Tuesday, May 7, 2013

We had another busy week full of teaching, going to a wedding, sports, and sadly, a lot of babysitting some missionaries. Some missionaries just don't know act right! So that was a bit frustrating, but overall it was a great week. 
I have a talk yesterday in church.  It's the first time I have spoken in Albany. I slipped under the radar for too long I guess. I spoke on Agency--mostly about how we can use our agency to choose whether we want to be offended or not by what someone says or if someone judges us. Someone might make the most disrespectful comment towards us, but we still have the choice to how we will react. We can't control what other people say or do, but we can control what we do in response to their actions. I learned a lot from preparing that talk, because I think that I was the one that needed it the most. 
I've really grown to love Albany. The people here are just so awesome. I've made some really good lifelong friends here that I hope to always stay in contact with. We are working a lot with a lot of less active and even some excommunicated members. One is about to be re-baptized here hopefully pretty soon. So that will be a sweet experience, I look forward to that. 
Oh and some exciting news, remember way back in Morgan City when Elder Silva and I were teaching that girl named Gabby? Well the missionary serving there called me the other day and said she was baptized last week! I was soo shocked! Because she had dropped us 3 days before she was going to be baptized. But, I guess the sisters there started working with her. So that was the best part of my week, I just hope she can stay strong!
Congrats, Caroline on getting your mission call! I'm so excited for you. I'm sad that we won't get to see each other before I get home, but I know that the Lord will take care of you!
Friday night we went to the temple to do baptisms with the youth and Gwen got to go! It was crazy because she had to drop off two of her kids in Baton Rouge somewhere and then she got lost, so she ended up being a few minutes late to the session, but the temple workers were super nice and waited for her. But it was a sweet experience for her as well for us. The spirit was strong and you could tell that she felt a different kind of spirit than she had felt before. She loved it. It was funny to watch her get baptized 10 times cause she is 6 feet tall and that font isn't all that big.
Also this week we started teaching a less active member's daughters. I think I mentioned them last week. So we taught them this week and just did a simple intro to the Book of Mormon. We tried to use pictures and stuff to teach them because they are only 11 and 15. But it felt like torture, because of how boring it was. There was no participation on their part.  But what was cool is we invited them to read the first chapter of 1 Nephi and by the time we walked out the door Dianna, the 11 y.o, already started to read and was almost done with the chapter by the time we drove off. She seems to be one of those people that are sensative to the spirit, reminds me a lot of Gwen. 
On Saturday we went to the LSU spring game with an excommunicated member! He is an awesome guy, he just has made some mistakes. The game was super fun. We were driving through LSU campus when Johnathon, the guy that took us, pointed and said, "Hey there is Les Miles." ( head coach for LSU) in this nonchalaunt voice. I was like "Yeah, right, whatever." but then as we got closer I saw that it was Les Miles!!! I froze! I didn't know what to do, he walked literally 2 feet away from our car. Before I knew it, he jumped into his escalade and drove off. I was so mad that we didn't jump out of our car and get a picture with him! I don't know what we were thinking.

What a great week in Albany! Tons of spiritual experiences that increased my testimony of the Gospel! First of all Gwen was baptized Saturday! Saturday was probably one of the most spiritual days of my mission. Let me run you through the day... To start off we got up and played football with the Ward, not a bad way to start off any day! Then we have been asked to teach our investigators at least once in the bishop's home before they are baptized, so around noon we taught a lesson with Gwen over at bishop's home. It was a sweet lesson, we just talked about the things that we promise to do at baptism and then how God promises us an out pouring of the spirit. She was in tears.
Then off we went to go prepare for the baptism. We washed the mirror and the glass in the font, then we swept the font. We set up chairs and tables in the gym for refreshments afterwards. Everything was going great We then decided it was time to fill up the font. So, we turned on the hot water and let it run.  We let it fill up for about a foot and then we checked the running water and it was cold! A foot of hot water is not enough to keep the entire font warm! We ran out of hot water and we were scared and nervous because we didn't want the cold water to distract from the spirit of her baptism. So the thought came to my mind... "Say a prayer." So we went into the primary room and knelt in humble prayer. I was asked to offer it. I've never said a more heartfelt or faith-based prayer in my life. I don't remember much, but I do remember saying "Heavenly Father, we have the faith that you can make the water warm. We don't want the water to be an issue and take away from the spirit of the baptism." While I was saying it, an overwhelming peace came over me, I knew at that point that no matter what happened, it was Heavenly Father's will. So we stood up and and made our way to the font. Elder Ralls turned on the hot water and felt it. "It's actually getting warmer," he said. Elder Jensen said... "No way, let me feel" He went down there and just smiled and shook his head. I already knew in my mind and in my heart that Heavenly Father blessed us with this miracle, but I wanted to feel it. I walked down those steps and felt the water... it was WARM! And it stayed warm throughout the rest of filling it up and even up to the point of her baptism! We had witnessed a miracle. Immediately after feeling the water, I knew what I had to do. So we went back to the primary room and knelt down again and gave a prayer of thanksgiving and gratitude. Never in my life have I felt the spirit so strong, testifying to me that God takes care of his Children, and if we but simply ask in faith, he will give it to us. Because of that miracle, the baptism went great and the spirit was so strong. I am so grateful that Gwen was able to have such a spiritual experience at her baptism.
