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New (and final) companion

Hello All:

Transfers were on Tuesday. I'm staying here in the Eagle Valley Ward with a new companion, Elder Isac Valdes Tolentino, from Coahuila, Mexico. He's been out a little longer than a year, and his English is only slightly better than my Spanish. It makes for a good companionship; we get to translate for each other a lot.

The work is going great. This past week, it has really picked up. We taught 22 lessons, and had a few families with whom we've been working for a while attend church on Sunday! We've also picked up a few former investigators missionaries taught here a year ago. The Spirit is with us, and we're excited to see the blessings that the Lord has for the people in this area... and for us, too! =)

Pres. Maynes came to our area on Sunday to perform interviews as he does every other transfer. Mission Presidents are really good at a lot of things, but they're best at expressing sincere love. He gave us some good instruction to help us become the best we can be this transfer, and we both have personal goals to work on.

Here's a bit of Scriptural insight I gained as I read in the Book of Mormon this week:

Certainly we all remember the fantastic missionary companionship of Alma and Amulek. I want to emphasize for a moment the way Amulek refers to his "trainer" and "senior companion" when he speaks of Alma in Alma Chapter 10. As he recounts his angelic ministration, and the blessings that always attend someone who houses missionaries (v. 7 and 11), he refers to Alma with great respect and reverence, calling him "a prophet of the Lord," "a holy man," and "a chosen man of God."

Not long afterwards, times get very rough, very quickly, and Amulek sacrifices everything he owns for the Gospel of Christ: "all his gold, and silver, and his precious things... for the word of God, he being rejected by those who were once his friends and also by his father and his kindred" (Alma 15:16).

Following their mission, the believers' martyrdom, the total rejection of God by the city of Ammonihah, and the establishment of the Church in nearby Sidom, Alma compassionately "took Amulek and came over to the land of Zarahemla, and took him to his own house, and did administer unto him in his tribulations, and strengthened him in the Lord" (Alma 15:18).

Seven years later on another mission, this time to apostate Zoramites in Antionum, Amulek refers many times in his preaching to Alma in Chapter 34:

And as ye have desired of my beloved brother that he should make known unto you what ye should do... (v. 3)
And ye also beheld that my brother has proved unto you... (v. 6)
My brother has called upon the words of Zenos... (v. 7)

No longer does Amulek refer to Alma solely as "a prophet of the Lord," "a holy man," and "a chosen man of God," but rather, his "beloved brother."

To missionaries, Elder Jefferey R. Holland gave this advice:

These people are not lifeless objects disguised as a baptismal statistic. They are children of God, our brothers and sisters, and they need what we have. Be genuine. Reach out sincerely. Ask these friends what matters most to them. What do they cherish, and what do they hold dear? And then listen. If the setting is right, you might ask what their fears are, what they yearn for, or what they feel is missing in their lives.

I promise you that something in what they say will always highlight a truth of the gospel about which you can bear testimony and about which you can then offer more... If we listen with love, we won’t need to wonder what to say. It will be given to us-- by the Spirit and by our friends. (Preach My Gospel, p. 185)

As missionaries, home and visiting teachers, leaders, and friends; whether within the membership of the Church, or with our non-member associates, I hope we can all follow the example of Alma, strengthening and comforting our brethren and sisters. Then we will no longer be just their Bishop, their home teacher, or their missionary, but their "beloved brother" ... or sister. We must love those we serve. Like Alma, may we all seek to listen, learn from, and love those we are "called to serve" or to serve with, in whatever station we may be in, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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