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.

The Miracle is not that We Do This Work, But that We are Happy Doing It

I am Happy.

The last few weeks, or even months, I've felt like Satan has just been hitting me as hard as he could. Attacking every weak spot that I have. And for awhile I felt like I was losing the battle and feeling myself slip. But finally, this last week I had some experiences that helped me see, that although Satan was hitting me hard, God will never let one of his servants lose the fight. As long as that servant is faithful. 

Experience 1. We were on exchanges and we were going to see a less active before dinner. And as we were getting out we see a lady taking groceries to her apartment. So we asked to help and at first she said, no but we insisted so she let us help. As we were helping her, her fiance comes and helped us. When we got into their apartment they thanked us and we just started up a basic conversation that led to asking if they wanted to learn more. They said absolutely and were so interested and wanted to cook us dinner and they said that they really wanted Jesus more in their life and they need to find a church. That experience helped me know that God knows each of us. He knew that they wanted to be more spiritual, he knew Elder Helie would be inspired to make one last stop before dinner, even though I didn't want to. Then he knew that I would offer to help someone when they were in need. All of that played into the role of a miracle and it's all because Heavenly Father knows and loves us.

Experience 2. This Sunday was fast and testimony Sunday for us. I was fasting for strength and praying that someone would say something in their testimony that would help me fight this battle against Satan. Well it didn't start off very well because I had to apologize to a lady that Elder Hauata forget to tell her they would miss dinner. She was mad at me, even though I wasn't even there, I was on exchanges. So I took heat for that. Then a few other embarrassing things happened before church and I just felt like crap. So I was praying heavily that someone would say something that would completely change everything. I was getting really frustrated when the spirit finally taught me something... They might not say it, but you can. I then has these things come to my mind, and I knew that I needed to share them in my testimony. So I did. And I felt so much better after, and then the rest of church went great. I feel a lot better now and I know that I needed to have that expereince for a reason. 

Heavenly father is great, isnt he?

I did have a good birthday! Thank you everyone for sending me the packages, and nice cards and emails. They helped a lot. Y'all are awesome and it was a great way to spend my birthday serving the Lord!

6 weeks left, lets finish this strong and have no regrets! 

Time is What We Want Most, but What We Use Worst

This was a really long, busy week. It was transfers and we were all over the place. Tuesday we picked up the new missionaries. As always they are so excited, yet nervous like a puppy. Wednesday is transfer day and then my favorite part of the week, is being able to go to the temple and have a testimony meeting with all of the missionaries going home. There is always such a strong spirit in those meetings. You can just feel the love and the appreciation that everyone has for this great work. Thursday we took them to the airport, then later that afternoon we went down to New Orleans to go on an exchange with the Spanish ZL's. That was really fun. I got to pass out a Book of Mormon in spanish. But, when I was bearing my testimony in spanish I said that Jesus is the "Savior of God."  I mixed up that and saying that Joseph smith was a prophet of God. The Elder I was with just laughed. Hey, I tried. Then on Friday and Saturday we did an exchange with the Baton Rouge ZL's. So we had a super busy week. And I'm starting to get really tired, and weak. So please pray for me, Heaven knows I need it. 

But I had a cool experience this week. We went to visit this family that we randomly helped bring in groceries one time and they told us to come back.  Well, they let us in on Sunday and we had some good conversation. The subject came up of how to live a good Christian life. And the lady talked about how there is so much more expected out of us who claim to be Christian--just that we should be living a certain way because we know Jesus. And that got me thinking about how each of us are held accountable to our understanding, but then also we can't be saved in ignorance. So what I gather from that is that part of our job here on earth is to gain a deeper understanding of the Gospel, which should then cause us to live a more Christlike life. Does that make sense? I might just be desperate here, but it makes sense to me. The more understanding we have, the more responsibility is given to us. But we won't have the excuse of "Oh, I didn't know I needed to do that." God expects our best. But our best can always get better. That's something I've learned on my mission, and something that motivates me to continue to improve and become better. 

I definitely feel my testimony growing each day. I feel like I'm getting closer and closer to the person I want to be before I go home. I'm still not quite there yet, but I'm working really hard for it. I dont' feel like I'm 100% converted yet, and I don't think I will for a long time. My definition of converted is set as a high bar to reach. That way I always have something to work towards instead of being content at a certain stage of life or conversion. So I know I am on the path and I feel like I'm a good way down the path, and I have absolutely no plans of leaving that path. I love the Savior and the Gospel too much. That's what my mission has taught me. And I am eternally grateful for it. 

