Sunday, December 22, 2013

Good Bye, Lousiana.

The time has come, this is it... my last email home as a missionary. My emotions are all out of wack to say the least. I feel like a pregnant women, tired,sad, depressed, happy, excited, relieved, nervous, scared,  and thrilled all at the same time. I'm so glad I'm a man!

Anyway, this week was full of sending things home, throwing things away, packing, saying good byes, bearing lots of testimonies and saying a lot of prayers. Who would have ever thought that some place like Louisiana would capture your heart. But it has truly done that and even more. I love everything about this place. 

As I look around and realize that these are the last few days I will spend here as a full time representative of the Savior, I can't help but to be thankful. The lessons I've learned out here have been priceless and I wouldn't trade it for anything. I have had the lowest of lows and the highest of highs, highs that can not be explained in words, Being able to bear testimony in strangers' home and having confidence that what I am saying will change there lives, has been such a blessing and I hope to never forget that. I have gained an understanding of the doctrines of this church that will help me live righteously for the rest of my life. If I ever slip or falter it will not be because I did not understand, that will never be the excuse. For I know what is expected of me, but I also know that I will make mistakes. Luckily, I learned what repentance is and I have grown to love it and to feel what it's like. I know that we have a Father in Heaven that watches out for us and never leaves us alone or without help. He restored the gospel back on the earth so we could benefit from all of His blessings that he has to offer, and that can only be found in the ordinances performed by the priesthood. 

I remember the Christmas before I came on my mission mom and dad got me a set of scriptures. I remember being so ungrateful and really bitter that they would waste a gift at Christmas to give me scriptures. Well mom and dad I am truly sorry, I really, really sorry. I am sorry because at the time I did not realize how much I would grow to love the scriptures, and now those very scriptures that I was so ungrateful for, are now my most prized possession. So thank you mom and dad, that is the best gift I could ever ask for. I know the Book of Mormon to be true. Every page. Every line. Every word. It has gave me meaning to my life, and gives me hope to get through hard times. 

I love my mission. It means everything to me. But I don't want to dwell on it or have it be the climax of my life. I look forward to applying the life lessons I've learned to help me be a better son, brother, husband, father and disciple of Jesus Christ. 

I want y'all to know, that I have a testimony of the Savior, I know he is there and I know he atoned for us. 

I want to thank everyone that has suported me over the last few years. Whether it's from letters, emails, prayers or just thinking of me. I have felt that strength. So thank you. I  am so excited to see y'all in just a few short days. Love yall and see you soon :)

2 Extra Weeks

I have also been praying for understanding on why I needed to stay here in Louisiana for 2 weeks longer, I want to make sure that I accomplish that before I go home. I didn't want it to be just a time for me to not work hard and be a burden to my companions and the ward. As I've been praying for those things I feel the spirit teaching me things daily reasons why I still need to be here. Both for myself and for others. One of those is that Monica texted us this week and said that she wants to repent and come back. You have no idea how much that meant to me, I have been praying for them daily and I've been repenting like crazy because I blamed myself for them leaving. I felt like I wasn't doing enough to help them stay strong. So her saying that and then having an amazing lesson with her and Micheal with our bishop just really helped me see that I needed to be here for that. President Wall met with Micheal yesterday and is now back in the process of being baptized. So that was a huge tender mercy for me. I am grateful for the continual confirmations I have gotten for why I am here still. 

I was also able to go drop off the missionaries that I came out with this week. Surprisingly that wasn't weird at all. It felt like just any other trip to the airport dropping missionaries off. It really hasn't hit me yet, I'm sure it will once I'm at the airport with my own stuff. I'll probably be an emotional wreck. But I got another new companion. We are in a tripanionship... again. This is the 5th one of my mission. His name is Elder Asuao. He is from American Samoa. He is a great missionary and once I leave, he and Elder Helie will be great. So I'm not too worried, they are picking things up quick and I'm just doing my best to show them the ropes.

I'll save my testimony for next week, but I love y'all and I'm sooo excited to see you in 10 days. Thank you for your support and prayers. Love and miss you tons.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Elders at the LSU Game--Tailgating with Jambalaya

This is a weird week for me. This is the week that I was supposed to go home. But, lucky me, I get to be on borrowed time for the next two weeks. It will be very interesting going through the go home routine--transfers, interviews, temple, dinner, testimony meeting, and then going to the airport but not leaving on a plane with Elder Bawden. I'm sure it will be weird, but I'm grateful for the time that I have left. 

We got to go to the LSU game this week! That was sweet, they played Furman. What was really fun. 

As y'all know I am reading the Book of Mormon from cover to cover, looking for the points of conversion that Elder Packer taught us. Well I've been reading it slower than I thought, but I've gained such a great understanding of what things need to take place in order to become converted. 3 Nephi 8:1. The second part of that verse talks about how no man can perform miracles in the name of Jesus except he is cleansed from all iniquity. So the biggest thing that I've learned from reading the Book of Mormon this time, is the importance of repentance in the process of conversion. If we don't learn repentance we can never become truly converted. 
Here are some scriptures I enjoyed this week. 3 Nephi 13: 22-23 & D&C 88:67. I have hope because I can control the light in my life. We all have the ability to control the light and darkness in our lives.

