This week has been pretty eventful! I'll start at the beginning and see what I can remember.
Sunday was a pretty busy day. It was a fast Sunday, which I've come to appreciate more and more since I've been out here. I'm starting to better understand what fasting really is for and why it's important, which is something I've never completely understood before. The Branch President here invited us over for lunch, and that was really fun with his family. It was almost like a show during and after lunch, just watching his three teenage daugters and one teenage son all tease each other and good-naturedly make fun of each other. It was hilarious! It reminded me of our family a little bit too. They're a really nice family. Later on that day, we also talked to a pastor, which was interesting. We had me him before, but this was the first time that we had been able to actually talk with him. At this point, we're pretty sure that he thinks he's going to try to convert us. But we still have high hopes for him because he's willing to listen to what we say and talk with us, and I know that if he will sincerely read the Book of Mormon and pray about it, that the Holy Ghost will tell him that it is true, that it truly is the word of God. That's the best part about this work. I'm sure he knows the Bible much better than I do, but I know that the Book of Mormon is true and I know that sincere seekers of truth will hearken unto the voice of the Shepherd. The Holy Ghost will testify of truth, and carry it unto the hearts of the hearers (2 Nephi 33:1), and he is the one who does the real converting. The Lord truly does use weak things (us) to bring about that which is great. Later on at night we saw the fireworks in Allegan from our apartment complex. For some reason, they decided to do it on Sunday instead of Monday. But I was glad that we were able to watch from the edge of our apartment complex; I always love seeing the fireworks. Another treat along with the explosive firework show was the natural nightly firework show that has recently begun here- fireflies! I only remember seeing them once before in my life, so it's a real treat to see them again.
Monday was a fun day as well. The Subacz family (just the parents now, the kids have grown up) took us over to South Haven for dinner and to go to the beach and see the lighthouse. When the plans had been made, we were planning on watching the fireworks there, but even though the fireworks were switched to Sunday we decided to just go to South Haven anyways. We ate at a 50's diner, which was great, and the went to the beach and walked out on a pier to a small lighthouse at the end. We stuck out a little bit on the beach in our white shirts and ties, but it was a lot of fun. They actually have a real sandy beach there, belive it or not, and a pretty big one too. It looked like a really fun place to visit; just like an ocean beach really, but with fresh water. We then drove around a little bit and looked at the marina and different parts of the city, and then went home. All in all, it was very relaxing, and a great opportunity to test out the power and features of my new camera, which works great and takes amazing pictures and videos! I'l send some home when I get the chance.
Tuesday was a trade off with the district leader, where we trade companions for the day. Coincidently, that meant that I spent all of Tuesday in South Haven again (my district leader's area), only this time as a missionary and not just a visitor. It was a good day, and it was great talking to my district leader Elder Wood. He was one of the Assistants to the President when I first got out here in Michigan, and this is his last transfer before he goes home in a month. We talked for a while and he gave me some pretty good advice on different things that I had questions about. We got to talk to a lot of people and teach a couple lessons. All in all, a very good day. Oh, and also, before I left Allegan in the morning, Elder Ralphs and I did an hour and a half of volunteer service working at Goodwill, which is a lot like DI. We're going to be volunteering there from 10:30 to noon Monday and Tuesday mornings from now on. It was fun, it was a nice change of pace and I enjoyed the work there.
Wednesday was busy, as normal. We had the opportunity to meet together as a zone down in the Kalamazoo Stake Center and meet our new mission president and his wife. President and Sister Hess are amazing, and I am so excited to get to have my first interview with him on the 26th of this month. I know that I was sent to this mission for a reason, and that part of it was because the Lord meant for me to be here with President Hess for the majority of my mission. I look forward to serving under him for the next year and a half. Later on in the day, we did our service at an assisted living center here in Allegan, which we do each week. We played bingo as usual with senior citizens, and otherwise handicapped people, and then afterwards we helped serve a snack and got to talk for a little bit. It was really nice. We had dinner at a less-active member's home later on and read from the Book of Mormon with them. They're very nice, and doing very well. They're starting to read the Book of Mormon on their own, which they haven't done much before, and they are planning on coming to church this week, which is very exciting. Afterwards we visited Brother Griffon, a very able 80-something year old man with a southern accent who is one of the nicest and most enjoyable people I've met so far on my mission. His wife isn't a member, but he still is very active in the church and loves it. He really appreciates us coming each week and talking with him for a little bit.
Thursday was a thrilling day for missionary work. We met with one of our investigators, Chiquita, in the morning, and had an amazing lesson about the Gospel of Jesus Christ (which is basically the first principles and ordinances of the gospel, see articles of faith vs. 4).
When we asked her at the beginning what she felt like faith was, she thought really hard about and reasoned it out for a minute or two before she told us that she felt like faith was a belif in things that are not seen, but that are true. Right before she said that, Elder Ralphs and Sister Spaulding (The Spauldings came with us to the lesson) and I all had opend our scriptures to Alma 32. She had almost quoted exactly what Alma had said! As Chiquita said that, we all starting grinning at each other at how amazing that was. Chiquita is doing so well, and we always have very spiritual lessons with her. At the end of the lesson, we set a baptismal date with her for July 30 for her to work towards. She is already gaining a testimony of the truth of these things and of the Restoration, and I know that if she'll keeping reading from the Book of Mormon and praying, and coming to church, that she'll be ready to be baptized by then. Later on in the day, we were finally able to meet with a family that we had door-knocked into about a month ago. We taught them about God, and about prophets, and about the Great Apostasy, and about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon. We know that they have been prepared to hear this message, and that the Lord guided us to be able to find them and to finally be able to teach them. They have been to many churches before, and the father could relate to Joseph Smith's story a lot of wanting to find the right church. They have 4 kids, all boys, ages 11, 12, 13, and 14. They're planning on coming to church this Sunday, and we're meeting with them again next week to teach them again. We're thrilled! We called our district leader and Brother Subacz (ward mission leader) right afterwards to tell them the exciting news. There is truly great joy in missionary work. I really can relate to the joy that Ammon and Aaron feel in the Book of Mormon as they serve and teach among the Lamanites. There is nothing like that joy. Perhaps later in my life the joy from my future family will be able to rival that, but nothing up to this point in my life really can. Later on that day, we also met with another person for the first time who became another new investigator! After that, we stopped by the Branch President's house on the way home to tell him about the great news. He ended up inviting us to stay for dinner, where we were able to talk to them some more and enjoy their company once again before returning home. This was definately one fo the best days on my mission so far, along with the day that the Allred family was baptized.
Friday was a great day as well, but I'm running out of time so I'll have to cut it short. But we were guided by the Spirit and the Lord blessed us to be able to find more people to teach. The Lord has promised us that there would be much work done in this area, and now we see this starting to happen, and we are so grateful and thrilled.
Today isn't too busy of a day, but we may go fishing again later this afternoon if we get the chance. We'll just have to see.
I'll try to include more about the area and what things are like here in my email next week, if I can. I hope everyone has a great week. I love you all. Enjoy your summer!
Elder Trevor Casper