Hey! Thank you to all of those who still read this blog. I'm still shocked at how many have been reading it and I hope my letters touch you in some kind of way.
This email will be a long one so hold on tight!
I'm sure I have written the title "GREATEST WEEK OF MY MISSION" before but really this week was one I'll never forget... it wasn't full of miracles; it was full of life. I've had rough times and the greatest times.
As you all know this last Monday we went to the temple and had a wonderful time and I was filled with the Spirit. The next day was baptism interviews for the Zielinski family (which my companion did). This is the family I wrote about who lost their husband and father and had a super-spiritual plan of salvation lesson. The next day was the ONLY open day to do missionary work that week. Also we got late notice but we had to prepare a 20 minute training for the next day for our mission leadership counsel.
Next day early in the morning we had to set up the room and gym for our mission leadership counsel, but luckily we had help from the assistants too. We had a 6 hour meeting of being spiritually-fed the whole time and had great discussions. Our mission president truly is a man of God! Then, that night we had to plan for our zone training and take 6 hours of training for that day and put it into a productive training lasting only 2 and a half hours.
Next day was our zone training and it went so well. I gave a training in a break-out session about OYM which means "open our mouth" (which were supposed to do daily and talk to everyone around us), but I said you need to Open Your Mind to different ways we can talk to people. For example, if a man is outside playing with kids what should you talk to him about?? Blessings about family. We always have to have an open mind so that we can use different ways to share the Gospel according to people's needs. Later that day we got a wonderful phone call from Keiana .... she said she has to cancel our lesson because she was going to the temple to do baptisms!! That was the best canceled lesson I have ever had! haha She had a wonderful time and really loved being in the house of the Lord and doing the work for those who have passed on before us. She now wants to get her own family names. Also, she found out that her birth mom's husband is a less-active member of the church and went to church in Florida on the day she was confirmed to support her . How cool that she is already impacting others.
Later that night was probably the most worldly-experience I have ever had my whole mission. At 8:30 pm we went to contact a referral... a YSA girl who talked to other missionaries. When we knocked on the door she opened and you could tell she really wasn't in the right mindset. Her friend walks up to the door too and says that their buddies are drinking and that we should come in. Of course we said no and that we don't do that. I will try to describe the next part of this conversation... they started making fun of us because of our "rules" we have to live by; that we were attractive missionaries, and that we should drink and no one would know because God wasn't watching. They said that they think our church hates gay people, that we don't need to believe what our parents taught us, that we were brainwashed , and that they are a lot more happy than us and are having more fun. I'm cutting out a lot of the cussing and just filthy talk. The whole time we were just trying to get one of the girls phone number so we could leave and just text her next time for when we could come by but they just kept going. Mocking God, our Faith and the name of the church on the name tag. One of them at the end said this is ridiculous that you are still trying to help us and teach us ... I'm going to get my phone are record you elders and you can tell us why you are here. So one of them goes and grabs her phone and in a mocking tone and cursing goes in front of my companion and says, "Tell us your name and why you are here at our door this late at night?" He bore his brief testimony that he's here to share the gospel because it has blessed him and that he knows they can change and find out it is true for themselves. They still mocked and spoke against what he said then they come to me. I tried putting my arms over my tag but she said let me see your name and put the camera close to my tag (which is sacred to me) and said, "Taylor, why are you here? You are here because someone told you too? Lets see if you even know your stuff. We will show this to one of your leaders at your church to show 'em you guys don't even know what you are doing here." With a phone camera in my face I told them that I'm here to testify that through the scriptures we will have guidance in our lives and can find true joy; she stopped me and said, "Sure. blah blah blah. Talking about the word of God... right." Then she said something that I wish not to type; then it just went over the edge so my comp said, "Lets go," so he started walking, then the member with us started walking too, and I was the last one and said, "Have a great night." (as they continued to say, "Yea get out of here; we know you would crack.") Then, all of a sudden I felt something hit the back of my head... she was throwing ice cream from a spoon at me and it went all on my back, my pants, my shoes and my head. They continued laughing as they walked inside. We went to the car and my companion and the member wiped the ice cream off the back of my newly-stained white shirt and pants and off my bag. I was so proud. I bit my tongue and said nothing and walked away. Now, if they were guys that might been a little bit different (haha), but thank goodness they weren't. I could not believe what just happened. We just talked the rest of the night about it. We couldn't believe the horrible words we heard and the evil that was there and the cruel humor. I told my companion that I have never been so close to the "great and spacious building"; like literally I felt as if we knocked on the door of the "great and spacious building" of the world and they answered it. Truly it was a test of faith. I'm pretty sure every single commandment was brought up and was invited for us to break. What I learned the most was forgiveness. We got one of the girls number and are going to contact her soon and see if she is sober even though they spoke poorly and mocked my Savior, His church, my standards, and faith... we still must turn the other cheek and not judge and see them not as they are now but as their divine potential. The cool thing was at the start and end of our companionship nightly planning we both put them in our prayers and pleaded that they would someday come to the Gospel and have a right knowledge and mind set. To me that was something I have never really done before but as the Savior taught, "Pray for those that despitefully use you" and "love our enemies." It showed me how lost people are in the world and how powerful Satan's influence is and how hungry he was that night to have the Lord's servants fall off the straight and narrow path, but we didn't give in!
