Elder Hawkes and I put up another good fight this week in this battle against sin and evil here in Malone. Satan doesn't stand a chance. We were able to have a lot of success this week just like last week, and we are reaping the blessings of being in the Lord's service, much more than we deserve. We experienced a great miracle I am excited to share with you..
First of all, I would like to tell you a little bit about the Malone Branch. We meet in a tiny fully functional LDS building that was built about 5 years ago. About 20 people show up each week to church, so the missionaries play an active role in the unit. Yesterday I spoke about covenants and was just in awe the whole time how small of a congregation I was speaking to. I'm sure the branches in Brazil are even smaller. The units on the west coast are gargantuan. We are part of the Potsdam District, consisting of 6 or so branches. Teensy! We are working to get the members motivated to share the gospel with their friends. Many of the members do a great job of giving us referrals, we just need to continue earning their trust! Our branch president, President Nicholson is the MAN. He looks like Pierce Brosnan and he lives the life I want to live in the future. He is a mechanical engineer in Massena, but lives in Potsdam. He was the branch president of the Potsdam Branch (which was a ward before the stake broke off from Montreal and became a district) but received a special assignment to serve as branch president here in Malone.
We are teaching an elderly couple, Charles (Chuck) and Joyce Gardner. They believe strongly in our doctrine and want to be baptized. The only thing keeping them is that Chuck is the pastor of a church he organized many years ago, and that is his main source of income until he retires in just a couple years. They are the coolest. They feed us each week and love to read the Book of Mormon with us. Chuck takes the things our church teaches and preaches it to his own church. I love them.
A Happy 14th of July from the young Hawk.
I went on an exchange this week in Massena, which is the northern-most area in the mission. I got to look at the beauty of Canada. We worked in an indian reservation part of the time where the native americans are obsessed with lacrosse, and lacrosse stores are everywhere. Kinda made me want to LAX! with some native american blood.
We found an investigator named Deborah Reed sitting on her porch. She is extremely interested in her family history and wanted to know about the ancestors of the native americans. GOLDEN. We've met with her a couple times now and she wants to be baptized! We are giving her a tour of the church this week.
And now.. on to the grand miracle.
While I was working in Massena, Jim Stone dropped us. He said that he felt that everyone was tugging at him and there was too much pressure between the church and the many issues he has going on in his life. It was one of the saddest and most discouraging things I had experienced on my mission I would say. It was really hard for Elder Hawkes and I, he was SO close and had gone so far, but we both realized that the Lord had other things in store for us and him, and that the Lord wanted us to reflect, learn, and move forward.
A couple days later during our companion study, Jim called us and said he wanted to talk, so we met at his house later that day. During our visit, he very humbly told us that the real reason that he dropped us was because he felt a ton of temptation to turn back to his past sins and addictions, and he really understood that Satan wanted him to abandon us and give up his soberness. The way he expressed his darkness and misery and lack of sleep those two days strengthened my testimony of the light the Gospel brings. Even though the temptation to sin was extremely high, he was able to stop himself, so he is still clean. He told us he wants to keep meeting and his goal is the baptism on July 26th. It was the most spiritual visit I've had my entire mission- a true tender mercy of the Lord. An incredible gift to be able to see an ex-deputy sheriff be humbled through true repentance and turn his life completely around.
I have learned so much about true conversion and humility though repentance throughout my life. I have been warned so much of the consequences of sin that I have no desire to even come close, but I know that repentance gives us a fresh view of God, ourselves, and the world. It is a gift to have the opportunity to change and gift up our pride to become humbled. Let's repent every day!