Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The work goes on

Hard to believe the month is almost over!! What the heck is going on?! I've been gone 8 months and so much wonderful things are happening, especially there at home. It is amazing to see the Lord raining blessings down upon you, and it helps me feel that I'm at least doing something right.

As I indicated last week, Bro. Tracy Watson, director of the Prosleyting Department, came to our Zone Conference on Thursday. What a treat it was to have him instruct us!! On a quick side note, I believe that the new gospel art book would be a fantastic tool for missionaries. I looked through it a couple weeks ago and was pretty fascinated with what I saw. I thought to myself, "This is almost like Preach My Gospel, only it's in pictures!"  Bro. Watson wanted our feedback on it, and I gave my whole-hearted endorsement for it. So, back to the work. Bro. Watson really opened my eyes to see that EVERYTHING we teach should be geared towards My Purpose, as stated on Pg. 1 of Preach My Gospel. Thank you for instilling in me what my purpose as a missionary is, it's something I have to think about every day or I've forgotten the reason I came on a mission!! That's pretty much the first thing we read in PMG, and the Brethren were dead on with putting it right there. Ever since Bro. Watson's training, we have been earnestly seeking to gear all the lessons towards those objectives he outlined, and I've noticed that the people we're teaching are paying WAY more attention. Because of that, the number of new investigators has also improved gradually, and our next aim is to help the members embrace the study of Preach My Gospel the way we have. As it states in PMG, a regular study of it will foster unity between members and full-time missionaries. We have been putting a big emphasis on Family Mission Plans, and the key to those being successful will be not just setting goals w/members, but following up on them.

Yesterday was a memorable Stake Priesthood, all of the speakers did a very good job. It was almost like another Zone Conference too, I saw missionaries everywhere! I suppose the only question I have is how I can better teach people the importance of authority. The trend I've noticed throughout my mission is that when teaching the first lesson, by far the hardest thing to help people understand has been authority. When that happens, they don't fully understand the significance of the Great Apostasy nor, even more importantly, the Restoration. I feel like I've used every scripture and analogy that I know how to use, so if you know of anything I need to do more of, or do differently, I gladly welcome any advice. On a happier note, Kenny Ewing is progressing along very well! We plan to set a baptismal date with him this week, but first he needs to come to Church a few times. I feel like that's the only thing standing between him and baptism, and I know he would've come yesterday if he hadn't been sick. He's reading from the Book of Mormon and praying on his own, and he told us that he has faith that he will receive an answer, and he's beginning to! He told us that he used to feel like any answer you received from God would come immediately and in some miraculous way. However, when we taught him, we explained that God will answer every earnest prayer, but it will always be in His own time and in His own way. He is receiving answers gradually, and I am so happy knowing that we taught pure, simple doctrine and bore testimony by the Spirit. With Drake Coleman, we feel that he understands the gospel, but doesn't fully see the need for obedience, so naturally he hasn't recognized the blessings. Our goal is to show him the importance of obedience, and of course promise him blessings for doing so. He has the desire to be baptized, but it is clear to us after talking with him that Satan is working very hard to distract him. We will help him in any way that we can, and I seek an interest in your prayers on his behalf.

Well, I can't express how grateful I am for this gospel and the peace and joy that it brings every day! I am remembering to always share it with a smile too. :) I got Mom's letter last week, and I hope she and the kids get home safely and that they had a wonderful time in "The Green State."  I know that because we have the fulness of the gospel, we will be together forever and no wordly power can take that from us, and that makes us great! The temple is an unbelievable source of power and safety, we truly are never lost when we can see the temple. I pray that this week will continue to yield blessings for each of you, I have full confidence that it will!! God Bless!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easter in the mission field

What a memorable week this was, and for many reasons! Chief among them all was commemorating the last week of the Savior's life, culminating in His glorious Resurrection. Couldn't have asked for better Easter weather either, it was spectacular! A lot better than it looks right now, that's for sure.

Anyway, it was a great and unique opportunity to bear testimony that He lives to everyone we talked to. I felt the Spirit and I know some people we spoke with did as well. Here's a quick experience from yesterday about bearing testimony of the Living Christ. Elder Janiec and I were tracting at the end of the day, and had talked to many people who were very kind and filled with the true spirit of Easter. At the LAST door we knocked (funny how often stuff like that happens), we met a gentleman who didn't waste anytime telling us that he was a "born again" Christian who was already saved. He then quoted some scriptures from the King James Bible about  salvation, and then he told us that his church believes in the doctrine of election, or in other words those whom Christ has already chosen to be saved. He asked us if we knew that Jesus Christ was our Lord and Savior, and if we believed that everyone will be saved. Elder Janiec responded with a great statement of the first principles and ordinances of the gospel, and how we believe God loves all of His children and does want them all to be saved, but that not everyone will be. The gentleman's forceful response was if we believed that everyone would see Christ at the great and last judgment. He didn't think that sinners who refused to repent and accept Christ would get to see Him at all. At this moment, the Spirit prompted me: "Speak now, but be humble." I bore solemn, pure testimony that Jesus Christ lives and that He loves us, but that we all have a personal responsibility to accept Him AND live His gospel. I closed with saying that I know that everyone will have an opportunity to see Him at the final judgment, but those that don't repent will not be able to witness His majesty and glory forever if they refuse to come unto Him. This changed the whole conversation, and he softened up quite a bit and told us he appreciated what we did as missionaries and wished us the best of luck. This was yet another witness to me of the power of bearing pure, simple testimony. Nothing but doctrine. That was just one experience, there were many this week as we bore testimony of the Savior to everyone.

