I'm just warning you all because I had never had any such warning. I pass the word on for safety purposes. It was not pretty. We were visiting a less active whose husband used to work as a vegetarian chef, so he brings us some really random things sometimes, and what we experienced this week was sesame seed juice. It didn't even strike me as odd that someone would attempt to make juice from sesame seeds as he shoved it into our hands, trying to explain it in his broken English. A little concerned but with the prevailing feeling that, "It couldn't be that bad," I tried it and was immediately repulsed. It is gross. I couldn't even make it through half the glass. It was chunky and...I don't even know how he made it. Sesame seeds (in case you didn't know) don't have juice! It was weird. Please don't ever try it.

We found a new less active this week, Iris. She was happy that we came (which is a different response than usual). I feel like she was waiting for us. She has a daughter who is having some major problems right now, and was so relieved that we had come to find her and that we could pray with her. She committed to come to church when we invited her and even confessed that she currently attends the neighborhood branch of Discipulos de Cristo. She (as do most less actives) asked about Sylvia. I am very impressed with all the wonderful service Hermana Sierra has done in this ward. Everyone knows and loves her. She is a wonderful example.

Also, I have seen wonderful improvements in Pedro and Rafaela since he was baptized. I am so happy to see the benefits of following Christ's example through this couple. They came to church for the full 3 hours on Sunday for the first time since I've been here, and they said they loved it. There is an increased love in their relationship and a greater measure of the spirit in their home. I love them and am very excited for this new path they are starting down together.

I have been studying conversion for the last month. It is very interesting, and I see a consistent pattern in nearly all the stories, though manifested in different ways. I have studied several, including: Nephi; Enos; Lamoni; Paul; Zeezrom; Amulek; Lamanites and Nephite dissenters in Helaman 5; Ethiopian Eunuch; and Cornelius. The list to study is a lot longer; there are tons of conversion stories in the scriptures! Also, in connection with Zeezrom I studied Korihor (one of my favorite stories in the Book of Mormon) as a comparison exercise. Along with Korihor I was able to study the stories of Nehor and Sherem as well. It was interesting to see the commonalities between those who were converted and those who were not converted. Some major themes I have observed are the following:

1. Desire. Everyone has the desire to come unto Christ and to know the truth. Like I mentioned above, every one's desire is manifest in a distinct manner, but all of them have a true desire to do right. For example: today I studied Paul. Saul was a well-trained Jew and a strict Pharisee. I think he honestly thought he was doing right in breaking down Christianity, because as soon as he realized he as doing wrong, he changed. I read the scripture in John 16:2 which says that many who would break down the gospel would think they were doing God a service. I think Saul was one in this category, because as soon as he realized he was wrong, he re-directed his course and then continued zealously fighting for the cause that he believed in. Because he had the innate desire to do what was right, he was responsive to the invitation to act.

2. Agency. All the stories I have studied underline the importance of agency in God's eternal plan. Every single convert had been invited to act before his complete conversion. For example: today I studied in Helaman 5 when Nephi and Lehi were in prison with the Lamanites and Nephite dissenters. When they asked what they were to do, Aminidab told them to pray until they had faith in Christ. They responded and the cloud of doubt and skepticism represented by the smoky atmosphere was removed from their minds and spirits. It was especially interesting for me that they had to act until they received a response.

3. Perseverance. Many of the conversion experiences were fast, and others took a while, but what is common in all of them is the convert's perseverance in looking for and receiving an answer. After time of truly looking for what was right, they were finally able to receive, or perhaps recognize the response. A wonderful example of this is above from Helaman 5, or also in Enos. We learn that Enos prayed all day and into the night. I don't think that the lesson in this story is that we need to get onto our knees and pray until we get a response. Maybe...but for me, the lesson is more that we continue praying, through the days, months, and years until we get a response. It is such an important pattern, because although we would all like to see an angel and just know without effort, where is the growth in that? What's more, where is the exercise of agency?

4. Covenants. After finding out for themselves, everyone has a desire to make covenants with God, to show their love for and dedication to Him. My favorite example of this is that of the Ethiopian Eunuch. I love what he says to Phillip after they learn together from the scriptures about Christ: "And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?" He had that desire to make a covenant and then acted according to his desire and was baptized.

5. Sharing. After finding their happiness in the gospel and through covenant making, they have the desire to go on and share their experience with others. It is a completely irrepressible joy to participate in the conversion of others.

There is so much more I have learned in these past couple weeks, such as humility; obedience; the role of others in the conversion process; the role of the atonement; etc. I have absolutely loved this assignment, and I feel like I have grown and learned so much by doing an intensive study of several related stories. You should do it to! Then, you can bore people on your blog as you discuss what you've learned instead of talking about what you did all week...(I don't remember what we did all week!).

I love you,
Hermana Miller

Note on the picture: I don't know if I've ever sent a picture of the cockroaches they have here, but we had a HUGE one this week. This is us being a daring and picking up the corpse with a piece of toilet paper and taking pictures. (Raid is very powerful, by-the-way: it kills on the spot). They have wings and are ugly.

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