Happy Valentinovo! (Plus a discourse on doubts)

Good morning and happy “valentinovo” everyone! Valentine’s Day is in fact a holiday here, although I’m not sure it’s quite as big of an event as it is in the United States. It’s also not as big of an event for missionaries in general…

We had a good week, and the last 5 or 6 days have been kind of…busy? That isn’t usually a word I use to describe my week, but somehow this one ended up being one in which we had multiple lessons scheduled all throughout the week. Weird, right? I definitely liked it.

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Elder Frandsen and I at the Maribor Soccer Stadium

We met with one of our investigators on Tuesday and then taught English class in the evening. English class is always a lot of fun, and right now we have anywhere from 8 to 12 people who come each week. My understanding of English has definitely gone up with the random questions the class throws at us (Why do you say “I want a car” but not “I want an air”?, what is the difference between “I will be going” and “I am going to go”, etc, etc). Despite their best efforts though, I haven’t been stumped yet. Yet…

On Wednesday we met with two more investigators and were able to teach good lessons. The second investigator is an 18-year-old girl who goes to the local high school here, and we had a great time talking about the Plan of Salvation. She doesn’t quite understand who God is or what that even means, so we tried to explain those deep concepts in a simple way. She was very engaged, and at the end commented that the Plan of Salvation is extremely logical. How right she is! When you look at God’s plan for us, you begin to realize just how logical and organized it really is. In fact, it’s perfect.

Later in the week we spent some time in a little town called Lenart, about 30 minutes East of Maribor. We’re experimenting with tracting in small, outlying villages, and Lenart is one of them. We spend a lot of time tracting there, and on Thursday we had our first real follow-up lesson in the town. The investigator is a 32-year-old man, and we talked to him about finding answers to our questions by reading the Book of Mormon. He seemed to like it, and we’re going to follow-up this week. It’s fun to be able to do missionary work in these small towns where almost nobody has even heard of Mormons, let alone know what we believe. It’s like working with a clean slate.

The rest of the week continued like this, and despite some surprise snow on Saturday morning, it was a good week. On Sunday we had church (small, but nice) and then went over to the Johnson’s for a Valentine’s lunch.

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(From Monday at the Ptuj castle- Elder Pickard, Elder Hughes, Me, Elder Frandsen)

One topic I’ve been thinking about recently is how we can overcome doubts, especially doubts about the church. It’s one of the most important topics there is to talk about, and is constantly on my mind as a missionary.

Everyone has doubts – that’s a given. Because of that, I think that the most important question is this: how do we respond to doubts? The first way is the positive way. This when we have honest questions, something that should always be encouraged! If Joseph Smith hadn’t doubted the established Christian churches of his time we would never have had a Restoration. Doubting (lacking confidence) and then honestly seeking truth is not a negative.

Then we have the other kinds of responses. Those in my opinion are best illustrated by the Apostle Thomas in the New Testament. He wasn’t with the other Apostles when the risen Christ returned, and said famously “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Thomas (at least at this point) wasn’t honestly questioning or asking – he was simply refusing to believe without proof. Christ’s response is wonderful: “Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”
I’ve seen this on my mission with things like the Book of Mormon. Everyone has doubts or concerns about the Book of Mormon, and that is not a bad thing. I myself have had a fair share of doubts! The response is important though. Those like Joseph Smith will say, “Okay, I have doubts about the origins of the Book of Mormon. So, I’m going to read it for myself and ask God if it’s true.” On the other hand, those like Thomas will say “Okay, I have doubts about the origins of the Book of Mormon. So, I’m not going to believe it’s true until the missionaries are able to resolve and dispel every concern I have.” Two very different responses to doubts.
President Monson said, “Faith and doubt cannot exist in the same mind at the same time, for one will dispel the other.” It’s sort of crazy how true this is. We (especially as members of the church) sometimes go about it the wrong way, like the Apostle Thomas. We figure that in order to have more faith in something (the Restoration, Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, tithing, etc) we FIRST have to expel and resolve all doubts concerning that thing. It’s backwards though. We work and act to grow our faith, which in turn begin to expel doubts.
I try to do as little rambling as possible, so I’ll get off my soapbox. But for now it’s enough to end with this: honestly seeking answers is never a negative, and as we work hard to increase our faith our doubts begin to shrink.
Starešina Davis

 

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One thought on “Happy Valentinovo! (Plus a discourse on doubts)

  1. Jack. I believe we visited the castle in Ptuj. Don’t they pronounce that “Pa-too-ee” We had a lot of fun with that name. I happy you’re busy and that people have responded. For converts, doubts go with the territory, whereas if you’re raised in the church they is less doubt I believe. Keep up the good word. We love you. Granp and Gram Cvetko

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