Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Epistle - 7.29.09

What? July is almost over? That can't be true!

I'm closing in on the home stretch of my mission, and within a meer week will have less than a year left on my mission. Ladies and gentlemen, these are scary times.

On to the news.

My new companion, Elder Levie is awesome. He was homeschooled, so he sort of has that same rough, "I am me and i'm not quite sure what to do about it if you don't like it because I never went to public school" personality and sense of humor that I do. We get along very well. We work hard together, and we laugh hard together. Honestly, what more could you ask for in a companion?

Our area is going through a flush right now. My previous companion Elder Kelly held on to a lot of potential investigators and such that we hadn't talked to since I got there. Once he was gone we called through the list, left voice mails saying "Call us back if you're interested" and dropped about half of them.

We did the same thing to investigators. One of the most common methods of "Sifting" investigators is something called a "Conditional Baptismal Commitment". Basically you make sure the spirit is really strong by bearing testimony, etc, then you ask a question along these lines: "When you've prayed and asked God if our message is true, and have received an answer, and KNOW THAT IT IS TRUE because God has told you so, are you willing to act on that answer from God himself and be baptized by authority in to this church?"

Shockingly, some people are capable of saying no to a question like that. So then we will generally try and break it down really simple to make sure they understand what we're saying by saying something like "So if God himself walked in to this room, and told you that what we have taught you is true, that this is His church, and that he wants you to join it, you would not be willing to do that?"

And, incredibly the answer is sometimes no. At which point we say then there is nothing we can do for you, and meeting with you is not going to be a valuable use of the Lord's time. And we stop meeting with that person. If someone does not yet know that our message is true, we can help them gain that testimony. We can work with them and bring the spirit and encourage them to keep praying until they know for themselves whether it's true or not. What we can not do is help someone be willing to do what God tells them to do. That's their agency.

So we've been doing a lot of thought and have, figuratively, trimmed the vineyard.

Now, why do we trim a vineyard? Because we don't want as much good fruit? Because we're wasteful and silly? Nope. When we trim it, better fruit grows. You knock all the bad apples off of a branch, and the ones left, and the ones that will come after will be better. So we've already started to see some of that and have met some awesome people know that we've got some weeding done.

Well everyone, I really do love you all. I appreciate your prayers, letters, and even good thoughts.

Take care of yourselves, and keep writing those letters!

-Elder Ted E. Bear

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