Monday, September 28, 2015

Our crazy but good Saturday.....

Hey y'all,

Nothing very noteworthy happened this week except for Saturday. It was full of ups and downs, like a crazy roller coaster.

First thing in the morning as we were doing companion study, we got a knock on the door. I thought to myself it may be the Elders, but it was a strange time of day for them to knock on our apartment door. So I got up and looked through the peephole, and saw two women. I instantly knew that it was Jehovah's Witnesses. We had one JW lady come by last week and give us their little magazine. Anyway, I answered the door and they started talking with me. I don't think they saw my name tag because my still-wet hair was covering it, but they did notice that I had "Jesus the Christ" in one hand (since we got interrupted during study) and they thought it was the Bible. Soon after talking with them for a few minutes, they learned that we were Mormon missionaries. I had a a nice time talking with them. We talked about a few things Christ did, and completely agreed with one another. Despite difference of beliefs and denomination we can still find commonalities and show love towards one another. That's what I try to I'm willing to give them a few mins of my time, I hope that other people, as we ourselves go out tracting, will give us some of their time.

After studies were done, we set out to go visit a less active. We had been warned by a member that their driveway was a bit tricky, and so we proceeded with caution as we started down the dirt road leading to their house. We probably could have continued driving, but it was a little bumpy in some places, and I didn't want to get our little Chevy Cruze stuck. So we parked the car in an area to the side of the road, and continued on walking. Fairly soon we came across a little bridge which didn't look very intimidating until you realized how far apart the rails were and that it was a bit of a good drop down. We thought to ourselves that we could turn back, but we were either going to see this less active or not, so we proceeded. Making it past the bridge, we continued walking. Finally we were able to see the house peeping out from behind the trees, and at about the same time there were dogs, three from what we could see, in the front yard barking at us. We stood there for a moment, not knowing whether to continue at that point or not. A lot of people in the country have dogs out here and you have to be cautious. Before we knew it, the dogs were coming our way and running pretty quickly at us. There was a big one and two smaller ones. I immediately whipped out my pepper spray, because from the looks of it we were going to get bit. We knew running wasn't a good idea so we just stood still. The big dog came running at us, and Sister Pyrah let out a little scream. The dog circled around us, but after a few seconds we could tell that he was friendly and just overly excited to see new people. And in the process of excitedly coming to meet us, the big dog gave Sister Pyrah a pretty big scratch all the way down her shin. The other dogs weren't quite as boisterous as the big one. Our hearts were pounding, and at about the same time, the less active we had come to see was walking down the road our way to see what all the ruckus was. As she approached, one of the smaller dogs (which was a pit bull) suddenly got defensive and started growling fiercely at us. I had my pepper spray at the ready and the less active told us to just stand still, until she finally got a hold of the dogs collar and held him. We were able to introduce ourselves and exchange numbers her, and then left and started back down the road. You can imagine that we were a bit shaken up from the experience, but everything turned out okay, except for a scratch!

After that, we headed down the road and picked a neighborhood to go tracting in. We happened to knock on a door of some people who wanted so desperately to bash our religion. They have done all their research on the internet, so of course everything they said was correct (because everything on the internet is true, right?). Having a conversation with someone that only wants certain answers from you, will disregard everything else you say, and is out to bash your faith, is a little hard. I've had experiences like this before, and it just completely takes the spirit away. I've learned that all you can do is try to find commonalities, bear testimony, and then leave---which is what we tried to do, although they just kept on going and we were there for a while talking with them. Finally we were able to end the conversation and leave, and after these kind of situations I always have to take a moment to say a prayer and invite the Spirit back, because getting bashed by someone always brings a negative spirit. Contention is of the devil!

After both of these experiences, Sister Pyrah and I were physically and emotionally exhausted. So we headed home for lunch and some rest. Luckily there was the Women's Broadcast that night at 7, which we were able to go to and get spiritually fed!! It was great! Our investigator Charlotte also came for the broadcast and loved it. It focused on women, and family, divine natures, and Christ. I really love our Church's outlook on our natures---because while it's true that we are human, that we have the natural man, it's also true that we are children of God, and that he loves us, and that we have divine potential. We have more of a positive outlook on ourselves and our future than other views I've heard.

