First off, I'm sorry if my email last week seemed a little scattered/frantic/overwhelmed/etc. I've been able to calm down a bit and adjust as much as one can in a week and a half. Raymond is great! The people here have made me feel so welcome, and I can't wait to know them better and help them build God's Kingdom a little more in this part of the Vineyard. Of course, an overwhelming majority of the people here are members of the church, so a lot of that is visiting less-active members as well as recent converts, but we have a few investigators as well.
I just want to talk a little about a few of the people we are teaching and have met. One really great lady is named Susan, and she's deaf. She doesn't sign, but she can read lips amazingly well and speaks very clearly. We've visited her a couple of times and had a really great lesson with her the other day about just doing the little things that will show our faith in Christ, and how that will strengthen us. She doesn't get too much out of church, you see, because she obviously can't hear the speakers, and I don't think her eyesight is good enough to read their lips. She's delightful, though! We also have a few investigators who I really think could be getting baptized hopefully soon! We just taught two last night. They're sisters, and their dad is a member, but has kinda gone off the rails for the past few years, I think. We've been teaching them at their aunt and uncle's house, and it's been great. We challenged them to read just a bit of the Book of Mormon last time, and they actually did! We taught them about the Restoration last night, and I really think they were touched by the Spirit. I can't wait to see where the Lord will take these great people!
I was also fortunate enough to stumble upon a baptism here! On Saturday, we put on a baptismal service for a 9 or 10 year-old boy named Sheldon. He would have been baptized before this, but the family was waiting for his dad to be able to perform the ordinance, which is wonderful. We were freaking out a bit because nobody was really there on time, and we had to redo the actual baptism about four times, but it all worked out and was great! Yesterday in church, Elder Musselman confirmed him and I was able to help with that. It was a really great experience.
So now to the subject line. This past week, the Cardston Temple closed down for about a month for renovations, and guess who got to help with those? That's right, the missionaries! So last Wednesday morning, we drove down to Cardston and they put us to work. I figured they'd be putting me and Elder Musselman to work ripping out carpet, but we got to help the AV engineer with his stuff, which didn't seem too exciting, but it turned out awesome! We started in this little room just off the entrance, and were cutting some wires and moving some equipment, but then...we got to go to the basement! Now, I know that may not sound too cool, but believe me, it was an experience. I don't know if I'll get another chance to crawl around under a temple in my life. ;) We also got to see most of the other parts of the temple, and wow. The Cardston Temple is amazing. I don't think there are many places in the world like it. I can't wait until the renovations are done, and we can do an endowment session there! (It was a little weird standing in the celestial room with my work clothes on, though.)
Before I finish, I just wanted to share a few thoughts from my personal study this morning. I was reading in Alma 43 when Zarahemnah leads the Lamanites to come and enslave the Nephites. This is also the first time Captain Moroni is mentioned. So you may be familiar with the story; The Lamanites come to the borders of the land, and see the Nephites waiting for them. Of course the Lamanites are just wearing their loin cloths, but the Nephites have breastplates and helmets and shields, so the Lamanites scamper off, even though they outnumber the Nephites by more than 2 to 1, to find an easier place to attack. Moroni, always faithful, sends a message to Alma asking him to ask God what the Lamanites strategy will be. He does, and tells Moroni to go to the land of Manti. There, Moroni sets a trap for the Lamanites and eventually has them surrounded at the River Sidon. At this point, the Lamanites can see that they are about to die, and it says that "they did fight like dragons," and "never had the Lamanites been known to fight with such exceedingly great strength". But then it says,"Nevertheless, the Nephites were inspired by a better cause," (Alma 43:43-45) and they were still able to withstand them. As I read this, I couldn't help but think of the First Vision, and how hard Satan tried to stop the Restoration of the Gospel from taking place. How hard do you think he will fight when the time comes that he sees he is beaten, aka now? He will fight us like he never has before. He will use everything he has at his disposal to try and destroy us. But, just like the Nephites, we can withstand him as we put on the whole Armor of God! So gird your loins with truth! Put on the breastplate of righteousness and the helmet of salvation! Shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace and take up the sword of the spirit! But most importantly, take the shield of faith, faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ, to deliver us, that "ye shall be able to quench the all the fiery darts of the wicked." As we do this, we're promised, "you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Eph. 6:11-17)
I love you all so much. I hope you're doing well in everything you do.