January 25, 2016 — Serving in Vancouver for the First Time!

Week 56

Another week has passed, and so has another transfer. I’m now in
Vancouver, serving here for the first time. I’ve been serving in the
Vancouver Washington Mission now for about 14 months and have served
in every Spanish area, which means that I’ve served upon all of the
English areas within my areas. When I arrived here to Vancouver, I
realized that I didn’t really know where anything was aside from the
mission office. Aside from Vancouver, I have come to basically map
out and almost perfectly know the entire rest of my mission from
having served everywhere else. So arriving in Vancouver and knowing
where almost nothing was reminded me of the feelings that I’d had at
the beginning of my mission when I first arrived to the mission and
didn’t know where anything was. But I’m excited to learn Vancouver
since after serving here, I will basically know how to get around
throughout my entire mission which will be pretty cool to me.
Especially for when I will visit in the future after I’ve completed my
mission. Leaving Gresham was a little more saddening than I thought
it would be. I stayed up until around 4:50 a.m. packing, writing in
people’s journals, and reminiscing about the many experiences and
growth that I went through while serving in Gresham for the past 6
months. On my last Sunday there, I and Hermana Alvarez who has also
been transferred to Vancouver with me, were called up to bare our
testimonies to a ward that I had 7 1/2 months of my mission in
now at this point and that she had been trained in and served in for
the last 9 months, being her entire mission so far.

My new companion’s name is Elder Ramirez. He is Peruvian and is
another native Elder in my mission. Although he has only been out for
6 months, we both have completely equal say in every decision that is
made as it has always been in this mission. I’ve always loved that
rule since it takes responsibility burdens off of older and more
experienced Missionaries when with younger and less experienced
missionaries. It gives younger missionaries more opportunity to grow
and contribute what they have to offer to the work in an area and
throughout the mission. There are also less opportunities for
unrighteous dominion brought about from the pride that can come with
experience as an older missionary. This method I’m sure doesn’t work
everywhere throughout the missions in the world, otherwise it would be
a rule throughout them all, but it works here and I’m glad. There
were a lot of little trials of my faith when I was putting in my
mission papers concerning what sort of little things I would have to
deal with and even endure through upon being called to serve. I was
nervous of not having free access to the use of technology for 2
years; I have an iPad. I was nervous of walking and riding bikes in
some area completely strange to me; I have a car and am serving in
territory and type of climate extremely familiar to me. I was nervous
of how I would handle people in authoritative positions over me, even
as little as a senior companion; in my missions everyone has equal say
regardless of leadership position to contributing experiences,
feelings, and thoughts on matters regarding the way things are done.
I am really quite thankful that I was called to the Washington
Vancouver Mission. This is definitely where someone like Me was meant
to be called, and I have really come to know this as my traits and
talents have been magnified here and really could not have been had I
been called to a place in the world where I would not have had many of
the blessings that I have here.

