Mercy

I don’t know any other way to explain my feeling about the week. It started off really well. We were able to meet with quite a few of our friends and found some new ones as well, but then it just kind of went flat. Sunday afternoon, I was just out of energy, and our appointment that we were supposed to have fell out. We had some work to do at the church so we went over there and took care of that until our eating appointment. Afterwards, we had our study time, and I came across a chapter in the Teachings of President David O McKay about The Dual Nature of Man. It was all about choosing to be spiritual instead of natural/animalistic. I got the feeling that I am so blessed. It was right after I fasted to be more focused, and it was really an answer because after this experience I felt a renewed desire to choose my mood and to choose to be focused instead of letting myself be influenced by the disappointing things around me.

Elder Billings

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Testimony of God and The Book of Mormon

This week was a little slow. But overall it turned out well. My weekly highlight is from Sunday evening. We were out going door to door and a young man answered. He explained that he is agnostic, meaning he does not deny the existence of a God because there no way to prove it one way or another. At this point I was able to bear my testimony of the Book of Mormon as evidence that there is a God. I testified that He hears our prays and will answer them. When I finished speaking, this man expressed how impressed he was that I have this kind of conviction. We left him a card so that he could find us when he has interest and left. As we left, I felt in my heart that I had fulfilled my purpose in this moment. I do not know if he will ever join the church, but I hope what I said made a lasting impression on him.

So this is a short story shared with me by one of my friends serving in the Frankfurt mission:

“One day, Lucy was at the store with her mother. They did their shopping and while in the checkout line, Lucy saw something. That something was the most precious little bracelet that she had ever laid eyes on. This bracelet was made out of precious, white, plastic pearls. Upon seeing this bracelet, she asked her mom, “Mommy! Mommy! Can I get it? Can I get the bracelet?” Her mom asked her how much money Lucy had. They counted out her coins and it all added up to one dollar. The bracelet however had a price of two dollars. Lucy had a look of disappointment on her face and her mom told her, “Lucy, if you work hard this next week and help out around the house, I will give you enough money so that you can buy this bracelet.” Lucy accepted.

The moment they got home, Lucy went to work. She would help with the dishes. She helped taking out the garbage. She even helped clean her room! Ultimately, the week passed and they returned to the store and Lucy was able to purchase the bracelet. As soon as the bracelet was hers, Lucy wore it every day! She never was without her bracelet of plastic pearls. She wore it to bed. She wore it to school. She always had the bracelet. She cherished this bracelet.

Every night her dad would come in to tuck her in. He would then ask her, “Lucy, do you love me?” Lucy would have the sweetest answer every time; “I love you more than anything daddy!” He would then say, “I love you too. Good night.” He would then give her a kiss on her forehead and then leave. He continued this but after sometime he added something. He would ask, “Lucy, do you love me?” She would reply the same way; “I love you more than anything daddy!” He would then ask, “Well, can I have your bracelet then?” She would then giggle a little and say, “No daddy. You can’t have my bracelet. I love it too much!” He would then continue to kiss her on her forehead, and then leave. However he did have a rather solemn look on his face as he did so. After a few nights of doing this, one night he went into Lucy’s room and to his surprise something was different. As he entered into the room, he saw Lucy sitting on the edge of her bed with her arm stretched out in front of her, fist clenched. He noticed that Lucy was holding her bracelet made out of plastic pearls. She said, “Here daddy. I love you more than anything. Even my bracelet.” He then sat down next to her. Gave her a hug and said to her that he would return shortly. So he took the bracelet of plastic pearls and left the room. Soon he returned holding a box. He gave it to Lucy and when she opened it, her face lit up instantly. Inside the box was a necklace of real pearls. Lucy jumped up, threw her arms around her father, gave him a kiss on the cheek and said, “Thank you daddy! They’re more pretty than anything I have ever dreamed of!”

In this story we can replace Lucy with ourselves. Our father asks us if we love him and we must show it with our actions. He asks us to give up our plastic beads (pride, bad talking about others, being lazy, being negative, etc.). What he has for us is so much better, it is like comparing plastic beads to pearls.

