Monday, January 11, 2016


This was probably the hardest week of my mission so far. I don't want to be overly pessimistic, because I feel like I always make my mission sound like a horrible experience and it's really not. It's amazing, I can hardly describe how much I am learning. I feel like God is making me so much more every day. I'm learning to be a more fully realized, assertive person. If you want to learn 10+ years of life experience in 2 years, try going on a mission. The thing is, oftentimes you learn things kind of the hard way. (meaning from actual experience!) Nothing has ever been more worth it though.
We had 3 baptismal dates scheduled for Sunday (yesterday), and their names were Nick, Blu, and Deanna Bonham. They're 13, 10, and 14 respectively, and they are just super awesome. I loved teaching them because they were so willing to learn. Kids are so open-minded because they don't have all these learned preconceptions (in this case, particularly about Mormons) that adults do. They had faith in Jesus Christ and they wanted to keep their commandments! So it was great to watch them and see how excited they were to be baptized.
Then Sister Holt, their mom (she's been through a couple of divorces) started reading anti-Mormon stuff online (I'll talk more about that later) and she expressed to us that she didn't really have a desire to keep the commandments. So that was fine, we told her we would teach her and mainly she needed to read the Book of Mormon, because that was the thing that would gain her a conviction of the truth of the gospel. She wasn't rude to us or anything, we got along fine, she said she wanted to postpone the baptism because she wanted to learn more. So we said okay.
Then a few days later she texted us and told us not to visit anymore. So just like that, we were dropped. The branch president tried to visit her on Sunday and she said she wanted nothing to do with him or the Church. She made an executive decision for her kids not to be baptized. So it was kinda crappy. I think Elder Jones was hit especially hard by it. It just felt like we were doing amazing last week and this week we just lost it. It was hard to get up in the morning and go out and try to tract, teach, etc. but we did it anyway. No one really knows why Sister Holt just cut everyone off so suddenly.
Other things in the week were awesome, though. The members of the Sealy 1st branch (which is about 125 [active] members) are starting to get so into missionary work. Yesterday in the Gospel Principles class they just discussed activities they could do to help people learn about the LDS church and their ideas were just so good. It made me really excited. This week is a new start and I am really looking forward to what comes of this new attitude among the members. They're so awesome. I wish you all could meet them.
Anyway, on "anti-Mormon" "literature": Members of the Church have a pretty easy time dismissing the writings online as "all lies". And I do believe many things are lies that you can find on the internet. People who leave the Church are often really angry about it. They might have been offended by some teaching, or by how they were treated at church meetings. Or, they might just feel bitter because they feel like they've been lied to their whole lives. (Oftentimes that bitterness is what drives me away from anti-Mormon writings. They claim so often to be completely over it and yet when they speak about the Church all it seems they are able to do is mock it, or just degrade it in any way they can.)
But, do some people have concerns about Joseph Smith, the history of the Church, or the doctrines of the Church that are completely valid? Yes. And oftentimes, as they seek to learn all they can about those things, they (tragically) lose sight of The One Thing.
The Book of Mormon is that One Thing. It's why I went on a mission in the first place. I had questions - and knew things - that made me question the authenticity of Joseph Smith's prophethood and of the validity of "his" Church. But the more I learned about church history, from reading Joseph Smith's biography and things like that, the less sure I felt about things. I didn't know if I could come to find any kind of "yes" or "no" answer about it for myself.
I experienced that because I had lost sight of the One Thing - because a testimony of the Book of Mormon is necessary in order to know if the Church is true or not. It's because scholars can be wrong, but the spiritual witness you can receive regarding the Book of Mormon is real proof. I've heard a couple of people dismiss spiritual feelings as mere emotions - of course you believe that you are "saved" because the idea of having your sins washed away feels good! It's appealing to your mind! And that can be true. I think people get the Spirit and regular emotions mixed up pretty often, both within and without the LDS church.
But I know the Book of Mormon is true. The spiritual witness I have received of it - multiple times - is absolutely unmistakable. There is no feeling that exists like it. I know it is of God.
So yep. Here comes some super preachyness but it's my job. Read the Book of Mormon. The Lord has promised that He will reveal its truthfulness to you and He always keeps his promises (according to your sincerity and your motives, of course).
I hope you guys' lives are going awesome. I'm about out of time so, that's it. Sorry to everyone who I didn't have time to e-mail back. I'll try to fit it in next week, haha..
yep! I love you all.
-Elder Taylor

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