Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Investigator at Church

"Haha wow, I literally feel like I just wrote you all! This week has flown by even faster than the last, and now we're halfway through the transfer. Ugh, it makes me want to throw up because I still feel like we've hardly accomplished anything, but in reality we're doing alright!

We have some super good news! We had an investigator at church!!! Yeah, it was super sweet, unfortunately we had to run to go pick her up and so we were late for sacrament meeting, but still, she came! She's an awesome lady that was apparently baptized in her country, but her record weren't there so we get to rebaptize her! Haha, though I admit it was slightly stressful at sunday school because she had some interesting questions, and the teachers didn't understand, started to explain things way to complicatedly, and it was kind of bad at first. Luckily it turned around and she had a good experience, we think she'll be baptized soon!

Then we have two other progressing investigators. We have a [another guy] I may have told you about. He has a friend that's a member in Peru and we started talking to him and he invited us to come back and learn more. We've had like 3 or 4 lessons with him and his mom and they've been reading the Book of Mormon so they're progressing so much! Oh man, it's so cool to see the difference that reading the Book of Mormon can make. They've progressed in knowledge, happiness, and general spirituality. The promise is definitely true that as soon as we begin to study the Book of Mormon a power will come into our lives.

We also have a lady ... that's super solid. She keeps appointments, reads, and calls us to cancel if she has to. I know it sounds funny to be excited about that, but it's great to find people that are genuinely interested in the gospel!

So we're doing pretty good! We've received a lot of blessings, and thanks to some changes in policy we've been able to plan more, which I think has played a huge part in the fact that we can actually teach these people... "

"...sometimes [the responsibility to teach] gets to be a heavy load, and a quote I read today by Abraham Lincoln fits perfectly. He said something along the lines of sometimes the things just seem too heavy to bear and you're driven to your knees because you know that your own wisdom and knowledge is not enough to finish the days work. With these new investigators I've really begun to feel an even greater need to rely on the Lord to ensure that we're doing everything we can to help these investigators that he's given us!

Other cool things this week also include that today we went to the mall and saw all kinds of cool stuff!! We got to go to the National Archives which was cool as well. It was honestly kind of a spiritual experience to see all these documents and statements by the founders of our nation. It was especially incredible to see how integral God was in our nation. This nation was originally founded upon the rock of Christ, it was a really cool experience!

Haha, funny how even museums become spiritual when you're a missionary, yeah, I'm a total missionary nerd! Anyways, that was pretty much the week, not too many incredible things, but a lot of little really cool things!"

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Exchange with the AP

"Well the time flies by and I continue to be shocked that my mission will be over before you know it. When we think in terms of 6 week periods, I'm pretty much at my year mark, yeah, not really, but it'll be here far too soon... But, we'll try not to think about that, I think I'm just going to stop counting because it makes me too stressed when I think of how time is going by way too quickly!!

Well this week was pretty cool because one of the Assistants [to the mission president] came out with us on exchange for two and a half days! It was awesome to have the opportunity to learn from him and to get some of his advice on how to work with the ward, how to work with our investigators and how to find. We had a miracle day with him, just because he's super good I guess, and we had 5 new investigators in one day, it was honestly ridiculous! Most of them are pretty solid too, so we're really excited to be able to teach them.

He also helped us learn how to work with members a little more. It was great because we were able to go visit members, stay with them for just a half hour, leave them with a commitment to do some missionary work, bring the spirit, and then leave without using up a lot of time just chatting. It was much better, and helped me understand even more the value of member missionary work when we do it in a very focused way.

He also gave me some advice on what I can do better as a teacher, as a companion, and as a missionary. It was honestly an awesome exchange and it helped me gain some focus that I'd felt like I'd lost. Now the key is just continuing to apply what he taught us. While we probably won't have 5 new investigators every day, and we really don't want that many every day, we should be able to work in a similarly focused manner. It's going to be sweet! While we still had no one at church this week, since most of the people we found, we found on Saturday and they already had plans for Sunday, they all have a lot of potential and we've been able to work well with them since then.

We've also had the opportunity this week to do some service. We've felt like we've lost some of the trust of the ward since there have been no baptisms and almost no one at church for the last two months... So we've been serving them, and committing them to do missionary work, as well as having them come out more with us. We've only been doing it for a little while, but already I can feel a difference in our missionary work. Not to mention that it's awesome to see the members catch a little bit of the missionary fire! As they invite their friends to church and such they feel the joy of missionary work and they're even more excited to just keep going! It's been pretty awesome to see!