Failures are the Finger Posts on the Road to Achievement

We finished off Zone Conferences this week! Last Zone Conferences of my mission. Scary thought. But they went really well. Thursday and Friday were rough days because we went on a road trip to pick up a bunch of missionaries and ended up being in the mission van for 7 hours! It was crazy, luckily I like the office elders and my new companion. Oh yeah, Elder Hauata went home this week. My new companion is Elder Helie. He is from American Fork, Utah. He is a really good missionary and is fun to be around. He has only been out for 15 months, so he is a super young Assistant, but he will be a great leader, I see that in him already. So these next 3 or so weeks will be interesting, but fun. 

In the middle of one of our Zone conferences, President shared a story about a man that never gave up. His name is Derek Redmond, he was a man that ran in the 1992 Olympics and was expected to medal. He ran the 400m, and about 150m into the race he tore is hamstring. He was in such agony and pain that it brought him to his knees. But after a minute or so, he got up and started limping towards the finish line, determined to finish the race that he started. Several people came to try and get him to stop, but he wouldn't stop. When all of a sudden a man came running onto the field from the stands. That man was his father. He came and put his arm around him and helped him finish the race. Even though he finished dead last, he at least finished. The spirit was so strong. How many of us get slowed down by the baggage  and temptations of the world in our race of life? I'm pretty sure all of us do, but that doesn't mean that we have to quit or give up. We must keep going, and rise up! Finish what we start and do it with a smile on our face. Hope on, Journey on!

There are moments in life that will only be there for a limited amount of time. So I've decided to cherish those and make the best of them. I'm gonna miss being a missionary, so I better make the time I have left count. Life is good.

You Must Be the Change You Want to See in the World

This week was a long week, or at least it felt really long. We had Zone Conferences this week.  They were all really good. Monday is our normal preparation day but this last week we didn't get to have it because we were preparing for Zone Conferences and putting together our instruction. Each Zone Conference felt like it got better and better. We instructed on things that we learned from Conference and how it applies to us as missionaries.  So we used Elder Holland's talk about overcoming hard things, President Uchtdorf's talk in priesthood session entitled "You Can Do It Now" and then we used Elder Funk's talk in the priesthood session. Being a missionary, we can go and give people hope in this dark and dreary world. The hope that we can give them is that they have a Savior that loves them. We can give them hope by sharing the restored Gospel with them and giving them a copy of the Book of Mormon, which is a giant book full of hope. It's been great. Then we also talked about how on our missions we need to change. Not our personality, but our character. I loved in Elder Funk's talk where it talked about repentance and then the real growth that we can have on our missions, which will help us contribute to the real growth as being a member. That's what I've been trying to do my entire mission, is to make the changes I need to in order to have a solid foundation for the rest of my life. Also we have had a Area Seventy come and speak to us, his name is Elder Bluth. He actually lives here in Baton Rouge and lives in the ward that we are serving in. So it was nice to see him and hear him instruct while being led by the spirit.

Elder Hauata is going home this Thursday and so I will be getting a new companion. I still don't know who it is yet, hopefully President will tell me today. 

Overall things are going great. I love life and things are going smooth. 

Never Deprive Someone of Hope, It Might Be All They Have

It's been a crazy week. Full of stuff that took us away from teaching people, but that's ok, it's part of the calling. We had MLC this week and it was probably been one of my favorites, if not my favorite one, I've been too. We talked about a lot of different things. Elder Hauata and I had the chance to instruct on the Book of Mormon. It was a great chance for me to share my testimony of the Book of Mormon to the leaders of our mission. I shared the story of when Dad gave the Book of Mormon to that guy and then about how we went and visited him and his family in Virginia. I told them how he had dad read what he wrote in there 25 years earlier, and how the spirit was so strong. I give credit to that one experience of  how I gained my testimony of the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon has changed my life, it has given me hope that even though there is a lot of chaos and confusion in the world, we can know at least one thing--that the Savior lives! And that we have a loving Father in Heaven. I feel that every time I read from its pages. So I was grateful for the opportunity I had to share that with the other leaders in our mission. 

The rest of MLC was focused on Hope. Hope is what allows us to keep going and to never lose sight of the blessings that lie ahead. It was cool to see that a lot of General Conference was about hope and not losing the faith or the courage too keep going. So it was a very spiritual and inspiring week. This week has been a great learning experience for me. I feel like I am getting close to being ready to come home. I know I still have some things to learn, but I feel better about where I am at right now, than I was a few weeks ago. So life is good, very good. 

Last night we went over to this family's house that we have been getting pretty close with. They live right around the corner from the mission home, so we stop by occasionally. Well, last night we told them that we would make them dinner, so we went over there and I made them Stir fry. The mom has a sister that is a member down in New Orleans and knows a lot about the church and missionaries, but they are just really devoted Catholics. We understand that and realize that going in and just throwing stuff in their face probably won't help. So we are taking it slow and just trying to establish a relationship with them. 

This upcoming week should be another crazy one. We have Zone Conferences starting tomorrow and today we don't get to do anything because we have to prepare our portion of instructions. Should be a good week though. Ill let you how it goes.