Love, Elder Billings

2015 07 20 RR tracks

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Helix

This week at church, a man and a woman walked into church and the woman introduced herself as a new member from Duesseldorf. Her boyfriend is not yet a member and we were able to talk with him a lot and went to the gospel principles class together. We talked about the principles of work and personal responsibility and he really liked the fact that we apply the gospel to real life. We are going to call them tonight and set up and appointment with them for this week.

Other than that, we had zone conference this week, our first with President Fingerle. It was interesting, a little different from the way things were before, but there is nothing wrong with that. My favorite lesson was from the assistants who talked about the restoration and Joseph smith. Afterwards, practiced teaching the restoration, and it was an amazing opportunity to join my testimony to that of the prophets and feel the truth of the restoration once again.

I started the Book of Mormon again in my personal study and I am studying it to finish the last six months of my mission. Oh, I almost forgot. I will be coming home six months from yesterday (Sunday). That is nuts.

Elder Billings

J and comp in Hannover BW

J and comp in Hannover

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The Work of Salvation

So this week was a little warm:) We spent a lot of time out talking to people and not many were interested. Not that important though. What was really great was teaching. We only had one lesson but the lady we taught was so great. She is older and from Russia. Really quiet but she wants to learn the gospel. She is so wonderful and the members are really good about teaching her with us. I am actually really out of time. We are meeting our mission president tomorrow so I can write about that next week.

This is my letter to [his new mission president] President Fingerle:

“I would like to begin my letter with some thoughts on the Fourth of July. As I think about what this holiday stands for, I am reminded of my ancestors and the example of faith that they have lived. I think of my parents who raised me to love God and to have a faith centered in Christ. Each of them walked the path of faith and set the course for me to follow. From my great-great-great grandfather who joined the church in Kirtland and was loyal to God and his Prophets until his death in 1866, to my grandfather who joined the church in his prime and stayed true through all the trials of his life. I see their sacrifice as sacred, and hope to live a life worthy of it.

As that is my goal, how can I give any less than my all in this, the work of salvation. That brings me to my study this week. I decided to return to chapter 1 in Preach my Gospel to read the scriptures for the section, “a successful missionary”. The question is put forth, how do servants of the Lord feel about their work and how do they influence those they serve? I spent so much time thinking about these questions, and I was struck, as I read the scripture passages that followed, by the love that these missionaries had for God and for their fellowmen. Not only that, but their reaction to rejection as well. They were sorry, that is true, but they each lifted up they heads and rejoiced. And, like in the case of Alma, returned speedily to preach to gospel.

That was a message I really needed this week. Mostly because this program is struggling. We are teaching one person and, despite our finding efforts, we have not found any new investigators in the last two weeks. That is not really anything to complain about. But, I was feeling very stressed out for the last couple of days, then I studied this section and it brought peace and understanding.”

Elder Billings

 

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Crescendo

This week we received an email from president Kosak. He spoke about many things and expressed to us his joy in working with us. His email was about the ideal missionary. Or the ideal disciple. This is a short out-take from his email.

CRESCENDO
The ideal missionary is not perfect, but lives a life in crescendo – growing in intensity. It must be since Elder Neal A. Maxwell declared, “In case you hadn’t notice it, in the last days, discipleship is to be lived in crescendo.”

Crescendo as seen in lives of Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith, and in yourself!

He learns to know that he knows, and more and more he comprehends knowledge, understanding, and owns his believe consciously. He is ready to act upon.

I’ve seen the ideal missionary as she learns something about herself every day, following the path of Abraham who recognized the almighty God to find personal borders and limits of her own consecration and sacrifice. Happiness and joy come out of it – a joy only the Lord can give.

This ideal missionary takes the advantage to mature physically, emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually in governing himself after being taught correct principles.

Everything we did was for life, not for 1 ½ or 2 years – it is for eternity. It will guide you as eternal truths. The ideal missionary will “never lose sight that nothing is too hard for the Lord”, as Elder Ballard testifies of.

Thank you for your prayers and testimony. We wrote our new mission president this week so I spent considerable time on that. This week has been interesting as it always is in a new area, and we are both learning the city still.

