Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Gift of Discernment

On last Monday, we were lead by the spirit to a home of a less-active woman, Carinha. It was the first time we met her. As we sat and spoke, I sincerely listened and thought about she was saying. Each time I paused to think what I could ask her, and the right question always came. Within minutes we were both feeling the spirit strongly and I said ´The Savior wants to forgive....´She and I both had tears fill our eyes as the spirit confirmed that truth. The message was short, and we left, i felt excited and joyful. (she was at church this week) My companion was frustrated. He asked me how I felt in the lesson, I told him I felt the spirit strongly. He told me that he didn´t, he didn´t feel anything. he said "I just opened a scripture and shared it, but I didn´t feel anything, I didn´t have any desire to cry like you guys did. Why not? I´m obedient, I´m working hard, why didn´t I feel the spirit in the lesson?" I didn´t know what to tell him.
We went to another lesson with a less-active woman Antonita and her husband (Himundo, i think). Himundo isn´t member, and we´re the first missionaries he´s taken the time to listen to. He was rather closed, and I didn´t feel like were we´re getting anywhere. I looked to my companion to trade off, he just stayed quiet, than after moments of silence asked an inspired question and began teaching with power. I could see in his face and the face of the investigator, they were feeling the spirit, but I felt nothing... just normal. After the lesson, we found our positions had been switched. Elder Driscoll was fiery and pumped up, and I felt discouraged. We conversed asking what does the Lord want us to learn from this.
The Gift of Discernment has been one we have both been searching to receive. We learned how we must first use the gift of observing, listening, and then the gift of discerning before even teaching. We have been making a more full effort to get out of the way of the spirit, He is the only true teacher. A missionary who thinks he knows more than the investigator and takes his knowledge and just throws it at the investigator is neither teaching people nor lessons, rather he is talking to himself in front of the investigator. He may wonder why the people lack desire or don´t understand. That way of teaching is not of God, and the moment we think we know more than the learner and that we are the teacher, we need to repent. (Alma 1:26)
We learned, what I did in the first lesson that my companion failed to do, was that I first sincerely loved and believed in the less active. I sought to understand her needs through the spirit, I was in constant prayer, before I asked a question or said anything, I listened and thought what would the Savior have me say? She and I were both edified by the spirit, because he taught us both in those moments of silence as we asked for it.
Where as the 2nd lesson, I had failed to see the man´s potential. I couldn´t see him changing his ways. I had failed to ask God in the very moment what his needs were. My companion, said a silent prayer, and asked ´Lord, what would you say?´Than he said the words the spirit gave him. It wasn´t his thoughts or his lesson, it was given him.  (2 Nephi 32:4-5)
Now, those scriptures mean more to me.
We use to have an attitude of finding the Lord´s elect, the people prepared to receive the gospel. Another gift we have been searching for has been charity, and He has taught us about that. These few weeks have been difficult to find these people, then in our struggles He taught us this amazing truth. They are all elect to Him. All of them are His children, and He loves each of them eternally. I could hear His voice ´Do you love the investigator who progress quickly, just has much as you love those with many challenges, because I do.´ He see´s all as becoming perfect. That´s how He can love us so much and forgive so many times. When we see the potential in others, and believe and trust them, we start to have charity, we´ll start to love them. Looking at even the most vial sinners as future bishops and stake presidents has helped me, to have compassion and stop judging them and rather look to how to help them, get where I know they can be. The moment we think on cannot change, or their heart is too hard right now, we cut ourselves off from God. We cut of ourselves off from Faith, Hope, And Charity, revelation and discernment for that person. The Lord will give those things, to those He can trust that will love His child.
On Tuesday, met a lady in front of her house smoking. We tired to introduce ourselves, but she cut us off with a rude remark and a statement of ´I´m Catholic, I´ll stay Catholic,  not interested, I don´t want to hear it from you Mormons.´That would have normally been enough for me to just give up and leave her alone. But we sought to love her, we asked for help from on high and asked. ´who´s Jesus Christ for you?´ She answered ´He created everything, us, the world the heaven....everything.´ Than we paused and asked ´But.....why? Why did he make all this?´ In a frustrated way she said ´I don´t know! Why? You tell me, why did he?´ We told her, we knew, but would only tell if we could go inside, after assuring her it would be quick, 7 min, she let us in.
We explained that the spirit will teach the lesson, not us, so there may be moments of silence, it´s not odd, we are just searching for revelation and thinking about what´s been said. The spirit filled the room, within moments, by the time we left. This woman had completely changed, committed herself to stop drinking coffee, beer, and stop smoking. She was committed to be baptized after she stopped, she had a new countenance a large smile. 
This is the Lord´s work. I am sure of it. I love preaching the Lord´s Gospel. I hope I can stand spotless before Him at that last day, that I found all those He sent me to find. I don´t want any regrets. 
Love you! 

