Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Engulfed by the Spirit

Hello everybody!:) Well this was another week that's gone by in the blink of an eye!! So this week was a super good week!!:) This week we had the amazing opportunity to go to Zone Conference and Elder Gong from the Quorum of the Seventy came and taught us, which was so awesome!!:) Zone conference was so awesome and I learned so much about what I can be doing to become a better missionary each and every day! The focus of Zone Conference was on the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ!! Elder Gong really related the importance of helping all of our recent converts, as well as our investigators, have a strong testimony in our first Prophet of the dispensation, Joseph Smith, as well as a strong testimony in the Book of Mormon. The importance of having faith in both of those things is important because really those are the only two things that set us apart from any other church in this world! Everything that we have been taught that differs from other churches comes through modern day revelation and has also been given to us through the olden day prophets in the Book of Mormon! He told us that they had recently done a poll and that only 5% of the recent converts in Cambodia said that they actually had a strong testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith as well as the Book of Mormon! Obviously as a missionary serving here in Cambodia, this was quite an alarming statistic to hear and definitely woke us all up to the seriousness of helping our investigators understand the importance of these two crucial factors of our church BEFORE they are baptized! Elder Gong helped us know what we could do and ways that we could teach that would really help our investigators understand the importance of these two things! Sometimes as missionaries we can give them the Book of Mormon and because we read it every single day and we know how to read it and how to use it, we assume that our investigators will automatically know how to read it as well!! Well it turns out that this is almost never the case!! Haha If we give a new investigator a Book of Mormon, we need to do more than just hand it to them and commit them to read it! We need to help them know how to read it! We need to show them what a chapter is and what a verse is and what the first book is called and show them how there’s a small summary of what they are going to be reading and then commit them to read after we have thoroughly explained what we want them to read! And then most importantly, when we go back to visit with them again, we need to read it with them! Honestly this is something that I have definitely been lacking at doing! In the past when investigators have told me that they have been too busy to read, I have testified of the importance of reading the Book of Mormon and that it truly will bless there lives and then recommitted them to read it, but one thing I have not been good at is actually just taking the time right at that moment to actually read with them and ask them questions and get them thinking! It is something that I have committed myself to do better at for the rest of my mission and I truly believe that if I do this I will be able to help all of my investigators have stronger faith in the Book of Mormon and know with all of their hearts that the Book of Mormon comes from God! 

My favorite thing that I heard in Zone Conference was when President Moon got up and spoke. When he stood up and spoke he started out by saying, "I am here because of a book." I just loved that comment so much!! To someone who does not know our religion or what we believe in, that comment may sound like we are insane! And to someone who does know our religion and what we believe in, that still might sound insane!! Haha but I loved that comment because that is the exact reason why I am here in Cambodia right now. I am here because of a book! That comment is rich with meaning!! That book has changed my life forever and has given me more happiness than I could have ever possibly imagined! It has helped me through hard times and has taught me each and every day how I can become a better person!! It teaches me every day that I can do just a little bit better than the day before so that each and every day I can do my very best to become what my Heavenly Father sees in me! With His help, I know that I can reach the person that He wants me to be in this life! I have also seen that book change other people's lives completely! I have seen people who have been constantly drunk or who beat their wives, repent and become a wonderful man of God worthy to hold His holy Priesthood because of the power of that book! I know with all of my heart that the Book of Mormon is a book from God! I know it with every fiber of my being and I am so happy that I have this time that I can go and share that message with the wonderful people here in Cambodia!! How blessed I am to have this opportunity!! I will never be able to repay my Heavenly Father for the gifts and miracles that he has given me since I have been out here on my mission!! My only goal in life right now is to go and tell as many other people as I possibly can about this wonderful Book so that they can receive all the blessings that I have been lucky enough to receive in my life! I love the Book of Mormon and I love our beloved prophet Joseph Smith for opening this last dispensation and enduring terrible amounts of trials and afflictions he did so that we all could have this wonderful book and receive all the blessings that it can bring to us! I cannot wait to thank him personally in the life after this for everything that he did for everyone in the world during his short time period here on the earth! He is one of my greatest heroes and I know that he truly was a Prophet of God!! Anyway, there were quite a few other things that I also plan on applying to my teaching that I was taught in Zone Conference, but if I wrote them all down we would be here all day so I will save you all the boredom and stop right here!:) 

