Well to start off Happy of 4th of July everyone! We had a patriotic and celebratory day to Elder Pilling why America is the greatest country on the Earth. In the morning we helped with a pancake breakfast in the Lynn Ranch neighborhood and were able to stand in the scorching sun by a hot grill and serve breakfast to everyone. Although that sounds pretty awful because it’s been 112° the past few days… We actually had a lot of fun and talked to many people including members and people we have meet before while working the area. Later that day we had a ward activity at member home with a big bbq with steak and chicken, baked beans, potato salad, patriotic desserts and everything else you could imagine. There were fireworks later that night we were able to see a little bit of to too off the day. Elder Pilling really enjoyed singing The Star Spangled Banner and America the Beautiful in church this last Sunday… You can see his enthusiasm on his face with the attached picture.
MLC was on Tuesday down in Oxnard. We had all the leadership in the mission there again plus district leaders. I was able to take a picture with 5 of my previous companions that were there, almost 6 is Elder Kopaunik would have stayed after lunch. We talked all about setting higher expectation for missionaries and helping them achieve their full potential as servants of the Lord. We also discussed the changes to Preach My Gospel and our weekly meetings we have as districts. My original group is going home after this week so hope they hit it hard! All of the departing missionaries got to bear their testimonies of leadership growth. It is pretty amazing to see what God has done for all these missionaries I have known, 2 years of accelerated growth with the Spirit guiding them. As always we made a stop by Oxnard Drug to say hi to Brother Hoffman and let him serve us with kindness and free stuff. One of my favorite things was MLC was from President Nakken, “Our missionaries will never reach a capacity of power greater than the leadership of the mission, you must be the example!”
Ahmady, our recent convert dad who lives in Afghanistan continues to amaze us. He recently escaped the country and made it to Dubai after running from the government for being Christian. Here is an amazing update of those thristing for the gospel. “Last night, Martha and I were able to send her father the address of the church building in Dubai. Now that he is free, we wanted him to have the oppurtunity to attend church. He was so determined to hear for himself the true gospel, he got a taxi and traveled for 8 hours (on top of escaping a country…) hours to the building. Because of the many beatings he has endured, Ahmady now struggles to walk with a cane. When he made it up the steps to the chapel door, he met the bishop there, who sadly, could not let him enter. “Are you Muslim?” “No, I have been a Christain almost 20 years. I have traveled long way to come here. May I come in?” “I’m sorry, the government of Dubai forbids us from teaching Muslims the gospel. I am so sorry.” Ahmady traveled back to his hotel without the blessing of the gospel association. My heart broke for him. He wrote to me, “Please please I am ok with everything which happened. I am back in my room, I am praying for the church to be delivered from there government rules.” I asked Ahmady how he was able to have such great forgiveness and fath. He said, “The Lord is with me. All I want on this earth is to one time see the face of my daughter again.”
This story of two children of God struggling for the gospel is not unique to Martha and Ahmady. I am so impressed by their devotion. I am also saddened that so many people we talk to are able to accept the gospel of they wanted to but do not. It is my closing thought to this email. Ask yourself, “How did I get so blessed?” Almost all of those I send this to are in safe place with friends and family that are close and the ability to worship as they please. As Christians and members of his true church it is a priceless blessing and oppurtunity to share the gospel freely without government restriction of our lives being in danger. The scriptures say it best in Amos, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.” We are blessed to out of that famine as a world but it is our duty to help every one get out of their personal famine of being farther from the Lord than they could be!
Transfer calls this Saturday, I will find out if I stay or go from Thousand Oaks!
Have a great week and God bless America!
133 W. Avenida De Los Arboles
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360