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.