Anyway, this was how our Saturday went! Some experiences are hard, some are a little frightening (like when you have dogs running at you), but all in all they turn into learning opportunities and great memories. It reminds me of the trials we have in life---although they may suck (for lack of a better term) to go through, they in the end will give you experience, help you to learn, and continue on your progression in life. If we didn't have the bad, we couldn't appreciate the good. So remember that as you go through the trials you are dealing with right now.

God loves you,
Sister Griffith

 Sister Pyrah and I out tracting

Selfies on the go

The Wetumpka district!

 Sister Pyrah and I...we tracted in this neighborhood for a good minute.

Sister Pyrah and I on our Saturday adventure!

The best view I've seen in AL yet!

Our friend Charlotte and I!

Monday, September 21, 2015

May We Teach You?

Hey everybody, this week has been a busy one. I'll give a brief summary of each our day, but also, just for fun, the numbers of doors we knocked, and our MWTY count ("May We Teach You" = asking people if they want to meet with us or giving our number to them). Keep in mind that some MWTY's were from contacting at stores, and so the ratio between that and tracting will differ.

9-14-15, Monday: After emailing, we went to Fort Toulouse here in Wetumpka. We had a picnic and then explored the grounds which was really fun. They had an American & French fort, as well has an indian village & mound. Sometime in November they do history reenactments and such. Then we went tracting!

Doors knocked: 10
MWTY: 9 

9-15-15, Tuesday: Had a lesson with an investigator, but also did lots of tracting and then store contacting that night.

Doors knocked: 22
MWTY: 19

9-16-15, Wednesday: We had District Meeting in the morning, and I guess it was also Mexican Independence Day, so of course our meeting was mexican themed. Our district leader asked people to bring food, and we had fake mustaches, and so it turned out like a party than anything else! After that we had quite a few lessons with people.

Doors knocked: 0

9-17-15, Thursday: We did lots of tracting in the morning, had lunch with a member, weekly planned, had two lessons with investigators, contacted some referrals, and finished weekly planning.

Doors knocked: 26
MWTY: 13

9-18-15, Friday: We met with an investigator in the morning, went tracting, and visited three less-actives.

Doors knocked: 19

9-19-15, Saturday: We had some appts cancel on us, so we devoted this whole day to finding. We did lots of tracting during the day and contacting at night. We were determined to reach our goals! A few days later, I had sore muscles because the area we tracted in this day was a rich neighborhood, and everyone has ridiculously long and steep driveways.

Doors knocked: 35
MWTY: 35

9-20-15, Sunday: We had ward council at 7:45am, then church (it was the Primary Program!), visiting a less-active, tracting, an appt with a member, tracting, and another appt with a member.

Doors knocked: 14
MWTY: 13

Overall, it's been a great week. We are seeing some fruits of our labor, and I hope that we can continue going strong in the work! Although we do have transfer calls this upcoming Saturday, with transfers the Wednesday after that, and so Sister Pyrah and I may or may not be together this next transfer. If I could, I'd stay another in Wetumpka. :)

Sending prayers your way,
Sister Griffith

The American fort

Some trees here in AL have pretty Spanish moss flowing from them.

Viewpoint of the Coosa river

Me by one of the Indian hut replicas :)

A pretty walking trail

A spider web...these are everywhere here!!

Hey y'all!  I've been out for seven months!  
Eleven to go!  :)

Monday, September 14, 2015

September Temple Trip & More!

Good afternoon y'all,

We've had a good week, including being able to go to the Gardendale (Birmingham) temple! After our wonderful session we drove into Birmingham and met the other sisters at Jason's Deli to have lunch at. It was in this cute mall complex and was fun to go to (except it started down pouring while we were in there!) That same day, we went on exchanges with the STL's, and I spent the night in Millbrooke, AL. It was Sister Pyrah's first exchange and it went really well. Other than this, our week has been fairly normal, and we've been enjoying the exceptional weather we've been getting lately!

I also thought I'd share a piece that I wrote yesterday. Hope you enjoy it!

Hugs and love,
Sister Griffith

Rolled across the towering waves,
One calls out, "Peace, be still."
Calming the tempest rage,
the Apostles' faith renewed with zeal.

Have you ever felt
you are tossed out to sea?
Victim of wind and scourge,
which seem to never cease?

Is there a storm
inside your heart?
Towering from regret
or remorse on your part?

Are you buried under
that Great Deep?
Do you think that
God is asleep?

