Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Otra Semana! (ha changed it! Kind of)

So this was another intense week for us, with a lot of stressful things but
probably with some of the coolest tender mercies that I've ever felt on the
mission. We have this family we're teaching, Doris and Anastacio and their
little kids, and we've been trying to go with them to the visitor's center
for a really long time to have a tour with them about the plan of salvation
on families. Man, and Monday when we were planning on doing it was just
this crazy day, my letter will honestly probably just be about that day!
Ok, so we start out the day and for hours in the morning just nothing is
happening, we're out checking on people and knocking some doors in the
rain, which while enjoyable just makes it sounds more epic. So we're going
for hours but we have this new goal to be on time to all our appointments,
an unfortunate habit I've picked up from hispanic culture is tardiness.
Anyways, we arrive right in time at our appointment after checking on Doris
and Anastacio to see if we were going to make it to the VC. They didn't
answer and we were afraid they were trying to dog us. Anyways, we show up
at the appointment and no one is there, but we were on time, and when we
look down the stairwell we randomly saw Anastacio sitting about the bottom
of the stairs! So we go down to talk to him and remind him of the VC and he
says he's going to call us and let us know. It turns out he was there
walking the dog and waiting for his wife who was randomly in that same
exact apartment building selling AVON. Then our appointment shows up and we
leave him, but we don't have a 3rd male so we can't go into the
appointment, and we go back down the stairs only to find that now Doris has
just left her AVON appointment. So we retalk to them and get it set that
we're going to go to the VC. In short, the fact that we're even about to go
to the VC is a miracle! We set up the appointment at the VC and we
magically find a member who's going to get off work just in time that can
drive them to the Visitor's Center, and then we had the appointment... Man,
it was honestly one of the most incredible appointments I have had for a
long time. The Sister did a great job, and the spirit was incerdibly
strong, God wants this family in his church. We sat in the window of the
Visitor's Center staring up at the temple, and it was just incredible. The
day had been pretty rainy, but just as we were coming to the VC it had all
cleared up and the sun was setting on the temple. Man, it was just
incredibly beautiful. The spirit just filled the room as we testified of
eternal families, of the blessings of the temple, and of the need of
baptism.... Man, they almost accepted a date, so close! They're currently
praying and discussing it as a family, but no worries, no hope is lost.
After the appointment we walked around the temple grounds, and the family
was just in awe at the spirit that surrounds the temple. Afterwards they
told us that they had never in their lives felt something like it, and they
know it's the spirit. Man, it was just incredible... After feeling and
seeing all of that there is literally no way that someone could not want to
be a part of it. It strengthened my testimony of the temple, and its
reality as the house of the Lord. There truly is no place more sacred in
all the earth than the temple. There is always a spirit of reverence as we
come near the temple, and it is a testimony that this is God's church on
the Earth, and that Christ truly does live. But it gets even better!
Afterwards we found out that as Doris looked at the temple she said that
she had a vision of them being sealed in the temple for all eternity. God
is very very very aware of his children. He can use us in every way, and he
just makes things work out right. We felt no spiritual prompting to go to
that appointment. We just went about doing the best we could do, and God
placed miracles in our path. It's just such a testimony that we do nothing,
God works, and knows every aspect of our lives, and he's working for our
good, sometimes we may just have to stop and notice the miracles. I don't
know, it was just incredible. I've learned a lot of things in the last few
days. Number one is that I've changed a ton on the mission, I've grown so
much in my ability to love others, and I really just love the Gospel. There
is literally nothing that is better than missionary work, my I just love
it! Second, I've been better able to understand my role as a leader, it's
to make sure that the missions of these missionaries, is like the
experience I'm having. That they learn to love these people, that they take
joy in the work, and that they have the experiences that they're going to
need for the rest of eternity. It was just amazing to feel. Third, I've
realized more and more what true conversion is. What it comes right down to
is just desiring the companionship of the spirit more than anything else in
the world. It's desiring it so much that we have no more disposition to do
evil because we don't want to do anything that would drive it away. I've
been able to feel that more and more this last week. I love the feeling of
the spirit, and just doing my best to help serve these people. It's
incredible to be able to serve and love these people and literally give
everything we have to them, for their benefit. John 17:19 is now one of my
favorite scriptures because of that reason. Man, the Gospel is so true
family, I love it, I literally think there is no greater pursuit than
sharing the gospel, there is nothing that could ever bring so much joy. No
amount of work, or success, or status, nothing. The Gospel literally is the
Why of life.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Another week!