Thank you everyone for the birthday wishes. It means a lot. I can't believe I will be 21 this week. I still feel like I'm 18. But I look forward to what my 21st year will bring. I love and miss yall so much. Thank you for your continued support and prayers. 

If You Want to Conquer Fear, Go Out and Get Busy

I'm starting to be more at peace with the fact of me being here in the office to end my mission. I've realized that someone has to do this in our mission, and the Lord knows that I need these experiences to humble me and help me see how to help others when they are in need. He is preparing me for things later in my life.  I still need to be more patient and understanding and loving. But I feel I've come a ways from where I was. 

So it's pretty official that I'm extending 2 weeks... I think President really needs me for those 2 weeks. We talked last night about possible missionaries that I will help train as Assistants, and he said he has no idea. he said up until now, he had a perfect succession of Assistants, but now he has no idea. So I know that he will really need my help with helping these new missionaries. I hope all of you realize that me extending doesn't mean that I dont want to come home. You have no idea how much I miss y'all and want to see you as soon as possible. But I know what I need to do, and if that means having to sacrifice 2 weeks of not seeing y'all, then I will do it. I know missionary work is the work of salvation, and that "No man, having put his hand to the plough and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." Sometimes we are asked to do things that we know are going to be hard, but we know it's the right thing. The best thing we can do, is give it our all, attitude is everything.  And if I spend those last 2 weeks homesick and not focused on my purpose then it will be a waste. I intend to give it my all until  I have nothing left to give. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

"Hope is Tomorrow's Veneer Over Today's Disappointment"

We had a busy and eventful week.  I don't like sharing negative things in my emails because those are no fun. But, we had a bit of a let down this week.  Mxxxxx, our only investigator, is dating Mxxxxx, a member...I'm pretty sure I've talked about them before.  About a month ago, Monica said she was leaving the church. Well she did that again on Sunday. She said she is leaving the church and that she doesn't want us to come visit her unless she invites us over. This breaks my heart. But, last time she called us back 4 days later and changed her mind so hopefully that happens again this time. 

Enough of that negative stuff... So this week we had MLC  (mission leader counsil) It was really good. We counseled about different aspects of missionary work. Things we are doing well, and things we are going to try and improve. Overall as a mission we are doing really well, we have a lot of missionaries that are trying there best. 

We are working on transfers this week. That's always fun.  President is having us make our own transfer board with what we would do if we were to transfer everyone, so that's pretty cool that he trusts us to do that. Of course he will make all of the changes, but it will be cool to see which suggestions he likes of ours. 

In other news, I asked President Wall if I could extend an extra 2 weeks... Elder Hauata goes home 2 weeks before I do. So basically there will be 2 brand new assistants with no experience when I would go home. So I asked if I could stick around for 2 weeks and help them out. He said that's a great idea. Right now it looks like I will be extending :) Love and miss you tons!

"God's Work Done God's Way Will Never Lack God's Help."

This week felt really long for some reason. But, it was definitely a good week. We had our weekly FHE with Micheal and Monica. It was pretty fun, Micheal made this really good chicken and sausage gumbo and then we talked about family history work, and then Micheal made this really cool trivia game using the bible and the Book of Mormon.  I've really grown to love Micheal and Monica. They are the best. 

I can't remember if I told you or not, but I will be staying in the office until I go home. Not how I wanted to end my mission, but it's what the Lord wants and so I will give it my all until the end. But with that being the case, my comp Elder Hauata was suppose to go home the end of this transfer, but he is from Tahiti and his visa doesnt expire until November, so president extended him 30 days. Which means he will go home 2 weeks before I do. The plan right now is that I will get a new comp when Elder Hauata goes home and then 2 weeks later I leave and the new assistant has to know everything he needs to know.  With it being that way, President is taking some of the duties that we have and are letting the senior couple in the office handle them. One less thing to train the new assistant about. That also allows us to do "normal" missionary work more! Which makes me really happy because there is nothing better than a long hard day of being a missionary. We were able to go on splits with the PEC this week, which was great because I went with our new ward mission leader and we went and saw a less active family that we haven't been able to see in forever. It was a miracle. That's what happens when the ward and the missionaries work together! The new WML and I get  along really well, so hopefully we can start having more success here with the relationship being strengthened.

We finished specialized training this week. We ended with New Orleans, for some reason both the New Orleans zones were not very prepared or planned out. I guess you can learn from the mistakes made as well. But it was a great learning experience all around. We have MLC this week and so we will be following up on that. 

