"What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?" Luke 15:4
We've been out this week trying to find the people in the ward that no one knows anything about. We found a variety of good folks out there and a few sour ones, but realized all of them are valuable to our Father in Heaven. Most of them could improve their happiness thermometer by many degrees if they returned to Church. They would certainly bring joy to the ward members to have them in their midst once again. People have a tendency to think they aren't all that important and therefore not needed or missed. Yet, just as in a family, one family member does have a positive or negative impact on the rest of the family.
A ward is truly like a family in the respect that each individual influences the family dynamics and contributes to the overall well being of its members. If people weren't important, the Lord wouldn't have the members of His Church working so hard to keep track of them, find them, and bring them back. I know there is rejoicing in Heaven and in the Church when His lambs and sheep are found and brought back into the fold.
These flowers were found at a 90-year-old "lost sheep's" house. He told us the name of every flower, tree, and shrub in his yard. We could tell as soon as he spoke that he wasn't British. Turns out he was an Indiana farm boy who met and married an English girl after World War II. He and Elder Blain had fun discussing airplanes and being in the Air Force. The man showed us his war memorabilia. and talked of days gone by.
These shrubs are still blooming profusely all over. Some are reddish pink rose color and some are a mixture of purple and blue with variations of other blue shades like this one.
We are a bit heart sick over "losing" a couple of our investigators. Our African "king" (who had been dated for baptism) has disappeared! We have no idea what has happened to him. The last we saw of him was when we dropped some fruit and other food off at his home. His son was leaving to visit in Angola, so he was tied up with him a couple weeks, but now we cannot reach him by phone or at his home. We hope he is okay. Maybe he went back to Angola.
The other member (African) family we met with regularly left for a visit to family in Portugal. We're suffering from the lack of Family Home Evenings and scripture study with them.
A long-time investigator, who did have a baptism date, had previously asked for a "wee bit more time," which has turned into eternity, I think. She says she knows the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith was a prophet, but she doesn't think God would expect a person to give up tea and coffee. She cannot understand that the point is more than tea and coffee not been good for us.
There have always been promises of great blessings both physical and spiritual for obeying the Word of Wisdom. Some people who obey still suffer illness. It may be difficult to recognize blessings at times but we must remember that God has promised he will bless us when do what he says. Like with any commandment, it is a matter of obedience to show we are willing to follow God's commandments and submit ourselves to His will.
Our ex-investigator argues that there are research articles about the benefits of tea and coffee. Isn't it interesting that cautions are given by just as many researches, and our own doctors tell us not to drink tea or coffee if we have certain health problems? Anyway, if someone wants to find an excuse not to be a member of the Church, he or she has exercised agency and that is that. We must move on to someone who does have the faith to embrace it all. It is still hard to leave those people we come to love and toss aside our hope for their future happiness.
In these past six months, we have met those who shut the door with a scowl and those who open their doors wide with a warm smile. Those who let us in have stories to tell as to why they quit attending Church. Most remember why they joined in the first place and how it felt. We love the look on their faces when they talk of their original conversion and we feel the Spirit there when they reminisce. Many of them are stuck in an easy routine where it is convenient to not have religion in their life and are not willing to prioritize God.
Many less active members have serious illness and challenges which make it almost impossible to go to Church. To these we will endeavor to bring messages of faith, hope, and understanding of gospel principles. The sheep who are willing to listen will be brought the love of the Savior so they will not be lost from knowing He is there for them no matter what.