Hey everyone, so, I just talked to you all, which was awkward, haha but not
as weird as I thought it would be. It was mostly just awkward because the
next time I'll be talking to you guys I probably will just say "hi, see ya
in a week." and then hang up  haha Just kidding. Anyways, it was good to
talk to you all, it really struck me how long I've been gone as I spoke to
you all. Man, you guys all seem quite a bit older, Rachel is no longer 16,
Jared's voice is deeper than the bottom of the ocean, and Jonathan sounds a
lot more grown up. Mom and Dad sound pretty much the same, and Jessica
sounded rather flustered haha. It was really strange.... Anyways, you all
pretty much know how I'm doing, things are going incredibly though! Some
things I didn't tell you was that while we were talking we also had a
workshop that we had to finish up for the next day, which made for one of
the first nights that I stayed up as a missionary. Yeah, I didn't think
that would ever happen, nor that it was allowed as a missionary. Still, we
got it done, and the workshop actually worked out really well for our zone,
hopefully they were able to learn a few things that they didn't know
before. This last week has been a crazy one though. It's probably been one
of the busiest weeks for us, what with trainings, so more specialized
trainings (this time in spanish), and exchanges it's been a very busy week.
Luckily the Lord continues to bless us even though we have less time in our
area. We have some extremely solid investigators, John, that is still set
on being baptized on the 26th as well as another family who is loving the
church! The mother came to church this Sunday and really enjoyed it. She
said it was the first church that she'd ever really felt comfortable in!
We're really excited for them and they'll hopefully have a baptismal date
soon! It's also been a rather difficult week what with increasing feelings
of inadqueacy and being overwhelmed. There's a lot to do, and sometimes I
swear we'll just never be able to do it all, or if we do manage to do it
that it won't be up to the standards of the Lord. It's been a very very
humbling transfer, and this week has probably been the culmination of that
process. Still, it's been an opportunity for me to grow and I've learned a
lot of things. Some of those insights would be I need to start enjoying my
time as a Zone Leader more. I got the most distinct reminder that this
won't last forever, and that when it's over I'm going to miss it. I'll miss
worrying about other people's areas, about how we can help the members of
the zone, etc. It was a good reminder, and hopefully I'll be able to take a
little more joy in the journey in these next few weeks that follow. Well,
that's about it family! It was good to talk to you! Time is moving by far
far far too fast....

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Elder Bednar!!

So this week was super incredible, mostly because of Elder Bednar. Elder
Bednar came and spoke to three missions here in the Visitor's Center and
luckily I was in like the 5th row  Man, it was truly one of the most
incredible experiences of my life. The way he taught was extremely
different from anything I would've expected. He started out with kind of a
Question and Answer section, except he was asking us the questions. Then we
moved on and were able to ask him some questions. Man, it was just an
incredible experience to have an apostle of the Lord so close and speaking
on things that were so important to us as missionaries. It was also
interesting because we got to see his "normal" side, he says words like
"dopey, or stupid" and he's a very very humble man, but also very aware of
his position and responsibility. It was a power lesson on leadership to
even be around him. A lot of what he talked about was helping us learn how
to teach and how to learn. He spoke on learning and teaching by the spirit,
rather than playing the "guess what's in my head game" which we so often do
as missionaries or as teachers in general. It was a very inspiring and
humbling conference as I realized how poor of a teacher I really am, in the
sense of helping my investigators truly seek learning by faith. He further
focused on how we are not the light, just the conduits. He rebuked us
pretty hard by saying that if in our teaching we do anything to draw
attention to ourselves, whether that's in our personality or teaching
methods, if it draws attention towards us and away from the spirit it is a
form of priestcraft... A pretty intense statement but a needed one. It was
a theme that we'd felt the mission needed to hear as well. It was also
incredible to just hear his testimony. The testimonies of the apostles have
always just amazed me. There words are not eloquent, they are clear and to
the point, and they're full of power. It demonstrates the true reality that
testimony is really the best way to teach, and if we could all have
testimonies like the apostles the world would know, if not accept, that the
gospel is true. It was just an extremely powerful experience. And as usual
the most powerful lessons were not the ones that were learned by the words
he spoke but rather by what the spirit was telling me throughout the
meeting. Oh, one of the new presiding bishopric and a former seventy
presidency member also spoke, it was an extremely spirit packed meeting. So
of course that made this week yet another week of extreme self-evaluation
and a week of personal revelation. It's incredible how we can increase so
much in our ability to listen to and recognize the spirit. Oh, another
thing he mentioned was that if we ever feel comfortable in any calling that
we receive we are doing it wrong, because the longer we go the more we
should realize the true significance of what we're doing and how incredibly
inadequate we are. Someone asked him how he felt as an apostle, and he said
simply "Crushingly overwhelmed..." It was just an incredible experience.
Other cool things that are happening is that our zone is doing incredibly
well, though there are always little problems, as well as our area
continues to do well! Miracles still happen daily, even on those days where
we maybe have to spend a little more time planning than we would like for
meetings and such. Haha this week has been crazy, there's been piano
performances and like three meetings to plan for as well as another
workshop and role-play... So much to do and so little time, still the Lord
seems to make the time stretch to fit everything in! Still it's been a good

