Well if this isn't a week to remember in the GCVM, then I don't know what is.
To start things off we had a fire in Ventura! And then about 5 more started…It was really hard on the people here. Hundreds of thousands of acres were burned along with hundreds of homes destroyed. All residents in Ventura, Ojai, Santa Paula, Filmore and Carpinteria were all evacuated. The Oxnard building which is mission headquarters has been flooded with all kinds of donations. There have been about 45 missionaries that have been unable to work like they’re used to all of this week, and we have been able to host a couple of them.
Members and non-members have really stepped up. It is such a testimony builder. I know that God will provide. And this all just happens to occur during the #LighttheWorld initiative. This will and already has, provided a wonderful opportunity for these people to turn outwards and think of others. I know that we all to at least some degree are compelled to be humble in preparation to receive what the Lord would have us receive. My love for these people, and the missionaries has grown so much in the past week. God works his works no matter what. And they are ALWAYS for our benefit. All that is left to us is to trust.
The week finished off so amazing, with the baptism of Keith Merrell! Once again, my joy is full! His Baptism was the best service I have ever been a part of. There were 100+ people there and the Spirit was so strong, and so piercing. The whole Deacons and Teachers quorums were there to support. And many of them participated in the program. It truly was a wonderful experience that I will remember forever.
Brother and Sister Merrell are doing great. They both want it so bad! We are so proud of them both, and they have come so far. Hopefully the first week in January will be the week! I have truly come to love and feel for this family in ways that I have never loved, or felt for anyone before.
In John 9, the the Savior heals a blind man. His disciples questioned whether it was him or his parents who had sinned. And the Savior's answer is so profound..."Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents; but that the works of God should be made manifest in him...I must work the works of him that sent me." God had a plan all along, to glorify his name, and his Son's...For us to experience his infinite Goodness in all things. In vs. 25 we now know that this man now has a testimony of Jesus Christ. Which came because of his trial. And he was unshaken, independent of all else.
Two chapters later, in John 11 Christ raises Lazarus from the dead. Why? Why did 4 days go by? "Why weren't you here earlier?" Martha and Marry questioning these things...Why? Again the Master Teaches us..."But for the glory of God, that the son of God might be glorified thereby." By working this miracle Christ showed the people that HE is the RESURECTION and the LIFE. And vs 42..."That they may believe that thou hast sent me."
I bear my testimony that the Lord wants us to believe in him. I know that God has a plan, and his plan his perfect. It's sad to see what the fire has done, but now is the time. Now is the time this Christmas season to be bold and fearless because we adore him.
The Church is still true and forever will it be.
Love, Elder Judd
The quorums supporting Keith!
The Merrell Family