As for how the work is going, it is rather poor. We have one investigator that we work with and one less active member. In a city the size of Hannover, that is not very respectable. It doesn’t really matter but there is a potential for so much more. The members are rather young and there is so much potential for them to invite their friends to hear the gospel. After praying about it we decided to begin by working with our ward council to strengthen the ward and to find those that would be ready to invite their friends to hear the gospel. It is a long and slow road, but it is so worth it. Actually, the relief society president’s son just had his [missionary] homecoming this Sunday. I thought about how we could work with this family to help them invite their friends and family to hear the restored gospel. I don’t know yet.

Love,

Elder Billings

New Town Hall, Hannover, By Thomas Wolf, www.foto-tw.de (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 de (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons

New Town Hall, Hannover, By Thomas Wolf, http://www.foto-tw.de (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 de (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The Aegidienkirche (Aegidien - church) is a landmark in Hannover, Germany. The church was destroyed in World War II, and the ruins have been preserved as a memorial. There are frequently art exhibitions in the ruins of the church.  This Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons image is from the user Chris 73 and is freely available at //commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aegidienkirche_Hannover.jpg under the creative commons cc-by-sa 3.0 license.

The Aegidienkirche (Aegidien – church) is a landmark in Hannover, Germany. The church was destroyed in World War II, and the ruins have been preserved as a memorial. There are frequently art exhibitions in the ruins of the church. This Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons image is from the user Chris 73 and is freely available at //commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aegidienkirche_Hannover.jpg under the creative commons cc-by-sa 3.0 license.

Hannover Panorama view at the new Town Hall "Hannover Panorama2" by / Zeichner: fuchs1978 - Own work (Original text: Eigene Aufnahme). Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Hannover Panorama view at the new Town Hall “Hannover Panorama2” by / Zeichner: fuchs1978 – Own work (Original text: Eigene Aufnahme). Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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Good-bye Potsdam

This weekend I received the call that I will be transferred to Hannover. As I think about my time here, I cannot help but be grateful to my God who sent me here. I don’t think there has been a more stretching time on my mission, but in turn, I have never felt so strongly that my Father in Heaven loves me and knows me personally. This last half year has made clear to me my strengths as well as my weaknesses. It has become clear to me that of all other attributes, the most important for me is my personal loyalty to my Father in Heaven. All strength and blessings flow from that single attitude.

These last couple weeks with Elder Conley have been an amazing blessing for me. He is/was an example to me of loyalty to our Heavenly Father. In obedience, in diligence, in the desire to learn, in patience, in joy and in his constant drive to share the gospel. I do not think there could have been a better way for me to learn a little about these traits, than to serve with him for this short time.

I don’t have much more to say on this subject other than that I know that “the Spirit of the Lord has called [me] another way” (Alma 22:4)

Love you all,
Elder J Billings

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Mormon 9

27 O then despise not, and wonder not, but hearken unto the words of the Lord, and ask the Father in the name of Jesus for what things soever ye shall stand in need. Doubt not, but be believing, and begin as in times of old, and come unto the Lord with all your heart, and work out your own salvation with fear and trembling before him.

28 Be wise in the days of your probation; strip yourselves of all uncleanness; ask not, that ye may consume it on your lusts, but ask with a firmness unshaken, that ye will yield to no temptation, but that ye will serve the true and living God.

I recently read this scripture and it showed me once again how important it is to give yourself completely to the Lord. About a month ago I read in Helaman 3 that sanctification comes by yielding our heart God. And again in this scripture I read that we must come unto the Lord with all our heart and serve him. It is not easy to give myself to someone else. I have always preferred to do my own thing and to change only when I feel the need to. In any case, that is not the best way to try to do the Lord’s work. So these two scriptures were kind of a wake up call to forget myself and do what the Lord is asking me to do.

Other than that we had a really good week this week. We met with a young fellow that was at an appointment with one of his friends and decided he wanted to know more. His whole family is not religious but he has decided to look into it and really has some strong faith already. As we talked with him, it was amazing to see how the gospel really does answer the questions that each person that searches for truth wants to know.

The gospel is for everyone whatever the circumstances. Love you all!

Elder J Billings

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