It sounds like you all are snowed in! The pictures look like a lot of fun. Did Rynda decorate the big tree in the front yard again!? The lights look awesome. & all of you look so much taller! How did you get so big Brooks and Braxton?
I loved getting all of your emails. It's so fun to hear from you every week. From now on, we only have 45 minutes to send emails to family, so I'm typing extra fast.
I loved all the pictures you sent Rynda. I still remember putting up lights with you a couple Christmases ago. That was fun. Las Vegas, as you would expect, looks really cool too with all of the holiday lights. Sometimes Elder Payne and I feel spoiled because the members always take us in and give us lots of Christmas cookies and hot chocolate.
It's been fun too to carol to everyone we visit. I never realized missionary work could be so fun and rewarding. If I've learned anything in the past couple months, it's that there's no other way to work than to give God your all. Elder Payne is a really hard worker and I enjoy having him as my companion.
This week, Gerrardo and Justin, two inactive members, decided they wanted to come back to church! Elder Payne and I were walking in an apartment complex and Justin ran up to us and said "Elders! How's it going! I've been wanting to go back to church for a long time now and I'm so glad I found you." We sang "Lead Kindly Light" with him and had a prayer. The Spirit was so strong, we were all near tears - he had a sincere desire to come back to church. He came and loved it. It had been 30 years, but finally he was ready - I talked to him before sacrament meeting and he expressed to me how much he was ready to be done with his old life and come back to Christ. We testified to him that there is never a point of no return when Christ is in the picture. He was so happy all throughout church and it made our week.
Experiences like that make everything worth it. On occasion, those you love and teach, after offering them a blessing that will change their life forever, reject all you have to offer. It's like offering someone blueberry cheesecake that makes you as strong as superman but they settle for a PB&J! I think Alma describes it best:
And now, my brethren, I awish from the inmost part of my heart, yea, with great banxiety even unto pain, that ye would hearken unto my words, and cast off your sins, and notcprocrastinate the day of your repentance;
28 But that ye would humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and awatch and pray continually, that ye may not be btempted above that which ye can bear, and thus becled by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, dmeek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering;
29 aHaving faith on the Lord; having a hope that ye shall receive eternal life; having the blove of God always in your hearts, that ye may be lifted up at the last day and enter into his crest.
This week we had another lesson with an investigator, Robyn, who recently lost 3 family members & is about to lose her small apartment. We taught her about the personal application The Atonement has for each of us. We then sang "Lead Kingly Light" (we like to sing that song a lot :) and testified to her that God lives and loves her even through all she's going through. She had started to turn away from God in her life, but the last verse helped her realize how God has helped her out in the past and "will still" help her through her struggles. We read her the "Footprints in the Sand" poem about how Jesus Christ carries us through our trials, and that's why often we only see one set of footprints and assume they are our own. The lyrics of the hymn we sang:
Lead, kindly Light, amid th'encircling gloom;
Lead thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home;
Lead thou me on!
Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene--one step enough for me.
So long thy pow'r hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on!
O'er moor and fen, o'er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone.
And with the morn those angel faces smile,
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile!
It's humbling to see the light that the Gospel puts into the lives of those God has prepared to receive it. The change we have seen in Beverly is so neat. I am amazed each day at how much God really does love us. He takes care of us - we are His children. Just like Dad's favorite verse about the Savior - he will never forget us; our "walls are continually before [Him]."
There is nothing in this life that will give us more happiness and security than a testimony of Jesus Christ. He is The Way! And is everything to me. I love Him and I know He lives.
Have a good week and enjoy the holidays!
p.s. Happy late birthday Josiah! Hope you and the Rippelmeyer family are doing well.
p.p.s. Elder Erickson wishes you all a very merry Christmas.