Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Good Week and a Baptism

"So this week was pretty good! Definitely the highlight would be that the baptism ... did in fact go through! Man, it was such a cool experience to be able to baptize him, haha and for hours I couldn't stop smiling. It was really cool, he was a little nervous beforehand, but definitely ready to make the covenant. The thing that most excites me is that he truly understood the commitment he was making, and he's committed to the gospel and one day going to the temple. It was good to talk to him about it all. He felt very peaceful, which is very different from his normal everyday life, and the last thing he said as he walked away was that he walked away clean and a new person. It was amazing to see the hope that was in his eyes, the purpose in his step, because he knew that he had done God's will and that God would continue to help him through all the trials ahead. Now I just have to trust the ward that they'll completely welcome him into the fold and support him in the trials that will undoubtedly come. Still, it was an incredible experience, and reminded me once again of the reason why I'm out here. I'm here to help... people come to know Christ, to feel His love, and come to Him. [The man who was baptized] truly did come to know Christ and it was an incredible thing to see!

Other than that we had some cool little miracles. ... Oh, we had another super awesome experience with a lady we met just talking to people. We were on exchanges, and I was with Elder Williams in our area. We were going to an investigators house but we stopped to talk to this one lady.... We offered to help her plant flowers in her yard and in the process of course talked about the Gospel, about God, etc. We ended up teaching the entire first lesson in the course of planting flowers because she was honestly one of the most prepared people I've met. She asked all the questions that just led the lesson right along. Then afterward she began to cry. Apparently she's been going through some tough times and she recognized us as an answer to her prayers and a sign that God truly is aware of her. Again, if there's one thing that's been drilled into me so far it is how very much aware God is of every single one of His children. Of all their private struggles, fears, and doubts. Not only is He aware, but he works to fix them. We may not see Him working all the time, but He most definitely is. He cares about every single fear and doubt, and He wants us to overcome them.

We had some other cool finding miracles, so our teaching pool has finally gone up. Now we'll be able to start preaching the gospel instead of just trying to find. Oh, the English sisters in our district gave us this one guy they'd been teaching as well. He's from Brazil and so speaks Spanish, Portugese, and English, but better Spanish than English. So we'll be teaching him. He's also very prepared and very humble. So that was my week. The days seem to go by a lot slower in a car area though... The weeks still fly, but the car is just horrible. Haha, it's a lot harder to stay awake!"

"Anyways, I've got to run, but I hope you guys have an awesome week! The gospel is most definitely true!"

Monday, June 13, 2011

Another Week

Sorry, I forgot I hadn't posted Derek's June 8th letter.

"So, another week went by, I honestly have no idea what happened... haha that's definitely not a good sign. I'm trying to think of any cool experiences, but they seem to be in short supply this week. We'll start with the bad news. Well, [the investigator] wasn't baptized this Sunday, but hopefully he will be this Sunday.... As for our [two] other baptismal dates, ...well, we lost them... We can't get in contact with [one] and [the other] moved to Baltimore. So, we're kind of in bad shape there. Actually it's been rather frustrating, we honestly have 1 investigator this week, that's it! It's super hard to find people here, and we've been trying to work with members and less active members as well to find people to teach, unfortunately nothing is happening so far. In Langley Park I felt like I could feel when we were working the area correctly. We tried a variety of things and eventually we changed what we were doing and things clicked. Here, since we're both pretty new in the area it's proving to be a lot harder to determine how to get things to work out, or how to work the area, especially since for me it's completely different from Langley Park. Hopefully things start to pick up a little bit though, and hopefully we can receive the knowledge and revelation we need. We do have one baptismal date though... we're not too sure how solid he is right now since we've only had one lesson with him, but he seems pretty cool and willing to progress so we'll see what happens.

Other than that, we went on exchanges with the Zone Leaders the other day! It was cool to get to learn from them, and we saw some cool miracles in their area. Haha, that day we got four b-dates, 3 new investigators and an incredible miracle besides all that! It was honestly an incredible day! The cool miracle was we were walking by this one apartment town house complex and this lady called us over. The first thing she says to us is that she wants to change religions because the one she's in doesn't have enough light for her, as in spiritual light. Needless to say we were slightly taken off our guard and stunned at the miracle! She was very open, and even asked us if we had any literature for her to read about our church, haha yep a question that makes every missionary super happy! She was an english speaker so we passed her off to the English missionaries, and after their first meeting she now has a baptismal date for the 18th of June. Haha, I think the Lord just does that some times to remind us that he's there and that it really isn't our work at all! She said to us that as we walked by she heard a voice say to her, "ask those guys about their church". God definitely works with his children, I guess he's just biding his time in Olney ;)"

" thing I never anticipated before the mission was beginning to not trust people, to not want to talk to some people because you just feel like they're lying to you because they seem to do it so often. Nevertheless, we must talk to everyone, we have no right to deny... people any chance of coming into His restored Gospel. Yeah, thankfully the Lord definitely reminded me of that."

