Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Golden Investigator

This week's letter from Derek is special. Those of you who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS), will probably understand his emotions. It may be kind of confusing to others though.

LDS missionaries like Derek talk to 1000's of people. Most of the people are pretty neutral towards religion and missionaries. A few are hostile. Someone who is actively trying to persuade others away from the LDS church with lies and misinformation might be referred to as anti-mormon.

On the other hand, a very few people that missionaries meet are actively seeking for a change in their life. They are sincere seekers after the word of God. They are humble, have faith in God, and actively study and pray to try to discern the good and the true. Missionaries often refer to these people as "golden contacts" or "golden investigators."

Please remember that this post is from Derek's letter to us (his family). He tries to describe his experiences and emotions meeting both types of people in the same week. I hope reading his raw, unedited feelings will be positive and not negative for anyone who comes upon it.

One last comment, it may sound like Derek is expressing surprise that the, "golden investigator" gets answers to prayers. However, I believe Derek is expressing his amazement at the man's rare humility, faith, sincerity, and diligence and his excitement at being able to know him and teach him. Now, on to the letter...

"Haha, ok this week was incredible, I'm just going to start by saying that because you're not going to even believe what happened. So Thursday, my "kid's" [brand new missionary's] first real full day out in the mission field begins with weekly planning, but then we get a call from the Zone Leaders saying they received a referral that's actually in our area and we have an appointment at four. Turns out the referral actually came from the Mexican mission, so we run right over there. We meet our new investigator..., recently returned from his vacation in Mexico city where he met the missionaries and received the first lesson and the Book of Mormon.

We sit down with him and the first thing he asks us is where our church is so that he can go this Sunday. Yeah, stunning! But it gets even better, we start asking him about the Book of Mormon and such and he says "well the missionaries gave me the book and I've read some, and then they told me to pray about it, and I prayed about it and got an answer!" Man, it was so crazy, as you could probably imagine our faces were probably slightly shocked looking as we just looked at this Golden investigator. Needless to say we gave him a baptismal date for the 4th of September.

Well, then we met with him Friday as well at the Visitor's center and we find out that the people he's living with are super anti-mormon and have just been feeding him all kinds of anti-mormon stuff, not to mention the fact that he'd been looking at stuff on the internet and what not. He had a ton of questions, but he was extremely sincere and genuinely wanted to know the truth.

We taught him over and over again to trust the Lord and not anybody else, even what we were saying. The Sisters at the [temple visitor center] also did a great job of explaining it all to him and asking his questions. Then we watched the Joseph Smith movie with him and the spirit was super strong, and he said he felt something after the movie, "something like faith". Yeah, super awesome!

So then he came to church on Sunday, and we went to the visitor's center again Sunday night. Well, while we were there it looked like he'd moved through the antiness, he no longer had any questions and as we were showing him some of the exhibits he said to us "I just have this feeling growing inside of me that it's just all true"

Haha so amazing!!! Then he asked us "So Can I be baptized tomorrow?" haha we told him he'd have to wait just a little longer because we had to do some more teaching but that he could be baptized this Sunday. So [he] will now be being baptized this Sunday!

It's honestly been one of the craziest experiences I've had on the mission so far. I've never met someone so prepared nor seen someone that has been so thoroughly antied, but he withstood the blows, and he's been reading and we've kept daily contact, teaching him every day since then. He's incredibly ready, and we went over the baptismal interview questions with him and when we asked him what it meant to him that the restored church was once again on the earth he said one word "Salvation"! Yeah, don't think there's really a better response, man it's just been such a cool week!

We also had this confrontation with one of the antis that lives in his house. He started just ripping on us telling us that we worship a man, that President Monson has replaced Christ, that we were the blind leading the blind, and that we were all going to go to hell. Yeah, that lasted for about a half hour with our investigator just sitting there listening to it all. Luckily we handled it well, the spirit was with us, and we just bore pure testimony to him of the reality of the prophet, of the Book of Mormon, and of the restoration. The spirit worked on him and he got super frustrated and eventually left the room. It reminded me in a small way of Jacob's confrontation with Sherem, "we could not be shaken" (Jacob 7:5). It was crazy, luckily [the investigator] is super strong and it didn't phase him in the least. He recognized that it was a tool of the devil, opposition being placed in his path, and he's super ready to be baptized this Sunday!

Man, so cool, haha if you could only see me you would understand the excitement and the joy we feel every time we talk about the guy! He even wants to serve a mission, man it's just so incredible to see the gospel come into someone's life and begin to change it. So incredible! I love the gospel! Haha, it reminds me of what our seminary teacher said "the gospel just makes me want to flex!"

"Oh, as for earthquake news, haha I actually didn't notice it until it was almost over... We were in our apartment eating lunch but I was walking around at the time and the only thing I noticed was this noise, and I thought somebody was moving furniture above us or something, but apparently it was pretty scary. Nonetheless, because I didn't notice it I wasn't too scared. It made for a good conversation starter though."

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