Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Experiencing the Hand of God

Greetings from Panama City! This week has been chalk full of excitement. It's crazy, really! Today we had a member buy our groceries for us. He approached us yesterday and explained that he takes all three set of missionaries to Walmart at the beginning of each month and buys their groceries... I was like, floored away. His name is brother Beard. We have been teaching up the wazoo too! We had 3 new investigators in 3 days, with 3 member present lessons, 2 other lessons, and 2 returning member/recent convert lessons in the past 3 days! It's hardly given us anytime to unpack. Especially because we know no one, nor where anyone lives. It has been quite the adventure for sure!! One of those investigators came from a young man requesting missionaries on mormon.org. He typed into Google "missionaries" because he wanted to learn how to go out and preach the gospel and touch peoples' lives. it popped up mormon.org and he requested us! But I need to share an experience that happened last night. Elder Douglas and I were leaving our apartment after eating dinner, and our neighbor, who was extremely drunk, was outside. This is not out of the ordinary, seeing as though he is always outside, drunk as a skunk. We started talking to him as usual, but what was not normal was the white guy standing there talking to him. Our neighbor was explaining that he needs us to watch out for him when he's intoxicated. We began asking question to the man standing next to him, who was not drunk. He explained he had just recently walked here from Montgomery, AL (some 250+ miles away). He then explained that he would be leaving tomorrow to walk to Colorado. He also informed us he had been in the army and had been deployed in Afghanistan. During his first week of deployment he lost his daughter the 1st week there. The third week there he got injured and kicked out of the military. All of his money went toward paying his daughter's funeral. Anyway, the idea popped in our head to call up a recent convert of ours who is on fire and ask him if he'd be available to meet us at the church to do a church tour. Brother Melander was at work, but said he'd be willing to leave work so he could come. So we went back over, and asked if he'd be willing to come on a tour of our church building. He agreed, and so we set out and walked with him to the church (we can't drive nonmembers). As we walked, we talked some more. He told us he left Alabama because his girlfriend kicked him out of the house, leaving him homeless and jobless. He was looking for direction and purpose in his life, and decided that walking somewhere would give it to him. He was hit by a truck into a "US Hwy 231" sign, which he took as his sign from God. He started down the 231 and ended up here, in Panama City. So we arrive at the church, Ben pulled up just in time. We take him on the tour of the church. Some of the feelings he expressed were "I've always been looking for some place where I felt at home" and "This all just makes sense" or "I feel like this is the reason why I came down here." He informed us at the end that he would not be leaving to Colorado tomorrow, but was going to stick around so he could learn more and attend church with us. Our member, Ben Melander, explained afterward that that had been the most spiritual experience of his life. I have to echo what he said. It was amazing. I felt the hand of God in my life. As I testified to this young man I felt the spirit so strongly that he had been sent here on a purpose, and that this had been the very thing he was looking for, that he walked miles upon miles to find. We have an appointment with him tonight, 7:15, at the church. I am so excited to see what the future holds, and cannot wait to testify that he will see and hold his beloved daughter again.
God is so great. I know that he lives, and the he directs me every single day. I love you!

Elder Smith

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