Many ups and downs this week. Elder Hall and I did exchanges with the Caen, Angers and Paris Zone Leaders, and as always, it was edifying being with some of the best missionaries in the mission. The mission is definitely a time of learning and reflection, and the most interesting part is that on a mission, one improves his relationships with our Heavenly Father, with others, and most of all, himself. I have learnt so many life lessons on my mission, and I can testify to the fact that there is no better way to learn that except being on a mission. I love the mission.
For the experience I would like to share, it revolves around our ami, Alain, who we have been teaching, and he has been really good at keeping his commitments – coming to church, reading the sections of scriptures that we give to him at each appointment. Truly, he has progressed immensely over the last 6 months. The only difficulty for him was accepting the Book of Mormon to be the word of God. A testimony is a personal witness from our Heavenly Father through the Holy Ghost that something is true. Alain has been working slowly but steadily on gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon, and while he has been able to accept all the commandments we have taught him thus far, the fact that the Book of Mormon had a very different style to the Bible, was something that bothered him. While he knew that the principles that were taught in the Book of Mormon were true, and while he found answers to his questions that he felt were from God, it was hard for him to accept that the Book of Mormon is the word of God.
We fixed a baptismal date with him and he accepted, and since then we have really tried our best to make sure that the spirit was always strong as we taught. We took great care trying to plan our lessons well, using the scriptures that were just the right ones to answer his questions. We really worked on trying to listen to the Holy Ghost as well as we taught, so that we might ask him just the right questions that would help him recognise the answers that he felt from God as he read and applied the things we taught. Ever since we have started teaching him, the spirit has always been there and there was always a profound sense of peace and warmth as we taught. We were sure that he would have recognized that as his answer, because I knew that Jesus Christ was there with us.
His baptismal date was drawing near and he decided that he needed to seriously inquire during the past week and receive a confirmation of the Book of Mormon. He came up to us yesterday, just before sacrament meeting to tell us that he decided that he was not going to be baptized because he had not still not received his answer. It was sad for me to hear that, simply because Elder Hall and I had done all that we could in our power and knew that he had received and answer, but was not able to recognize that. At the start of sacrament meeting, I felt a little defeated, wondering if there was anything more that we could do. Surely, God would have given him an answer as he had done for me. While the whisperings of the spirit were always gentle, the warmth and peace if I was willing to listen always testified that the Book of Mormon is true. There had to be more that we could do.
An impression came to mind to ask him to pray again during the sacrament, to ask Heavenly Father, simply to give him an answer. I leaned over to him and asked him, “Alain, would you pray one more time to ask Heavenly Father during the sacrament? Be simple and listen to the first thought that comes to mind.” I did not ask him what his reply was after the sacrament was over, but quickly after, 2 speakers shared their testimonies about how they studied the Book of Mormon and the Bible, and how they gained their testimonies. The latter, who was a convert who went on to serve a mission in the Salt Lake Temple mission, shared about how she originally could not accept the Book of Mormon at first, because she had, until that time, only believed in the Bible. But, after she had sincerely prayed about it, she opened up to a scripture and it really touched her heart and gave her the answers that she was looking for. The testimony of the second speaker was perfectly for Alain, God really did send him an answer during that meeting.
When we called him that night to ask him if we could still come over to teach us, he told us that he found it curious how the speakers that followed both spoke on the subject that he had a hard time with. He accepted to have us over to continue teaching him and to finish all the lessons.
We will be seeing him tonight. We are going to try our very best to help him recognize his answers, but we can only do our best. After that, it is up to the choice of the person to let the Spirit in and touch his heart, just as it describes in 2 Nephi 33:2. The spirit will carry the truth unto the heart, but only a willing heart can let him in.
“And now I, Nephi, cannot write all the things which were taught among my people; neither am I mighty in writing, like unto speaking; for when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men.”
I know that Heavenly Father does answer prayers, and I know that if we are listening to Him, he will recognize it. I know that as missionaries, all we have to do is our best, and Heavenly Father sends us an assurance that we have done all we could. Our sole responsibility is to invite others to come unto Christ.
Well, that is all for this week. I love you all. A la semaine prochaine!