Hey everybody. How's it going? This last week has been really crazy and up and down.
The last transfer and a half we have been fighting to find people to teach. My first area wasn't exactly blooming with investigators until right before I left. Elder Spencer has been here 5 1/2 months and hasn't had an investigator in all that time. We have tracted. We have contacted. We've asked for referrals. But over time I just became frustrated, self critical, and discouraged. I was convinced once I saw success I will start feeling better and being happier.
This last week we officially picked up 2 new investigators. Surprisingly, it didn't change how I felt.. We met and taught Mike on Wednesday and it was a solid lesson! The sisters contacted him on the street and he works in Encinitas 7 days a week. He accepted a Book of Mormon and committed to read and pray.
Saturday we officially taught Austen, a recent high school graduate who is a former investigator from the Del Mar ward. That lesson also went well.
As we were walking into the church Mike texted us saying he wouldn't be at church. He didn't like what he's been reading and wants to give the Book of Mormon back. I let it ruin my day. How could we struggle for so long, see some hope, only to fail?
I then remembered a scripture I read and studied this last week. It is the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. King Nebuchadnezzar had made this golden statue and commanded all to worship or they would be cast into a fiery furnace. These 3 young men still refused. When the king called for them and told them to worship or be killed, they said, "... our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O King."
They had so much faith that they knew they would be saved! But the next verse is the one that hits me.
"But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up."
It didn't matter if they were going to die. Their faith was unshaken. Even if God let them die in the furnace they knew their God was still there and they still would not worship the idols. The reality of their possible death did not change a thing. The furnace had nothing to do with their faith! They had been faithful long before and knew God what was true and right, regardless of what bad happens. They knew what mattered most. Life wasn't what mattered. I realized I needed to apply this "But if not" principle to myself.
I know Heavenly Father will help me find people to teach. I know He will help me seek out those who are ready to hear the gospel. He will strengthen me. But if not, I still have a undeniable testimony of this work. I know God is there and I know Jesus Christ is the son of God. I am heartbroken when people reject our word because I know how much it will change their lives. Even if they reject our words it doesn't make them any less true! We, as missionaries, fail only when we fail to open our mouths. What matters most is how hard I try and how diligently I work, not the number of people I have in the "baptized" column. I need to be nicer to myself and be patient with my struggles.
To give a quick highlight on this upcoming week, tonight we are playing Whiffle Ball for FHE. I am SO STOKED! We have District Meeting and President and Sister Kendrick will be there. It will be our last goodbyes with them before they go home. (And I have to give a discussion.... No pressure, right?)
The thing I am MOST excited for... I had lunch with Franky (investigator from Twin Oaks Valley) last week and have been texting him a lot since. He is planning on being baptized this Friday!!!! This will be the highlight of my mission. I am so excited and so proud he chose to make that decision. I've become very close with him and cannot wait! If not this week he said it will be soon, but I am praying!
I love you all and hope you have a super good week!
Elder Erik Kapp