Saturday, September 22, 2012

Another Week

Wow, haha another busy busy week! This week we've had meetings almost everyday of the week since I last wrote! This week is the week of Zone Conferences which is always an enjoyable time. We have the opportunity to see the whole mission as well as to train the whole mission. It's funny I don't get nervous for any other training but this one. It's kind of intense to be training two full zones at the same time. I just hope that our training is what they need to hear. It's always so humbling to have the opportunity to train the entire mission on something. It's crazy to think that our trainings really do seem to set the tone for the mission and thus the tone for the lessons for each of their investigators as well. Needless to say we think quite a bit about what we're going to teach as well as trying to make sure that the training has everything in it and is explained well. This transfer we trained on the "process of purification" which I think I mentioned to you all last time? So far it's been going well, though I admit that for some reason Zone Conference Week seems to be one of the most difficult weeks of the transfer. The devil knows my weaknesses well and seems to attack non-stop during Zone Conferences to try and make sure that our training isn't as good as it needs to be. The devil is an astute one, he's very good at making you look at all your weaknesses and amplifying them a million fold! Yeah, this time was better than last though, I was able to recognize it a little quicker and fend him off a little bit easier, but it's still interesting to see how the devil attacks and the Lord defends right in the most crucial moments.

I've also been thinking about some other things dealing with conversion. It was interesting, the other night we passed by a less active guy's house and started to speak to him. He was nice enough but had left the church when he left home and he wasn't too interested. We testified briefly and invited him to listen to us to try and rekindle the faith of his youth. He declined and then we politely walked away as if we'd just had a normal conversation with the man with no greater significance than just that. As I was thinking about it afterwards I realized that I'm not nearly as converted as I would like to be. It's sad how we can sometimes become so casual in things that are of an eternal nature. I left wishing that I would have been truly "devastated", as Elder Holland says, because this man had no interest in receiving the gospel. Obviously it's good to be polite and respectful of another person's beliefs and practices, but I just got to thinking, man, I know this stuff is true, and I know that without it he's really not going to make it to the Celestial Kingdom, why was I so casual? I notice a similar attitude in many of the missionaries and sometimes members as well, where we understand that the Gospel will help people be happier and help them have better lives, a better family, etc. All good and necessary things; however, in the process we forget to look a little deeper. We forget to remember that we don't do missionary work "just to grow the numbers of the church, or to help people have better lives." We do missionary work in order to "open the doors of the Celestial Kingdom". And we are the only people in the entire world that can do that. It's something I think I need to strive to remember and recognize a little more frequently. Imagine the difference it would make if every time we did home teaching, or invited a deacon back to church, or knocked someone's door, or talked to someone in the street, if we could just see them as God sees them, and realize that we have that thing that will be of greatest value to them. I think that if we could do that it would make a world of difference. We would be filled with love for the people, we'd realize that we have to keep striving to share the gospel despite rejection or if those who are unreceptive. I guess you could say it was kind of a wake up moment. I believe that will be my focus for the course of the next month or so, striving to see these people as they are and recognizing the eternal significance of what we're doing. It's incredible to think that God really has entrusted us with the souls of these people underneath our stewardship... Anyways, besides those moments of reflection it's just been a go go go week! It's crazy to think that the transfer is already halfway over... Man, time just disappears, and we're left just wondering how it all went by so quickly. Still, at least it's happening, right! There really is nothing better than the mission!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Another Week

