Joy! That word has been on my mind a lot this week. Last Sunday, in my personal study, I decided I needed to start the Book of Mormon over again – always a great call. At this moment, perhaps a little struck with first-week fear, I was feeling a little down, thinking about myself and my circumstances far too much. I quickly came across verse 20 in the first chapter, so close to the cover even the casual reader could find it, which says “… But behold, I, Nephi will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen..”. That was my goal this week – to see the tender mercies of the Lord more clearly in my life… & oh man, was I #blessed. Let me tell ya!
This week Elder Poore and I were so busy! It’s been hard for me to get my feet planted here in Podgorica with the language because we are always on the move – ha not a bad problem to have I guess. We arise at 5:30 and get to our studies quickly, trying to buy ourselves more time to prepare for investigators, but it never seems to be enough. Our bodies are accustomed to the 10 pm dinners (I don’t think the mission president’s wife would approve haha) and the miles of walking, so we just keep working!
So on with the good stuff, the Tender Mercies. Let me set the stage, last Sunday, around 5:45, we were finishing a contacting session, heading to a lesson we had scheduled at 6 pm. We were in a part of the city we had never been before, no intentions of taking to anybody, with sights on the church building where our lesson was to be had. We were on a small bridge, amidst many people, when a 30+ year old man came walking towards us with his head down, with no desire to talk to anybody. As he walked past us, without any prior conversation, the best companion Elder Poore and I hit the simultaneous “Izvinite” (Excuse me) in unison. He ended up walking with us to the end of the bridge, then exchanged numbers, issued a challenge, testified and parted ways. We didn’t think much of it but we got a phone call on Wednesday, as we were processing our Visa apps, from that man. We set up a meeting on Friday at the church.
Friday – A day of Miracles. In our planning session the night before we set a goal of finding 4 new investigators (10 min conversations) in our slim 1.5 hrs allotted to contacting. As we left the apartment that morning with a prayer, within 30 yards of our door, we were ordered by an old lady to come teach her and her husband at 5 that evening – “sweet, sure will”, we said with big smiles. Then we crossed the street, & struck conversation with 2 ladies who were intrigued with us as we had left school, family, and even girls i guess to serve a mission. All huddled together on a 2 person park bench, we learned about these women and their stories. One of the ladies lost a son recently and had questions about the nature of God, better yet if there is one. In those short 30 min. we were able to testify that we have a loving Heavenly Father who has a plan for her and her family. Their face glowed, as two young missionaries, one of which could only smile and formulate simple sentences (me), testified and made their day. As we left and crossed the street once again we came across a middle aged man who was immedietly interested in our message. Well educated & confused by many churches surrounding him, we were able to teach him the powerful message of the Restoration. After that lesson we went back in for our weekly planning session that consisted of a big pastery at our local bakery (it’s a weekly ordeal now). After some solid goal setting, around 3:45, we went to the church to meet our friend we met on the bridge earlier in the week. After getting to know him a little bit, we taught him the restoration. The spirit was so strong and it was evident the message rang true in his heart. After a great discussion, as a companionship, we issued the baptismal invitation and joyfully, he accepted! Is this not the best day? After we set a date to shoot for we asked him to say the closing prayer. Most prayers in this language I can barely pick up a word, better yet a sentence, but this one I really tried to pay attention. As we knelt on the church floor together, he said something I will never forget, “Heavenly Father, thank you so much for sending these two missionaries at my worst moment.” What a tender moment! Right after, we rushed to the old lady’s home. Like any Balkan home, we were greeted with a friendly treat and a glass of juice – treats are the best for those who struggle to speak 🙂 We ended up teaching them the restoration as well and before we could even leave we had 2 referrals in our hand. Joy! To end the night we went to an american embassy family’s home to teach them some basic language skills, and then we were back home for our casual 10 pm dinner.
By sharing this day filled of miracles I don’t mean to boast in my own strength but more importantly give you a reassurance that the Lord is at the head of this work. He has placed those whom are dying to hear the hope-filled message of the gospel in our path. I think of the man we met on the bridge. In a part of the town we have never been, and in his worst moment, we were able to cross paths and strike up conversation. It is my testimony that the Lord is at the helm & that the tender mercies of the Lord are all around us, we just have look.
Love you all, and pray for you everyday – Have a great week!
“All I’ve done is give you a book. You have to have the courage to learn what’s inside”
“During all the years that have passed since then, I have never been shocked or annoyed by grammatical errors or mispronounced words on the part of those preaching the gospel. I have realized that it was like judging a man by the clothes he wore, to judge the spirit of a man by the clothing of his language. From that day to this the one thing above all others that has impressed me has been the Spirit, the inspiration of the living God that an individual (has) when proclaiming the gospel, and not the language. … I have learned absolutely, that it is the Spirit that giveth life and understanding, and not the letter.” – Heber J. Grant