My first day in Vancouver was full of miracles as well. Elder Ramirez
and I were able to teach a lot of people and contact some people that
he had been unable to contact in the last 2 transfers. But the
crowning miracle of the day was in our last appointment with an
investigator named Marco Salazar. He has been investigating the
church for awhile now and seems as though he is a member already with
how much he does what normal members are supposed to do in terms of
how he does everything that the missionaries commit him to do, and
keeps doing it. But he has become what is known as an “Eterni-gator”
which is an investigator that just doesn’t seem like they will ever
get baptized, or discontinue their investigation of the church
therefore being an eternal investigator in an area that eventual just
comes to waste missionaries time because of their lack of progression.
It can be harsh to look at them as wasting the time of missionaries,
but when someone is not progressing anywhere from the time we spend
working with them and they only have a desire and yet won’t act on it,
we are told to drop those people, through prayer judgment of course
just in case the Lord has other plans for the person. So Marco has
been wanting a powerful confirmation from the Spirit for some time now
if the Book of Mormon is true or not. He already believes it to be a
good book full of great spiritual enlightenment, but he just isn’t
sure, enough, if the book is really God given. He wants to believe
that it is, but he just wants a powerful confirmation, which is a
great desire to pursue, but which he doesn’t realize is the thing that
is in fact halting his spiritual progression. So we went into the
appointment with him having the intention of teaching him the law of
chastity, after answering his questions about the Book of Mormon that
Elder Ramirez told me he always has at the start of lessons. From the
questions he asked us in this lesson, the discussion was steered
completely away from going in to the law of chastity. His questions
were on the Isaiah chapters in 2 Nephi. Many of these questions were
thankfully ones that I have come to be able to answer now, far more so
than I could at the beginning of my mission, and so as I answered his
questions, I tried my best to gauge what his intent was and guide the
conversation over to the topic of baptism, receiving answers to
questions, and asking God instead of asking us or others, and
eventually to asking God about the truthfulness about the Book Of
Mormon. When the discussion finally got to where I needed it to be,
Marco started opening up about the depths of his doubts concerning
how he doesn’t feel that a little confirmation from the spirit could
really convince him of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon as he
has observed so many family members and friends around him claim to
have had minor feelings of goodness and or peace when they prayed and
visited other churches and that he wanted a confirmation that would
give him absolutely no doubts; one that he would never forget and that
would sustain him throughout his membership in the church and the
trials that he already expects will come. He already thinks that this
is the true church and he wants it to be too, which is awesome. So
with those things being said, I shared a story with him about a
general authority who had been in a similar situation in which he
wouldn’t get baptized until he received that kind of spiritual
confirmation. The man decided that if he was going to get the level of
confidence in the church that he desired, he would really have to put
forth the effort on his part to prove to God how much he wanted it.
So, the man decided to read through the entire Book of Mormon, and to
say a prayer before reading every single page in the book asking
Heavenly Father if the book and the words on the page he would read
were true. By the time he finished reading the book, he received that
testimony that he desired and it went on to sustain him in just the
way that he had wished through his membership in the church throughout
his life. I explained that this process had taken a long time though
and a huge amount of persistence and patience on the man’s part, but
that nevertheless, Heavenly Father did come through and give him what
he wanted. I explained to him that this process that the man went
through may have taken him a few months, a year, or even a few years,
but that in the end had received what he wanted. A knowledge of the
truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and therefore an knowledge as well
of the validity of the rest of the Gospel and the knowledge that he
would need to see him through to obtaining Salvation. At first Marco
loved the example of this man’s story, but wasn’t too excited about
the amount of time that it took. But after a moment of thought he
decided that he would want to do this but that he would only go
through with it if he could have a date or something to tell him how
long it would take. (Elder Ramirez had been silent up to his point,
and continued to stay silent. He later told me that he was a little
intimidated by the way this lesson had been going and didn’t trust in
himself enough to contribute, and felt that he should let me handle
everything that was going on and just watch.) So after Marco said that
he wanted a date or a goal of some kind, I pulled up my calendar on my
iPad and just said a prayer in my mind as I scrolled through the
months waiting for something to just come to mind or stick out to me.
The month of April of this year is the general time that the spirit
told me to tell him, which he excepted and felt good about but still
insisted on a more specified day. So I looked again and prayed again
in my mind and felt that the date should be the final Saturday of that
month, being also the last day of the month of April on the 30th. I
had full confidence in this and gave him this date in the form of a
promise and told him that if he, Marco, would read the Book of Mormon
every single day, through to this date, and pray each time he would
read it asking with sincerity of heart, the faith in Christ that he
has, and the real intent to act on the eventual confirmation, that he
would receive the spiritual confirmation that he would need to make
him know that the Book of Mormon is true. The spirit was at it’s
strongest, at least to me, when that promise was made. There was a
moment of silence after I stated the promise in the name of Jesus
Christ. When Marco next spoke, he expressed a huge amount of
excitement for this promise and said that he felt very good about it.
He then immediately got up and went over to his calendar on the wall
and marked the day for when he would receive that testimony he
desired. I was very confident in the promise that I was prompted to
make, still at this point, but I was a little overwhelmed with a
feeling of nervousness concerning my companion, who had told me before
this lesson that he and many previous missionaries had been struggling
to help Marco progress. I had also told him that I would Not give
Marco a baptismal date unless the spirit was to profoundly prompt me
to and that I would leave that decision up to him. I had now just
basically disregarded those 2 past statements and was nervous of Elder
Ramirez’s feelings in how this all came about. These feelings got
even worse when Marco expressed a little frustration to Elder Ramirez
about how he and all of the other previous missionaries had been too
scared to make a confident promise like this to him and that he had
wished that they would of done something like this much much sooner.
We closed with a prayer, and then we left. When we got into the car,
I asked Elder Ramirez how he was feeling and how he felt about what
had just happened in the lesson. He told me that he realized during
that lesson that the only thing that had truly been holding back
Marco’s progression had actually been him and all of the previous
missionaries for not just showing more trust in God and making a
promise like this to him. He told me that he actually felt extremely
good about how everything had just happened, including Marco’s
complaint to him since the complaint is what made Elder Ramirez
realize this. This was comforting for me to hear as it took away all
feelings of nervousness for how he would have felt about what had
happened, especially since we still barely even knew each other as
this was still the first day.

So that was a bit of a long story, but the experience was a Spiritual
Shockwave for me which is why I put so much detail into it. It made
for a good mission memory, especially for my first day in Vancouver.

On Sunday, there was a massive meeting that took place. The Vancouver
West, and Vancouver North Stakes were gathered together by 2 members
of the Quorum of the 70 to have 2 Stake Presidencies released, a new
Stake created called the Ridgefield Stake, and 3 brand new Stake
Presidencies called. There were a little over 4000 members in
attendance and the meeting was held in the gymnasium of a high school
here in Vancouver. There were literally thousands of Latter Day
Saints all gathered in 1 location. We sang hymn #2, The Spirit Of
God, and it was powerful as it was sung by so many members of the
Church. It was a pretty grand and historical meeting, as the General
Authorities put it since meetings like these only happen once every so
many years.

On that same Sunday, Elder Ramirez and I had an intense lesson with a
man who has had quite a turn around of a life. He went from helping
out the missionaries on a daily basis almost, and assisting them with the
work when in his early 20s, to now being someone who doesn’t even feel
bad about many of his sins anymore at 35. The lesson lasted about 80
minutes and involved a Lot of listening. At the beginning of the
lesson, he just wanted us to help him out with finding a therapist,
but as the lesson went on I felt that I should ask him some very
specific, almost manipulative questions in order to have him open up
more to us. And yet again this was another lesson where I did almost
all of the talking for my companionship, which has been making me feel
a little selfish like I’m just taking control of lessons, but Elder
Ramirez has repeatedly told me that he feels very strongly that it was
just my time to come to this area because it needed my way of doing
things at this time. The questions I was asking him sounded like the
questions that I used to be asked during the time that I spent in
therapy before my mission. I still don’t personal feel like the
therapy was beneficial for me, but knowing how the system works a
little proved extremely useful in this specific lesson. He began
opening up to us as if we were professional therapists, which was
pretty cool to me. Again the heart of the problem was dissected out
and found, and he was able to receive the counsel that he needed at
this time. The words that came out of my mouth were very harsh but
they were the truth and what he needed to hear, and thankfully he took
them well. It was an amazing lesson and not like any I have ever had
before.

This was my week. I’m thankful that I was able to have some very
memorable experiences this past week. Have a good week everyone.

Sincerely,
Elder Adam R. F. Scoville

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