Monday, August 15, 2016

August 15, 2016 "The Love of God" and a lot of progress!

August 15, 2016
Hello family and friends!
I've been in Alexandria for a month now! The last month has gone by fast and so much has happened. We've seen a lot of great things happen.
Everyone's doing great! We went on splits again this week with our Bishopric. Brother Stewart and I went and taught Isha about some commandments to help prepare her for baptism. We focused on the Sabbath Day, tithing, fasting and fast offerings. She is just soaking up everything we teach, it's awesome. She even asked us "do I have to wait till after I'm baptized to pay fast-offerings?" It's amazing to see how much she wants to serve those in need. We thanked her for giving rides to Quintin for church and she told us how even though they've only known each other for a couple weeks, she feels like they've known each other for years. Since they're both from Sierra Leone, they instantly felt connected. The whole African community here just embraces one another like family, it's cool to see. I also forgot to write last week that when we went to the baptism, I told Amy Koroma that we've been teaching her friend Isha and that she's preparing to be baptized, and Amy was ecstatic! She will try her best to make it out here in a few weeks to support her at her baptism.
We were able to teach Quintin about the same set of commandments this week as well, he and Isha are progressing at the same rate. We also found out that Quintin's roommate is a less active member. He had actually been telling Quintin that the church could help him a lot in his life. Now it makes more sense why he randomly called out from his balcony asking for our church address when he saw us walking by. So he had some more familiarity with the church than we actually thought, plus he had seen missionaries back home in Africa before moving here. It's been great teaching him, and we hope to get his roommate involved soon as well.
Kim is doing well. We met with her a couple times this week as well. She didn't make it to church yesterday so her baptismal date was pushed back a little bit, but she's still trying her best to quit smoking and work towards baptism.
Asif came to church again and is super excited to be baptized before moving back to Dubai in a few weeks. He reads the Book of Mormon all the time and recognizes how it is helping him in his life. He's sharing everything he's learning with his wife and kids and they seem to be pretty supportive of him! He even told us he would postpone traveling back to Dubai if he has to wait!
A couple weeks ago, we went to a BBQ that our apartment complex put on and met some nice people. A man named Aaron, from Ecuador, walked up to us and said he remembers when he was a kid, his mother would have the missionaries come over and teach his family. We gave him our number that day, and he called and invited us over for dinner last night. He has such a sweet little family! I've never had a nonmember family, who barely even know us, openly invite us into their home for a meal, it was awesome! Hispanics are just so kind. His two little boys that were so excited to have visitors come over. Aaron's in the military and moves around every two years or so, and he's moving to Mexico in a few weeks. He and his wife said that the only church nearby their new home is an LDS church in Mexico. They're going to have us over one more time before they move, and then we'll get their new address for the missionaries in their area. Here's a picture of us with the two boys, they were excited to put on their Halloween costumes and show us how cool they are:
I've thought a lot recently about the topic of God's capacity to love. I came across a talk from the October 2009 General Conference, by Dieter F. Uchtdorf, titled "The Love of God."

He says "Think of the purest, most all-consuming love you can imagine. Now multiply that love by an infinite amount--that is the measure of God’s love for you.
     God does not look on the outward appearance. I believe that He doesn’t care one bit if we live in a castle or a cottage, if we are handsome or homely, if we are famous or forgotten. Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God’s love encompasses us completely.
     He loves us because He is filled with an infinite measure of holy, pure, and indescribable love. We are important to God not because of our résumé but because we are His children. He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken. God’s love is so great that He loves even the proud, the selfish, the arrogant, and the wicked.
     What this means is that, regardless of our current state, there is hope for us. No matter our distress, no matter our sorrow, no matter our mistakes, our infinitely compassionate Heavenly Father desires that we draw near to Him so that He can draw near to us."

Obviously, we will never be able to attain this same level of love for those around us, at least not in this life. But we can, however, strive to emulate the love he has for us in our interactions with others. This can be hard in many circumstances, but the blessings that come into our lives as we strive to view everyone as divine children of God are incredible! My favorite portion of that quote was "Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God’s love encompasses us completely." I'm so grateful for the knowledge that we have a Father in Heaven that knows and loves us perfectly. I know that as we remember the perfect love He has for us, we will be happier and will have a greater desire to fulfill the two great commandments of loving the Lord and loving others. At the end of the day, the atonement and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the greatest manifestation of God’s love, so if we can remember our covenant to always remember him, we will be able to more fully exemplify his love in our own lives.

I love you all! Have a great week!

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

Also, today for p-day we went into DC and were able to go to the National Archives Museum to see the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, and Constitution. It was pretty neat to see it all in person! 

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