I can't believe that I only have 8 weeks left. They will fly by, and that scares the living daylights out of me. I have truly loved every second of my mission. I will be eternally grateful for the experiences that I have had and the love and kindness the people of Louisiana and the Lord has given me these last two years. I will save my really sappy go home email for when I actually go home. But, I just want everyone to know that I know that the Savior lives and that he his mindful of us and knows what will make us better. The testimonies born yesterday in sacrament meeting were so great. I felt like each of them knew what I was struggling with and they bore sweet powerful testimonies that gave me hope and peace. The spirit is great, it will always teach us something if we are listening, but the thing is, we have to be listening. 

The Best Way to Find Yourself is to Lose Yourself in the Service of Others

Another good week here in South Louisiana! Elder Parker went home this week. I am glad I had the pleasure of serving with him. I learned a lot from him and I'm grateful for his friendship. Elder Hauata and I are now getting settled into the swing of things. We had more Specialized Training this week, we are still doing the days of service with each zone. One zone we helped out this humanitarian project, by helping finish a home, and then we did highway pick up in one of the cities. So that was really fun. Then on Thursday and Friday, we were here in Baton Rouge and we scraped down and painted some parking rails at an astronomy observatory, it was really fun, but man that paint was hard to get off. I really learn a lot from doing service and I feel like the rest of the missionaries feel the same way. I just love serving! 

We also got to go to the temple this week with our ward. The new film was so sweet! I love the temple, it helps me out so much. Something that I learned this time is about how God has created everything, and he expects everything to grow, progress and contribute to His great plan. I love how they say, that so everything will fill the measure of their creation.  We all have this great potential, but it's up to us to seek what our potential is and how we can meet it. We aren't left alone, we have the spirit here to help us and reveal to us our part in this great plan of happiness. It really hit me hard this week, that maybe the things I have to go through are part of something bigger than myself and I have to endure it so I can take a step closer to filling the measure of my creation. Gosh, isnt the gospel so cool?

Zone Community Service Projects

This week was super sweet. We are doing specialized training. It's kind of like zone conference, but President has a lot more freedom to do whatever type of training he wants. So he decided that we were going to have a day of service for all of the zones. This week we went to two different zones and did these big service projects. They were sweet. One was painting trailers and building decks. The other one was Elder Bawden's zone, and we did yard work in this old overgrown cemetary. It was crazy, in some places the grass was chest high and then there was this bamboo looking stuff that was probably 10 to 15 feet high. I have pictures. It was a great way to get out into the community and serve them and just promote unity there and in the zone. Service is a big part of our mission and we just wanted to have an example of how it should be done. 

A cool experience that I've had recently is that I've been able to go to the temple a lot more since being in Baton Rouge ( I heard they have a new video, can't wait to see it!) But I've started doing something different as I pray in the Celestial room.  As I ponder and pray, I thank Heavenly Father for the opportunity I had to do an act of service for the person I was going through for. I also ask Heavenly Father to please tell whose ever work I'm doing, thank you for letting me serve them and that I hope they except it. I know that doesn't sound very powerful, but every time I do that the Spirit just hits me like a ton of bricks. And I know at that moment that they are there, and they are thankful for their work being done and that they have excepted it. 

Well family, thank you for all the love and support. I can feel it all the time. I know that the Lord is blessing y'all.

Love and miss yall!


We are now in a tri panionship. This is the third one I've been in on my mission. And so far this is the best one. I still don't like tri panionships. But Elder Hauata really helps make things better. He will probably be one of my favorite companions. 

Well, it was another eventful week here in the mission field. This was probably the craziest transfer so far. The AC upstairs in the mission home went out right as the new missionaries were getting there. So for about 2 hours President, Elder Parker and myself were running around the mission home trying to install 3 window units to try and cool down the upstairs. It was like 90 degrees up there.  Poor Elders--they were the ones that had to sleep up there. But only one of the units actually fit in the window. The other two were too big and so we had to ghetto rig it. One of them we put on a dresser right in front of the window and then duct-taped the open space so bugs didn't come in. Then the other one we put on a music stand and duct-taped the middle of it so it didn't slide down.  Yes is was super ghetto, but really funny. Turns out there is a reason why the units have to hang out the window... because they drain water out of them.  So we had some puddles in one bathroom and in the bedroom. It was a mess for sure! 

