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!

I want to thank everyone for their emails that they sent me this week. To be completely honest they are exactly what I needed right now. So thank you :)
Things are going good here, this week was a bit rough. Well, I say rough, but it just wasn't as good as weeks past. Since this area has been on fire recently I just expect every week to be amazing. But this week was just a little slow. 
On a positive note, I only have 6 months left, 6 months to serve the lord, 6 months to plant seeds, 6 months to become what and who I need to be for the rest of my life. I feel like I have so much I need to do before I can come home. This life is all about dealing with the trials that are thrown your way, the biggest trial I have right now is myself. I'm trying harder than ever to be humble and work my hardest. Keep me in your prayers :)