No, no,
do not fret.
During those darkest times,
His arm of mercy can be met.

Through the caverns
of your heart
His love will fill;
As He whispers those
quiet words:

Peace, be still.
At the Birmingham temple! One of my best sessions yet.

We love the temple!

One of my latest chalk drawings--whose team are you on?

Ready to go for football season at our apartment!!!

Sister Pyrah and I after church, enjoying the beautiful day (this is behind our apartment)       

Classic action shot

Spent a few minutes at the edge of the Coosa river, enjoying the day :)

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A Study on Faith & Testimony

Hey everybody!

I've been doing some interesting studies lately for an investigator and I compiled it and thought I'd share it. This investigator has had some difficulty believing in the existence of God, and also had some questions regarding gaining a testimony and if you can get a confirming witness without the Spirit. It took me several days to compile my thoughts, and there's so much more that I could have included, but I only had a certain amount of time to study until we met with this investigator! So keep in mind this is a rough draft, but I hope you enjoy it. :)

Before I get into the study, I'll update y'all about our week…it's been a good one! We had Zone Training Thursday, lots of tracting, helping some member's move Saturday, proselyting on Labor day, and our P day (which included bowling with our Zone!) today! In the stores here they are already getting Halloween candy and decorations out, as well as coats & jackets, which I feel is way too early considering that Halloween is over a month away, and it's still super hot outside! I can't wait till the weather cools down a bit. Besides this, there's not much else to report! Hope everyone's upcoming week goes well!

Sister Griffith

A study on faith & testimony:

Gaining a testimony without the Spirit --

One cannot realistically reason out the attributes of spirituality. God works through science but in such a way that the human mind cannot comprehend. For example, Christ healing an infirmity (such as healing a blind man): doctors cannot prove, or medically sort out, how this was done mainly because it was wrought through spiritual power. And so it is with us, we cannot sort out or prove the reality of God, His Son, and the Holy Ghost with the feeble human mind and ever-changing viewpoints of modern science. To receive a confirmation of spirituality it must come about by a spiritual confirmation.

Nature, and the laws of science, directly indicate the extensive care God put into making this Earth and things it contains. The reality of His existence is found in the repetitive pull of the ocean wave, hung in the balance of the planets, and shouted to the world as new life springs from the womb. God's hand-print in found everywhere. Unfortunately we take for granted the beauty of His creations, and forget to give Him credit for the miraculous events that happen on a daily basis. For example, we know that if you plant a seed in the ground, something will come of it; but consider the miracle of that actual process--something man cannot comprehend. Man has found that certain elements help the plant to grow, they have studied the science of it as far as they could, but (scientifically) we still cannot explain the actual miracle of how life springs up. (For further study, turn to "Jesus the Christ", chapter 11 "Miracles in General", pg. 148-149)

Signs from God --

The Bible dictionary states: "Miracles do not produce faith but strong faith is developed by obedience to the Gospel of Jesus Christ." God has given signs throughout history, as well as today, for everyone to recognize. We can see prophecies that have been or are being fulfilled! But for those that exercise increased faith, God has given them even deeper "signs" of spirituality (visions, angelic visitations, strong manifestations of the Spirit, etc.). For those with no faith, they are not as likely to recognize God's hand and receive direct spiritual manifestations (although there are some cases recorded in the scriptures that have been otherwise). The reason for this is because: 1. God will not cast His "pearls before swine" (Matt 7:6) 2. Testimonies are built on faith, not proof.

Those with faith
1 Nephi 11:1, pg.19 (Nephi's vision)
Alma 18:40, 19:6, pg. 256 (King Lamoni converted)
3 Nephi 7:21-22, pg. 421 (People visited by power of God)

Those with no faith
Jacob 7:12-14, pg. 134 (Sherem & Jacob)
Alma 30:43-46, pg. 283 (Korihor & Alma)
Alma 32:17-18, pg. 289 (Alma teaching)
Mormon 1:13-14, pg. 469 (miracles ceased)

Signs in general
Mosiah 3:15, pg. 153
Alma 30:44, pg. 283
Helaman 14:3, pg. 401
3 Nephi 2:1, pg. 409
3 Nephi 21:7, pg. 451

A foundation of faith --

A testimony can only flourish on a foundation of faith; it will only bud with the desires of a faithful and sincere heart. God's Gospel is built on faith, and we are expected to tune into our spirituality and turn to him with a hopeful heart. That is part of our purpose here: to have our faith tested and tried, to see if we will turn to Him. As we do so, His reality will be more fully manifested unto us. "His power is usually exercised in response to faith" and the scriptures repeatedly testify to us of the beautiful response brought to one consequently wrought from their faithful testimony and strong desire to come closer to their Father in Heaven.

