Monday, December 9, 2013

Zone Conference with Elder Cook

Dec 9, 2013
Dear family and friends,
This past week was a spiritually uplifting and motivational one! We started off the week by having zone conference with Elder Carl B. Cook of the seventy on Wednesday. Before we started the zone conference he had a short meeting with the missionary leaders in the zones attending, that was an amazing experience as he expounded the scriptures before us and exhorted us to lead by example. Elder Cook is so approachable and he doesn't make you feel scared to ask questions or make a comment.  The entire zone conference was centered around becoming consecrated missionaries, teaching for conversion not baptisms and obedience with exactness. It was probably one of the most spiritually uplifting zone conferences I have attended since I have been on mission and made me really reflect on how I can become better.
One of the quotes that I have written in my white handbook that I am striving for says: "Obedience brings blessings, obedience with exactness brings miracles." I am feeling a monumental difference as I strive each and everyday to become more obedient, even to the small rules that seem like they sometimes don't matter. As President Benson once said: "When obedience ceases to be an irritant and becomes a quest, God will endow you with power." What a promise from a Prophet of the Lord! As missionaries if we are not living honorable, obedient and righteous lives the Lord will NOT lead us to the elect prepared to receive the restored gospel. That is something I know to be true with all my heart!
I'm grateful for the elect we have been able to find here in Osizweni the past weeks. We had some more incredible experiences this past week as we continued to go out and preach the true gospel. On Saturday night we were coming out of our last appointment at 8pm when by "coincidence" a guy runs in front of our car and tells us to stop. I quickly recognized it was X____ from my previous area who had been baptized a few weeks before I left Marian hill. X____ is originally from Osizweni and he is visiting here for the holidays. He is a powerful convert to the church and I was so grateful the Lord led my companion and I to him while in Marianhill. Anyways, we talked for a minute and then he told us he would be coming to church the next day. Well he came to church on Sunday and he brought one of his friends with him, he wants us to start meeting with his friend so we set up an appointment and got a nice referral from him! It was great to be able to see him again. I was thankful for that tender mercy of the Lord after a somewhat slow and stressful day.
We currently have 3 people preparing to be baptized on the last Sunday of this year (29th of December). Sister S____, Brother D____ and Brother S_____ are all taking great steps forward as we continue to teach them and prepare them to make this covenant with the Lord. Since we started teaching all of them around the same time a month ago they have come to church every single Sunday! They are incredible and all progressing so well. Den continues to walk over 10k's round trip to church every Sunday and it's incredible to see the change in his countenance as he is accepting the gospel into his life. Something that Elder Cook emphasized on when teaching converts is that they need to know, feel and do in order to be ready for baptism. I feel as though S____, D____ and S____ do know, do feel and are indeed doing what they need to in order to make this step forward in their life.
It's so vital that we teach these individuals the true doctrine and help them understand this step they are taking. We are not here to just build membership and baptize people but instead we are here to help people repent and become clean through the atonement! Something that Elder Cook counseled us on is to never believe our purpose is to just baptize people and then we are successful. There was a question as to why the missionaries who are seen as being disobedient can baptize people in droves while the obedient missionaries seem to have more struggles. He told us that if we baptize people who are not ready, who do not understand the covenant they are making then we bring condemnation upon ourselves. Those are some pretty strong words that hit everyone hard, it's better to baptize 2 real converts then to baptize 20 people who will eventually go less active. That's something I have really striven for on my mission as I have taught the gospel and prepared investigators for baptism, it was nice to have Elder Cook counsel us on that point.
Central to everything we do is the atonement of Jesus Christ, without the atonement none of this would even be possible. I love how preach my gospel tells us that as our testimony of the atonement grows so will our desire to share the gospel. That's something I have come to see in my own life as I have felt the succor, cleansing power and healing that comes through the Saviors infinite and eternal sacrifice.
Thanks for your support and love, may the Lord bless. Until next week!
Elder Summers

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