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Another week(Ha Jonathan;))

So this week was quite the crazy one! Getting used to a new zone where the
companion also knows nothing about the zone has made for some slightly
stressful but fun experiences this week! So there's been a lot of planning
and trying to organize things for this transfer as well as for some
meetings we have coming up, haha so it feels a little bit like what Dad
does, but luckily there's also been plenty of time for working in our area.
Now for the third transfer I think I've finally figured out how to have a
fairly decent balance of zone and area focus. Anyways, on to the almost
typical miracles that seem to happen all the time!  So this week was
incredible, the area had just exploded so we were kind of worried about
finding new people, but luckily that was not the case, the Lord provides
the miracles! So this Friday we found a super cool family that was
extremely interested and prepared and accepted a baptismal date for the
20th of May! And they even came to church! Haha that's the cool part! The
not so cool part is that Sacrament meeting was super long and super super
hot and noisy... Hopefully they still felt the spirit though! They're super cool, but that's just the beginning of the miracles. At church we had 5 people we had never met before whom members had just invited to come to church, all of which were interested in learning more, and one of which has now accepted a baptismal date. Then last night a member invited his friends to the Visitors Center with us and they are also super interested and one of them has a baptismal
date as well! In short, man, it was incredibly ridiculous!!! We really do
nothing at all and the blessings of the Lord pour out from the sky, we're
just seeing people that are truly prepared to come into the gospel pretty
much come up to us asking to be taught. It's super super crazy! I'm also
really excited to work with Elder Sanchez, he's a super good missionary and
he's already taught me quite a bit! I have a feeling we're going to be a
good companionship together. Oh, we also had a baptism that I was just kind
of thrown into of a 9 year old little kid. Haha man, he's super cool, and
like Jessica said you just have so much love for these people! Even though
I only taught him twice before his baptism the little kid won a part of my
heart. I just worry about him now, his Dad is kind of a bum, and he has no
good examples... Hopefully he'll be able to be strong, it was a beautiful
and simple baptism though, not crowded, and a focus on the sacredness of
the ordinance. It was a really powerful experience. Other inner thoughts
that Elder Sanchez and I have been discussing has once again been the
selfishness and pride of many missionaries in the misison, in the zone, in
ourselves. It's so easy to get caught up in working for numbers, working to
baptize a lot, instead of working for the people. I love seeing new
missionaries come out because they're still "pure", at least a lot of them.
They're here because they want to share what they have felt and know with
others, the root of all misisonary work, rather than pleasing the
President, or working for their leaders, or whatever else it may be. They
have a true love for the investigators and people and that's why they want
to baptize them. It seems to be a constant battle of motivations, but
hopefully we can help our zone and ourselves purify our motives and make
sure we remember why we're really here. Some other questions that have come
up are those questions on faith/goals that came up a little while ago. Oh,
some incredible news!!! Elder Bednar will be coming to give a mission
seminar for us this Saturday!! We're super pumped, it's going to be an
incredible experience! He gave us two talks to study that I'll forward to
you guys, they're incredible and extremely rebuking, haha at least in some
ways, but they're awesome!