So funny story. All the kids were off of school, so we thought yesterday was presidents day. Whoops.
This week we had some interesting developments come forth. First off, Jeffrey R. Holland will be here on March 23rd to do some priesthood leadership training and talk to the mission. That will be way cool. He'll be the second apostle to come through since I've been here. Elder Maynes of the presidency of the seventy will be here as well, and he's been here 3 or 4 times.
This week I learned some more interesting information. Every California mission has seen a dip in baptisms the past few years, ours included. However, this past year, we were the only mission to see an increase in sacrament attendance. I don't think that is a coincidence. The rescue is working. It helps less active members come back, and active-ish members stay. Now we'll work on getting our baptisms up and we'll be golden.
This week we are going to try to get Bill to a baptism this weekend. There are 2 happening in the Livermore stake, which is adjacent to ours and is about a 20 minute drive. He still wants to have his clothes and other affairs set in order before he goes to church, and still won't let us help, but a baptismal service may be a good way to break the ice with him. He still has an incredible desire to be baptized, so we're hoping that he'll stick to the timetable he set, and that will get him in the water in late March.
This week we are trying to be ultra obedient. Tighten up the little things and exercise more faith. So far it's been going really well. Last night we were discouraged because all our appointments had fallen through, and it was late, and we had nothing to do. I resolved that I would do some missionary work, and at least give out a copy of the Book of Mormon. We just didn't know where. We were getting gas at about 8:30 and there was only one other couple at the gas station, so we went to the pump next to them and started to fill. Then they started talking to us. I was blown away. They are friends of members in our ward, have seen the temple and have even been to the grounds for someone's wedding. We gave them a Book of Mormon and our number, and he gave us his business card. There are always people looking, and we just need to exercise faith to find them.
From what mom has been telling me, it sounds like you've got some interesting missionaries there now. Just remember, the baptismal covenant is set out for everyone. Many times it will be a huge step in faith where we can foresee possible issues or problems, but the added benefit of the Holy Ghost and the atonement in that person's life are the greatest things that we can have in this life to deal with problems. The walls that Satan put up to keep people from getting baptized are incredible, but we can't shrink at them, we've got to push through them. Christ is the one moving forward with us, so it will work out if we put our faith in Him. I think I've said this before, but I'm excited to go home and be a member. You grow up thinking that missionaries have the most influence on peoples' growth and that members are accessory. I've come to learn that it is the exact opposite. The greatest growth will come after baptism. Members have so much impact on what happens in that time. You hit a wall in you're progression, and learning, that simply can't be over come without the first ordinances of the Gospel.
We're working hard this week in being bold in inviting all to come unto Christ. We're going to find some new investigators.
-Elder James Richards