In contrast with this, we can compare someone's desire to first receive proof, then their "testimony" will be made sure. But this is set up for failure from the start. To have "proof", whether it be a sign, to behold something with one's own eyes, or to have God speak directly to you, will not spark a testimony. If one does not start with faith, it is unlikely that one will ever eventually achieve that in different circumstances.There have been some cases where a sign, proof, or manifestation woke someone up to their spirituality, but for the majority of us and in most cases, God tests our faith.

We can understand fairly well why God doesn't just allow us to see into the Heavens, or to manifest Himself plainly to the world, since as people we take for granted what we have now; and for those without a sincere testimony they will disregard it anyway (think about when Christ was on the Earth and working so many miracles, people saw the Son of God and still disregarded Him). If God showed the world the gold plates from which the Book of Mormon sprung forth, people would still not accept or be satisfied with that "proof". They would doubt the authenticity of the records and exclaim that the church manufactured them. Thus God does not "cast His pearls before swine." In contrast with that, those who show forth their faith can have greater things manifest to them, which in turn will strengthen their testimony, not develop it.

Testimony built on faith + greater things manifest
3 Nephi 11:32-33 (Christ's doctrine is to believe in Him)
Mosiah 21:30 (Alma had faith in another person's testimony)
Alma 18:35 (Faith brings the Spirit, knowledge, & power)
Alma 26:22 (Those who exercise faith will come to know the mysteries of God)
Alma 32:21 (Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge)
3 Nephi 7:18 (Nephi's faith was so great that angels ministered to him daily)
3 Nephi 17:8 (The people's faith was strong enough that Christ healed them)
3 Nephi 26:9-11 (God gave us an "ounce" of Christ's ministry; if we have faith, more will be revealed to us)

Concerning faith, we come to understand that it does not mean having a perfect knowledge; for it is impossible to have a complete knowledge or possess a "perfect" testimony, at least in our current state. Christ has asked us to have "child-like faith", which means us not knowing all the answers and putting our trust in Him. In turn that does not mean that we shouldn't strive to continue learning and to strengthen our testimony. We are expected to increase in our knowledge, to progress spiritually. No matter how small our knowledge or testimony of the Gospel is, you will be able to see the positive impact in makes on your life. You will strengthen your testimony as you put faith into action--as you live by what you believe. God will see that you have real intent in your hope, that you trust in Him. Consequently, you will more fully recognize His hand in your life.

You can receive a witness and testimony of the Gospel and the Author of it, but only through faith. And as Ether 12:6 so eloquently declares, "faith is things hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith."

Receiving a testimony through the Spirit --

It is only in and through the Spirit that we will receive a testimony of the reality and power of God. The Holy Ghost, or the Holy Spirit, is the third member of the Godhead (which is made up of God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit). They are separate Beings but united in purpose, each with different roles. The Holy Ghost has many roles, one of which is to testify of truth--to give us a confirming witness. "And the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and Me; and the Father giveth the Holy Ghost unto the children of men, because of Me." (3 Nephi 28:11) It is through the Holy Ghost that you can come to know spiritual truths.

You can gain a testimony by:
1. Having a sincere desire
2. Having faith & trust in God
3. Studying the scriptures & increasing your knowledge
4. Praying for answers & the Spirit to be with you
5. Striving to recognize God's hand (blessings) in your life

Along with the gentle caresses and whisperings of the Holy Ghost, we can recognize God in the beauty of the Earth, in melodic prayer sung on the Sabbath, and in the innocent laughter of a child. Those things are good, and God is good. God is love. And God is great.

The Spirit will be your closest companion; Jesus Christ your strongest advocate; God your most loving Heavenly Father; and the Gospel a safe haven as you combat the storms of life.

After Zone training, all of us Sisters ate at "Mellow Mushroom", a cute pizza place!

The sunrise we have every morning!

Beautiful Wetumpka :)

Bowling today!