I'm glad you all had a great Fathers Day!! Did Dad get my picture? If not I'll resend it to him. I love those pictures by the way!! They're so beautiful! I'd forgotten that Washington could be that beautiful!!
This week has been really good, overall!
Hilaire: This whole week, Hilaire has been going through a grueling Football Coach trials thing. He's been absolutely exhausted, so we never were able to meet with him. :( However, despite his exhaustion, he made the effort to come to church!! It went well, and he expressed in a prayer he gave just how excited he was for Saturday! We're excited too! It'll be held at 7 pm. A Ward Barbecue is that morning. Can't wait for that! :9
Finula: We met with Finula on Wednesday. She was just starting Mosiah! King Benjamin's speech. We had a great lesson talking with her, just explaining things, answering questions, and talking about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. At the end of it, Elder Preece (my District Leader. We were on exchanges that day) asked that, if she knew the Book of Mormon was true, if she would be baptized. She said she would! She also told us about how a lot of her friends have told her all these things about us, like that we're a cult, etc. However, she actually defends us to her friends!!! After the lesson Elder Preece said "I'm pretty sure she's gotten her answer. She's just afraid about what that will mean." I agreed. She was busy so didn't come to church, but I'm not worried.
Vincent: We met with him once. He's still the same. He said, again, that next Sunday he'll come to church. The issue is that the gospel isn't a priority right now. I think his brothers are his priority. Which is understandable, of course. Perfectly understandable. One of his brothers is improving, which is good. Please continue to pray for him.
We didn't meet with any other investigators. We did meet with Bo and the Armstrong's, which both went well. We committed Bo to make an effort to pray every day. Actually, he committed himself, which is a good sign. And the Armstrong's we taught about Temples and Family History. Now, a big thing they're trying to do is to get Missionaries to start using Family History more because, according to President Kimball, "it is the same redemptive work." I'd always accepted that, but never understood it, really. But that day while teaching about temples, I don't know how to describe it, I just finally understood how they are the same work. It was really cool! I don't know if I ever told you about an experience I had, it was a few weeks ago. I was thinking about the temple and how much I missed it (in the mission, it's called "temple-trunky"). And the Spirit whispered to me that "that is one of the reasons you are here: to give you a greater appreciation for the Temple and the peace it brings." I can't wait to go back to the temple! First thing I want to do when I get home! Straight from the airport to the Seattle Temple!! Ha!
Interesting story! We were out knocking doors (I didn't say chapping because that's a Scottish term) and we came across this Pastor. He did the usual bit, about how we need to rely on Christ and Christ alone (do they really think we don't do that...), and when we offered him a Because He Lives card, he gave us a pair of bookmarks with John 3:16, and a hymn on it. But here's the funny part: we looked at them later, and we realized that there isn't a picture of Jesus on the bookmarks. There's only pictures of CATS!! I just thought it was funny.
So there's a road we often go down, the Shore Road. If you go far enough, you get to the Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle. It's a MASSIVE building with a big spire on top. Elder McPherson has always wanted to go inside! A lot of missionaries have this deal that, because we always invite others to come to our church, it would be hypocritical of us to not go to someone else's church when they invite us. I haven't been to anyone's yet. But the other day, while we were out knocking, a guy invited us to the Tabernacle! We were so excited!! Most churches have a service on Sunday evenings. Theirs was called the "Evangelical Rally"! From the moment I found out what it was called, I was DYING to see what that's like!! So we went!
It is a lot like the Conference Center! I didn't take any pictures inside the church, I thought that would be disrespectful. I will send a picture I took of the outside, but it doesn't quite capture the immensity of the building. (Picture at bottom of this post.) You can probably just look it up on Google Images But it was magnificent! All these chandeliers, and a massive stage with a full band. And a CHOIR!! So we got to listen to the Tabernacle Choir yesterday! :) The first half hour or so was all singing. And there were so many hands in the air, I thought they were "sustaining" someone! Ha! Finally, it came time for the Pastor to preach. His sermon was on the Second Coming. It was entitled "Here I come, ready or not!" :) He actually had some really good insights! He talked about the Five Foolish Virgins, and the Parable of the Talents, and the Parable of the Servant. He pointed out that each and every one of these people knew the Bridegroom or their Master was coming, but they thought to themselves that He wasn't coming yet. It was interesting, his preaching style. Sometimes his voice would get all deep and gravelly, saying "Are you ready? Are you ready?" It was as if Batman was preaching. :)
Anyhow, it was a good service! Afterwards a young man came up to us and spoke with us a bit, then invited us to meet the Pastor, who turned out to be his dad! So we did! We shook his hand, and thanked him for the sermon and such. There were a lot of good people there! I really wanted to meet their leader, Pastor McMillan. I've heard a lot about him, both good and bad. His story is pretty cool though! Unfortunately he wasn't there last night. He's in a bit of trouble for preaching that Muslims are of the devil.
So that was an interesting end to the week! I'd heard about the shooting at the church! That is so sad! But what a fantastic group of people! So forgiving!
The past week or two has been so HOT! Or at least humid, which is worse! And to answer your questions, I haven't had soda bread since that time when I was at O'Blarneys with you. I haven't had stew from a member in Ireland. Nor corn beef and cabbage. We do see a lot of "prayers" around, but most of them are actually serious. They're not, "oh that's nice" kind of things, they're actual prayers the Catholics recite, and some of the Protestants. Shamrocks are on some of their crests, particularly for the Republican paramilitary stuff. Beyond that, though, you'll only see them on tourist stuff. I have seen plenty of short people! But no leprechauns. :(
Thanks for the emails! If there's ever anything else you want to know, just ask! I'll try to answer. :)
Happy Fathers Day everyone!! I love you all!! :) Something Elder Holland said last week was that "the Last Days officially began when God and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith in 1820. These are the Last Days! We've been in them for a while now!" So, family, "are you ready?" You'd better be! Cuz I want to be with you when that great day happens! :)
Love, Elder Bates