This was probably one of the wildest weeks I’ve ever had on my mission! Haha and as I look back I truly see just how much Heavenly Father loves each of His children individually!
“36…blessed be the name of my God, who has been mindful of us, wanderers in a strange land.
37 Now my brethren, we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth…”
I actually read this scripture in my personal study this morning and it resonated so much with what I wanted to share today.
Today we are talking about lost sheep. I had a prayer confirmation about my work with lost sheep a while ago when I was in Taidong (台東). I had said more than a few prayers asking Heavenly Father why we weren’t finding all the people to be baptized. Wasn’t that my job as a missionary? Every other missionary told me I was out here to teach repentance and baptize converts. Turns out, at least for my mission experience, I had misinterpreted “gathering scattered Israel”. I knew Heavenly Father needed someone to reach out to those who had already been baptized but for some reason or another distanced themselves from the church, and that person just so happened to be me. Taoyuan (桃園) looks like it will be no different in terms of shepherding souls.
Last week I told you about Zheng JM. She was given to us as a referral from a friend and then turned out to be a member who had gone inactive, but was reading the Book of Mormon and looking for a way back. Well we met with her this week and she just needs love! She drove her motorcycle through the pouring rain to meet us at the chapel, and that is something the Taiwanese would give you any excuse not to have to do. Anyways, we meet with her and she feels like she’s lost her chance at coming back. She feels like it’s been too long. Let me tell you something, it’s never been too long and you’ve never done something so bad, that God is not waiting for you with open arms. Well after a heartfelt testimony, the true doctrine of the scriptures, and a powerful touch of the Spirit, this lady knew all she had to do was have a true desire and repent and that Christ was right there to pick up the pieces and help her back. Isn’t that just incredible?!
Wednesday morning, we woke up to a text from a member asking if we could have a lesson with their friend that day. We shifted some things around in our schedule and had to bike sprint everywhere that day through the rain, but I’m so glad we did! We met Brother Chen. In the first few minutes of getting to know this member’s friend, we find out that when he was in high school he was baptized but shortly after, in college, stopped attending church. This man is now 70 years old! This was a shock to both our member and us! He had been a lost soul for over 50 years! But he could still tell you everything about the Elders that taught him the Gospel and the feelings of the Spirit while he was being taught. But, now this man couldn’t even remember why we had or needed the Book of Mormon if we had the Bible. And he kept asking, well aren’t all religions good? One lesson about the Restoration later I found myself realizing something which I felt like I new before but now felt it in a much different way. God gave us the Book of Mormon because He loves us. It gives us the truth and it comforts and provides strength! Who wouldn’t want more of His word and His love! Anyways, Brother Chen is taking his time reprocessing what we shared, and that man thinks very deeply. So, hopefully he is remembering to say his prayers and can feel the love of God.
This week on the way to dinner at our bishop’s house, we ran into a lady outside. We chatted for a while and found out that she was also baptized and had just bought a house in the neighborhood of the bishop. She had seen us around before, but the first time was too scared to come say hi. When she saw us again, she was too curious as to what would happen that she marched straight up to us. Well we called up bishop and asked if last minute we could bring a friend to dinner. They were all super chill about it, and up she came with us. It was wild, sometimes a little awkward, but the amount of love she felt that night as we all testified of Christ and sang primary songs was incredible. She said she wasn’t ready to come back to church yet, but we’ll keep working on it.
The last story I want to share happened just yesterday. Last week in my letter I had mentioned having a member present at lessons that wasn’t teaching true doctrine. This got my very concerned, and after more thought, I realized we hadn’t really seen her at church since I got here. Well Sunday she showed up, and I asked if we could sit down for a little bit and get to know each other better. Well, here’s a lesson on not judging people for you. This lady had just come back to church in the past month. She was baptized four years ago, life got hard, challenges became too much, and she distanced herself from the church pretty shortly after baptism. Well, then the missionary who baptized her came to visit this summer. The feelings of the Spirit were rekindled and she felt the need to come back. In our meeting with her, she was very vulnerable and shared a lot of her questions and doubts. I was so grateful to be able to help her in the moment but also teach her how she can and needs to turn to God for help and answers. The best way to get to know God is to go to God himself in prayer. There was a lot of love flowing in that room that day.
I love the work of shepherding souls. So many people need help but more importantly just need love. I know God did whatever He could to get our paths to cross with these incredible people. I’m so grateful He is involved in the details of our lives. He is mindful of each of us because we are all numbered as His sheep, and He loves us!
Funny things that happened this week:
1. We were calling members, trying to set up appointments, in order to continue getting to know them better. One we called up just happened to be the bishop’s mom. She got kind of offended that we wanted to meet and said that we didn’t have to worry about her going less active because she was “bishop’s mom”. She told us to focus our time elsewhere. Well, she happened to be at dinner Friday night at bishop’s. As we were getting to know everyone and grandma is introducing herself, the oldest grandchild, who is 7, pipes up out of the blue and says, “grandma’s a little less active just so you know” hahaha! Grandma’s face went bright red hahahah gotta love children’s blunt honesty!
2. We were having a lesson with one of our friends for the first time, and we asked if he believed in God. He told us he thought God was an alien from one of the best planets Haha we weren’t really sure what to say to that!
Well, I hope you all have a great week!
I love you all so so so much!!!