What's New?

We witness tender mercies and mini-miracles every day as we find joy in pressing forward. We are immensely grateful for our time of service as missionaries in the Georgia Atlanta North Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Life and opportunities continue. See our missionary and life story in pictures by clicking here: http://rayc.shutterfly.com/

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Six Month Milestone

Tomorrow is September 17th, six months since we entered the MTC. The frequent counsel that time will fly by once you are settled into your mission is certainly true. How blessed we have been. We can now remember the names of most of the Lilburn Ward members and have made good friends here. Next Saturday night we are going to attend the Stone Mountain light show with Eulalia and Doyle Kotter and some other seniors (our first visit to the park premises). We love the Kotters and will enjoy meeting with their monthy empty nester group. The mission depends so much on the members' generous support. Our Gospel Principles class is typically filled more with missionaries (elders, sisters, office couple(s), and often President and Sister Wolfert, and ward missionaries) than with new converts and investigators. The spirit is always sweet. Today Sister Martin and Mark, both new investigators, joined us. The Howards are regulars, and they just received their first ward calling (choir coordinators).

In addition to learning our jobs at the mission office over the past six months, we have explored a bit of Georgia and are learning the shortcuts and fastest routes to various destinations. Best of all, we can pretty much recognize and greet every one of the 150 missionaries by name without reading their name badges.

Elder Astel, who had been serving as Assistant to the President, was transferred to Roswell, so now we will enjoy getting to know Elder Williams better. He's a humble and quietly dedicated leader. We miss Elder Astel's boy-next-door personality, but know he loves having more time to preach the gospel and less time to "move" missionaries. The President is closing all of the 4-missionary (2 companionship) apartments as quickly as possible, so the Assistants and the Bolts (Finance and Housing missionaries) have been on the road a lot. Several of our Brazilian missionaries have succeeded in securing driver's licenses, and that is helping since we're always short of drivers for one reason or another. The Bolts have started sharing tips to their work with us since they will be released in October and their replacements are not yet confirmed. Seems we always stay busy!  The bi-monthly Leadership Training was held this past Thursday and Friday. Sister Connors was able to incorporate some of the materials she used in corporate training to spent 45 minutes discussing accountability.  It was a nice change from the office routines and the feedback was positive. In her preparations she found several choice quotes that we'll paste into the bottom of this post.  

We continue to work with Mercy and Malyssa. Last week, Lora Knudsen and her husband, Jonathan, attended meetings (their children were with their birth father). I turned around in Relief Society to see Lora when I heard her say "hi."  I was so surprised to see her since in our past meeting(s) she hinted she would never attend the Lilburn Ward again. Her daughter, Tori, was baptized (hurray!) a few months ago along with her cousins in their prior ward which the family usually attends with their extended family. Jonathan is healing slowly and is still in therapy three days a week. I was sorry I didn't get to meet him on Sunday. Our RS lesson was on faith, and I told Lora she had been a great example of humble faith to me. She blogged so openly about the mini-miracles and challenges when Jonathan was in his coma and early recovery. I know her faith was an active part in his healing. Their new baby is due next month. We definitely will make a visit again.

We have a date with the Howards to take the family of six to the Georgia Hills for a Saturday of apple picking. It should be enjoyable. Jim Grayless is scheduled for baptism next week. He has serious leg problems due to diabetes, so the elders are working on strategies to assist him in what will be a challenging, but wonderful baptism. I enjoyed a teaching appointment with the sisters to visit Sara Martin from Liberia. She's a real delight. After our several opportunities to work with investigators from western African nations, we're learning a pattern of interest in learning about the restored gospel but a slowness to commit. Perhaps we can learn the best approach to accelerate the process.

Love is the best tool for teaching, and we're grateful for the spirit of unity we feel with our missionaries and the Lilburn ward family as we share the Savior's love for our brother and sisters who want to learn more about His gospel.

Thoughts on Accountability:

David A. Bednar, April 2008 - Ask in Faith
Action alone is not faith in the Savior, but acting in accordance with correct principles is a central component of faith. Thus, “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20).  The Prophet Joseph further explained that “faith is not only the principle of action, but of power also, in all intelligent beings, whether in heaven or on earth” (Lectures on Faith, 3). Thus, faith in Christ leads to righteous action, which increases our spiritual capacity and power. Understanding that faith is a principle of action and of power inspires us to exercise our moral agency in compliance with gospel truth, invites the redeeming and strengthening powers of the Savior’s Atonement into our lives, and enlarges the power within us whereby we are agents unto ourselves (see D&C 58:28).

Dean L. Larsen, April 1980 - Self Accountability and Human Progress
When we understand what is right and what is wrong, we are in a position to exercise our freedom in making choices. In so doing, we must stand accountable for our decisions, and we cannot escape the inevitable consequences of these choices. Such freedom to exercise moral agency is essential in an environment where people have the highest prospects for progress and development.
By our very endowment as children of an Eternal Father, we have had implanted within our souls the urgency to be free. It is natural for us to want to be accountable for our own fates, because there is a whispering within us confirming that this accountability is absolutely essential to the attainment of our eternal destiny.

Teachings of John A. Taylor:
We are God’s people, and he is bound by everything that is calculated to bind either man or God. He is bound to take care of his people, if they take care of themselves; if they honour their calling and priesthood; if they magnify and do credit to the power and authority that is conferred upon them; if they do not deviate from correct principles, God is bound to fulfill all things according to the obligations that he is under; one of which is to provide for his Saints. … Who has ever known God to depart from correct principles? … I never have, and I am well satisfied that you never did.

Romans:  14: 12-13
12   So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
13   Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.

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