December 5, 2016
The past week has been a week of miracles. We have heard several times that good things happen when you park the car, so we decided to spend a lot more time walking!
On one particular day, we decided that even though it was raining, we were just gonna park the car and walk. We walked 9 miles, and returned home sopping wet with very little to show for our work. BUT, as we returned home, we got a text from an investigator who had no-showed our last appointment with him! He set a new appointment with us, and we were so excited.
The day of the appointment came, a Friday night. We went to the door cold, but excited. The light was on upstairs, which was a good sign! we knocked and waited… nothing. we called him on the phone. He picked up, and immediately hung up. We called again, immediately went to voicemail. I wasn’t going to give up. He was all we had with any promise. I knocked again, and heard very quiet noises on the other side of the door… and finally the click of the lock. I stood there for a good 2 minutes on that porch afterwards, and my companion finally said it was time to move on.
I was so bitter walking away from that door. I felt like maybe if I had been more obedient, maybe if I had been more diligent, I would have been successful. Maybe I was being punished by God because I wasn’t good enough. A stew of anger and resignation boiled as I drove back to the apartment. I spent a lot of time there, telling Elder Caldwell all of my feelings. After I got it all out, we made the determination to go back out and see what there was to see.
Our apartment is very near downtown Plymouth, and we saw a large crowd walking towards the square. We followed, and were delighted to find a crowd of people around the 4-story christmas tree standing in the middle of the square. we had forgotten that it was the night of the festival where they turn on the lights!
I don’t know what it was, but seeing all of those happy people around the tree reminded me of something that I never thought I would forget as a missionary: Heavenly Father really loves me. He doesn’t want me to be miserable. Somehow, I had gotten to a point where I was seeing all of my trials as punishments from the almighty, which is exactly what Satan wants us to believe!
Satan’s message to us is “you aren’t good enough.” In stark contrast, the message of our Savior is “My grace is sufficient for you,” and this week I was also brought to think of our Savior’s promise that he can take all of our trials, and consecrate them for our gain.
One of the youth in the ward suddenly came down with a very dangerous form of pneumonia, and ended up in intensive care within an inch of his life. Our entire ward worked together to make sure everything was taken care of for the family, so they could be with him in the hospital. We devoted our fast on Sunday to his health.
The fast and testimony meeting that followed was perhaps the best meeting I have ever attended in my life. We began at 9:30, and the testimonies borne testified of Christ’s healing grace in ways I cannot write. I had a converting experience, as did the entire congregation. As the 10:30 mark rolled past, the 2nd Counselor in the bishopric stood up to say, “we generally conclude at 10:30, but the spirit is telling me that the clock doesn’t matter today.”
Several more members stood to bear testimony, and finally a girl none of us had really met yet stood to bear testimony. She told us that she had recently moved from another state, where she had lived with her mother and young siblings, who suffer from mental disabilities. She had many hardships in her youth, but during one of her times of deepest sorrow, one of her young siblings turned to her while playing with her barbies and said, “you know that God loves you and will make it all better.” The girl then continued doing what she was doing, as if nothing had happened. She said that her home had been Christian, but she had been looking for a church, and she really liked it here.
This girl was not a member of the church! She had been invited to a Bishop Youth Discussion by a new friend at school who attends our ward, and she loved it. She found a ride to the next one without anybody even inviting her, and started to come to mutual. She found a coworker to take her to and pick her up from church, even though she had nobody to sit with. Anybody who has served a mission knows that THIS is a miracle, considering how hard it is to drag some people to church.
Several people either thought that she was a member, or that we had been teaching her, neither of which were the case. The Lord had been leading her to Him in His own way, and in His own time. Whatever the case, we certainly will be teaching her soon! We got her phone number, and are working on a date that will work to meet with her.
We later found out that the young man that had been in the hospital had concluded a difficult operation at 10:30, right when we decided to continue the meeting. He is stable and his health is improving.
I bear testimony that God not only continues to work miracles in our day, but that they are more frequent and more powerful than they were in Bible times. I know that He loves us each more than we can ever comprehend. He hears our prayers, and answers them. I know that trials come into our lives regardless of our personal righteousness, but Christ will always consecrate them for our gain if we choose to have faith in Him. I know that He is preparing many to hear His gospel. I know that our joy is independent of our circumstances, and we can choose to have joy, knowing that all things will be made right through Christ.
Love, Elder Shull