"Over here it has been pretty hot, 90 degrees or more and humid! Luckily since I'm now in a car it doesn't bother me too much!"

"Unfortunately here it seems like I have allergies... It's horrible, every once in awhile my eyes get super red and I can barely keep my eyes open. I had this weird thing happen where I honestly could no keep my eyes open as I was biking, it was really weird. Not too enjoyable, but I bought some allergy pills so hopefully they help!"

"It's really sad, I found out I've gained 15 pounds since I entered the MTC, I now weigh 163, yeah, fat! Still, I don't feel like I gained 15 pounds, I'm definitely heavier, but I didn't think too much."

Derek visiting a museum on P-Day.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

First Week in Olney

"So, what to say, this week has been a pretty good one, but a little longer feeling! Some pretty cool things happened this week... [My new companion, Elder Lee] has a lot of faith and a lot of fire, so hopefully we can keep that burning for the whole transfer. He says he's prayed a lot and feels like we should set a companionship goal of 12 baptisms. I admit, I have faith, but perhaps not that much faith... It's crazy, and it's definitely possible if the Lord decides to let it happen and if we're 100% obedient, but still it sounds crazy! Nevertheless I've definitely been trying to pray for more faith and the Lord's been blessing us.

We found a family this week that accepted a baptismal date on the first lesson, as well as another girl! Crazy! ... Still, awesome! Other than that it took us the first couple days to really determine how to work the area. The first day we spent a lot of time knocking and just talking to people, which is good, but if there's one thing I learned from Elder Castillo it's that we have to work with the members! Consequently we switched up the way we were working and it got a lot better, we started finding people, and hopefully we've planted some seeds in the members that will result in some super cool references within the next week or two.

The area is a lot different than Langley Park though. Number one is that it's huge, it probably takes 45 minutes to an hour to drive from one end to the other, second would be that it is a much much higher class area than Langley Park. Consequently there are less Hispanics, and a lot of white people with houses. It was honestly kind of a culture shock for the first couple of days, haha being in houses was super weird! The District is also a lot different. Elder Lee is District Leader and then we have two companionships of English missionaries and another Spanish companionship. Two of the companionships are sisters as well which has added a new dynamic to the district. ...for some reason the Sisters really do have more of the spirit than Elders it seems... The ward is different as well. It's a little smaller than Langley Park, but from what I've seen so far the members seem to have [strong] testimonies founded on scripture study... They also love the Elders because last transfer was the first time they got Elder missionaries for a couple of years, so we've been fed a lot! Definitely saved money on food!

Other than that not too many cool things have happened, the District is doing amazingly, no doubt due to Elder Lee's incredible faith! The district has 13 baptismal dates on the first week of the transfer, it's slightly ridiculous and amazing!

Oh, one other super cool thing happened! I don't know if you remember me telling you guys about...the guy I'd been teaching in Langley Park that has the girlfriend that's a nonmember that was going to be baptized soon. Well, he didn't get baptized this last week, but he's officially being baptized this Sunday! It's super exciting, and I hope it's not selfish, but I was really excited because apparently he asked if I would baptize him! So I'll be able to baptize him this Sunday! It's so amazing! It's been incredible to see him change as we've taught him the gospel. A light has definitely come into his life, and it's so cool to see him look forward to one day going to the temple, having an eternal marriage and an eternal family. Not to mention the fact that he definitely needs the Holy Ghost in his life. He's experienced so many sad things, and as he's told us many times he just feels weighed down, tired. Not bodily tired, as much as spiritually tired. It will be so incredible to see him receive the Holy Ghost into his life and to see that burden be lifted! Ah, when I heard the news it immediately made the whole two years worth while if just [this man] had come to know Christ, and the [family in Langley Park] should be being baptized soon as well! I hope I never lose the joy that comes from seeing people be baptized."

"Hm, that's about all I can think of for this week though. It's been an interesting one, having to get to know an area again, trying to build relationships with the members and everything, still, it's been good! Hopefully I can find some of the faith that Elder Lee has and we can do our best to have twelve baptisms happen (by the way, we had no investigators when I got here, hence why I lack/lacked the faith) yeah, I'm working on it, still, I'm definitely going to do all that I can to make sure that it happens if it's the Lord's will!"

"...the work is great, and the church is undoubtedly true. I thought my testimony was pretty strong when I came out, I thought it was pretty strong when I left the MTC, little did I realize how much it can just keep growing. This truly is God's work, and it really has changed me, though you probably can't tell too much just from my letters. While I still have a long way to go, I'm grateful that the Lord is helping me progress, and allowing me to help his Children progress as well! Ha, you should all pray for me to be humbled though, I need it."