Understanding the Spirit in Conversion

I am in Cajazeiras, Salvador. I´m right by the ocean, In fact I can see it in some parts of our area, one of these P-day we´ll go to the beach and I will send some photos. (No worries, the good part of the beach, there are some off limits, as you can imagine) 
The ward here is amazing, they love the missionaries and are so kind. (Though it´s true we eat beans and rice every meal, I always have feeling that the member gives their very best for us and I feel so grateful for them) Yesterday a member named Washington came to us and  asked that after church we would go by his house and he would take us to some friends of his. Washington is a man in his late 40´s he and his wife and kids have been members of the church for a many years. 
He told us how he was reading the Book of Mormon waiting for the bus, when he started a small conversion with a 17 year old boy next to him. The teenage boy took an interest in the Book of Mormon as they talked. Washington got his address and passed by and gave him a Book of Mormon and also watched a couple of videos with him about the restoration and the plan of salvation.
He asked if he could bring us to get to know him as well. The interested teenager accepted. We went with Washigton to the home, but only his mother Mirici was home. Mirici a woman with 9 children and 4 grand children, was just the sweetest lady. Raised catholic, than took an interest in other religions, she has studied with Jehovah´s witness, 7th day Adventist, and quite a few other evangelical churches. She expressed how she wanted to learn more of God, and wanted the truth, and that motivated her to keep studying and searching through her life. 
We told her, though we may have weakness like everyone or not be able to answer every question she has, we have been called by a prophet of God to share what we know, we know our message is true. The church of Christ is once again on the earth. 
When the lesson was over, she sat and just thought. The spirit had testified to all of us in feelings of peace that the events we related had truly happened, We invited her to come to know for herself that we had said happened to Joseph Smith was true, by saying a prayer in that very moment and ask God if he was a prophet. 
She gave an earnest prayer, showing her true desire and humility, even asking us for our help to pronounce Joseph Smith´s name to ask if he was a prophet. (We call him José Smich, it´s how all accents are here) She said ´Father, I want to know if Joseph Smith was a prophet......´than we just waited. There was an immense peace that filled the room. Like many others,  She had gotten an answer in that very moment. 
Yet, my favorite part, was the member after the lesson. Oh, he was excited! He was so giddy and happy. He was crying in the lesson, during the prayer.. He told us how amazing that miracle was, and how his own testimony was renewed. Also saying, how she´s going to be baptized, she´s like instant potatoes now, just add water! He gave us a good laugh, because my companion and I were the same way when we started our missions. 
I have seen more than I could count get answers.. But this time I got what preach my gospel meant when it says we must understand the role of the spirit in conversion. We must know what the missionary needs to feel to teach the investigator, what the investigator needs to feel in the conversion process, and what the member needs to feel in helping the investigator. And that´s what I saw in Washington. All members should come to know that joy he was feeling, it´s one of the best feelings in the world to be serving another and having the spirit testify to you and the non-member. 
Love ya´ll. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Flooding the Earth with the Book of Mormon

Part of me thinks I´m just going to stay here in Brazil, that the world has just entirely changed and it´s not going back. I think I´ll cry when I have to leave.
This week has been awesome. Everyday there have been miracles, but I especially enjoyed yesterday. We headed out early to bring some investigators to church. First we stopped by at some recent converts Gabriel and Hanatan, they were baptized just before I got here, but they have basketball training on Sunday mornings and haven´t been to church for weeks, Hanatan still has not been confirmed. They understand the commandment of keeping the Sabbath day holy. They have a testimony of the church, yet, still play basketball on Sunday, rather than go to church. We just are not sure what more we can do to help them. I am open to ideas or suggestions of how we might  help them. On Saturday, they told us they would go with us to church on Sunday, but they were not home, left to play basketball. So we went to a family that we had found this week after praying that we find a family to teach. A father a mother and 2 teenage boys. Awesome family, but they too failed to keep their commitment to us  and they were not  home either. 
Luckily, we told quite a few investigators that we would come walk with them to church, but one after another they all fell though. We were now an hour late, hoping to just get one person to the last hour block of sacrament meeting.
´I don´t get it! We are not doing anything different than I was beofre the last transfer and we had lots of people at church!´ My companion exclaimed ´He´s trying to teach us something, the Lord is trying to teach us to be Christ-like. But what´s Christ-like of having no one keep their commitments?´
Then, the spirit taught us when he asked. In short I learned, that it was patience, hope, and certainly charity. It was staying the same happy, merciful, joyful, grateful, and loving person, regardless of circumstances. That is Christ-like! Being the same kind and patient person in the bad times, as we are in the good times. 
Elder Driscoll was going to give a talk on the Book of Mormon, his goal was to wake people up, in a loving, yet firm way, leave them feeling desire to repent, to get fired up about the work and the sharing of the Book of Mormon. We had an idea to go home an bring 2 cases (40 copies each case) of the Book of Mormon to church, so that the members could grab afterwards. We were hesitant, our home was far from the chapel, and those cases were heavy. (Just a side note there was a mistake in the office, and they sent our home 90 cases of the Book of Mormon to our home. That´s 3,600 Books of Mormon. The lord expects a lot from us or something. They are stacked up to the ceiling and take up a large part of our home, we used them for our tables and chairs, we even once pulled a prank and sealed the other elders in their room with a wall. 
We went home, I actually dropped the case my companion handed down to me, forgetting how heavy it was. (If it really is 10 pounds added to your wife for dropping a Book of Mormon, I´m toast, because I dropped that box) Don't know where this urban legend began but for those of you who don't know it's kind of like... Break a mirror have 7 years bad luck. Drop a Book of Mormon add 10 lbs to your future wife.
I remembered a line from a poem Rayna had sent me, in which the savior says ´I remember how heavy the cross was when they slammed it on my back.´ Just then, my companion quoted ´Whosever will come after me, let him deny himself,and take up his cross, and follow me.´(Mark 8:24) 
With these heavy boxes on our shoulders, in the humid heat of Bahia, with our ties on, we quickly began to sweat a lot as we walked across the city. It was a spiritual highlight for the both of us, because in that moment the spirit came, and bore record of our Savior.
 I could distinctly and clearly picture the savior as I walked, as He walked a path much more difficult. Having a heavy cross slammed on His back, stumbling with his steps to move forward. Tears filled my eyes, as I thought, just moments before He had thought about me when He was in the Garden, bleeding from each pore. Now, walking a lonely path, in which none were with him. The imagery I saw was deeply impressed on my mind and soul, that I know I alone could not have just imagined it. 
I feel so grateful, for all the people who had given their lives to preserve the Book of Mormon that we might have it. Because it was by this very book, I gained my witness of the Atonement in my life. It gives a powerful witness of His divine character and sacrifice.  I too like Lehi can say ´ The Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell, I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in his arms of love.´
The goal of Elder Dricoll was accomplished, the members after sacrament meeting went rushing to the table we had set up outside with copies of the Book of Mormon, and grabbing them for their friends they so desperately wanted to help. To the point, that we soon ran out, and then they came to us asking for more to give to people. 
 Till next week. 