We are going down to New Orleans today for P'day. Elder Parker's sister is down there so we are going to lunch with her and her husband. It should be fun because we are also going to go to the shops and stuff. I've already been, but now I'm at a point in my mission where I want to buy stuff to take home. 

Sorry that I don't really have any spiritual experiences. I hope to have more of them this week. For Specialized training this month we are going around to each Zone and we are having a Zone service project. So that will be really fun, I'll be sure to take a lot of pictures.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Well this past week was a crazy one. We had MLC which was really good. We talked about unity and obedience. As well as how one person can make a difference, hopefully that pumped everyone help, because I know it pumped me up. We watched this thing by Andy Andrews on Joshua Chamberlin. He was a leader in the army that made this one decision that basically changed the outcome of the war and the world. I would highly recommend it.

Then pretty much everyday after that we were at the mission home with president working on transfers. Transfers is this Wednesday. We are crazy busy so this email will pretty much suck. Im sorry. hah We finalize transfers today, make the calls. Then tomorrow we go pick up the new missionaries from the airport, get them settled in, eat dinner and have  a testimony meeting. Wednesday is transfers, which is also crazy. That night we go to the temple with the missionaries going home, then have dinner and a testimony meeting. Thursday is bright and early to take all the missionaries to the airport to go home. So it will be a fun week :) I love transfers, they are hectic, but always fun. 

We saw a little cool miracle last night. So we were driving to this musical fireside at the stake center when I noticed that the gas light was on and we only had 9 miles left to empty. Well the stake center is like 10 miles away from where we stay and we were just leaving our place when it came on. Elder P wanted to stop and get gas, but I felt like the Lord would provide. He always had. So I just joked that all we needed was a little faith and everything will be fine. He kept insisting that "the ox is in the mire" it's ok to get gas on Sunday. But I learned something this week. "Failure is the only option for a man that accepts the status quo." Sure the rest of the world can stop for gas. But God asked us to keep the Sabbath day holy, and by golly we were gonna keep the Sabbath day holy. I had 100% faith that God would take care of this minor issue for us. So we ended up not getting gas last night.  We ended up driving close to 30 miles, when there was on 9 left in the tank. Then we got up early this morning and the car turned on like normal and we were able to go get gas!

I love and miss yall so much! Thank you for all your love, support, and prayers, I can definitely feel them working for me.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Zone Conferences

Zone conferences are officially over! We did our last one on Friday. It's been a long two weeks, but so Spirit filled and rewarding. I think I learn more each time we instruct, all the missionaries give great comments and have sweet insights and so looking back and adding all of them up is a lot of new knowledge of the gospel. I love it. The following was a flood of revelation that I gained for myself as one of the Zone Conferences was going on... 

My sacred grove is my mission. Joseph Smith said his first faith filled prayer, experienced the power of the adversary, gained a personal testimony of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, received an answer to his prayer and felt the spirit more strongly than ever before. I too have experienced similar things on my mission. The sacred grove for Joseph Smith, changed his life and changed the World. My mission for me, changed my life, and  will change my family's life for the better. 

So it was cool the have the spirit teach me that in one of our meetings.

We have MLC this week and then transfers next week so these next two weeks are gonna be busy and hectic. Elder Parker goes home midway next transfer so he'll be released as an AP and go somewhere for 2 weeks before he goes home. 

I also started working out a lot harder and so hopefully I'll start losing weight, only 3 months left, there is no time for laziness. 

Raining in Louisiana

This was a good week. we had the week off from meetings so we were able to do some work in our area and were able to go on exchanges with some of the Zone Leaders. I love going on those because I learned so much from each missionary, this time was no different...