Another thing that was cool that happened this week was that we had a baptism!! :) His name is Bong Bros and he is just the coolest kid ever!! He is 22 years old and has just been a total rock star investigator!! He has always accepted every invitation that we have given him with faith that Heavenly Father will help him obey all of the commandments that He has laid forth for us, and he has been able to obey all of the commandments!!:) I felt super honored because he asked me if I would be willing to baptize him and of course I happily accepted!! It was a beautiful ceremony and I was so happy for him knowing that he had just entered into one of the most important covenants of his life with his Heavenly Father! Now we are just going to try to get him to go on a mission because I know that if he did, he would just be a rock star of a missionary!! :) So yeah, Sunday was a good day! I will send some pictures of the baptism so you all can see as well!! :) 

We also had a Preach My Gospel class that we taught and it was so amazing!! This week’s class was an opportunity for the members to share their testimonies of the Book of Mormon, but for most of the class it was just the members joking around with each other and then us trying to get them to focus. Finally, there was only about 15 minutes left to teach and Elder Lauritzen stood up and started to speak. So he is a brand new missionary… he has only been out here for 2 months, but he has the courage of a lion and is always trying to speak! Anyway, he got up and started to share his testimony about the importance of what we are teaching and even though he was not speaking perfect Khmer, the Spirit was so strong! As he sat down, I felt prompted to stand up and share some thoughts with them as well! I got up and told them that we had 9 minutes left in class and that I wanted those last 9 minutes to be filled with the Spirit! I was pretty straightforward in telling them that during the last 50 minutes that we had been teaching, the Spirit had not been with us, but I told them that if they were willing to maintain reverence for the last 9 minutes and pray that the Holy Ghost would enter, I promised that those last 9 minutes would be an amazing spiritual experience. After that I reopened the class to share their testimonies of the Book of Mormon and immediately a member, whose name is Dom, offered to get up and share his testimony. Just 20 minutes before, he had shared his testimony of the Book of Mormon, but this time as he bore his testimony, he spoke from his heart! It was not known facts that he had memorized, but what he knew to be true with all of his heart! As he shared, he began to cry (and he is not the crying type) and testified that as he was getting ready to go out and serve his mission; he said he knew that this was something that was absolutely essential for him in his life and would forever bless him, as well as many others, and he said that he knew that while he would be gone God would protect his family. There was not a dry eye in the whole room and it felt as though almost the whole room was literally on fire with the Spirit of God!! As he sat down another person got up to share their testimony as well, and the Spirit was still as strong as ever! Then we were all out of time and I got up and told all of the members that this feeling could happen every week for a full hour, not just 9 minutes, if we came into this meeting with a spirit of reverence! I told them I love to joke around as much as the next guy, but I also love feeling the Spirit so strong like we were just able to feel and I testified that it can happen every week if we allow it to! We had a closing prayer and all kneeled as we prayed and the girl that prayed began to cry as she was praying as well as!! The Spirit was literally engulfing all of us during the entire prayer as well!! To date on my mission, it was probably one of the most spiritual experiences that I have had!! I am so grateful for Elder Lauritzen to have the courage to stand up and say something so that we could end on such a spiritual high! It was a great way to end a Sunday!

That's pretty much it for my week this week! I feel so lucky every single day to be serving here and to be sharing all of these wonderful spiritual experiences with the people here in Stung Meanchey!! :) I am so lucky… it's not even fair!!:) I love my mission!!!!!:):) I hope you all have a great week this week! I'm always sending prayers your way!

Love always,
Elder Steadman

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