I believe that the spirit of the Hastening, is the holy ghost bearing a thrilling witness of the work speeding up through divine assistance of members on both sides of the veil. I felt this spirit when I was in Las Vegas, it was the feeling of the missionary work changing, become something more effective, the converts greater retained, and the help of angels increased. The members not only giving referrals, but planning with us, finding with us, teaching with us, and baptizing with us.
However this spirit, or feeling of the Hastening, in my view, hasn´t seem to be quite hitting here in our mission. The work here hasn´t seemed to change for the past 10 years. Missionaries still doing contacts in the street and knocking on doors, they often baptize without much help from the ward. I have seen specifically here in my ward the horrible effect of the lack of unity between members and missionaries. I got to this area to find that there were hundreds and hundreds of less actives. Lunches with members were struggling, for many had been offended or upset with past missionaries. I felt there was a lack of coordination in the ward and the work.
Elder Driscoll and I, and now Elder Reynolds and I, have prayed and fasted and strive to do all we felt to do to help this ward and bring the spirit of the hastening. This week has brought an amazing joy to us, as have started to see some of the fruits of our labors. Some of the things that have helped us, is getting in a personal meeting with the bishop each week to discuss the ward and the week. Each Sunday, trying our best to get in every ward council meeting we can. We found it helpful to do everything we could to try to make our lunches with members as spiritual and uplifting as we could. At first, they would leave us alone to sit at the table by ourselves. We insisted that all members of the home eat with us. While we ate we would get to know them. We have a goal to learn the name and conversion story of every single member, even to the children.
We found singing hymns for the members at lunch was a great way to bring the spirit. We would have solo´s and sing in parts and practice to make it an uplifting experience. As we met with them, we were always on time, and we leave on time. We discuss the people we are teaching near them, and mark dates for the member to come with us. We ask them, ´who do you want to see at church?´ If I ever hear a missionary complain that members aren´t helping them, I remind them, we are here to help the members, to bring to church who they want to see there, whether the person be less-active or not yet a member. We are to help the members become missionaries, I am convinced that the spirit of the hastening means that literally all work is through and with the members.
The potential in the ward is incredible, it´s full of returned missionaries. The first councilor of the bishop, was probably the member who disliked the missionaries the most when I got here. He often complained of us. We have sought to serve him, to receive and follow his council and gain his trust. This week, he called us and asked where we were. He came and got us in a car, and told us he wants to visit all the people we have with him. We spent nearly the whole day together visiting less-actives, investigators, and he showed us some new people. It was the first time he´s gone with missionaries in years. He´s become on of our good friends. He feels the spirit of the hastening.
Thanks to our fantastic relief society president, Saundra, and many other amazing women, who have told all the women in the church how much they enjoy our lunch appointments, we are booked with lunches for about the next 2 months. These lunches always result with us planning with these people to visit their family members and friends to bring them to God´s kingdom.
A few members gave the same reference of a less active woman named Graziela. Graziela was sealed and married in the temple to a returned missionary. They had a beautiful daughter. Graziela was a powerful member missionary who brought many to the church, and helped many stay in it. She was a connection to the conversion of many members. However, a difficult trial came and she and her husband become divorced. Her husband continued going to church and ended up dating another member there.
Graziela, as you can imagine, stopped going to church. Despite the visits of friends, she refused to return. Her relationship with God began to weaken. Soon the scripture study stopped as did her prayers.
A member named Ana Sales, after lunch, was the first to take us to her home. Graziela greeted us with big smiles and a upbeat attitude. Yet, we had a feeling of much seriousness, and saw through the outer layer she was displaying. She remarked ´You´re different than the other missionaries.`
Each visit we had with her was remarkable. She was always so kind and upbeat and insisted to us that she was happy, without the church and had no desire to go back. Through the spirit we could see through that, and patient as we felt, we were bolder than we wanted to be as we spoke to her.
On one occasion we continued to insist that she would open up with us, she said in some frustration ´you won´t understand, you don´t know me.´ Tears filled our eyes, as we told her, ´But we want to know you.........we get on our knees every night and pray for you......we worry about you.......we won´t ever get up.......you can say what ever you want, do whatever, and we will never be offended, we will never stop coming.´
That was the first time we saw her fall apart, as she began to cry. She gave us some advice that has changed my life. She told us ´Don´t ever let that love you have change, you need to have that same love for your family when you return home. It´s so sad that those who are closest to me, express their love the least, while those who hardly know me tell me they love me the most.´
That night was her turning point. She began studying the scriptures and praying again with more intensity.
Another night, we were in the church, it was late and we had to one more quick visit for the night, we prayed where we should go. We felt it was Grazeila. She lived far from the church, but we knew the impression was from God, so we began running. We caught a bus just in time and were at her house faster than I thought possible. We went in, and the impression was clear why the Lord had sent us, we asked ´Grazeila........do you want a blessing?´
She answered instantly she would, and that just moments ago she was thinking to ask for one.
This week we watched a video of missionary work and the Atonement with her. We saw her starting through the repentance process. She told us that she was rather comfortable before we showed up, now things were changing and she feels a sorrow. That sorrow is essential for change.
Pleased to say, that yesterday she was at Church.
Love you so much mom! Thank you so much for your letter Kendyl. My advice for you to get through high school and doing scholarships and preparing for college, is to be child-like. Not childish. But Child-like. Sometimes get on the teeter- totter with a friend. Be quick to laugh. Quick to forgive. Quick to share. Quick to sing a hymn or primary song. And lastly be close to mom and dad. I wouldn´t have made it without them in my hard times. Go to them for advice often.
Love you all!