This week we were able to go on an exchange with the Alexandria Zone leaders. I went up there with Elder Bawden. Remember how we have wanted to serve together for the longest time? Well, after this exchange the desired just increased a whole lot more! I love that kid, we just get a long so well, I look up to him a lot and we both want to work hard these last few months, But on the exchange we were able to see a lot of cool miracles and tender mercies. One of the days we set aside one hour of what Elder Bawden calls "consecrated finding time." So, in the morning we prayed and asked in faith on what we should do and where we should go to find those that need the gospel. The Spirit was there, and after we prayer the Spirit spoke to our minds. The word "Franklin" came to mind then for some reason the letter "B" did also. So we went through the ward roster to see if there was Franklin. No luck. So then we checked street names. And lo and behold a short street in the middle of the city named Franklin.  We went on with our day and got so busy that we had worked through that allotted time for finding. And we were on our way to the Bible Class when we just got this feeling that "the spirit spoke to our minds and trusted us to go to Franklin St." We didn't want to lose that trust with the Spirit, so we went to Franklin Street praying that something good will happen. Well, we got there and it is one of those streets that only has businesses on it and no houses or apartments, which I had a feeling would happen. But then we both felt like we should just get out and walk. At this point we were both just pumped up on faith and wanted to contact everyone and anyone that we saw. As soon as we got out of the car we both just felt this peaceful feeling like... "I'm proud of you, you did what the spirit prompted you to do." At that moment I knew whether we found someone or not, the Lord was pleased with us. Sadly, no one was around, but we started to walk down the street and on the very corner there was a little apartment building with a few apartments. So we went and tried them and just wrote a short testimony in a Book of Mormon and left it there. The crazy thing is, remember how when the Spirit told us to go to "Franklin" it also told us the letter "b" well the corner that the apartment was on was Franklin and some crazy name that started with a "B" It was a sweet feeling to see that. Well nothing happened while we were there, and maybe nothing will happen, but I felt comfortable with what we did and I'm grateful for that experience!

We also got to go to the temple with a member, that was really sweet. She has something wrong with her where if any scent just closes up her air ways and she can't breath. So we had to wash our clothes that day with unscented soap and we couldn't wear deodorant. It was intense. It was a great session and I love the temple so much. But in the celestial room the members airways started to close up, I guess one of the temple workers had some scented stuff on them. It was really sad to see her be like that. It just motivated me to see if she can sacrifice not breathing in order to go to the temple, then I should have no excuse not to go when I get home. She is inspiring to say the least. 

Growing Pains

This week was a good week. A lot of funny stories, but also a few growing pains (not literal growing pains, I wish because then that would mean that I am getting taller, but sadly I'm still short) Growing pains as in I learned a couple hard lessons this week. 

I'll start with some funny stories... So this week we had our MLC, mission leader counsel. Well after Elder Parker and I instructed we went to help Sister Wall prepare lunch for the rest of the missionaries. For lunch we were having gourmet hot dogs! Sister Wall was going to just boil the hot dogs, but being the master griller that I am, I couldn't let her. So she let me grill them on the grill there in the mission home. So as we were prepping the area, I was just boasting and bragging to Elder Parker about how much of a boss I was at grilling stuff back home. There was my first mistake.  So I turned on the propane and let the gas run for a second, then I started to look for the easy start button on the grill so I could get it warmed up. But I couldn't find it. So I just figured that there wasn't one, stupid me I took the lighter and stuck it down in the grill and lit it. All of a sudden this giant ball of fire the size of the grill came rushing towards my face! It  was intense!  Luckily, the good Lord is watching out for me, I only burned off the hairs on my right hand. haha Moral of the story is if you brag, you will get hit by a ball of fire. So just be humble :) 

OK so now for the growing pains... This week I was pretty grumpy, I just didn't feel happy and I didn't know what was up. I was frustrated with a lot of stuff, mainly with just not being the type of person I want to be at this point of my mission. I have this vision of who I want to be before I go home and I just didn' feel like I was there yet. I was doing everything I could to be the best person and missionary I could, but it just felt like the whole world was against me. But I had such a sweet experience with prayer. One night after a rough night of basketball with a bunch of black dudes, I just knelt in prayer for a good 20 minutes. Just pouring everything I had out. I had the faith that Heavenly father would help me out, but I didn't know how long it would last and how long I could take it without snapping. Well, I woke up the next morning feeling so much better. It seemed like all the stuff that had been bothering me just didn't seem that bad in the whole big scheme of things. I don't think Heavenly Father just took everything away from me that night, I think he just gave me comfort and peace knowing that things will be ok. I went through this before, but hopefully I learned what I needed to this time so It won't happen again for awhile. These growing pains are never fun. But they are things that need to happen so we can grow stronger. 
What a week! We were busy and I can't remember the last time I had a full 8 hours of sleep. A lot of late nights and a lot of early mornings. Did I mention early mornings? Y'all know I am not a morning person, so it's been quite the challenge. We spent most of Monday and Tuesday with President doing transfers. It's so funny because we will be working with him one minute, then the next Sister Wall is trying to lovingly shove snacks down our throat, and then we come back and President Wall changes half the mission! It was funny how many times that happened. We had 122 missionaries at transfers, and we have about 190 missionaries in our entire mission. So there was a lot of changes to say the least.  But it's so cool to know that every single missionary is in the area and with the companion that the Lord wants them to be with. I always had to learn that the hard way, but being able to be behind the scenes has confirmed it for me. 

