Here in the Baltimore mission we are "hastening the work of salvation." This past week we said goodbye to several missionaries and welcomed eleven new ones, plus a senior couple. What an amazing experience it is to be part of this work and to feel the enthusiasm and also the humility of these missionaries. There are no finer young people in the world today. To give up two of the best years of their lives in service to the Lord, and to do it with such class and character is a sight to behold. We are amazed again and again as we get to work along side with them, attend meetings with them and just watch them in action. Elder Yardley and Elder Latu were transferred to other areas and we miss them. Not just regular miss them, but pain-in-your-heart miss them. I know, I'm a softy.
We have sister missionaries in our district that we love and adore, but sisters will not be assigned to the Brooklyn Park area because it's too dangerous. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Yes, I guess this senior sister missionary is safe. I have a strong man with me all the time to protect me. :) Actually, I have gotten used to being here and the area doesn't bother me. The only bad thing that has happened is that our car was "keyed" really bad all the way down the right side. I may have mentioned that before.
The other day we went to McDonald's to get an ice cream cone and to talk to a homeless man we have become friends with. While we were there, there was a man sitting at a corner table who sounded very angry and was rapping something loud. At another table a young couple were sitting with their heads on the table, completely stoned, high, low or whatever it's called. There were several other characters, who obviously were there for the AC, and then of course our friend, who is a really nice person. He owns a car and gets a little Social Security every month, but doesn't want to spent it on a room. He has come to church with us one time.
We have been enjoying some street contacting/inviting, and we are even teaching an investigator, but most of our time is spent with our ongoing member and leader support activities.
We have had some interesting experiences this past week. I wasn't sure if I would share this one, but I will.
The elders had been teaching a young gay man (we will call him Joe) whom we had come to know and love. He was very excited about the gospel and he accepted and loved everything about the Church. He told us that the first time he walked into our meetings he felt like he had come home. He came to one of our Family Home Evenings and had a wonderful time. His baptism date was set and we were all very excited for him. Then "a friend" decided to show Joe some ugly anti-Mormon material. We had warned him that the adversary would try hard to discourage him, and we encouraged him not to waste time looking for and/or reading stuff like that, but he did. So, he abruptly texted the elders and us, and basically said stop coming!
Last week it had been about a month since the text and we decided to go and visit him. He was sitting outside his apartment when we arrived and he looked angry when he saw us. I walked up and asked him if he was still mad at us. He said he was not mad but felt like he had been deceived. I said: "Honestly Joe, do you think Elder Lewis and I, and the young elders, would ever deceive you?" He looked down and said "No, I don't." We then told him that we had missed him and just stopped by to make sure he was okay. We ended up having a nice friendly conversation and gave him a hug before we left. As we were leaving, he said with a smile, "Don't be surprised if I show up at church one day." We hope he does. There is a place for everyone in our Church and everyone is welcome, but we all have to live by the same commandments that God has given us.
The following pictures are from last Wednesday's transfer day.