GIVE SOMEONE A BOOK OF MORMON THIS WEEK:)"Hey y'all! Would you like a card about Jesus Christ?" "Sir, would you like a card about Easter? There is a link to a video about Jesus Christ!" "Would you like a copy of a REAL Book of Mormon?" "Now that you've seen the play, read the book!" "Here is a free copy of the Book of Mormon! It testifies of Jesus Christ!" <----this was me all week.
It was a pretty unique experience being able to be downtown all week handing out Books of Mormon. The Theater is right off of Main and Beale Street, it's a party. I want to share a bunch of stories about that today. We all showed up around 5:00 and wrote our numbers on a billion pass along cards. By the end of the week we all knew what corners were the most exciting so we'd fight over corners and then get to work. Before the play we would hand out Book of Mormon cards and the Easter video cards. So there were missionaries everywhere, we'd pass them out to cars that were stopped at the stop light, go around the parking lots, President even got on the buses that were stopped and talked to the drivers, haha. We were out till around 11:00 each night giving out all the Books of Mormon we could.
Some took the card, some stopped and talked and wanted to know more, some stopped and talked and wanted to let us know that they hate us, some pretended to be on the phone and stormed by us all, some turned us down, some wanted a picture with us because we are the "real deal." ;) Some thought we were part of the play.
During intermission we would stand across the street and sing hymns. One night while we were singing, a guy came across the street, stood in front of us with his arms out and started chanting "Hail Satan." So that was creepy. And then a cute lady walked across so she could hear us better and enjoy the music. One of the elders was able to talk with her afterward, come to find out she is atheist but she said hearing us sing was the best part of her night and accepted a copy of The Book of Mormon.
The real party is afterward when they all come out. We all are posted up at our corners with boxes full of Books of Mormon. Floods of people come out at the same time and we start offering them Books of Mormon. They go like candy people!! Some want them for a "souvenir" from the play. Some are actually interested and ask us for one before we can offer it to them. Some said they'd take one because they just appreciate us being there after our religion got ridiculed so badly. For whatever reason, now they have the evidence of the Restored gospel. :)
Our first night, Tuesday, we got there a little bit early. So we decided to walk down Beale Street for a minute. We hadn't been there for 3 minutes and we find 3 guys who spoke Spanish. So we started talking to them and gave them cards. One of them had a microphone in his hand and wanted to talk. When we told him we were missionaries he got right in my face. I've never had someone get up in my face like this. He started asking questions on the 2 baptisms and what they mean. Then we went on and on about the Holy Ghost is given to us so we can cast out spirits and still was right up to me nose to nose asking why I'm not casting out evil spirits out of people. -_- And then he said "y'all need to go cast out Devils of the Mormons up there at that play." We were like...uhh we are the Mormons. And then he goes off about how Mormons aren't Christian (my favorite line) and yada yada yada. All that good stuff. We answered his questions, invited him to read the Book of Mormon and left. Haha being in the city is so exciting.