We also got 20 new missionaries in our mission! It was so sweet to be able to pick them up from the airport and see the shock and lack of sleep in their eyes. I remember those good ole days! But on a serious note, all of the new missionaries are coming in ready and full of fire and faith. We have a testimony meeting with all the newbes and President and Sister Wall the night that they come in. It was one of the most spiritual experiences. They are so young and have the most basic of testimonies, but the Spirit was there and really taught me a lot. I'm grateful for that experience.

On the other side, we also had 16 missionaries go home. Now normally I wouldn't care as much, but I had a lot of really close friends in this group. A lot of which I hope to stay friends with for a long time. They were all such great examples to me of how to be a missionary and to share the gospel. its weird to think that that will be me in 4 months. Scary but exciting.

Oh! I passed the van test, its basically just this video that yo have to watch in order to drive the big mission transfer van. I'll be driving that bad boy in no time!

I'd like to just end with my testimony... Yesterday our only investigator, Micheal, bore his testimony in our Gospel Principles class. What he said really hit me hard and helped me a lot. He bore his personal testimony of the priesthood. He mentioned about how last week his fiance asked us for a blessing to help her with the Word of Wisdom. He said that as we were giving her the blessing he could literally feel the Spirit flowing from Heavenly Father, through me, and into his fiance. He said even though he wasn't getting the blessing that the Spirit confirmed to him that the priesthood is real and that blessings come from our Father in Heaven. That helped me a lot because I didn't get that same feeling. I mean I felt the spirit, but not as powerfully and in the same way that he did. That was a testimony builder to me, knowing that the Spirit speaks to different people in different ways. And that when Heavenly Father wants us to learn something, we learn it, and it is by the Spirit that he does so. 

Life as an Assistant

We had our MLC (mission leader conference) this week. It was a good council, we were able to talk about visions and the importance of having our own personal vision of what we want to become. It was a spiritually filling meeting. I love seeing all the ZL's and STL's they inspire me to be a better missionary! 

Thursday we were able to go see Gwen. She made us red beans and rice, a classic southern meal. She is doing so great, she opened up her scriptures and was telling me all these things she has been learning. They weren't just the normal thing you get out of the scriptures, she was pondering and applying them to herself. It was a tender moment for sure. She is a straight boss. 

We also had stake conference this week.  I love the stake presidency here. They are awesome, they are everything I look for in a leader. They are funny, but serious when they need to be. They spoke with the Spirit.

Well this week is going to be crazy, we leave tonight and won't be home until Saturday. Its a busy week for sure! 


This was a fun and exciting week. We were busy all week going on exchanges with Zone Leaders. That really helped me a lot, because it's been hard not doing as much "real" missionary work. So that was really good to be able to take a break from the Assistant stuff and go work my butt off. I was with an Elder that I've gotten to be good friends with out here, so that was nice to be able to just go hard with him. We saw a lot of miracles and fruit from our hard work. I loved it.

Transfers is this week. So normally we would have our P'day on Tuesday this week, but since we are the Assistants, we won't really get one. We just get part of today to get some stuff done. The reason behind that is tomorrow is when all the new missionaries come in, so we have to go pick them up from the airport and take them back to the mission home, then keep a close eye on them to make sure they are doing ok. I'm excited to see how they look coming off the plane, I know that I was a sight for sore eyes. I was super sick on top of arriving in the mission field. But it should be fun, I look forward to the lack of sleep. We have spent hours on hours with President this week going over transfers and talking about which missionary needs to go where. That has been cool to see where the inspiration comes from. 

Wasn't that broadcast last night the best thing that has ever happened?? I loved it, man it just pumped me up to go out and work hard. I desperately needed that! I felt like they were calling all of us to repent, well in the nicest way possible. We just need to step up and get this work moving, we are in the last days, let's get going, there are a lot of souls to save out there! I love how it was titled, The Work of Salvation because that's exactly what needs to happen. Help everyone work for their own salvation. But, how can they work on it if they don't know where to find it? 

We had quite an eventful week this week! We were in New Orleans most of the week while President interviewed each missionary. It was a blast to be able to be in New Orleans and see all the unique culture. When we come back, we will have to spend a couple of days in just New Orleans. It probably would take a full week to be able to see everything.

