Monday, December 28, 2015

Week #24--December 28, 2015

Hello!
The weeks sure are flying by! If you can believe it, it's already week 5 of 6 for this transfer, which means there's a chance that my time with Elder Golden might be done! We both don't like to talk about it because we're enjoying ourselves far too much, but we know we'll have to get transferred eventually... But we figure at least one more transfer as a companionship would be real nice, haha.
The work is going well. We met a woman named Delores. She wants to be baptized. She has a big family too, which means a lot of baptisms! But we haven't been able to have an official sit down lesson with her because this last week was Christmas, but we're hoping to set something up for this week!
It was very refreshing to call home. It was nice to see my family and tell them how I love them. We spent a lot of Christmas with members, and that was nice. It was super weird not being home for Christmas, so it was nice to spend it with families that we have grown close to.
I don't know if there's too much I have left to say... Other than the Atonement is so real guys. I am so SO far from adequate. I feel so overwhelmed so often by all of the things that I'm doing wrong, but the Atonement is so very real. It gives me strength to know that the Savior broke the bands of MY temptations. He overcame the natural man, not just in general but the specifically referring to my sins and my temptations. He is helping me overcome that daily. It is such a real power. The healing power of the Atonement has changed and is changing me into a different man than what I was going to become without it. He has truly saved me, with his Grace. And that same power is available to all of us as we reach to him in Faith.
I love you all very much, 
and I know that this is Christ's one true Church on the earth today.


Monday, December 21, 2015

Week #23--December 21, 2015

Hello! It's Christmas! 

Boy you talk about December flying by, this month has flown by. But life just keeps getting better and better! 
I can honestly say that Elder Golden and I are best friends. Not to say I don't have other best friends, but holy cow. We get along SO well. He is the funniest missionary out here and is one of the funniest people I've ever met. My mission has been made so much easier because I have been blessed with stalwart examples of missionaries around me who truly love the people they serve and are just overall incredible people! 

Elder Golden and I have also truly been blessed by the hospitality of the ward. They are such incredible people. They are very humble, but that which they, they give to the Lord. They've also showed so much love to Elder Golden and I! I think I may have mentioned in the past... But this ward has had a long streak of not so great missionaries, but it's been such a joy to bond with a discouraged ward and grow together. And now they're bringing all sorts of people to church, to ward functions, home-teaching numbers are increasing (slowly), and everyone is excited to feed us and work with us! A few Mom's in the ward especially have taken good care of us. During the Ward Christmas Party they gave us big stockings filled with goodies to thank us for everything, there's always plenty of gluten free things to eat, it's so great!

Cynthia and her daughters are doing great! I suppose I probably didn't mention because some people have asked about it, but both of her girls got baptized with her Thanksgiving Weekend. They've been working really hard to be good members of the church, they read scriptures together every night and have been relying on the Lord as they've been experiencing a lot of trials recently. I pray for them often because they're really struggling, but they find great comfort in reading scriptures to answer their questions and solve their problems. 

We met a woman named April this last week and we set a baptism date with her for January 30! She was going to be baptized in Arizona, but her house burned down and she lost everything. So right now, she's living with her sister who owns a daycare. April has 2 kids that live with her (2 and 5, fun ages) and it's a very small and crowded house. They all sleep in one room, but since the evening is the only time for her to read she'll use her phone light to read the Book of Mormon so she doesn't wake anyone. And that was before we met her! So she's super solid, and came to church and the ward party. Super excited.
I don't know if I have too much of a spiritual thought. I think you've all heard the same messages over the past few weeks about focusing Christmas on Christ, giving not getting and all that fun stuff. So I would feel like a broken record sharing something like that. So I just want to let you know that I love you all. So very much. I pondered this last week about what a blessing it has been to have such wonderful family and friends. I'm so grateful for your support, and your love. Any email I receive, even if it is just a quick note a few sentences long, means the world to me. I love you all so very much. So much. Please stay strong in the gospel. I say that because I love you all. 
We were at Cynthia's and she was explaining to me some of the difficult things she's going through. I apologized that I couldn't do much except share with her family a few scriptures. She looked at me very intently and said "You have given us the greatest gift. You have brought us the knowledge of Christ. You have brought the Spirit of the Lord into this home. That's the greatest gift you could've given us." 

And it's so true. The greatest gift that was given was the Lord's sacrifice for us. And, in turn, the greatest gift WE can give is bringing the healing power of the Atonement into the lives of those we love. God loves us so he gave us prophets, families and a Savior. When we love people, truly love people, the best way to show them is by sharing the words of prophets, bringing the knowledge of Eternal Families, and allowing them to access the POWER that comes through our Savior, Jesus Christ. 

