I've had a lot of really deep things on my mind during the last week, really for several. I understand just a little bit better now what it means that "the good Lord giveth and the good Lord taketh away." Recently there have been a few things that the good Lord has taken away that have made me pause and think a little more about the eternal impact that small things can have. A cousin of mine passed away this week, it seems like the family has been doing relatively well with the tragedy, but things that happen so sudden are always so hard. I send my condolences to the McClatchy's and my love. I'm praying for you, and I know that the Lord will continue to bless your lives for the service that you give to Him. He will make straight your paths. Almost a month ago now I learned that a man who I had worked with, who was recently baptized actually, also passed away suddenly. It was a really hard thing for me when I heard the news, but at the same time the spirit world is a great place for someone with so much faith to be. Leonid will is one step closer to receiving his perfect, resurrected body, and returning to our Father in Heaven. Maybe I'll try to do his temple work before I go home from my mission at the end of next year. That would be a really neat experience.
With those things on my mind, I've thought a lot about the importance of living and using every day. Leave nothing undone, no kind word unsaid, we never know what will be tomorrow, and it is a shame to not do the things that we'd have liked to, or the things that we really need to do. I teach a lot of people, over and over, the principles of repentance. It's never too late to repent, but it's also definitely never too early! It takes courage to stand on a spot, turn your body and your life, and walk in a new direction, but there is no surer way to improve that which you've been given. A great example that has affected me and taught me this principle, is my grandpa Bill. When he decided to be baptized he quit smoking and drinking in one day, and simply never did it ever again. It's often very hard to change the things that we have let become habits in our lives, but there is little more dangerous than a bad habit.
Well that said, I guess I'll tell a little bit about the work I've been doing. Several weeks ago we decided that we wanted to move our focus to finding new investigators, so that we could spread the work, because the people who have been around for a long time have stopped progressing, or have no real desire to meet right now. So we've spent a lot of time hunting, knocking doors, talking to people on streets and on busses, and trying to figure out how we can get to know people who we can help come closer to Christ. Yesterday we were sitting in a Branch Missionary Meeting with our Branch President, Zvyagolskii. As each companionship talked about those who they were working with and worrying about President went through the list and said "where are all the fresh people? Why aren't you finding anyone?" Then it was my turn, and it felt really good to be able to say "we really are only working with 2 investigators right now, but we found them both in the last 8 days and there is a lot of potential with both of them. He was very proud of us and made a big speech to our district leader and zone leaders (who are the other Elders in Vlad right now) and told them that they need to follow our example. Haha. It's good to have the Branch President's trust as a missionary. He is a pretty intense guy too. The rock is starting to move.
We also had a cool story about one of the members in our area who was inactive when I came to this area. After we worked with him a little bit he came back to church and has been doing much better. Then he started bringing his new girlfriend to church with him. This week I asked him when we could start working with her to teach her the Gospel, and he gave us permission to try to start. We had them over to the Bodell's for Family Home Evening on Monday, but then found out that she lives in another area, so we gave her to the other Elders. After only a few lessons she has a baptismal date set for a few weeks from now, and they have the goal to save up for a year and then go to Korea to be sealed in the Temple for time and eternity. Higher goals help us to do more, and it was so great to see member missionary work...working. There's no better way. The work is moving, the Lord's hand guides it.
Thanks for all of the prayers in my behalf, for those with whom I work, and for the success of this difficult part of the Lord's vinyard. I know that my strength is not my own. The Lord blesses us with his tender mercies each day.