While we were in New Orleans we took a break for lunch, and Elder Parker and I both left our backpacks at the building while we went with President and Sister Wall to go eat. We can trust our backpacks in the house of the Lord right? Well when we came back Elder Parker noticed his really nice camera was missing. I checked to make sure my wallet and camera were still there, and they were. So I wasn't too worried about it. But Elder Parker just figured he left it back in Baton rouge. Well later that night I went to pay for my food at dinner and I noticed that all my cash was gone.  60$ gone like that. I was sooo bummed. So I called Elder Parker and he had just gotten a call from a guy who had "found" his camera in a Circle K bathroom. We think he went through the pictures and saw that it was a missionary camera and so he gave it back. The guy was a less active member. Funny thing is that he was at the church earlier that day looking for a bishop to give him a welfare check. So we are pretty sure he stole the camera and my cash. But I guess he needed the money more than I did! 

First full week in the office! We are always on the go, never a time to stop and smell the roses. But it's good, I like being busy. This week we did specialized training. Which are basically another zone conference just in smaller settings and we do a lot of following up on previous training and then instruct on other things that we feel could be useful to all the missionaries. So that has been really fun, it's awesome to be around President and Sister Wall all the time. They are so sweet, and super funny. 

We will continue to do specialized training for the rest of the month. Then in June we will go around the entire mission with President while he does interviews. I had the lovely responsibility of planning out all the interviews, like who will be interviewed on what day and what building they will be interviewed at. Now that might not sound like a lot of work, but doing that for 180 missionaries in the middle of transfers is no simple thing. But, it's all good, it keeps things interesting. 

We get up at 5am because my comp wants to work out, and we usually don't get to bed until about 10:30 or 11, so most days are super long and tiring, but I think my body is getting use to it. We don't really ever have time to teach. We are always planning different trainings or preparing different things or running errands. Our only days are really Saturday and Sunday. Saturday we mainly do service, so Saturday night and Sunday night are really the only chances we have to do "real" missionary work. We do have a progressing investigator that is getting baptized soon. He is on parol for whatever reason but he is just so solid. We told him that we would have to push his baptism back because we need to get it cleared for him to be baptized and he said "Oh, that's alright, that doesn't change the fact that I know that this is true, I can wait" So, that was nice to hear. I'm excited to be a part of his process. 

This week in specialized training Elder Parker and I instructed on  learning the language of the spirit, which is something that we learned from Elder Allen Packer when he came to visit our mission. We took Preach My Gospel ch. 7 which is the chapter that helps missionaries learn a new language, and we applied it to learning the language of the spirit. It went really well, and I learned a lot just of studying it and teaching it several times this week. My favorite part is when we talk about the best way to learn a language is to embrace the culture. So for example, Madeleine went to Chile on her mission and had to learn spanish, so I'm sure the best way for her to learn that is to embrace the culture and speak spanish as often and as much as she could while also doing things that the people of Chile did. That's the same way we learn the language of the spirit. We have to put our selves in places where we can feel and "speak"  the language of the spirit. Much like Madeleine had to gain the trust of the people of Chile, we need to gain the trust of the Spirit, the Spirit needs to feel comfortable with us, or else we won't be able to feel it's presence or be in it's culture. I don't know if that makes sense, but it helped me out a lot. 

Assistant to the President

There has been a lot of changes over the past week! I left Albany, which was super hard. But then President asked me to be his new Assistant. What's funny is that normally he calls the new assistant a day or two before transfers to let them know, but not for me. I didn't find out until he called my name at transfers in front of everyone! So I was just as surprised as everyone else.  It has been a crazy week. It's such a big difference, instead of teaching investigators or members, we train and teach missionaries and take care of all the stuff in the mission for President Wall. We are always on the road. I'm enjoying it so far, just trying to get use to the culture of being an Assistant. I love being around President and Sister Wall though, they are awesome! 

My new comp is Elder Parker. He is from Alpine, Utah. He is like 6'5 and skinny and I'm 5'9 and chubby, so we make a funny companionship! We get along great, we both like sports and have a lot in common. We joke around a lot, which I'm glad because it makes things easier. 

We are in the heart of Baton Rouge, and the ward is awesome. They are nice and love us missionaries. Oh, and I had Chipotle for the first time in over a year and a half! It was heavenly! They have one on LSU campus so we made a stop while dropping a missionary off at the airport. 

