“I Can Do All Things Through Christ Which Strengtheneth Me.” (Phillipians 4:13)

Well this has been the absolute best week ever! Go America! The scripture in my title was referred to by a man we met this week who was originally from Kenya. From the sound of it, apparently he was a member of the church then and served a mission in Korea. This scripture was actually quite suiting to describe our week, as we were striving to learn this principle. In return, we were able to witness miracles by the divine mercy of God.

The thing that stands out from the week was actually the message our mission president shared in zone conferences. I learned from the Larsens, (senior couple missionaries) that he had been preparing the talk for months and finally felt this an appropriate time to share this very important message. Due to the sheer volume of everything he prepared, he had to read his talk, and was only able to share part of it. It really drained him. He talked about obedience, but not in the way you might think. The reason he found this talk so difficult to deliver was because he needed to carefully tell us to stop being so obedient and to be more obedient. My study journal exploded with notes, but unfortunately, I don’t have it with me; so here’s what I have from memory. (This applies to more than just missionaries)
Missionaries in this mission have developed a desperate desire to be “exactly obedient,” as Elder Oaks has encouraged in the past. This is a good desire, but President Weed noticed that in many cases, it was leading to feelings of frustration and inadequacies among missionaries. He agonized over the solution to this, and it essentially came down to motives. However, this is a topic that can not be simplified, due to the many interpretations of ways one could explain the problem. Essentially, missionaries thought that they could bring about miracles of their own volition through their exact obedience. First, we can ever be “exactly obedient.”  Second, only Christ, who brought about miracles and even his own salvation by his obedience was “exactly obedient.” The other points President Weed shared in full were:
  1. Obedience
  2. Striving
  3. Receiving Correction
  4. Trust
I can’t even tell you how much Elder Gardiner, I, and everyone else in this mission needed this counsel.
Well, here are a few more of the miracles for the week:
One of our investigators read all the way to 2 Nephi in a week, and is still reading!
Another investigator came to our Thursday scripture class and heard our message about “faith unto deliverance” based on 1 Nephi 2-4, Hebrews 11, and other select scriptures; which was exactly what he needed.
We committed a less-active family to prepare to go to the temple, and the returning sister we have been working with is very close to getting her endowments now!
We had a great lesson with another investigator, and helped him make friends with a brother in the ward who recently moved in.
We started teaching a new investigator from a member referral.
We met with several active member families to talk about increasing their missionary efforts.
We taught a lesson to a former investigator we have been looking for for months, and his cousin Jeff.
One of our investigators came to church and everyone loved him!
This was probably one of the most successful weeks of my mission. However, it was not all fine and dandy. We experienced some very dark and discouraging moments as well. This was all the result of hard work, but I know it was only possible through God’s will because we wanted to devote ourselves to Him, not for self-gratification.
Hope y’all had a happy 4th! God bless America!
-Elder Samuel Runyan​
Here is a video of our attempt at healthy eating and a picture of a “Japanese cucumber” we got from Jeff’s brother (they own a farm.)
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Conspiracies, False Doctrine, and Miracles

Hello!

This week was seriously one of the best I’ve had yet on my mission! I can’t believe how much the Lord is working here and with us! He has a lot of good stuff planned for us, I know it!
We had an awesome experience on Tuesday! The previous week, the Assistants to the President texted us and set up a trio exchange with us on Tuesday. After our interviews with President Weed in Greenville that morning, one of them, Elder Richins went back to Washington with us for the day, and we brought him back to his companion the next day, at zone conference in Kinston. It was seriously the best exchange I’ve had yet! We saw lots of miracles! We had set up lots of appointments for that day and were prepared for it to be a great day. We also had this extra energy or something from it being a trio. We saw an investigator with Brother Randall; which went really well. Then, as we were driving back, I felt impressed to pull over and talk to this lady who was struggling with some bags. We had a great lesson with her; she is struggling right now and her only transportation, a moped, has a flat tire. We all had so much compassion for her and are trying to do whatever we can for her. We taught 6 lessons that day with Elder Richins, 2 with members present, and got 2 new investigators. We had a super spiritual experience at 8:45 that night; which is usually just the worst time for us to talk to people, and we weren’t sure what to do. Elder Richins suggested we pray. We did, and decided to visit a nearby investigator. On our way, we saw a man walking his 2 dogs and decided to pull over and talk to him. He let us walk his dogs with him and we ended up talking for about a half hour about how he used to meet with missionaries. He was super cool, and I am so grateful for the power of prayer! The Lord truly watches out for us when we turn to Him in prayer and fasting!
Speaking of prayer and fasting, the Sisters and we decided to fast on Friday for missionary opportunities and ways to help this Branch. The sisters found a great talk about becoming pure; which suggests we make a list of things we need to do better/ stop doing. because of our fast and efforts to become pure, the Lord has brought us to 14 new investigators in Washington, 10 of them from the Sisters who also have 2 investigators set with baptismal dates. (Sisters are the best, can’t argue that.) I’ve also found we have a lot more success when we work with members.
To address the first two parts of my title, we’ve also had some crazy experiences this week. I’ll be careful talking about it, but one person was sharing some crazy ideas about Abraham Lincoln’s ethnicity, and a lady shared some interesting facts about Michelle Obama’s actual gender. The Illuminati is real people! Seriously though, kinda threw us off, and they also had some misunderstandings of the Bible and Book of Mormon; which we labored to clear up.
I forgot to talk about Zone conference. President Weed shared some intellectual evidence of the Book of Mormon’s reality, based on it fulfilling prophecies of Christ’s coming; which the New Testament did not fulfill. I wish I could help the many people here who think the Bible is and can only be the only Word of God realize how true the Book of Mormon is! The Bible just isn’t complete! It is so hard for people to see that because they are just so used to the Bible. President Weed advised we don’t share this intellectual evidence with others as they will not understand it, but at least we can have it to know for ourselves so that when we speak of the Book of Mormon, we can speak with the convincing power and authority connected to our calling as missionaries. For example, those conspiracy theorists I talked about couldn’t understand the least bit of intellectual evidence we threw at them, (Not even the least!) but they could not deny our testimonies even when they tried. Their tongue would be tied and they would be confounded.
Alright! That’s it for now! If you have any questions, ask me. Little Washington is the best! I sent some pictures we took this morning.
Take care y’all!
Elder Samuel Runyan