Our District meeting was also pretty cool! We learned more about the importance of the Book of Mormon, and as you can probably imagine with 5 missionaries in the same room talking about the Book of Mormon it was a pretty spiritual experience. I would invite you all to redo the promise in Moroni 10. You'll get an answer every time, and as you do you'll be more excited to share that testimonies with others! When we really take the time to think about the significance of the Book of Mormon it's incredible. When I think of how much it has influenced my life it's almost incomprehensible, and as we share that same thing, and those same feelings with other people they can't help but feel the spirit testify to them that our testimony is true. It's like it says somewhere about the prophet Nephi. He was preaching to the people and they could not deny his words because his testimony was so powerful. It's a truth that each of us can have. The Book of Mormon carries the spirit with it so powerfully that any sincere reader will be convinced of its truth by the power of the Holy Ghost.

Sometimes doubts will come into my mind about things in the church, little thoughts placed by Satan, but no matter how strong the doubt, or how persistent the thought, it always comes back to the Book of Mormon. My witness of the Book of Mormon has come to be unshakeable, something I wasn't sure would happen before the mission. I'd always believed and felt it to be true, but I don't ever think I really knew knew that I knew. Now I definitely do, and nothing will ever be able to shake me from my testimony of the divinity of the Book of Mormon. A lot of that is due to Mom and Dad making sure I read it when I was little, and I know all you guys have that same testimony, and it'll be sweet for you guys to reconfirm it. It's an awesome thing to do, and as Preach My Gospel says, we should do it frequently! Anyways that's about it for the week, it was pretty sweet! Hopefully this next week I'll be able to tell you about some baptismal dates and some investigators at church!"

"I'm most definitely enjoying my time serving here, while at times it's been frustrating, and disappointing, I will forever say that it is worth it! Just the [one] baptism would have been worth it! Oh, and [that family] will be baptized this Saturday!!! Unfortunately I won't be able to go to the baptism... It's been too long since I taught them, but I better see pictures! I remember teaching them, and just being able to see them all dressed in white together. It'll be kind of a bummer that I can't go, but the important thing is that they're going to be baptized! They're going to be so strong in the church!!
Derek with his District

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Turning Point

"Well, we had a pretty interesting week. Once again it was slightly depressing with zero investigators at church this Sunday... Yeah, it's been tough, it's now been three weeks without an investigator at church, and it's been slightly frustrating, nevertheless we continue working and moving forward trying to get better at teaching and trying to tell our investigator the importance of church.

"We had a really good lesson with an investigator ... this past week. On Saturday we had a powerful lesson about the importance of church, and she commited to come. Unfortunately when Sunday came around we ran by her house before church to try and get her there, no one answered, she didn't come to church, and we ran by afterwards to see what happened, and she wasn't there. We haven't been able to contact her since then either, so we're not entirely sure what's going on. We'll have to keep trying with her though, hopefully we can help her receive an answer to her prayers and find what it is that she's looking for in life.

"This last Monday was also a particularly significant day for me. ... Needless to say three weeks without any really solid investigators was starting to take its toll on my confidence, and I definitely got a little discouraged. Thankfully the Lord does indeed answers prayers. I'd been looking for answers, trying to see how I stood before the Lord, what it was I needed to change, if I was failing to meet his expectations. Well, our assistants to the President are indeed inspired. They gave a workshop that I really needed to hear. It was actually from a talk given by George Durrant when he was a mission president. He talked about a missionary that was in a situation very similar to the one I was in. He said, the hard reality is that if we aren't baptizing our missions truly cannot be called successful, since that is in a large part what a mission is about. However, if the mission wasn't successful in the sense of baptism that does not mean that you are not a successful man, a successful person. This missionary struggled, and fought, and worked to try and help people come to baptism, to try and find a family that would accept the gospel. He gave it everything he had, full of faith, and yet he never did find that family. George Durrant said, yes, he will probably always regret that he did not baptize more on his mission, we all probably will, but what we should be able to do is have that regret while still knowing that we gave everything we had to try and reach that goal.

