Mission Scripture

Mission Scripture

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

This is Zion in Babylon

Hey everyone! 
This week has been great! I can't believe this cycle is already halfway over. Elder Monson is such a good companion. We get along really well with each other and do some great work. It seems that when you have a companion that you really enjoy working with, you don't get to stay with them for very long. I'm kinda bummed that we will only be companions for three more weeks. I guess we'll just have to make the best of them and make sure Elder Monson's last part of the mission will make him look back and be happy about the work he did in Harlem. The way that missionary work is moving in our mission is really cool. President Morgan is such an inspired man and leader. In the past few months he has put a huge emphasis on setting inspired goals, having the faith that you will reach those goals, and putting in the necessary plans that will help you get there. I've always had struggles with planning, and we do a lot of it as missionaries. I don't know why, but I just really don't like it. So, when President Morgan brought this out I was less than excited. But as we have put some things into practice, I've started to gain a new perspective on it. In the last couple of weeks the mission has started to do a new kind of planning called monthly planning. This is where you focus on an individual that you are teaching and plan out what needs to happen before they can be baptized. You start with their baptismal date and then plug in when they need to be interviewed, when they need to meet the Bishop, when they need to come to church, when they need to be taught each lesson, and all of the other little things that need to happen for them. This requires a lot of extra work and is kind of tedious. These plans are also subject to change as the Spirit directs and as investigators progress differently than you thought they might. It gives you a really good perspective though and helps you have a visual of how much work needs to be done with these people in order for them to reach their goal. Like I said, President Morgan is a very inspired man. I think this new practice will really help us as missionaries to better prepare people for baptism and help more people stay active after they are baptized. The work of the Lord is progressing and hastening all the time, and it is so cool to have a front row seat to it all. We had an awesome experience this week that showed me that miracles really do happen and that the Lord is always preparing people to receive the gospel. We were at the chapel on Sunday waiting for church to start. About a half hour before sacrament meeting started, one of the YSA members came over to me and introduced me to a guy named Norman. He said that Norman just came into their sacrament meeting and sat down. He started talking to him, found out he's not a member, and introduced him to the missionaries. So cool! Norman is from Jamaica and is visiting his cousins here in Harlem for about five months. I had the chance to give him a Book of Mormon before the meeting started and explain to him what it is. I felt the Spirit so strongly as I testified of the promise given to us in Moroni 10:3-5. If he would just read the book, ponder it in his heart, and sincerely ask God if it was true, he would gain a divine witness of it from the Holy Ghost. It was so incredible to watch him as they started passing the sacrament. He opened up the Book of Mormon that I had just given him and began reading from 1 Nephi. This was just such a cool experience for me. The Lord has prepared Norman to come in contact with us. He was prompted by the Spirit to walk into our church on Sunday morning and followed that prompting! This is truly the Lord's work, and He is doing it in His way. I'm just here for Him to use as a tool to further progress His children and to bring them unto Him. It's amazing! We also had a less active family come to church on Sunday for the first time. The Strungys family. Elder Monson and I found them a couple days after I got here. They live up in the Polo Grounds, which is a huge project across the river from Yankee Stadium. It was so awesome when they walked in and sat down. Brother and Sister Strungys have seven children, so they took up an entire row by themselves. Just like you might see in a Utah ward. Haha. Anyway, I'm excited for them to continue to progress and become fully active in the gospel again. I'm seeing miracles all over the place, and it's incredible! Oh yeah, one more cool thing from Sunday. For the fifth Sunday lesson, the Bishopric talked to everyone about attending the temple and how we should make it a priority. Bishop Kelly ended the meeting by telling us a story about when President Hinckley dedicated the Manhattan temple. He said that a few times President Hinckley used the phrase, "This is Zion in Babylon". I thought that was really cool. In the midst of all the craziness and sin in New York City there stands a temple. Right in the heart of it all is the house of the Lord. It truly is Zion in Babylon. I then thought about the ward I am currently serving in. The congregation of saints here in Harlem is tiny compared to everyone else that lives here. But the chapel on 128th and Lenox makes a difference on the entire surrounding area. It's a little oasis from all the craziness of Harlem. Then I also thought about our role as missionaries. I've heard President Morgan say a few times, "Just you missionaries' presence alone makes a positive difference on the areas where you serve". A few representatives of the Lord walk around Harlem every single day and make it a little bit better of a place. What a privilege it is for me to be one of those few trusted to be here and to make a positive impact on this place. We are Zion in Babylon. I just think that statement is so profound. As members of the church (even in Utah) I think we all need to have that perspective and strive to build a Zion in Babylon. The world we live in gets more and more wicked all the time, but if we can stay true to the gospel we can make a small difference in the world. Well, that's about it for this week. I'm off to a Yankees game! Love you all. Have a fantastic week! 
~Elder Allred 

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