March 31, 2009

Two Mondays ago Elder Brown and I were having lunch in a city a little ways from here after our district meeting, and this girl sitting at the table next to us turned and started talking to Elder Brown. Her name is Stella. She wanted to know a little bit about what we do and what we teach. She lived in the US in Atlanta for a few years and she speaks fluent English (and really well, without any accent) so we explained a few things about the Church to her in English. We stayed there for nearly an hour talking to her and her friend about the gospel. They seemed really interested. We told them that we wanted to meet up with them again somehow and teach a few more important things to them. Since they both live in different cities, we decided to meet them the next Monday (which was yesterday) at the English School they work at where they are both teachers. So, after district meeting yesterday, we went there together with another missionary who works in that city.

First, backtracking a little, on Sunday at church we were talking to a woman in our Branch named Bel who we always speak English with because she was a missionary at Temple Square and speaks fluently, and she started telling us about how these two girls who work at her English School had met the missionaries and how they told them all this great stuff and were going to come back on Monday. Bel didn't know it had been us that talked to them. We asked what their names were, and sure enough! Bel got all excited and explained how she gave Stella a copy of the Book of Mormon and the Livro de Mormon in Portuguese, and taught her a few more things about the doctrine. Apparently every day of the week Stella asked her if she really thought we were going to come back on Monday.

Stella also told Bel about a dream she had a few days before she met us at the restaurant. She said that in her dream she saw two young white men and was instructed that she should listen to them because they would change her life. She said that the dream went on the whole night.

So now coming back to when Elder Brown and the other missionary and I met up with her yesterday. Stella had gotten on the internet and read a bunch of things that weren't true about the Church, and luckily Bel had explained ahead of time that the majority of things you read on the internet about the Church are not true. She understood that if she has doubts about the Church, she ought not to consult its enemies. So she had a whole long list of questions for us written out on a piece of paper. We did our best to answer all of them, both in English and Portuguese. Between the three of us we did a decent job. I was a little concerned about the other missionary because he was acting a little gung-ho and Stella called him out on it. She said that when he tried to answer her questions she felt like he seemed threatened by her. But she was very forgiving and not upset at all. She is a very humble girl, and very sincere and interested in learning. At the end, Elder Brown (who, as a new missionary, doesn't speak the greatest Portuguese) told her as best he could that if she really wants to know if these things are true, she needs to seek a testimony more than she seeks knowledge. I bore my testimony as well.

Then she told us about the dream she had, and in greater detail. She expressed the happiness she felt hearing us speak, and her gratitude for our willingness to come and talk to her about the Church. Then she started to cry and said in English, "I hope you guys won't forget me". She apologized for having so many questions. We told her we would be right back there next Monday. I can't wait to go back and see her again.

There will be a lot of missionaries teaching her, along with the help of Bel and other members. Including her Mom who, as it turns out, was baptized in the Church some 20 years ago and has since gone inactive and never said a word to Stella about it.

She's going to watch conference at the stake center. She's excited too. Bel is going to give her a ride. We're perhaps more excited for her to go than she is. It's so wonderful to be used as a tool in the Lord's hands to help bring the Gospel to someone. This experience, along with others this week, has given me a greater appreciation for missionary work and a better understanding of what it really is. The Lord is entirely in charge of these things. It's not the missionaries. Nothing I did made Stella's life change. I was only worthy. She said as we were leaving, "I never eat at that restaurant we met at, and I had no idea that going there that day would change my life".

I hope everyone is as excited for conference as I am. I hope everyone watches every session and listens intently to every talk. Conference is such a wonderful opportunity to receive counsel and revelation. As for the Ensign, I guess there's no need to send it here. But please save me a nice fresh copy to add to my collection when I get home. Tell Jonny to watch a few sessions of conference. Maybe even take him to Priesthood session. Take Zach too. And Socs. I suppose he's old enough. I can't believe it's my last conference in the mission. Next time I'll be back home and hopefully up in Utah watching at the conference center.

I miss you family. I love you.

p.s. - the pictures from Squaw Peak look TIGHT. Let's plan on going on at least one hike that first week I'm back. Camelback would be fun too.

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