Monday, November 25, 2013

Greetings from Midland, MI

Hey family and friends! I am now in Midland Michigan and have been since last Tuesday. Everything I heard about Midland before I came here was basically a perfect summary of the town. Everyone works for DOW or DOW Corning, and the Ward is fantastic. Midland has two wards with two sets of missionaries in each (I am in the 2nd Ward). We have tons of support from the members and our ward mission leaders and missionaries are very involved. Way excited for that.

White-washing has been a challenge, but very rewarding as well. We first got here having no clue where anything or anyone was and we knew no one. Now that we've been scrambling around for the past few days I feel we have a pretty good idea of what's going on in Midland. It was also difficult transitioning from having many to teach to knocking all day every day. I learn every day more and more that this Gospel is very precious to me and the Spirit truly does testify and comfort. 

One of the greatest sources of comfort has been Heather Hale. Heather is a soon-to-be single Mom with a 13-year-old boy and two young girls, 4 and 3. She was raised Baptist and has always had a strong faith in Christ and the Bible. She is going through a difficult divorce and was referred by a friend to the missionaries. She's been taught almost everything by the previous Elders and has a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon and everything we teach. I'm copying and pasting what I wrote to President Hess: 
We taught Heather Hale twice this week- she is the investigator with a baptismal date. She is progressing really well and is excited to learn more. She got anti'd by her therapist of all people but we worked through those things with her and she is still confident in her new beliefs. She is going through a really tough time with her divorce but has found amazing strength in the Gospel. 

Heather truly is going through many great trials, but her whole life has been turned around by the message of the Restoration and the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This has been a huge comfort to me because every day we face almost constant rejection and coldness. However, I know that there are people like Heather that desperately need our message but don't know where to find it and don't even know how much they need it. This is what will keep me moving forward as we have a lot of door knocking ahead of us.

The Lord and the Spirit truly are in this work. I have felt the Spirit comforting me and testifying of the truth of our message more than I ever have, I think. One of my favorite chapters of the Book of Mormon is 2 Ne 2, and I love verse 11. 

For it must needs be, that there is an aopposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad...

On Saturday we were knocking on doors and came to one that had a card on the door that said "No Solicitation". We see these frequently, and it doesn't stop us from spreading the word so we knocked on the door. A man came out and seeing us, immediately pointed to his "No Solicitation" sign and asked/yelled at us, "Can you read?" I didn't say anything: this was the first time that someone seemed to categorize us as solicitors, so I was amused and probably stared back at him with a dumb-founded expression. Elder Peterson said to the man, "We're servants of Jesus Christ sharing a message about him." I don't remember what else Elder Peterson said because the man screamed over him, "Get off my porch" with several words in between. We walked off after telling him to have a good day. He continued to scream profanities at us as he slammed the door. After we had walked away for a while, the man came out of his house and continued to yell and swear at us. Elder Peterson again told him, "we're just sharing a message about Jesus Christ" as we walked away to the next door. I was pretty crushed over the situation, since this was only the second time I've been yelled at since I've been on my mission. I was so discouraged, in fact, that I thought about asking Elder Peterson if we could take a break from knocking. I didn't though, and we moved on to the next door. This door had a scripture plaque hanging on the front, something from Ephesians I think. We knocked, and the man let us in. This man, Matt, was very kind and loves the Bible and talked to us for a while about his beliefs. He has met with the missionaries several times before and enjoys talking to us. We talked to him on topics of baptism and the Godhead, and got into a friendly debate/discussion about it. At the end we invited him to read the Book of Mormon and set up a time that we could come by again. 

I have seen several times so far on my mission that whenever something really discouraging happens, the Lord blesses me with comfort in some way soon after. Now, I hope I don't mean to be self-righteous when I say this but after being yelled at by a really mean person it was quite comforting to talk to a really kind person that has a portion of the truth but is clearly confused without the fullness of the Gospel. The trials and opposition I've faced in the past week have helped me to understand more deeply the righteousness and holiness of this work, and the Gospel. I've come to see the unending goodness that the Lord has blessed me with, and I realize now that I need to appreciate those things more.

I forgot to say a bit about Elder Peterson. He's from the San Fernando Valley of Southern California. He is great. He takes great pride in the fact that we are so young, and even greater pride in the fact that he's a transfer "older" than I am. He does not get discouraged by door knocking which is perfect for me. He was completely unaffected by our experience with the old man which was kind of scary (I was pretty bummed out about it) but his example was very strengthening. I have a lot to learn from Elder Peterson. 

Well, that's about it. Midland is great. I'm excited to work hard and find people to teach. I hope all of you are doing well. I love you, and I hope you know that the Lord loves you more than you or I can comprehend. God is good, and God is love. 

-Elder Schmutz
Here's a picture of me and Elder Petersen

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