"It reminded me a lot of Cross Country, I wanted to be so much faster, so much better, but it didn't happen. However, I know with a surety that I honestly worked as hard as I possibly could to achieve that goal. So now I look back on that experience saying, man I wish I had been faster, but man I sure did try! So that has become the goal for my mission. It does not matter how many people I help bring to baptism, what matters is that I be completely dedicated to my purpose as a missionary and that I become a good man. A man that is dedicated to the Lord in heart and mind. A man that will work, no matter the discouragement or disappointment. I trust that the Lord will guide me, and that if I am doing his will, it'll all turn out alright. So I have a new resolve, I will be disappointed over and over again when people fail to keep their commitments, and I will be so happy when people keep their commitments, but no matter the outcome I will never be discouraged, and I will never let up my resolve to serve the Lord with all my heart, might, mind, and strength. So. that was honestly probably at least one turning point in the mission.

"This week while we still have no new investigators, and all our old ones have dropped us, or we've been unable to contact them, we continue to work, and we'll continue to work until our time here is done. I don't know, it's been a refining week, and I hope I come out of it a little stronger, and a little more able to do the Lord's work. It's amazing how much your testimony grows when it's tried, when you're forced to ask yourself over and over again if what you're saying to these people is the truth, and each time you ask you find that confirmation that this is God's work, and that the Book of Mormon is undoubtedly the word of God. The trials make me realize in a small way what our Savior must have gone through, and what our Father in Heaven goes through. He works hard, and he's perfect, and yet people still reject him, they turn Him away, and keep on their same path. Why should we be any more priveleged to have each person accept the gospel when we speak to them?

"One of the Sisters said it really well, she said that she's serving her mission in a large part because she wants to come to know Christ, and it's in serving a person that we come to know them. That is most definitely the truth, we have such a rare opportunity to place ourselves for a brief moment in part of the path that our Savior walked. We get to share his message with the world, and because of that we get to experience some of the joy and sadness that He himself experiences. It's crazy, I really have come to know my Savior more, and it's a beautiful experience.

"Well, that was pretty much the week I guess, kind of intense in terms of learning spiritually, kind of less so in terms of numbers and such, but it was still a good week!"

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Not transfered

"Well, transfers aren't too exciting for this week, Elder Lee and I will be staying together in Olney!"

"...the District was cut in half which will make things a lot easier for Elder Lee and I. Now there are only two companionships which means Elder Lee will be able to focus more of his energies on our area rather than on the other companionship's areas, not to mention the fact that now we'll be able to plan our days rather than me just chilling while he does all the nightly call ins. It's going to be a lot better and I'm pretty excited for the transfer, hopefully we'll be able to work pretty well and bring people to Christ.

Unfortunately this week was also kind of a tough one... We lost almost all of our investigators, and I don't know if it was our fault or what. This is what happened. We ended up doing a ton of service, one of which we were definitely supposed to do. We helped out this lady that had gone through some really tough problems recently, and we were able to help her move and help her out. It was really an awesome experience to see how much such a small service meant to her, and how much it really touched her. She also became extremely open to the gospel because of her circumstances and our opportunity to serve. It was awesome, and we could feel the Love of God and Christ for her so strongly. Hopefully she now takes the time to come to know the gospel, because that is really what will make the difference in her life! The next day we also did service all day for a less active lady, unfortunately I'm not entirely sure if that was the most productive thing to do with our time. That combined with some sickness this week resulted in kind of a tough week... Honestly for some of it I didn't even feel like a missionary, it wasn't that great, but hopefully we'll be able to refocus this week and focus our efforts more on our area, our investigators, and on helping the members.

Oh this Saturday we also had a ward mission activity which was awesome, but definitely a different type of missionary work then normal teaching. It was still pretty good though. Other than that, not too much happened, it was just a really hard week...

Oh, and the 4th of July was just a normal day, haha we couldn't even see fireworks from where we are since we're pretty far from the city, but it was still good, our Bishop threw us a barbecue so it was nice!"

Gracias a todos y les quiero! Buen suerte con esta semana que viene! (Thanks to everyone and I love you, Good luck with the upcoming week!)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

6 Months is Gone!

"Well, it's official, I'm now 1/4 of the way through my mission, super weird, slightly terrifying, and it kind of makes me want to throw up when I think about it. Luckily I still have a lot of time left, but I'm afraid before you know it I'll be home and it'll seem to you guys like I never left...

Anyways, update for the week.... We had no investigators at church again, which is always pretty depressing, but luckily some of that depression was taken away by the fact that one of our less active's we're working with came to church! We had an extremely spiritual lesson, and he showed up! While he only stayed for Sacrament meeting it was awesome to see him there! Other than that it's been pretty slow for the past few days...