Hm, well this week has been quite the busy one! We have a ton of stuff
that we've been working on in preparation for the Zone Conferences
that are coming up this next week, along with trying to balance our
time in our area as well as going on exchanges, so it's been pretty
insane recently! Now that it's my third transfer as an Assistant I
decided I better try and do a little more than we've been doing in the
past. I figured that now I know about how long it takes to get
everything done so I'm not quite as worried about just making sure it
gets done. It means that we've had time for more exchanges and more
time in our area, but it also means we are literally running around
every second of every day, haha which is a good thing! This past week
we had a lesson with a part member father named Carlos. His wife
recently reactivated herself and because of that he also became
curious about the church. We were able to go and teach him but it was
interesting to see the difference between him and his wife. His wife
returned because she felt a spiritual abyss in her life and Carlos is
on the other end where he's content and believes his life is pretty
set. It was once again a reminder of the importance of an eternal
perspective. His greatest desire in life is to have a good job in
order to provide for his family so that they have no physical worries,
which is definitely an honorable desire, we're just hoping we can
inspire him to gain a more eternal perspective.
There seems to be a similar temptation for all of us, whatever stage
of life we may be in, and whether or not we are members of the church.
We seem to see it constantly with the missionaries as well, that they
just lack a little bit of that eternal perspective in regards to the
work we're doing and the impact of their missions. We've been trying
to find a way to inspire them and remind them of their potential. The
vast majority of the missionaries are good, but there are always those
few that we worry about and try to find a way to help. Haha it means
we're already thinking about the next transfer and the next transfer
may result in some interesting changes in the mission leadership (but
I can't tell you too much about that yet, sorry! ;) )
This week I was also reflecting on some of the lessons I've been
learning in the mission and some of the themes the Lord seems to have
been teaching me. One of the ones that stuck out to me, especially
right now in the mission, has been the principle of submission. It's
such an interesting thing to think about. We have to ask ourselves if
we really are willing to submit to the Lord in everything we do,
including giving up our dreams and desires even though they may be
good ones, in order to submit ourselves to the will of the Lord.
Whether that's in a career choice, marriage, schooling, friends,
transfers, being faster, smarter, or whatever. It's been humbling to
see how much the Lord seems to have been teaching me the lesson of
submission throughout the mission/life. Granted it is one of those
vital eternal principles ;) Still, it's been good to reflect on my
level of submission and if I really am willing to give up all of my
dreams and desires in order to fulfill the will of the Lord, even if
it's completely different from every good desire I have. Something to
think about.
Random story, yesterday we went on exchange deep in the heart of the
mission and due to traffic and some random mishaps I spent a total of
5 hours of the day not driving, haha man it was crazy! Still, it was a
good time to meet with the missionaries in that part of the mission.

not too much this time!

Haha so I pretty much just wrote you all on Saturday, so there's not too much that has gone on since then, relatively anyways. However, we have seen some sweet miracles. This Monday we had Zone Leader Council which is always a fun meeting. It's fun to meet and council on things we can do to better the mission. We've determined a few things we'll be doing in the future with the mission. This upcoming transfer we'll be implementing the process of purification again which I think I told you all a little bit about last year. We' also determined our training for the upcoming Zone Conference and Elder Brown and I gave a training that the missionaries will be trained on in the upcoming week. We trained on the power of bearing powerful testimony. We talked about how we need to focus on what the lessons mean to us as we teach them, as well as the difference between merely teaching the points of the lessons and testifying of them. It's interesting to see the difference in lessons when sometimes you can teach a lesson perfectly but it seems to do literally nothing. On the other hand when you go in with the attitude of sharing the truths that you've come to know are true it makes all the difference. There is no replacement for the power of the spirit that comes when we testify of the truthfulness of the Restoration, Plan of Salvation, and The Gospel of Jesus Christ. Elder Brown and I also got a bunch of things ready for a mission wide activity that we had to day called "Fall Sports Day". Haha I won't write too much about this but we'll just say that it's pretty legit. To be simple and brief we play a game called "Hero Ball" which is a combination of three games in one. This year we decided to make the three sports Soccer, Capture the Flag, and (drum roll please) QUIDDITCH! Haha that's right, think back to those days of playing quidditch in the backyard, it was pretty awesome, all the games go on at the same time on the field with soccer balls, quaffles, and bludgers flying through the air with 52 missionaries on the field at any one time. It ends up being something of a barely organized chaos but it turned out really well. Only one person got mad, and only one person got hit in the face so we considered it a success. Not to mention the fact that it was good to be able to spend time with all of the missionaries and provide an opportunity for them to get to know one another.
We also had some sweet miracles with finding. We had literally probably about 1 minute in our area one evening and we decided to use it to go check on a lady we'd never met. We were walking to her house and there was a lady getting home with her little daughter. We stopped and talked to her and she instantly opened up to us about some of the tragedies that had gone on in her life. Her husband was in the military and had cheated on her and left her and her three year old daughter all alone. She talked about how intelectually she knew she shouldn't be mad at God because everyone has agency but that she was obviously still struggling. While she didn't accept a return appointment then we're hoping that she'll receive the sisters when they go by in a week or so. It was just cool to see how the Lord could use our limited time to put us in the path of someone that clearly needed a message about his love and awareness of her. It was a blessing to be able to testify to her of the reality of God's love and the fact that we meet no one by coincidence.
Haha it's also been a humbling week as a new sisters was recently transferred into the area. She is on fire and has reminded us of the fire we need to perhaps rebuild and then maintain. It was a good reminder of the faith we need to have in our areas and the faith we need to have despite how little time we may have. The Lord continues to teach us little lessons each day and hopefully we're becoming better each time. It's just weird to think that one week of the transfer has already gone by... Crazy stuff!

