Elder Sorensen and I have seen quite a bit of dynamic change. We are now working with another family: the Clarks. We met with them with the Mackillops (church family) and had a great lesson with them. We continue to meet with the Allens but Martin has hit some roadbumps. There are more people than this but I will ask y'all to say a prayer for the Clarks, Allens and Martin.
I have been pondering about how throughout my entire mission I have had good times and bad, like a cycle of darkness and light. I have always wanted to just be fine all the time, and not "backslide"- ever. God has taught me that just as the sun rises and falls, with daylight and dark night, we too shall have these seasons till we are perfected in Christ.
One purpose of these spiritual days and nights is explained well in another analogy- spiritual pruning. As we grow and progress, we may grow in a way that is incorrect. We have sins and on top of those sins, imperfections. When we have those dark nights two things happen: 1. We realize our sins. and 2. We rely more upon God.
Just as when you put anything under pressure and stress, like a chain being pulled, a tree in a whirlwind or an athlete in intense competition, those parts not as strong or resilient crack under pressure. You see a link bursting, a tree falling, or a bad pass by an (American) football quarterback. After the weakness shows, we know how to best strengthen ourselves, whether it be strengthening the chain link, growing stronger and deeper roots or practicing passing a ball.
Spiritually, God shows us through our faults and actions where we must improve. Like a rosebush cut back (which is not very beautiful), it is necessary to prune or cut away the bad and unnecessary growth so the plant can grow back all the more beautiful. Moreover, now that we are humbled by our weakness and hour of difficulty we turn to God, and (hopefully) place ourselves in a position to follow his council and guidance as we draw upon his strength. This allows Him to guide our growth until we become prideful or complacent, or loose the Spirit through sin or any other way we distance ourselves from Him.
So long as we accept his pruning and continue to cultivate faith in Christ, repent of our sins, turn our will to align with His, partake of the sacrament weekly remembering Christ always, we will become perfected in our life long process. If we can live worthy to have His Spirit abide always within us and stick with Him, not falling away nor choosing other paths, we can through His help blossom as a beautiful rose bush, robust in size, vibrant in color, sharp in thorns, deep in root and broad in leaf.
Without His pruning, we cannot develop into all that He wants us to be. Wild rosebushes just don't grow into the same material that beautiful plants hand tended by master gardeners become. Yet do not forget that without the plant growing steadily, day by day the process would be equally impossible.
I wish I could talk on this further but I have run out of time- Know that I know that Jesus Christ died for our sins, that He does not desire for us to be chained down by sin, slaves to iniquity. He will make us free so that freely we may choose to follow Him. His path is the path that will lead to happiness in this life and Eternal Life in the world to come.
-Elder Graham Hunt