Monday, February 24, 2014

February 24, 2014 Kearney, Missouri

Dear Family,

Well, it sounds like it has been quite the week with Chris coming home. I'm glad he made it home safe and it was kind of funny this morning I was thinking about how transitioning to "civilian" life would be. No nightly or morning planning and as I thought about that I started thinking that maybe I should start asking now for extra planners so that I can still plan in the evenings and during the day after the mission....ha-ha-ha! I can't believe all of you are still sick!

Good job inviting Mr. D to Chris's home coming; that's awesome that he came! Keep up the great work! J

Here's a bunch of random things that happened this week: Sister Jarman and I have given up ice cream until April 2015 for Jeff Stringfellow. We taught the Word of Wisdom and it has been really hard for him to give up coffee. I was kind of tired of him complaining about it and he said we don't understand what he goes through. So, I told him I would give up ice cream for the rest of my mission.....then Sister Jarman got involved and had to say she would give up ice cream until the end of her mission (which is April 2015), so in the spirit of companion unity we told Jeff we would give up ice cream until April 2015 if he promises to give up coffee FOREVER, and so far he has J!

Also, we have been getting a lot of referrals from our members so that has been exciting to see who our members are currently working with and how we can help them. At this point we are praying for a lot of people to help the ball rolling on a lot of the member’s mission plans. So we are excited to see how things go! J We have even been getting referrals from our investigators, woohoo!

On Tuesday night our investigator family, the Stringfellows, invited Sister Jarman and I out to dinner at Taco Bell. It was nice to be kind of one on one with them and get to know them better without Bishop's family there. We were able to just have some casual conversation and answer random questions they had, rather than having a formal lesson. They also asked us to teach a friend of theirs which we were really excited for. As we were talking a man in the line kept glancing over at us, eventually he asked us where we were from. We began to state that we were with the LDS church, and he cut us off and said he knew that because he is a less active member from Albanine, Kansas. He said he was a Semi-driver and was making a random pit stop. We talked with him for a bit and he told us his story and how he became less-active. He said he had been praying to get in contact with some missionaries because he wants to come back to church! (MIRACLES HAPPEN) We were able to get his information so that we can send him missionaries. He said it will be a long hard road for him to come back, but it is ultimately what he wants. We encouraged him and then just before he was going to leave he looked at the Stringfellows and told them they were great members to have us out for dinner. The Stringfellows told him they were just investigating the church but hoped to be members soon, and BAM!!....the less-active member bore his testimony to them for a good ten minutes about how the church is true and Joseph Smith is a prophet and that the Book of Mormon is true, it was awesome, ha-ha!

We had such a great night and then we got home and things went downhill. An incident occurred with our investigator M. through a voicemail. It was pretty serious so we called to ask President Keyes what to do. Under his request we had to drop M. and if he still wanted to learn about the gospel, he would need to be taught by the Elders. I'm not going to lie I was ticked about the whole situation for the next two days, because it was all probably a stupid joke M. and his friends thought would give them a laugh, which I'm sure it did, but it was not at all okay what they did. The Elders were able to meet with M. once and then he dropped the Elders and decided to look into his friend’s church. I think for the first time I really probably felt a sliver of how a mother feels when she teaches her kids how to live right and they rebel and go down the wrong path after everything they already know. We had worked with him for 3 ½ months. Through the frustrating times I prayed for more love and patience and tried my best to help him and understand his life situations. After finding out he dropped the Elders, I doubted myself as a missionary and whether I just didn't teach him properly. I scrutinized myself picking at my flaws and trying to figure out what I should have done better, so that M. would have really applied the things we were teaching into his life and not have done something that would cause his teaching process to stop. Over the next few days I was reminded that after all we do, there is still agency. I came across 2 Nephi 33 and verses 1-4. I was really able to understand how Nephi felt in those verse 3-4.  I have faith that "the Lord will consecrate my prayers for the gain of [those I teach]. And the [testimony I have spoken] in weakness will be made strong unto them; for it persuadeth them to do good; it maketh known unto them of their [Father]; and it speaketh of Jesus, and persuadeth them to believe in him...." (2 Nephi 33:4). Although he has decided to leave the gospel path at this time, I know in the future when he is ready he will find the gospel again.

I love you all and hope you know I love you! The church is true and at times as you invite others to learn more about the church there will be rejection, but all that matters is that as you go out and do all you can, the Lord will bless you and you are planting a seed in someone's life that will eventually desire the water of the gospel to help it grow closer to the Lord. 

Here's a sprititual message for tonight to inspire our Family Mission Plan tonight for FHE that Dad mentioned you will discuss ;) 

2 Nephi 26:27-28
                          "Hath he commanded any that they should not partake of His salvation? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but he hath given it free for all men; and he hath commanded his people that they should persuade all men to repentance. (so, to become more like Christ).
                           Behold, hath the Lord commanded any that they should not partake of his goodness? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden."

In reading those verses I thought, the Lord said ,"all men are privileged the one like unto the other", yet some of us are born into the church and some of us aren't. So how is it that all men are privileged one like unto the other? As I thought about this, I realized that the Lord knows that if we the members do our part and truly become disciples of Jesus Christ and share the gospel with those around us that "non are forbidden", because they will have the opportunity to learn about and accept the gospel of Jesus Christ. But, it requires our part as members to reach out to those around us to share the gospel. And later in Alma 13:24, my thoughts of this verse requiring our involvement was confirmed.

Alma 13:24, "For behold, angels are declaring it unto many at this time in our land; and this for the purpose of preparing the hearts of the children of me to receive his word at the time of his coming in his glory"

We need to be those angels for our friends around us. To help them either accept the gospel now, or to plant the seed that will help them to receive the gospel later on in their lives. As we act and do our part in bearing our testimony and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with others we, "...are blessed, for the testimony which ye have borne is recorded in heaven for the angels to look upon; and they rejoice over you, and your sins are forgiven you."  (D&C 62:3). AWESOME!!

I love this gospel I love this work. I love you all and I know that as you become more engaged in this work, that you will be able to feel the joy and happiness that our Father in Heaven,  Saviour Jesus Christ and the angels have for each of you. Love you! Keep up the great work :)

Love, Sister Luening

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