Elder Pollard

Friday, July 11, 2014

Happy 4th of July

Happy 4th of July! There were fireworks going off here on that day too! Because it was the same day that Brazil played in the world cup. New Mission President gave us a training this week, he´s awesome. Very calm, intelligent, and every word he speaks is powerfully carried by the spirit. His wife is an amazing woman who speaks with power and has a strong presence. When she joined the church years ago, she first rejected the missionaries a few times before letting them in, she taught us about persistence and patience. 
One little piggy built his house of bricks, than the Bahaian built a house on top of that, and a house on top of that, then a house on top of that. 
This week did a service project of building another floor to a 3 story brick home, clearly meant to only be one floor, haha, but whatever. 
The work here is awesome. We met with our bishop one day and asked him where we should work, because the area is so huge. He gave us a section he felt we should go to. We did. People were letting us in their homes before we even introduced ourselves fully. The members are amazing as well. One member named Toni, has been an example to me, each time we enter into his home, he and his family greets us with cookies and snacks. Then with enthusiasm, he takes us to all his friends on the street and teaches with us. He has the attitude of, ´I love the gospel, I feel so much joy because of it, I can´t help but to share it.´ He has a patience with people that reject us, and told us stories that just a few years ago, before his baptism, ago he jumped over the back wall when the missionaries knocked on his door.  
I´m so grateful to be here. All things are amazing. Love ya´ll!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Won't you be my neighbor!

From what I´ve heard. I am in the Largest neighborhood of Latin America. Neighborhood is a poor word for it, It´s a large neighborhood, that composes of sub-neighborhoods, that composes of blocks, that composes of streets, that composes of pathways, ect. I would be super lost without my companion. There are about 80,000 people who live in our area. We have a large  nice chapel, strong members of about 130.
The area is breathtaking. There´s these large village parts with all these houses stacked on each other it's just stunning. People have a different accent and slang words here. This week we did service at the home of a member (I forgot a camera) who lived above an incredible jungle. There were all these neat trees, and you could hear monkeys shouting and these colored birds flying around. It was this moment of ´where am I!?´ 
My companion is amazing, Elder Driscoll, from Aberdeen Idaho, right by Pocatello. Grew up on a potato farm, so i won his love quickly by making the rest of the mash potatoes and gravy you sent me. He´s a powerful missionary, who has the best Portuguese of all Americans I know. He has no accent of an American,and he´s been helping me a lot to  get rid of mine. 
The new mission president is getting here this week, I think we´re going to like him a lot. My companion and I are going to take him with us to teach people, 
This week we found a woman named Jessica, we taught and gave a Book of Mormon, she came to church. We asked her if she had read the chapter we marked. She said yes, and told us that when she prayed and asked if the book was true, she felt an amazing peace. 
I meet people like this about everyday, I´ve found the Book of Mormon´s promise to be a full proof one. That each time one sincerely reads and thinks about what they read for a moment, than ask God in faith if it´s true, they will always receive an answer. Not just once, but every time they search for it. I have read again and again and again, and each time I´ve asked, and each time I´ve gotten an answer. 
The Book of Mormon has brought me closer to the living Savior. I am convinced it needs to be read, by every person in this world that is becoming increasingly more wicked, every day. Regardless of age or circumstance the Book of Mormon will always bring the reader to come to hear the words of the Savior to guide one´s life. He has surrounded me with his angels, I feel His love. I am grateful He has restored His gospel, and this book has changed my life, and more lives than I could possibly count.