Been a great week here. Last Saturday 17 year old Austin Carter got baptized. I met him about 2 months ago. His dad has been less-active since he was about 14, his step mom isn't a member, and so Austin wasn't raised knowing too much about the church. But his grandparents were really active and some of his cousins played a role in his conversion. The Priests in this area are amazing, and they went over to invite him to activities, but he always denied them. The priest quorum thought he would never be interested in being part of the church. So it was really amazing how one Sunday we just show up with him and he's preparing to be baptized.
Austin ropes at a pro level. Some of the evenings watching him team rope in his arena behind his house, made me actually want to go to a rodeo. He is a really great kid, and because of some his trials in the past he finally wanted to stop trying to do things on his own. He sought council from his Grandpa, and then from us. We began to read the scriptures and earnestly pray. It was amazing to watch the transformation. He began to "glow," he smiled bigger, laughed more, and showed a great desire to do all Heavenly Father wanted him to do. He faced trials even when meeting with us, from losing a best friend unexpectedly in a car accident, to contention in his home. At times I feared these things would get him down, make him doubt his faith. But I watched how he was comforted, how he was given strength through these hard times. We had taught the plan of Salvation just a couple days before his friend past away, and his knowledge of God's plan for us gave him peace.
I've grown really close to him, made a lifelong friend and I am so grateful I was able to be here to witness his conversion to the gospel.
We've received a new investigator on Sunday, 17 year old Jeff. (There's something about the youth I'm telling ya) Jeff's parents a divorced, lives with his mom and her boyfriend half the week, and his dad and his step mom the other half. About a year ago he woke up one morning and just felt a desire to know more about the "Mormons." He wasn't sure why, just thought we sounded interesting. He got on the church website, and loved it. He loved how much we emphasized families and even genealogy, his grandparents gave him records of his own genealogy since 800A.D. (I think this is significant) He began to read the Book of Mormon he found. When he started to share his new found excitement and interested with his mom, she got really angry. She threw the book away, sent him for a big guilt trip about how they are Roman Catholic. He stopped searching about the church for a time. But a few months ago, he began the quest again. Sneaking away to go to church, (Both parents against it) read the Book of Mormon, spoke to some missionaries in another ward, and they taught him more and introduced him to us because he lives in our area. I was blown away at his testimony, he knows the Book of Mormon to be the word of God. He has found great peace and joy at church and living it's teachings. He wants to be baptized. We can't baptize him without parents permission, and he's been doing this in secret. We are going to fast with him so his parents hearts may be softened.
Also teaching a 19 year old Ryan. Use to be a really strong Baptist. Was kicked out of his home by his parents who want nothing to do with him, with no where to go, he went to a friends (who are members) and stayed there until he can move out on his own. It's been great teaching him. (Out of time, details later)
Any way, the reason I wanted to talk about these 3, was because they are near my age. Throughout our lessons, I gain a bigger appreciation for my parents. To see the family unit struggle brings great pain to my heart. I cry with them, as they struggle with their own relationship with their parents, and I rejoice with them because I have seen how the gospel has better the relationship. I am so grateful for all you did for me. For all the love and caring you've shown me. I am grateful for you always being a great example to me. I am grateful you and dad never forced anything on me, you gave me the ability to choose, yet always taught me right from wrong, helping me along the way. I'm grateful that you listen and give me support. I am so happy to be on a mission. It is truly more incredible than I am able to describe. I feel so good, and feel that constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. I love my family, and I testify of my love for them often. Thank everyone who prays for me, I am ever so grateful for the support I have in this war.
Love Elder Pollard