We were also able to teach 12 lessons this week, the most we've taught since I've been in Wilmington. Out of that also came 2 new investigators, both of which had great questions and seem well prepared to accept our message. We found plenty of solid potential investigators as well, so things have taken a definite upswing here. I'm not satisfied yet, I know there is still a lot of good that can be accomplished. The member work is starting to pick up more, and we have several Family Mission Plans already set up for this week, which is great! We now have the benefit of two outstanding RM's to assist us, Eric Taylor and Brynn Martin. They both shared their testimonies in Church yesterday, and they seem excited to continue doing so while working with us. We also got to hear from Troy Maki, who is leaving for the MTC this weekend. He won't have much farther to go after that, considering he's been called to serve in the Utah Provo Mission speaking Spanish. It's amazing to see what missions can do, I know I will never regret accepting the call to serve our King!!

Looking forward to another Zone Conference this week, sounds like it will be fantastic. Brother Tracy Watson, director of the Prosleyting Department for the Church will be coming. According to President Robbins, he helped put together Preach My Gospel, so it should be very interesting to see what he has in store for us.

Glad to hear you all had a wonderful Easter, best of luck to Kenz as she heads back to school. Wow, Dad is going to have the house all to himself! Although, I doubt he'll do what I usually would when I'm home alone; you know, stuff like junk food, TV, video games. The mission has changed my perspective, it's been very interesting to see what matters the most. I can't believe how much time I wasted in those past years, it's something I don't like to think about now.

Also, please thank the Heaton's for the wonderful Easter card, it meant a lot. I forgot to mention this last week, although I'm sure you noticed from the pictures, but the cookies are fantastic!! Well done Mom and Ellie! Well, I think I've covered everything for the week. Miracles are happening here and also back home, I've seen it in your lives and the lives of those around you. I couldn't ask for anything more than for those I love to be happy and to know that God loves them no matter what. May the spirit of Easter continue to fill us with warmth EVERYDAY, for without the Savior's miraculous gift, we'd have no reason to be here. May God bless you all and help you to share His gospel with His children, the world needs it so badly!!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Still going strong in Wilmington

Happy Tuesday from Wilmington!

Elder Lundquist is on his way to West Virginia, while I'm still here with my new companion, Elder Janiec from Highland, UT. He knows a lot of people from AF that I do, so that's pretty cool to have a companion who knows something about your hometown.

Well, first off I am grateful for the opportunity to continue serving in Wilmington. I know that Elder Janiec and I can and will accomplish much good in furthering the Lord's work here. Winter just can't get enough of us, can it? We had great weather a few days ago but it has cooled off considerably since then, as I'm sure you've noticed.

Conference was absolutely amazing, I loved every single talk! There is nothing in all the world quite like General Conference. What a blessing it is to know that we have prophets and apostles, and that they will not lead us astray! I also sustain Elder Andersen in his new calling, I know that he will do very well. Every talk had something(s) in it for me, and I have a renewed commitment and enthusiasm to not only share the gospel, but to live it! It was also great to celebrate the 179th anniversary of the Church yesterday. It seems like so long ago, but it really hasn't been....and yet, look at how much it has grown and continues to grow. We also have the unique opportunity at this time of the year to be talking with people whose thoughts are, for most of them, turned to the Savior and His last week of mortality. I know that as we center our thoughts and actions on Jesus Christ, great things will happen.

I am so grateful for the Duty to God program, as well as Scouting. They prepare you for so many things, definitely a mission as well. I have seen how it has done that and will be forever grateful to you and friends, as well as leaders who helped shape me into who I have become. In fact, you are still shaping me, so I am eternally grateful for everything that has been done in my behalf.

Jumping back to Conference, I really liked Elder Perry's talk about member missionary work. I think it could serve as a standard here in helping the members to do just that. Their willingness and desire to share the gospel has definitely improved since I've been here, and I know it will continue to do so as we work in harmony. I pray for each of you to have similar experiences, so you can feel the joy that comes with bearing testimony of the restored gospel. I can still hardly believe that I have been out as long as I have, I'm at the point now where I wish I could have a chance to make up for those opportunities I missed. Oh well, I hope that future missionaries and members will be more bold than I was.

Also, I will FINALLY be sending home the latest pictures today, hope you all enjoy them as much as I did taking them! I ask for the blessings and love of the Lord to continue to shine on each of you, lighting a path that leads to true happiness. This Church is true, the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and most importantly, Jesus is the Christ and He LIVES!! So until next week, God be with you!!!!