That makes me so happy that Andrew, Mariah, and Rachel are now members of the church. How exciting! I am so glad for them and the big blessings that they'll now all be ale to receive.
Things are going pretty well. We found out last night that Elder Wheeler is going to move, and train a new missionary next week. So I'll stay here in Zhanghua, and welcome in my new companion.
Things have been going well lately. Yesterday at church we didn't have any investigators, the first time in my whole mission that I've blanked at church. But I was surprised that I didn't feel as bad as I would have earlier. Because that day we had 5 less active brethren come to church with us. The mission is changing. We're focused a lot more on enduring conversion now, and establishing the church. I never heard the word establish the church, and I don't remember once visiting or caring about a less active from my first area. But we baptized more. I realize now I've been so blessed. I love each of my recent converts so much. Some of them are struggling, some are completely less less active, and some are really active. But I lvoe each of them so much and realize what a gift and blessing from the Lord it was to be able to baptize those people.
I'm still looking really hard for baptisms here in zhanghua, but can't seem to find any. The zone is doing really well. The sisters are on fire, as usual. Sister Bray is training the old mission President's daughter, Sister Watterson, who is one of the most prepared, ready to work missionaries I've ever heard of. I was able to do a baptismal interview for one of their investigators who was absolutely golden. The other sisters in the zone, Sister Cooper and Pomeroy (Sister cooper was one below us in the MTC, and now she's going home next week. aaaaah!) whitewashed an area in the zone and they already had a baptism last saturday and there were so many people there attending, it was great. The entire zone seems to be on the uphill, and we're all working hard to accomplish our goals.
I've had a lot of interesting experiences working with the ward in this area. I've never really gotten as close to a ward as this before. First, because we have no investigators, we have time to visit active members, and try and develop a relationship with them, and ask for referrals. I've started to love this special little ward so much.
I don't really know if baptizing a bunch of new people is exactly what the Lord wants or needs from me in this area. I might just be called here to strengthen the ward. I love the Bishop and the Ward Mission leader so much. We played Tennis with them this morning, Me and the Bishop versus Brother Wang and Elder Wheeler. I've found that building relationships with the Bishops is one of the most lasting friendships and memories I ever have from an area. Poor Bishop Chen has already been bishop for 6 years, and there's nobody else really in the ward that could take his place. I was looking through some area books the other day, and found the baptismal records of the people who were baptized in the last couple years.there were over fifty records, but I only knew about 10 of the names, and only half of those were active.
We've been trying hard to help the ward members know how to strengthen other members. A couple important things that we're trying to get started are New Member Lessons, and Home/Visiting Teaching. I feel like if we can just get the ward started on these few things, we'll be able to see miracles as the ward starts it's own support and strengthening system. We go on exchanges once a week with members, visiting less actives and part member families, and we help them feel comfortable sharing the gospel.
Yesterday we had a really fun fireside about home teaching. I was so glad how many ward members showed up.
We had a couple testimonies of Home Teaching/ Rescuing less actives, and then us missionaries did a lot of funny skits about home teaching, we thought of about 5 different situations that people might run into when they do Home Teaching, and then would pause the skit and ask the audience for advice on what the Home Teachers should do.
1. The person doesn't live there, and they've never heard of that person before.
2. The person's kids didn't have any food and they're house was leaking
3. The person's family was there and was really opposed to them coming to church,
4. The person's family was there and really wanted to come to church.
5. The Elder's quorum president asks us how home teaching went, and we haven't done it.
Anyways, I just hope to be an effective tool in the Lord's hands, and able to use the gifts he's given me to bless the lives of others.
Love, Elder Vernon.