Tuesday, March 3, 2015

That Juan Miracle

Elder Johnson, Elder Pearson, and I
This week has been full of fun moments that I won't forget.  I want to begin with a story.
I had the privilege of being on exchanges with Elder Johnson (who goes home in 2 days)  and we planned to go tracting.  As we were walking to the area we planned to knock, we stopped and I asked him, "OK which one?"
"Juan?  Where's Juan?"  He replied.
"I don't know!"  I said.  And we decided we would find Juan and loan him a Book of Mormon.
So we knocked and knocked and knocked and we were able to contact a lot of people, but sadly no one was really interested, and not one of them was named Juan.  Noticing what time it was, we started to head back toward home for Dinner.  We decided we would knock the door of a blue house that was coming up and we'd give them a Book of Mormon.  The guy answered and we got to talking.  
"What's your name?" Elder Johnson asked him.
"Juan." He replied.  
Elder Johnson and I just about busted up laughing right there on Juan's porch, but we kept it contained and proceeded to teach him about the Book of Mormon, which he happily accepted.  Now we're going back to see him in a few days! 
Elder Johnson has become one of my good friends out here and I'm thankful that he was in my District this transfer. He's added a great deal of fun to our very diverse district and I've definitely enjoyed having him with us.  
I also had 2 experiences with the Spirit this week that I'd like to share.
The first experience came while we were attending a different church that some of our investigators invited us to "come and see" just like we were inviting them to see.  It was definitely an experience that I won't soon forget.  As soon as we walked in, there were people praying at the top of their lungs and for the first hour of the service was music and praises that were played at ear-drum-breaking volumes and people dancing and praising God.  Don't get me wrong.  I agree 100% with what the 11th article of Faith says when it states:
"We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may."
But I also know the difference that I felt the next day as I was sitting in Sacrament Meeting.  A scripture in 1 Kings 19:11-12 came to my mind yesterday as I sat in church that says:
 11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:
 12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
The Lord speaks through the still small voice.  He speaks to us through the quiet stillness of our hearts through our feelings and thoughts.  I love the peace that I feel in church every week.  I love that I can sit in the chapel, especially on Fast and Testimony Sunday and I can listen to others share their testimonies of how the Spirit has testified to them personally of the simple truths of the Gospel. 
The other experience from this week taught me that same principle.

The District  
(With the Exception of Elder Waite who opted to take the picture and not be in it)

Thursday was district meeting.  We've had quite a bit of missionaries in our mission, including a few in our district, that have become "relaxed" with the rules and they don't seem to care a whole lot.  My training this week was about covenants and about the promises we made when we came on a mission to be obedient to the commandments, the mission rules, and the counsel of the Mission President. Knowing that I'd have to be pretty serious, I'd been preparing this training for longer than any other training I've given ever.... and when I stood up to give it, I realized I'd left my notes at home.    So with a prayer in my heart and an entire week of preparation under my belt, I stood up and trusted that the Spirit would give me the words to say and would lead my training in the direction that the Lord wanted for the District.  I've never felt the Spirit like that in a District Meeting before.  When I stood up and testified to the Elders of the truthfulness of the work and the promises we've made I felt the Spirit testifying to them that what I was saying was true.  I could see it on their faces and in the desire that they showed afterwards to change and to become stronger in the faith.  I know that that training had absolutely nothing to do with me or anything I said.  I know that the Spirit works wonders through people if we stand and bear testimony. 
I know the Spirit is the true teacher.  I know that if we, as disciples of Christ, "shall stand in holy places, and shall not be moved" (D&C 45:32)
then the Holy Ghost will testify to us of the truthfulness of this work.  I know this is the Church of Jesus Christ.  I know that "by the power of the Holy Ghost [we] may know the truth of all things." (Moroni 10:5) and I say that in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

I love you!  Have a great week!

Lots of Love,
Elder Zachary Paddock

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