Hello, all:) I hope that you have all had a wonderful week!
So, this week was a bit difficult. Many of our appointments fell through, and a bit frustrating. But, at the end of the week, things brightened up significantly!
So, a few men from a state called Bahia are living and working here in Maranguape, and they have been coming to the English class. We decided to ask if we could talk to them about the Gospel, and they said sure. We taught them this week, and they were understanding really well. Then, after English class on Saturday, we were going to teach them again, but this time at their house. We went over there, and lo and behold, they live with 7 other men from Bahia! We sat everybody down, and taught them all the first lesson. I have never had an experience like that before! Teaching 8 or 9 men who are tall, black, and could probably pull my arms off if they wanted to! But, it was nothing like that! They were incredible! Nearly all of them have families back in Bahia, and are working here far away form their families to support them. It's almost like us here out on the mission!
Anyway, we invited them to go to church the next day, and they said that they would go. One of them said an awesome closing prayer, and we all felt really good afterward.
We went over the next morning to walk with them to sacrament meeting, and five of them went with us! It was very cool to walk over with them, joke around with them, and answer their questions, and sincere desires to learn more. I really love these guys! Then, that night (which was last night), we went over to see how they had liked church, and if they had prayed about everything. They had liked church, and a few said that they were excited to go back next Sunday! One will even started coming to the English class with the two others. Unfortunately, most of them said that they hadn't prayed about everything, but we expained to them how to pray again, answered their questions, and invited one of them to say the closing prayer. He said that he didn't really know how to pray, but his prayer was perfect! I hope and pray that these men will continue to learn and grow, and that they can feel the Spirit, and become converted to and through the Gospel and Atonement of Jesus Christ, even more converted than they already are! I believe that many of us are more converted than we imagine, just as the Lamanites who were converted, and "they knew it not" (3 Nephi 9:20).
As we seek to have a broken heart and a contrite spirit, and to act, and not simply be acted upon, He will pour His Spirit upon us, that we might have this mighty change of heart, and be purified and sanctified, even as He is pure. If you aren't sure that you're converted enough, don't worry or fret too much about it, because even those Lamanites didn't realize that they were converted, and they had been enveloped with literal fire and ministered to by angels! So, if you want to become more converted, seek to have a broken heart, and a contrite spirit, to be humble to Him, and willing to submit your will to His will. As you do this, He will show you the paths, and even the steps that you need to take to a deeper conversion. His servants have spoken to us in General Conference. Read and listen to their words again, seeking after this mighty change of heart. I know that I really need to re-listen to Elder Bednar's talk about testimony and conversion, so that I can learn what I need to do to change!
I love you all so very much! The Lord truly is hastening His work here on the earth! A family member of mine told me in an email that the Church receives, on average, 600 applicatons a week for perspective missionaries. Last week, they received around 7,000 aplications!!! What a wonderful miracle! In one week, the increase in applications was 11 times the size it had been before, and, if all of the applications were sent through, this would result in a 12% increase in the number of missionaries in the field (if my calculations are correct...)! IN ONE WEEK!!!! Imagine in the weeks, months, and years to come! Now, we all need to discover the will of the Lord for our personal circumstance, and realize that not everyone can or should serve a mission at these ages, or even may not be able to serve for other reasons. But, the Lord is hastening His work, calling upon His children to serve others in the mission field, in family history and temple work, and in serving, inviting, forgiving, and extending a hand to others, especially those who have fallen away from the Church. Please stay firm, and don't miss out on being able to participate and assist in this great work, wherever or whatever that might be!
I love you all so vey much! Have an awesome week, and don't forget how blessed you really are!
Elder Reid Powell Empey