Next day was general conference. One of the speakers kind of touched on a subject that helped us with our experience the night before. There was so much power in all of the speakers. We later in the day were able to go to priesthood seesion and a less-active and his father went and that was so great to see. Funny how Elder Cook told the YSA who are at the age of marriage that they need not to postpone... funny sitting next to the YSA guys who have been home from missions awhile kinda of take a big gulp! haha
Next day was general conference again. I was touched by a 70 member from Ukraine, I think, and his talk on confidence touched me to the soul and was an answer the the questions I had coming into conference. Toward the end of Bednar's talk a homeless man came in. ALL of the missionaries swarmed him after the meeting and his name is Eddie. One of the missionaries asked what nationality he was and he said Indian or Dine, and instantly the missionaries were like, "Elder Taylor come over here!" haha So I got to talk to him, and he happens to be Navajo and from the big rez. You should have seen the smile on his face when I spoke a few words in Navajo to him. He said, "You are one of us on the inside I can tell!" I told him I am... I'm Navajo on the inside. He happened to be in the indian placement program years ago and knows lots of members in Utah. He is older now and drinks a lot and lives on the street but one set of missionaries gave him a ziplock full of snacks and another gave him 3 dollars for a bus ride to central! It really taught me another lesson that we must treat our brothers and sisters with love and really reminded me of Elder Holland's talk. Even though we could smell the liquor on his breath we promised him that God loves him and that he can change and give up the "white man's water" of alcohol.
Later that day an amazing thing happened ... at 6:30 that night the Zielinski family was baptized. 236 people attended this baptism! NO JOKE. I have never seen so many... it was like a sacrament meeting in there, I swear. The spirit was so strong. I got emotional briefly at 2 parts. Not out-of-control, but a little emotional and I'll admit it. The first one was when I saw them all dressed in white as I walked up to take a picture with them. The next was after their baptisms when they bore their testimonies. Teal and Cameron both had so much power to their testimonies and it truly touched my heart... it really brought me back to my real purpose. As Teal spoke about her son Cameron going to do the baptism for his dad in the temple and how they want to be an eternal family I realized again that this is what its all about. Finding and brining families to Christ and His Gospel so they can become eternal families... this is what our Father in Heaven wants. I have waited my whole mission for this family and being able to witness this baptism and know that I was part of their conversion and progression in a little part brings me eternal joy. I love each of them so much.
This week I truly have felt the heavens open. I have received much revelation from God and have felt the veil thin in my life. Truly my joy is so full. I love people much more; I desire and thirst for the Gospel more and want to share it more. That is why I feel this last week was the best. Truly I'm undeserving of these blessings. I don't deserve them, and there are plenty of better missionaries and people who deserve it and are a lot more righteous but Heavenly Father still blesses me and I'm truly thankful for that. I love the new converts that I have taught and seen be baptized in these past 2 weeks. They will forever be in my heart and in my life. I know this church is true; I know that no money or worldly possession would ever come close to matching up to the JOY, PEACE, and LOVE that I have felt this last week. My mother was ever so near me at points of this last week; I love her so much as well as my family.
Love to you all! Know how blessed we are all; let us give up things that don't matter according to the gospel and grow closer to things that matter most.
All my love,
Elder Justin Williams Taylor