After the play on Tuesday I had a guy come up to me and started asking questions. His name was Jared, he is from Australia. He had passed through Utah and had already received a Book of Mormon and wanted to know more. He seemed pretty doubtful but was also incredibly respectful. We talked for a while and I answered his questions the best I could. I felt kind of frustrated because I felt like I couldn't answer his questions very well. There were a few I wanted to study a little more before I gave him an answer so I got his information and told him I would get back to him. The next morning after finding some answers I got back to him, bore my testimony, let him know that there were missionaries in Australia and invited him to read. He said he had a long plane ride home and definitely would get started. He appreciated what we were doing as missionaries and showed a lot of interest. He will be a great member one day. :)
We found a Hispanic who lives right next to our church building! He said we could come by and teach sometime so we got his info and are going to try that. We also ran into some girls from Columbia. They loved that my gringo self could speak espanol and wanted pictures. They may have been a bit drunk at the time, but when they sobered up they found a bunch of Jesus cards in their pockets and pictures on their phone with my name tag "La Iglesia de Jesucristo de Los Santos de Los Ultimos Dias." :)
There were a lot of good conversations struck up with people who just were curious what we were doing. They didn't necessarily show a ton of interest but would accept a Book and enjoyed talking about us. Sometimes it's nice for people to find out that we actually are quite normal. Haha
There were a couple corners we weren't allowed to go on. After the play President saw some people on those corners so he crossed anyway. President Floyd in the Presidency kept yelling from the other side "President get off that corner!" President gave no bothers. Haha He is an animal man, he gave out so many Books of Mormon. President fears no man. He sets a good example for us. However we didn't dare go on that corner..haha
Friday night we got jipped and we were on a sidewalk that was pretty empty. There were missionaries on either side of us on the corners so by the time they got to us they had already talked with missionaries. So we resorted to going up to cars that were at the stop light and handing cards out to them. One guy I gave a card to had some questions and we started talking. When a car pulled up behind him he had to leave. About 15 minutes later he came over to the sidewalk. He had parked and came back to get more answers. He was from..somewhere where they speak Arabic, I don't remember where he said, but he had no idea about God or anything. So we started at the basics and he wanted a copy of the Book of Mormon in Arabic. So we are ordering him one this week. We have his info to track him down and give it to him when it arrives. Our conversation was all over the place. He asked "who is Jesus Christ?" "Is there a heaven and hell?" "Why do we need scripture?" "Is God our father?" "How?" It was so cool to answer these basic questions. I'm excited for him to get his copy.
Sunday night was closing night. It was also freeeezing! We made sure we were on a better, more crowded sidewalk. We handed out so many Books of Mormon it was insane! After the crowd calmed down Sister Mathison (we were on "mini exchanges") had 4 Books of Mormon left total so we started walking down the street trying to hand them out. There were a line of taxis parked on the side of the road so we started bouncing down the line handing them out. I noticed a guy on the sidewalk standing alone. Turns out he only spoke Arabic. Which was embarrassing because I tried to speak to him in Spanish. Haha I tried giving him a card. I said "Jesus Christ" and "picture" and would point to the picture. He was repeating what I was saying. I was trying to do all sorts of hand signals to try to get him to understand my message- Jesus. Loves. You. And he would repeat "Jesus loves you." And I would say "no You!" And he would say "you!" Hahaha oh man I wish I could have just busted out a bunch of Arabic right then. He felt bad because he couldn't understand me, his friend who spoke more English came over and they both accepted the cards. Whew.
And then as we were walking back to the car some crazy guy kept screaming at us "devil!" "Satan!" And doing all these weird hand signs. Creepy..Ahh man these stories could go on and on...lots of good, lots of rude, lots of fun:)
Also quick update on the Martinez familly, they came to church and brought their niece we are teaching with them! Woohoo! They have a 3 year old Melanie, and she is just like Elizabeth! I am in love. The first night I met her I tried to get a hug from her before we left but she didn't want to. We were walking down the stairs away from their apartment and she comes barreling round the corner with tears in her eyes calling for the missionaries and gave us the biggest hugs. She is my new favorite thing about Memphis. I love the Martinez family so so much!
I realized this week, more than ever, that the world wants us to feel small. Satan wants the world to look better and more powerful than the Gospel. The gospel has never been and never will be "popular," after all, his kingdom is not of this world, and it never will be. Prophets from the very beginning even down until today are persecuted and ridiculed for preaching the word of God, but that didn't and doesn't make their message any less true. The persecution that our Savior, even Jesus Christ experienced didn't make Him any less of our Savior or change the course of his divine mission. John 15 "if they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you." As missionaries and especially as disciples, we will be ridiculed and questioned for our beliefs. And often it's really hard. It's hard to feel like we stand alone. My favorite bible chapter Romans 8 gives a powerful response- "If God be for us, who can be against us?"
How grateful I am to represent Jesus Christ and bare witness of His name and His gospel and withstand the persecution for His names sake. I feel the Savior beside me as we suffer the persecution together.
2 Corinthians 4
4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.
6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;
10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.
11 For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.
13 We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak;
16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
Give someone a Book of Mormon this week ;)