So that was the biggest miracle. Later that night we were at the Strawberry festival with a couple of members, where an inactive woman that I knew came up and we started talking. Then out of no where she said that she wants us to teach her two daughters that were never baptized! So we will start teaching them this week. The Lord is blessing us here. These blessings far out weigh any of the trials that we have recently gone through!  I'm kinda spiritually high right now. Its awesome :)
On a more worldly note... we went to a Gator farm last week! It was soo sweet. The people that own it were some of the original swamp people, from that TV show "Swamp people" I took tons of cool pictures, so I'll try to send some of those.
Things are going great for us here in the LBRM (Louisiana Baton Rouge Mission). Miracles are happening and prayers are being answered. I loved conference yesterday, so many great insights and questions that I wanted/needed to be answered. I can't believe that I only have one more conference left. Crazy to think next one I'll be home 3 weeks later... scary!
Gwen came to conference! How she got to that point was a tender mercy of the Lord! Let me share. Saturday night we stopped by her house before we left for the priesthood session. She was super overwhelmed and her youngest daughter Zoey was sick with a 102 temp. We offered a priesthood blessing for both of them, and then we left. The next morning Zoey was back to normal with a temp of 98.6. Gwen on the other hand was still a little overwhelmed and had been up since 4AM. She texted and asked us if she could watch the Sunday morning session on her computer at home. We responded by telling her that yes, she can do that, but coming to the church and watching it there is a whole other experience that we didn't want her to miss. So, she quickly got herself and her girls ready and brought them to church! What Faith! But wait there is more... As most of us know, President Uchdorf started off Sunday morning with an explosive and inspiring talk. Little did y'all know that his talk was written EXACTLY for Gwen! Ok, well not exactly, but that's how it felt. Her situation is exactly the one he described in the beginning. Gwen was in tears after only a few seconds, she leaned over to us and said... "Can you believe I almost stayed home?" The spirit flowed into my heart and once again my testimony grew a little stronger. She is the rock in our lives that keeps us moving on.
In other news, we got another missionary here in Albany. So we are in a tri-panionship! The new guy is Elder Ralls, he is from Utah. But I've known him for most of my mission. Very obedient, but fun loving kid.
We also had a awesome meeting in Baton Rouge with President Wall. All the Zone and District leaders met and we had a conference call with Brother Donaldson, we was the mission president of the San Diego mission when they filmed the district. He is now a full time employee of the missionary department teaching mission presidents and missionaries how to do missionary work. So yeah, he is kind of a big deal. But it was awesome, he instructed us on how to use the tools we have as missionaries better.

We had a busy week last week with exchanges and also interviews with President Wall. We also have been meeting with Gwen and just helping her continue her growth in the Gospel. It was cool because President Wall and Sister Wall were able to meet her and they said they would come to her baptism on the 13th and then we told Pres Wall about how she wants to go to Salt Lake to go through the Temple and they invited her on the spot to stay with them as their guest when she comes out. So that was really cool. Plus she told President Wall that she would be a fool to deny all the truth that she has learned over the past month or so. It was a sweet experience to hear her say that. We had an FHE with her and her girls last night.
Last week for P'day we went to this Global wildlife safari thing. It was so cool cause we got to feed all these animals that you normally only see in the Zoo. We were on this private jeep thing and they just came straight up to us and we gave them corn and stuff.
Then yesterday we went golfing with a less active member. That was really fun too. I shot like +29. I actually beat both the member and Elder Jensen. It was good, I love golfing and I hadn't been in forever.
Easter was great. We had our stake president and wife speak. They did a great job. President Burkart talked about the 7 things that Christ said while he was on the cross and how we can apply them to our own lives. It was sweet and the spirit taught me a lot. I encourage y'all to look those up and ponder on them, let me know what you think.
Sounds like life is good for everyone back home! That makes me super happy, I miss you, but as long as y'all are happy, then I'm happy :)
Another pretty good week here in Louisiana, or as we like to say the dirty south. I love it here, the more people I meet and the more spicier food I eat, I just fall more and more in love with it. Time is flying by!
