Wednesday, November 2, 2016

8/17/2016 PLOT TWIST

Surprise, it's P-day today! I may have forgotten to mention last week that President Loveland decided to make transfer week a little whacko with district meeting on Monday and p-day on Wednesday right before transfers. But we got our transfer calls last night. The Circle of Life in Owasso continues: I'll be training a new missionary, Elder Bueller. Before you make the Bueller jokes, just know that I have already made all of them so it's not funny anymore haha. But I'm way stoked, and surprised! I will also still be a zone leader, and the other zone leader will be in the other district up in Bartlesville, so that will be interesting. Already I have seen the Master's hand in this turn of events. It's what needed to be done. I don't know how He does it! I actually found this out on Monday, President issued a challenge to the zones and our zone won so he came to take us all out to breakfast before our meeting. He mentioned to me privately that I should be ready to train and I was like ooooohhhh man here we go! It will be cool to train exactly where I was trained, all those moons ago with the late Elder Durrant. I'll have good idea what he's going through haha. This coming transfer will put me at 7 1/2 months in Owasso. If I stay and train Elder Bueller for all 12 weeks that means I'll be here for a total of 9 full months, 3 transfers the first time, 3 the second time. If I stay even after I train Elder Bueller... I'll just resign my fate and die in this blessed city. This place sure feels like home.

So some quick updates on this past week, I don't have as many cool pictures as the week before because I didn't do very many-picture worthy things. But, I'll tell you about yesterday because it was the worst and best.

I woke up in a bad mood because I hadn't had p-day in 8 days. When you have it every week for 17 months, your heart beats in rhythm with its ebbs and flows haha. I was anticipating traning a new kid in this area which is struggling to find work, where everyone and their grandpa is a Baptist preacher, and its hot as blazes. I had a dream about home and was thinking too much about my future. I had like a random head cold and a slight throbbing headache. My companion was quiet and starting to pack to get transferred to Kansas. Essentially all the ingredients were there for a sucky day. I didn't really want to do it anymore, my bed was really enticing. I had this rising struggle inside myself, one that I face quite frequently as a selfish human; bend my will to God, or stop trying and give in to my impulses. The natural man was rearing his ugly head and starting to win that fight. As both sides rattled around in my head, I think I came to understand what Enos and Alma and Jacob (Irael) may have meant when they describe a great wrestle with God. My spirit and my mind were in a tumble and one side could not subdue the other. In fact, as we drove to one visit in the morning I felt myself on the brink of a panic attack. I had only felt that once before in my life, and for similar reasons actually. I pushed forward and decided that just doing the work was the only thing that was going to fix this. Moping around would definitely make it worse. After two brief visits it wasn't getting much better. We drove to our most promising investigators' house and on the way there I threw up a plea to God, I needed His help. At their home, the most incredible thing happened. We found out that this lady Karena we had been visiting and teaching her daughters, was not actually a member of the church. Everyone thought she was, I don't even know how! Somehow previous elders surmised that she was a less active member, but we were teaching her daughters and her friend that lives there about baptism preparing to invite them to be baptized, when Karena told us she was only ever baptized in the baptist church! But that's not the amazing part, as we moved on with the teachings the Spirit descended upon each of them and touched their hearts. Karena asked her 9 year old daughter Emerald, "Would you like to be baptized?" "Yes!! I really want to be baptized Mormon. I want to get closer to God." She turns to her 14 year old daughter CJ who's been attending for several months, "CJ, would you like to get baptized?" "Yes, I'm definitely ready to be baptized.", and tells us all the things she loves about the church. I ask Karena's friend and roommate Martha, who's been to church twice with us, "Martha, what about you? Would you like to be baptized?" With a big smile she says simply, "Yes, yes I would." And finally I ask Martha's 8 year old daughter, "Cheyenne, would you like to be baptized too?" Very seriously and very firmly she shakes her head yes. Karena gathered her girls and asked them why, and told them this was their decision. I suggested as a family they all prepare to be baptized September 10. They agreed. We encouraged them to pray, and ponder their decision. Little Emerald said our closing prayer. A perfect Child's Prayer! "Dear God, I would like to be baptized, but I don't know when I should do it, please let me know what you want me to do. I love you. Amen."

I learned that Heavenly Father really does prepare the hearts of His children. He worked a domino effect miracle I had never seen before. I also know that the night is definitely darkest just before the dawn. Immediately after walking out of that home, every negative, selfish, conflicted feeling of my heart evaporated. Those pressures and thoughts were meant to stop us from doing what we had just done. Just as Joseph said of his experience in the grove:

"Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction. But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction—not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being—just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me."

I felt the dark and saw the light yesterday. Contrasting the two, I'd like to cling to the light.

Here's to another transfer in the service of Him who created us,

Elder T. Hakes

PS here are pictures of us with our favorite family in Owasso playing The Resistance, and Elder Marshall trying to win a souvenir tail feather from a rooster inside someones house haha.

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