Another week, this one a bit longer than the last

Wow, it's been such a crazy week! The week before and after transfers is always super crazy, so sorry I didn't get to write to you guys any earlier, we've just been running around like crazy from early in the morning to late at night! So to give a brief run down of what we've been doing for the past week or so is that we've just been crazy with transfers and setting up for meetings. With transfers we were changing things around until the Sunday before transfers trying to get things right for what needs to happen not only this transfer but also the next, so that's been a bit of stress, but luckily everything seems to have worked out alright and that with only a few hiccups, hopefully everything will go smoothly for this transfer! We've also had a few tough days of trying to figure out what we need to train on for the mission. Leadership meeting, which was yesterday, was an incredible meeting, I honestly don't know if we've ever had one quite so spiritual. It was all thanks to a workshop by one of the VC trainers on the purpose of baptism and the joy of missionary work, mixed in with the theme of reverence. It was super powerful. Reverence has become one of the things I love to study and try to develop on the mission. It honestly makes the biggest difference and sets the tone for our day, lessons, meetings, etc. It's definitely an interesting topic to study and apply. We've also been scrambling to get things ready for a mission wide activity for this next Wednesday, Sports Day! We have a huge game of sports called "Hero Ball". It's a combination of three sports on the same field, we'll be playing soccer, capture the flag, and quidditch all at once! Haha yeah it's going to be insane, hopefully it works out alright.
Amidst all the craziness of planning transfers and other activities and meetings there have been a few extremely powerful spiritual experiences. It's been incredible to see once again the Lord's awareness of who I am and what it is that I need to hear. This last Saturday was an extremely difficult day for us. For some reason we were just exhausted, we had to do a bunch of stuff that we don't normally enjoy doing on a Saturday but that we had to get done, and then it just felt as if Satan was attacking us from all sides. Temptations, distractions, negativity, frustration, we could not figure out what was going on! We just kept praying for strength and that we would be able to accomplish all that was needed. Eventually everything did work out but it was probably one of the most difficult days of the mission. It felt as if the Lord had decided to withdraw His spirit and leave us on our own for a little while just so we would know what it felt like. It really was a fulfillment of Ether 12:27 where the Lord showed us once again our weakness so that we would come closer to Him and He could strengthen us. Still, that day we still saw some incredible miracles, tender mercies that kept us going through the day. There was a random guy that came up to us trying to fundraise that eventually turned out to be super interested in the Book of Mormon. We gave him a book and he immediately asked us what our favorite chapter was so that he could read it that evening! Incredible right! Unfortunately he lives in a van and was only here for a few more days, but hopefully wherever he goes he'll be able to get ahold of the missionaries. Then we also met this one guy that looked like just a punk riding his mo-ped, haha but we talked to him and he was an awesome guy. It honestly reminded me of Elder Schwitzer's experience as a doctor because this guy is working over here to try and get to California to be with his wife, he said they'd been married for 6 years and that the last four months away from her had been some of the hardest. It was cool to see him light up as we talked about the possibilities of eternal marriage thanks to the restoration, hopefully he also will find time to meet with the missionaries in his area. So the Lord continues to be able to work through us, despite our major weaknesses, our limited time, and our limited ability. It's always just incredibly humbling to realize that the Lord really does care about what we're doing, that He is really is guiding us even when we don't feel like it at all.
This week we also got to pick up the new missionaries, man, that is my favorite part of every transfer! It's just fun to see them come in and to think back to the beginning of the mission. I honestly wish I could have another two years... The testimony meetings were extremely powerful and it was especially incredible to see the inspiration that worked through President Matsumori. I've had questions recently about whether or not I'm doing what the Lord would have me do in this assignment, if I've been trying to use time effectively, if I've been diligent, if I'm really accomplishing what he needs me to, and the Lord spoke through President. He was able to give me the assurance, comfort, and guidance I needed without even knowing the questions I was struggling with. It was yet another testament to me that the Lord is incredibly aware of each of us. I don't know, it's hard to describe all the feelings and thoughts I've been having for the last week or so. This time of the transfer always seems to be the time of intense inner reflection, what with the coming and going of missionaries. All I can say is that I'm grateful for the mission... I'm grateful for all that the Lord has been teaching me, for the lessons, the struggles, the joys, the miracles, and the opportunity to serve. I feel that the mission really does lead us to conversion, it's just been crazy to think back to where I was before hand, and to see the change that the Lord has worked in me... There really is no greater blessing or miracle than the miracle of conversion. I feel that recently I have come to know our Father in Heaven in a way that I never have before. I feel that I can truly call Him Father and that He truly calls me son. I don't know, it's just been a crazy week, but I'm grateful for it!