Update on Gwen. I was out of town most of this week on exchange, but E. Jensen was able to go over the word of wisdom and law of tithing. She had already read the pamphlets and started living them even before they meet with her and had a lesson. She had a check made out to the church and everything! Which is incredible because she is a single mom with 3 daughters, working 2 jobs.  She doesn't even have enough money to pay her bills. But she has so much faith that she is going to pay her tithing anyways! She has way more faith than I have.  She is still on track to be baptized on the 13th of April. Oh, and at church, her 9 y.o said a prayer, her 7 y.o volunteered to give a talk next week in primary, and her 4 y.o stayed the night at a member's house last night because she made a new friend in primary a few weeks ago. The ward is so helpful, it makes our job a lot easier. I love it. I feel humbled to be the lucky missionary that is able to be here while Gwen goes through all this. It has truly been a testimony builder to me. I know that I promised her and her girls before this life that I would find them and bring them the Gospel, the spirit was able to teach me that over the past week or so. 
Well something that I learned this week in my personal studies, is that before we act on our faith, we need to have some type of understanding, whether its an "Ok that makes sense, so I will do it", or "I don't know what's gonna happen, but I know that the Lord will take care of me." Then once we act with faith, we see the blessings that come from it and that becomes a greater understanding of a principle, which then leads to testimony and conversion. So if we understand something, then act on it, then the understanding becomes greater.
But another cool thing that I found this morning was in 1 Nephi 16: 1, 2 and 14. Laman and Lemuel are complaining that both the Lord and Nephi are asking them to do hard things and are speaking harsh words. One of my favorite parts is when it says that the "guilty (wicked or proud) take the truth to be hard." So they are complaining about how they are in the wilderness and don't have food. But then in vs. 14, we can see that even though that Nephi and Lehi have faith to do what the Lord asks, they don't become lazy or expect something all the time. Instead of saying, "Oh the Lord made us go out into the wilderness, he is just gonna place cooked food right in front of us because he is already asking so much." NO! Lehi and Nephi take charge, and they go out and do what needs to be done. They man up and put their big boy pants on. I love it! They know that the Lord will provide, but they don't take advantage of it, or rely on him to do everything for them. Sometimes I find myself relying on him too much and not bettering myself. Anyways, hope that helps someone :) Cause I know it helped me!
So this week was an awesome week. We got to go ZLC (Zone Leader
Counsel) with President Wall, Sister Wall and the assistants. It was
really cool, President Wall focused a lot on being happy. We were able to
take some activities to the meeting that we had on Friday with our
entire zone. They seemed to really enjoy it and I hope it helps our
missionaries be happy. Sadly, missionary work can be really
discouraging sometimes and a lot of missionaries let it get them down,
so we try to think happy thoughts when those times come. 
Something that made me happy this week is that President let us read
an email he got from higher authority, saying that we are now allowed
to email friends and anyone else that we want, as long as they live
outside the mission boundaries. So I'm excited to email some people
that I haven't heard from in awhile!
I have told you how awesome Gwen is? Her progression this week was
outstanding! We had a really awesome lesson with her, when we first
got there she was a little flustered with everything that was going on
around here, you can tell she is trying to be super mom. But once we
started the lesson and got into things, everything started to calm
down. She is a spiritual Giant, and she knows it! She even said that
she is a sponge when it comes to stuff like that. She even called
herself Sponge Bob Holy Pants. She sent us this text after our lesson:
"I have to say this.... things were amazingly crazy right about the
time you showed up and in the beginning of our discussion, did you
notice how quiet out it was when we were through? And everything in my
home calmed down so much I actually caught a 30 minute nap!
Coincidence, I think not :) " She feels and listens to the spirit so
well! She came to church again this week and brought her 3 young
girls. They stayed all 3 ours and she made the comment to me "I think
I've found my church." Man did that feel good to hear. She also said
that her goal is to go to the temple... She isn't even baptized yet and
she wants to go! She wants to do baptisms and then in a year she wants
to go through for herself! The Lord is definitely mindful of our
situations and he is well aware of her's. He knows that she is ready,
all we have to do is guide her in the right direction and then she and
the spirit will do the rest. It is  truly a miracle and a testimony
builder to me! I feel blessed to be a part of something so sweet.
Life is good, it is oh so good!
Story time! So one say this week we were coming home from going out
with our ward mission leader, when we pulled into our apartment there
was a pet turkey, yes I said pet turkey, That was just sitting there,
so I was like sweet I want a picture of that turkey. So I took a
picture, but then it started chasing me! I seriously thought it was
gonna peck me. hah It like trapped me so I couldn't get into our
apartment, meanwhile elder Jensen and our neighbors are laughing their
heads off while this turkey is slowly plotting its attack. So I
decided to make a break for it, so I start running towards our
apartment door and I'm squealing like a little girl and it starts
chasing me into our apartment and I slammed the door and it almost
came in! Luckily I still have like lightning speed at 210 lbs, And it
didn't get into our apartment. It was so funny!