that he knows what we teach is true because it makes him so happy. How true that is!

Well, here are some more highlights for the week. Wednesday we went to an interfaith breakfast that our investigator, Glenn, invited us to. There were about 100+ old, retired men there from different faiths. We thought we could quietly sneak in and sit with Glenn, but we were immediately called to by a handful of men and befriended. It was fun! It was really cool, also, when the MC for the event announced that the Mormon missionaries were joining with them. He asked us to stand and introduce ourselves. It was great! Wednesday night we were invited by our investigators, the Dougherty's, to go to their Church of Christ service. It was a contemporary service geared towards college students. Three-fourths of the time was singing "gospel" music. It really wasn't enlightening or uplifting. It was some very simple and unrefined poetry put to what sounded like the same monotonous tune. On the plus side, CofC has some wonderful singers in their congregation. They don't believe in using instruments in their services, so they have to sing well. I got to make up any harmony I wanted and sing it as loud as I wanted! It was fun, but Elder Lyman was about to blow his brains out by the time we left. I think I understand why they sing so much. Music invites the Spirit, and they need to be able to feast on something in order to feel justified in their worship.

Saturday afternoon we were walking down the road when we met an old woman sitting on her front steps. We thought she was alright, but it turned out she had fallen and hit her hip moments before we had walked past. She asked us for help. After trying to help her for a little bit, we told her that she should probably call an ambulance. She refused and said that she just wanted to get inside. This was not a frail little lady, but she was a little thicker. After about 20 minutes, Elder LYman and I finally managed to shuffle her into her house, our heads beneath her shoulders. Well, she was very grateful. We offered to give a blessing. She was very grateful once again. It was pretty awesome to be placed by the hand of the Lord in the right place at the right time.

On Sunday I sang a solo in Church as a kind of farewell to the ward. Most of the ward didn't even realize that I could sing. Weird! I sang "Savior, Redeemer, of My Soul" (the arrangement used in "17 Miracles"). It went really well. At the end, I was about to leave the stand when Brother Cordell (sitting behind me) whispered, "Dedicate it to your parents." Well, he runs the shots in this ward. :D Mom and Dad, I hope that you can feel the love from my song.

Yesterday morning we had an intense meeting with Glenn (our 87-year-old investigator). We're really not sure just what to do with him. He believes the Book of Mormon is true and that Thomas S Monson is a prophet. He doesn't feel like he needs to pray about it because he already believes it. Well, we helped him understand exactly what the consequences of his belief are. If we are led to the truth and believe it, we are held accountable to act on it. We helped guide him through a personal epiphany. He told us that he believes in the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, Thomas S Monson, and restored priesthood authority. We asked him, "What do you have against being baptized?" He thought for a moment and said, "I'm stubborn." BINGO! hahaha He is great, but he needs to give up his pride in order to accept of the fullness of the blessings of the gospel.

Well, I'm getting transferred. The Lord is sending me down to Cave Spring, near Roanoke, VA. I will be district leader there in a tri-panionship. I will be with an Elder Russo (a visa waiter), and he will be training a state-side missionary. Crazy! I'm looking forward to using my own experience to make this a beneficial experience for the new missionary. Elder Lyman is staying in Vienna. He will also be in a tri-panionship and training a visa waiter. How great!

This week I have seen the quote from Elder Scott over and over. "Repentance...is the hope-filled journey to a more glorious future." I know this to be true. It is a wonderful promise. We should look forward to ways to change, grow, and develop. I am so grateful to the Savior, Jesus Christ, for this divine opportunity.

I love you all so much! Happy birthday, Dad!!! I hope that the job interview went well. I pray for you always.

Love, Elder Parker Ayer

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