There was one cool spiritual experience that I'll share though. One night I was ... a little frustrated with myself because I feel like I've been losing a lot of focus. I was praying to really know where I stand with the Lord and what it is He wants me to be doing, as well as if He's pleased with what I've been doing. The problem is I've felt rather inadequate recently, where I just haven't felt like I'm a good enough tool in the Lord's hands. Well, I was praying for some direction, an answer, and it came. The next day in District meeting we had an experience where we taught another missionary one on one just based off of what we felt like the spirit wanted us to say. My zone leader managed to nail it right on the head. He said exactly what I needed to hear. The Lord knows that right now I'm not a perfect tool, and he knows that I'm trying as well. Because of that He'll perfect me, and He'll use me to the best of my abilities wherever I am if I'm willing to work and put myself to the Lord. I just shouldn't be too worried about being the perfect missionary, just being as good as I can be with the knowledge and abilities I have right now. In other words "be content, but not satisfied" as my good old captain Jason Lynch says. So that was really cool, and much needed! I still have a ton to work on, but I feel like right now the Lord is pleased with what I'm doing, and he expects me to do better, which is how it should be!

Anyways, that's about it, a really slow week, and rather unfortunate that it's the last week of the transfer now. It goes by way too fast! There are some interesting rumors going on about transfers this next week as well, I'll be sure to let you know what happens. My personal theory, Elder Lee and I will both be staying in Olney. Oh, today we also went to the temple, always a wonderful experience! It's amazing the difference you can feel as soon as you enter the House of the Lord!"

"The baseball game was sweet, and the Nationals actually won which was cool! Haha, I'm still not a big fan of watching baseball, but it was fun to talk to everyone! And yeah we were all in white shirts and ties, haha we were all on the jumbo screen three times!"

"Anyways, that's about it, sorry it's so short, and possibly incoherent. We just played a bunch of basketball and we played king of the court and the team I was on was on the whole time, I'm slightly tired, haha but it was sweet! Anyways, keep it real! ;) The church is most definitely true, the priesthood is on the earth, and I have no doubt in my mind that Jesus is the Christ and that He directs this church and this work! If there's anything that I've been realizing more this week it would be the meaning of having an eye single to the glory of God. I'll try and remember to let you guys know my insights next week when I've had a little more time to think about it. Have a good week! I love you all!

Time flies - late post

Derek sent this on June 23. I was out of town most of the week and forgot I never posted it.

"So time is going by way too fast, I'm now officially a week away from my six month mark... It honestly feels like Christmas was a few weeks ago.."

"Some of the coolest things that have happened this week, I learned some Swahili! We ran into this guy from Kenya so I got to use my limited knowledge of Swahili, it was cool, plus he taught me how to say I know Jesus Christ lives in Swahilie. Najua Yesu Kristo anaisi! We also had a cool miracle where it was raining and we were standing at the door of this Less Active's house. He wasn't answering and it was raining really hard. We sat there debating what to do, and it just started raining harder and harder, and then magically the Less Active guy opened the door and let us in! Right after the rain stopped, it was crazy, God works in mysterious ways. Thanks to the rain we were able to talk to this guy.

Haha, then there was this super funny experience where we were talking to this one old lady who said her name was Grammy. She shook both our hands, but when she shook mine she stopped, put her hand on my shoulder and said "You're really cute!" Slightly flustered I said thank you and then tried to talk about the gospel with her but she just started to walk away. Well I went after her to give her a card, she turns around, grabs my hand again and then starts to move in for what looked like a kiss... Hahaha I was super flustered and actually gently pushed her away and said "m'am we're actually not allowed to do that, have a good day!" Meanwhile Elder Lee is about dying of laughter. Haha, it was really weird, but pretty funny.

Later this week we had some incredible miracles though. We had an incredible lesson with a less active family, I've rarely felt the spirit that strongly in lessons, and they should be at church this week!"

"Then we talked to [another] lady. She's been going through some tough times as well and has really now been prepared to receive the gospel. We had an awesome lesson about the restoration, but then because of some miscommunication we didn't extend a baptismal invitation. We felt really strongly after we'd left that we had to return and invite her to be baptized, so we did. We drove back and while she didn't right now accept, it was definitely the right thing to do, and she'll be baptized soon I'm sure! It was cool to be able to feel the promptings of the spirit and then be able to follow them and see the blessings come as well. In short, the work is really starting to pick up in this area, and we've got a good teaching pool going, crazy that the transfer is almost over though... Oh, and sorry this email is a day late, we're going to a baseball game today as a mission so they changed the P-Day. That's the week though, it was a good one, and I'm excited for this next one as well!"

"The work is great, and the gospel is true, talk to you soon!"