February 24, 2014

Life As A Real Missionary...Part #30

Hi Family!

It sounds like you all had another good week. I am SO happy to hear dad is trying to go back to school. That is amazing. I am so proud of him! Yes daddy, we can be study buddies in another year from now. (;
I know courtney will find success. I pray for her everyday and the Lord has assured me that she will be taken care of and His plan is in place. Hannah is amazing.  I  am glad she is having fun with her friends and getting ready for New York.  That will be a good time. Bowen, that kid is awesome. I brag about my siblings all the time. I can't believe how grown up he is and stuff. Winning debates at school (haha, he is debating about the banning of homework), trying out for super leauges, and passing the sacrament. I am so proud of the man that kid is becoming. He impresses me. 

I sent a letter addressed to Bowen, has he gotten it yet? I also sent one to mom and dad and Joey as well. They should arrive soon.

Okay, first things first. I have to share this miracle with you all. We have been through many trials in this area, however, the Lord has blessed us.  This last trial has turned into a huge miracle.

So, there is a less active man in our ward, Brother Manahon. He and his family are converts.  They have been through the temple and their family has been sealed. They were always active until Brother Manahon got offended by something that happened in the ward. He left the gospel behind completely. He started smoking and drinking and gambling away all that they had. He took of his garments and pledged to never come back to the church. He would let missionaries teach him, but all he wanted to do was argue. So, when faced with me, there was quite the debate to be had. (I really need to learn to not argue with them.) He was "SO stubborn!" He blamed everything on the other people. He would say it was "their sin."  They were the reason that he had left the gospel and and was now drinking and smoking. Sister Kaufusi and I have tried for weeks to get him to understand otherwise.  We have been teaching his family and reading the Book of Mormon with them.  His poor wife would sit in the lessons and argue with him as well. She would say to him, "listen to them!!" But, he refused. It was frustrating.  His wife felt that it was time for him to live the gospel and "go back."

We almost wanted to give up. We were thinking that there was nothing we could say or do to get through to this brother. My faith wavered. I prayed and prayed and saw no improvement nor did we feel like we were receiving any inspiration in regards to him.  I was frustrated and hurt and Sister Kaufusi and I were emotionally spent with this man.

However, last Monday we decided we cannot give up and we needed to give it one last effort. We prayerfully prepared a really intense lesson on the judgement and being accountable for our own sins. We had scripture after scripture ready to read with him and felt our lesson had been guided by the Spirit. We knocked on the door courageously, ready for a battle or a good lesson, either one. We walked in and surprisingly, the whole atmosphere inside of the home was different. There was Brother Manahon, not the drunk, mean spirited and haggard Brother Manahon we were expecting but a clean shaven, sober, and smiling Brother Manahon. I was confused. We sat down and opened with a prayer. We then asked the family how they were doing, and Brother Manahon just started talking. Apparently, after declining our invitation on several occasions, Brother Manahon, unknown to us had decided to attend the Valentine's Day activity for the couples in the ward.  He had relented to his wife's pleadings.  We had not seen him at the activity and had not known he and his wife had attended.  He said that "being inside the church again made him remember what it felt like to attend his meetings on Sundays." The Spirit had touched his heart in the little while he had attended the activity. He approached the Bishop while at the activity and some other members.  He said he "let go of his pride." HE APOLOGIZED. Like, what? This prideful, bitter, and mean man apologized?! Then, the Bishop (who is awesome, by the way) pulled him aside and told him he could come back.  He let him know it was time.  Brother Manahon broke down in that moment. The Bishop told him he could repent and become active again and worthily preside over his family. Brother Manahon was touched by the Spirit.

He was ready, our prayefully planned lesson took a different direction.  We taught about the power and beauty of the Atonement and the love of our Savior. He is ready to repent and return.  He wants to "come unto Christ." It was such a powerful lesson.  We could all feel the love that the Savior had for Brother Manahon.  I have never before seen him and his wife so happy together. She had the biggest smile on her face. They were holding hands and the children had tears in their eyes. So many prayers were answered that day. I couldn't stop the shock from showing on my face, or the tears from coming. The Lord truly changed this man's heart, like overnight. It was a miracle. We left the appointment and both Sister Kaufusi and I were stunned.  We also were so grateful for this miracle. We thanked Heavenly Father that night for blessing this family with that moment. I can't even believe it, still.  I am looking forward to spending more time teaching and learning from this family.  

Brother Manahon came to church on Sunday with his whole family.  This was the first time in two years that he had been at church!  The Lord truly does work miracles.  Who knew a miracle could come in the form of Brother Manahon! But it did, it came, after all we could do, the miracle happened. My faith has been truly strengthened.

This whole week we have seen miracles like that. So many less active members have told us they want to come back! We have been teaching them for weeks with no success and then on Sunday, so many came to church!  What?!  The Bishop commented that he has not seen this many less active members at church in years!  The attendance on Sunday was a new record.  Haha, we couldn't believe it! AND, drum roll.....We had all THREE of our March baptisms show up too, including Brother Ocampo! Who, by the way, is completely done drinking coffee. During our last lesson he drank hot water instead. WATER LANG! hahaha!  Best thing ever! 

So, this week has been one of many miracles. The Lord has finally given us people to teach and we are seeing some progress with the less active members we have been working with.  I couldn't be more amazed or grateful. This is the work of the Lord and I am so humbled and excited to be a part of it.  Every difficulty we have experienced has been worth it because of the miraculous week we have had!

Transfers are this week.  Sadness.  Sister Kaufusi and I are feeling apprehensive.  We obviously don't want to get seperated, we make a great pair. But, you never know for sure! I guess we will find out on Wednesday! I will think positive thoughts!

The work is moving forward in Tarlac, I write this with a smile. "No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing."

I love my family! I pray these miracles will touch your hearts the way they have touched mine.

Have a good week!!

-Sister Thomas

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