Well life is quite crazy right now, but something that I enjoyed this week was being able to stop everything and study. I read Elder Packer's talk from last conference called "These Things I Know."  I loved the talk but two things that stuck out to me while I read it this time were when he says "There are few things more powerful than the faithful prayer of a righteous mother." the reason why I liked it so much was because I too know that that is true. If it wasn't for the hours of heartfelt and sincere prayers of my momma for me, then I would not be here today. Who knows where I would be. No matter how dumb I have been or what I was doing, the Lord would mold and influence others to help me, because of my loving mother's prayers. I know that to be true. So thank you momma, I love you! Something else that stuck out to me is when he is talking about tolerance. He says... "Tolerance is a virtue, but like all virtues, when exaggerated  it transforms itself into a vice." I love that because sometimes we take gospel principles and turn them in to vices or excuses. We allow ourselves to use things as a crutch, and those crutches are what keep us from becoming what we are meant to be and from reaching our full potential! That's a weakness that I am continuing to work on.

It was awesome getting to talk to yall on Mothers day! Gosh I miss yall. But it was just the boost that I needed to finish strong.

So I'm getting transferred! :( I'm kinda bummed about it. I'm not quite sure where I will be going, I hope New Orleans. But I find out tomorrow and will let yall know in next week's email.
Not much to email about since I talked to y'all Sunday, but I'll just share something with y'all that I read this morning...
I was reading in Alma 26 about Ammon reflecting on his time serving as a missionary amongst the Lamanites. I love how he was so humble about himself but was so trusting in the Lord. He gave him all the credit and wasn't afraid to speak his mind about it either, even Aaron chimed in and told him he sounded prideful, but then Ammon just goes off on how he isn't proud of himself, but he is proud of Heavenly Father and all the blessings and miracles that he allowed him to be a part of. He said, "How great reason have we to rejoice; for could we have supposed when we started from the land of Zarahemla that God would have granted unto us such great blessings?" I feel the same way about coming to Louisiana, I left not knowing how much Heavenly Father really would bless me in the work here in the South. I relate a lot with his experiences because he later goes on to say how people told him that he wouldn't have any success preaching to the Lamanites... 
"Now do ye remember, my brethren, that we said unto our brethren in the land of Zarahemla, we go up to the land of Nephi, to preach unto our brethren, the Lamanites, and they alaughed us to scorn? 24 For they said unto us: Do ye suppose that ye can bring the Lamanites to the knowledge of the truth? Do ye suppose that ye can convince the Lamanites of the aincorrectness of the btraditions of their fathers, as cstiffnecked a people as they are; whose hearts delight in the dshedding of blood; whose days have been spent in the grossest iniquity; whose ways have been the ways of a transgressor from the beginning? Now my brethren, ye remember that this was their language." I felt the same way. People would tell me " Oh that's the South, you won't have any success, you won't baptize a single soul." or "That's the Bible belt, they won't listen" And I always wanted to respond the way Ammon did...
"But behold, my beloved brethren, we came into the wilderness not with the intent to destroy our brethren, but with the intent that perhaps we might save some few of their souls 27 Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to aturn back, behold, the Lord bcomforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with cpatience thine dafflictions, and I will give unto you success.28 And now behold, we have come, and been forth amongst them; and we have been patient in our sufferings, and we have suffered every privation; yea, we have traveled from house to house, relying upon the mercies of the world—not upon the mercies of the world alone but upon the mercies of God.29 And we have entered into their houses and taught them, and we have taught them in their streets; yea, and we have taught them upon their hills... and we have been cast out, and mocked, and spit upon, and smote upon our cheeks...30 And we have suffered all manner of afflictions, and all this, that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul; and we supposed that our ajoy would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some.31 Now behold, we can look forth and see the afruits of our labors; and are they few? I say unto you, Nay, they are bmany; yea, and we can witness of their sincerity, because of their love towards their brethren and also towards us."
I can now say, that I have felt as Ammon. I wanted to come to Louisiana to at least try, try to bring at least one person closer to Christ than before I came. And even if I didn't, then at least I would know that I did what the Lord asked of me. But just like Ammon, I have seen the blessings of the Lord. I have seen the fruits of my Labor and they are many. They might not all be baptisms, they could just be planting a seed or bringing back someone that was lost. But I have seen the fruit in the friendships I have made, that will never be broken. I know that ive been say "I" a lot, but just like Ammon... "I do not aboast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my bjoy is full, yea, my heart is brim with cjoy, and I will rejoice in my God."
That really helped me realize a lot of things. And I'm grateful I was able to have this experience today! :)
Well I hope yall have a great week! Love and miss yall so much!