Sunday, June 20, 2010

Summer Heat...

<<Note – we received a paper letter from Richard this week that I’ll enter in later.  It has several stories in it that we enjoyed hearing>>

     I have taken a few pictures with the new camera you sent me, with Fernando's baptism, but not enough to send it home yet. I'm still working on taking lots of pictures, and trust me there are plenty of good picture taking opportunities here. So it may still take a few more weeks. I have some stories in a letter that I'm sending home to you TODAY. So you'll get that, and I'll let you know some more stories as they come. I actually have a few that I can share with you right now.

     I got to get up close and personal with 10 tigers. That was cool to be able to get right up next to them and see them. My companion had the camera that day, and we took a few pictures, so I should be able to transfer them to the memory card before I send it home. It was cool. The tigers are right next to a great family of investigators, who happened not to be home for an appointment we had, so the big boss who owns the place invited us to come take a look at them. It was fun.

     Also, a couple of weeks ago, we were walking around the neighborhood trying to talk to people when this big Tongan guy comes out of his house and shouts out at us to come talk to him. So we make our way over there, and he invites us in to a graduation party for his sister. It turns out that half of his family (mostly extended) was Mormon, and so we were kinda the life of the party for awhile. It was kinda crazy, and a lot of fun. We got plastic lays filled with candy and someone asked me a question to the effect of 'what are you going to do now?' I shouted that "We're going to Tonga!" Everybody loved that. It was enjoyable. They talked about missionaries that they have out from their family serving around the US. They're cool. We're trying to work with the guy who called us in to see if we can re-activate him. We'll see how that goes.

     That game store sounds like a blast! <Sister Everett will be running a new game store here in Cary NC> I'll enjoy looking through there. I actually will be working on a game I want to create when I get home. It'll be big. A great story. I'd waste a little too much time talking about it, but it gives me so satisfaction to think about it on P-days when I can only just wait on some of the other missionaries that we drive around to help with their laundry.

     Sometimes it seems like being a missionary isn't all that hard because everyone loves you, and they all want to help you, but then you have those experiences with people who just can't wrap their mind around what we have that we can share with them, but they aren't willing to listen, or consider what we have to say... that I think is the hardest part. Having your heart torn, because you love these people whom you're serving, but they just don't want to listen, even if they respect who you are, and what we're doing. I was asked recently why. Why am I out here, serving people I don't know, paying my own way to talk to people? This man couldn't understand why we would sacrifice so much as missionaries to share the Gospel. Why we're willing to leave our families to share this message with others. I tried to share my answer that it's because I know this church is true, and that the Gospel can change the lives of people that we teach. He still didn't understand. The greatest part that I should have mentioned is that it is because of love. Christ's love to leave the 99 to go after the 1, the love to console the tender-hearted and share the burden of those who are heavy-laden. What I have learned out here cannot compare to anything else I could have chosen to do with my life. I have the opportunity to walk as Jesus walked, and see people as He would. To share, serve, and uplift people even as He did. What I gain, is the knowledge of how vast His love and patience is, I glimpse at His mercy, I begin to truly grasp what the Gospel truly is and what it means to me, and to everyone around me. I cannot express the gratitude that I have for the atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ, and the opportunity that He has given me to come out here on a mission. To learn, grow, be guided, and help His work move forward. I love this mission! and I will tell everyone who wants to go out to do whatever it takes to do so! I do not doubt that I will someday echo Elder Holland's words when he said "Everything that I know, and everything that I am has come from serving a mission."

     Here's what's been happening this week:

     This week has also been a little slow with people canceling and just seeming unproductive. It bothers me that we weren't able to achieve as much as we had planned, but it happens. The only thing is to move forward and do better. Things are looking up, though. I wasn't as diligent with setting time aside for tracting as I should have, and we've made up for it this week. We've found some good people to talk to, contact, and start working with. I remember when you said that finding is a continuous process, but I'm still figuring out how to effectively find as I teach, tract, and talk with people. I still have a long way to go, but every journey begins with a first step. 


     We've been working with several people this week:

     The Santiago family: Domingo, Cristina, Cindy, Roberto - they're the referral from the sister missionaries from here in Fairfield. They're a wonderful family who wants to teach their kids more about Christ, His life, and why it's all important. We've committed them to preparing for baptism as they come to know that these things are true, and we've helped them come to know how to feel the Holy Ghost. They were going to show up to church (stake conference), but couldn't make it due to Domingo working late. We hope to set a date with them all soon. At very least with the children with the parents permission. Cindy believes it all, and always tells us about that good feeling that she feels when she prays about the things we teach. The whole family will come around eventually, but the kids are already there.

     The Gutierrez family: Kelyt is the one who's progressing the most out of all of them. It was apparent from when we talked about infant baptism, and the Word of Wisdom that she has a testimony about Joseph Smith, and the Book of Mormon. We hope to help them make those steps they need to make to be able to be prepared and ready to get baptized. They're really a great family (they're the family with the tigers in the backyard)

     I hope you all are well! Congrats to Ben, the Sams, Becca, Jade, and everyone else whom I may be forgetting ( sorry! ) You guys are in for some great times.

     Your friend, brother, and missionary

     Elder Richard Mackelprang

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