What a week!! Sunday was pretty much the best day ever and I'll tell you why later on in this email :)
Anyway, you had asked about Kenneth and Wilma. We still haven't seen Wilma in a while. hopefully this week. Kenneth is doing great! he finally quit smoking! We told him he needed to quit by saturday if he wanted to be baptized on the 20th. So Saturday morning rolls around, and he throws out all his cigarettes and gives all his lighters to his brothers. He's still going strong and is planning on being baptized on Saturday.
This brings me to why Sunday was so awesome! So two of our investigators attended church; which is rare. it's hard enough getting one to come, let a lone two. Kenneth came. He had called us to tell us he wasn't coming, but i called him right back and asked him why. he said that he needed to get some yard work done. (okay, that was the lamest excuse he's ever given us, ha). So i just asked him if he could do that after church. He said he could wait, and showed up right as the services were starting. I was so proud of our ward because they were really in a fellowshipping mood and they were all talking with our investigators. It was great!
Our second investigator to come to church was Michael. He is amazing. he literally is a miracle investigator. Sister Malloy feel so humbled every time we teach him because we are so grateful that Heavenly Father is allowing us the great opportunity to be a part of it. Michael is one of those investigators that you hear about from mission stories and think, "That would be so cool to be a part of that, but it's pretty rare." So the fact that Michael is this way and Heavenly Father is letting me and Sister Malloy stay another transfer to keep teaching him is incredible.
I don't know how much I ever told you about Michael, but I'm going to give you the story here.
We found Michael (59) as we were tracting a short street that i had felt lead to. When Michael answered the door, it was evident that he didn't own much, because he had tattered clothes on; yet his appearance was humble. We asked him if we could pray with him and he agreed. Afterward, we started talking to him about the Book of Mormon. Excitement came into his eyes as he began o express how he once had a book of mormon. We read the introduction to invite him to read and pray to know of the truthfulness of the book of mormon. He instantly clapped his hands together and proclaimed, "Yay! It's true. I know it's true."
Of course this excited us as well and we set up another time to visit him. We came to know his background and all of the rough things that he has been through. He is a musician (he can play 7 instruments) and he was doing so well when he lived in London. However, family circumstances brought him back to the states and he came to Tennessee. Things went incredibly downhill, leaving him with nothing.
As we began teaching Michael, everything was falling into place. he truly understood what we were teaching and it was evident that the spirit was teaching him things that we were not saying. He remembered learning about the Book of Mormon from a friend and he had seriously dated a mormon girl in his past. As we came back for return appointments, he not only read from the book of mormon, but he had actually studied it. he used the study questions in the back of the pamphlets we left with him and he studied topics from visiting mormon.org. His heart was prepared as he studied, so the spirit was able to teach him even more.
We had given Michael the chapter of Alma 32 to read on faith when he was especially struggling with his personal trials. There is one verse in there talking about baptism and THAT was the verse that stuck out to him when we came back to teach. This prompted him to ask us, "So, can I like set up an appointment? To be baptized?"
With smiles from ear to ear, we set a date in which michael could be baptized. We warned him that opposition would come because of how strongly Heavenly Father wants this for him, the devil would work against him. And it happened. The first sunday he wanted to come to church. He asked us if there was a church close by and if he was allowed to come (of course!) However, he became very ill so he was unable to attend. The next Sunday, there was a storm and he cancelled because his neighborhood had flooded. Sister Malloy and i drove over after the services and indeed, his neighborhood had flooded! There was a crew and everything, cleaning it up. We knew at this point that Michael was special. He expressed how badly he wanted to come to church and could see how hard Satan was working on him in order for him not to attend.
However he expressed to us that, "Nothing! Nothing can stop righteousness!" So he told us for the next Sunday, "I'm coming to church and nothing is stopping me!....unless I'm on fire; i'm coming to church!"
Sunday, July 14 rolls around and we anxiously wait for him to show. We knew he literally didn't have much, so we told him to come in the best that he had. Walking up the sidewalk with the member who picked him up, came a man in his best; black jeans and a tye-dye shirt. Sister Malloy and I could not stop smiling as pure joy entered into our hearts. As soon as Michael entered into the doors, he took the initiative to introduce himself to everyone, literally! :)
We took him to Gospel principles after sacrament meeting and the lesson was a detailed discussion on the priesthood. I was a bit nervous that it would go over his head as they talked about the offices of deacon, teacher, priest, etc. However, during the lesson he just kept saying how interesting it was. The teacher was telling the male investigators that they could work toward being a priest in the priesthood when they were baptized and Michael became very excited. He expressed afterwards his feelings on the class. he told me, "This all makes sense. This is all about progression. My whole life I've just been stuck, wondering what I'm going to do; not going anywhere. This gospel allows you to progress and become something." I knew the spirit had taught him an important doctrine that had not been said in the class that day.
After services, a member asked him if he was visiting and he said with a smile, "No. not anymore, I'm not visiting anymore." At first we all stopped, wondering what he meant, but then he expressed that he doesn't want to be a "visitor" anymore. He wants to keep coming back and he wants to be a part of this church.
Words cannot express the feelings I have concerning this investigator. As we have taught him, his whole perspective on life has changed and he views others so differently. He considers the Book of Mormon to be "rehab" and thinks that all the druggies on his block need to read it. We are so excited for him to be a part of Christ's church. He is setting an example for those he's around and he's setting an example for me and Sister Malloy. I know there is a power in the spirit and in this gospel and we can access it through the Book of Mormon.
Well family, I'm pretty sure that was one of the longest emails I have written to you. I just wanted you to be able to take part in the joy that we are experiencing here. This Gospel IS changing lives, one at a time.
Love you with all of my heart,
Sister Valerie Preston