The lesson was great; the investigator, Lloyd, is AWESOME. He is ready to make the changes in his life and is trying hard to do so. He's decided to be baptized, and now just has to cross the hurdle of quitting smoking. No doubt it will be HARD, but his faith is mighty and his determination to keep God's commandments is powerful. He prayed at the end of the lesson and asked for the courage to never turn away from God again... such a simple, humble plea that touched my heart deeply.
After the lesson I just didn't want to leave the church quite yet... I think I just wanted to ponder and soak in the Spirit a bit longer, so I stayed and practiced the piano for an hour. It was the first time I've played on an in-tune piano in MONTHS, and it was glorious. "The song of the righteous is a prayer unto me," the Lord said... and I'm glad He did, because that time was holy communion with my Heavenly Father. Thanks to having the gift of the Holy Ghost, I was able to carry that spirit of peace, love, and joy with me throughout the rest of my day, and it was delightful!
I walked into Harborne (first time ever) where I found a bank that would let me open an account, and I just happened to make a new friend in the process. His name is Ian, and he was the banker who helped me. Perhaps he's just very chatty with all of his customers, or maybe it was that I'm American, or possibly I just have one of those personalities that causes strangers to tell me their life story on the spot... but whatever the reason, we talked for about 2 hours. He told me ALL about how he was engaged to a girl from Indiana and she broke his heart; that he's again engaged to a woman who is carrying his first child and due in a few weeks... a little girl they will name Amelie (but call her Millie); that he really doesn't like Americans all that much (um, thanks???), but he completely idolizes Barak Obama; that he does a really good "gay clap," as he called it (which he also demonstrated); etc etc... Needless to say, it was quite an interesting experience. haha
I walked a bit further to the post office and then the grocery store, and then headed for home. On my walk back I was stopped by Jehovah's Witnesses, and we had a nice little chat. The woman who stopped me was a bit taken back when I told her during the course of the conversation that I was LDS, and even more so when I told her that I'd been a full-time missionary for the church and so I could relate and completely respect what she and her companions were doing. I've learned that when it comes to JWs the most effective tactic is to respect and love them, be thrilled to chat with them, and let the Light of Christ shine through you as you do. I'm not sure what most of them think of Mormons before they meet me, but I'm determined that each one will walk away with a higher opinion, if not grudging respect, of us. I think I succeeded in that yesterday.
On my way home, I stopped at a park to enjoy the scenery and rest my back from the weight of my backpack that I'd been carrying around for hours. I watched the gaggle of geese at the pond, and was thoroughly amused when a mischievous dog being walked without a leash decided to charge the birds, creating a moment of outrageous honking and a flurry of wings as the geese all escaped into the water. The dog, of course, stopped at the water's edge, turned around, and trotted back to the man who was walking him. I was most entertained by home much the dog's chase reminded me of my brothers, for that's exactly what they would've done if they'd been walking near the pond.
By the time I arrived home I only had a couple hours before I had to leave again... for Institute at the church. The classes this term are Book of Mormon and Eternal Marriage. I'm really grateful to have an Institute at my chapel and so easily accessible to me, because I know that my attendance will be a wonderful blessing in my life! I'm sure I'll have much more to say about Institute and what I'm learning, but suffice it to say, the Spirit is really good at helping me recognize the gaps in my thinking and/or habits. It's not a very comfortable feeling, being constantly schooled by the Spirit... but it IS a very comforting feeling, and I'm grateful for it! I'm also grateful that my Heavenly Father knows me and loves me enough to care about my progression.