I love my Savior, and I want you all to know that. I am so very far from perfect and so undeserving of the many blessings he gives me. I am so grateful that he has never given up on me. And he never will. He will never give up on any of us. We are never to far in the dark to be saved. Ever. He is ALWAYS there.
I love you all
The Church is True




Monday, December 14, 2015

Week 22--December 14, 2015

Well, this week was definitely a crazy one! But Elder Golden and I are literally having so much fun, we can hardly take it! Mostly just the idea that eventually we'll get transferred is what kills us, haha. But we don't have to worry about that for a while! 
So like I said: Crazy week. Like CRAZY week. Sad news out of the way: Both of our investigators dropped us. Brianna stopped texting and Marcus.... well... That's another story I'll get to.
Monday night: we're busy. But we get a text that we'll be getting a surprise cleaning inspection of our apartment by a senior missionary couple.
This apartment has not been cleaned in months.
Literally. And the desks? Still had Christmas pass-along-cards from LAST year. Like, it was atrocious. Trash everywhere, past missionaries left their clothes EVERYWHERE. It was a nightmare. The kitchen hadn't been cleaned in forever... fun stuff. 
I'm partially to blame, yes, because I was there last transfer and didn't do any cleaning, but it was pretty overwhelming with just how bad it was.
Then that next morning, the alarm didn't go off, and they came an hour early. So they caught us off gaurd in our Pajamas having had no time to clean. They literally said they'd never seen an apartment in worse condition, and threatened to move us out if we didn't fix it by Friday Morning when they would have a return appointment.
It was fixed. After hours and hours of cleaning, it was spotlessly scrubbed up and down. All the missionaries could say was "Wow! Wow! This is incredible! We'll never say anything bad about you two again!" I was contented.
Then Marcus: Set up an appointment and told us that he was bringing a friend. At first, we were excited! And then we got there and saw that he had a brief case and papers... Just for bashing us. We tried to get out of there as fast as we could because he was very mean and demeaning. They're beliefs (of course) were skewed. They were close to the truth, but just not a 100% right. (like every other church) It was sad to lose Marcus like that. But we told them both that until they had read the book of mormon themselves and genuinely prayed, that they couldn't tell us they'd investigated our church. 
It was really discouraging, because getting bashed always is. But luckily, Elder Golden is also a very funny person so we were able to laugh it off, shrug it off and move forward.
We sang in the ward choir. I sang tenor. Yes, you read that right. I was the only guy who could. Equation for a Train Wreck: (Elder Brown as a Tenor)-(anyone else singing tenor)+(a choir of a bout 10 people)
But it was a fun experience, and I can officially check it off my bucket list.
Well, for my thought today: The mission is not always easy. And since I've recently finished the Book of Mormon, I started over with a question in mind: "How can I best make it through afflictions and tribulations?" because I wanted to know how to best make it through the Mission with how hard it is. Luckily, 1 nephi is packed with it. And I've gained a lot of insights. But at the end of the day, we have a group of people who literally experience a trial in order to receive the promise land. Nephi, Laman and Lemuel all experience the same things, and yet only one of those 3 allowed themselves to be changed and fully received the reward of the promised land. And what was the difference?

"And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper, and shall be led to a land of promise; yea, even a land which I have prepared for you; yea, a land which is choice above all other lands"
It's as simple as that. Being obedient to God's commandments allows us to grow through our trials. That's the biggest difference between missionaries who just go through the mission and the missionaries who legitimately allow the mission to go through them. 
Obedience. As missionaries, we're all on a mission. Different trials, yet a similar overall "wilderness", and obedience is what makes the difference between Nephi missionaries and Laman/Lemuel missionaries. Let's not forget that Laman and Lemuel did make it through, and technically got around to obeying the commandments. They went back and got the plates, they left their home, they helped with the boat, all of that. But they had a lack of faith to change, and a lack of faith to move forward. 

I could talk on this for a long time. but that's the main part of it.
I love and miss you all! If you made it this far, you get 20 brownie points because this thing is pretty freaking long. But you guys are all the best!
Church is true!

Pictures:

Personal fav:


Candid moment when we weren't paying attention and Elder Brown was being a Clown:


Another fav:



Monday, December 7, 2015

Week #21--December 7, 2015

Well, this week was awesome!

First off: Elder Golden and I are like best friends. So it's a blast going out to work every day. And boy are we going out to work every day. We get back to the apartment at the end of the day extremely exhausted. I never thought I would ever miss the feeling of being so tired, but it feels so good!

We've had a bunch of prepared investigators drop right in our lap, and have met so many interested people while out tracting (It works, and I'll never let anyone convince me otherwise). The members are getting a fire lit beneath them for missionary work, which is so cool to see! They're offering to come out with us more and more, and one stay-at-home mom even asked to a trade off, where we do house and yard work for her so that she can make more time to come do work with us and/or visit some people that are harder to visit. What great blessings we have received from the Lord!
On a more serious note, it was very heartbreaking and scary for many people down here. San Bernadino does not seem that far, especially considering the Rancho Cucamonga mission is a large chunk of the old San Bernadino mission. But the tragic events combined with Christmas have opened the hearts of many, and it's been cool to see.
I have had a lot of spiritual insights this last week, but the big one I'd like to share comes with a story and one of my favorite Book of Mormon scriptures that I've been thinking a lot about. There was a family down in Rancho that we were teaching for a bit who wanted us to bring them spiritual healing. And that was the main reason they had called for us to come, was for that spiritual healing. They were a little frustrated when we taught them messages like the Restoration and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and not scriptures that gave comfort, and didn't bring them the spiritual healing they desired. Thus brings to mind one of my favorite passages:

(3 Nephi 9)
13 O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you? 14 Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed arethose who come unto me.
I love this, because it shows that for Christ to heal us, we need to come unto him, repent and be converted. True healing comes from following Christ. We cannot expect Christ to fix the problem for us unless we are willing to allow him. The Atonement paid the price for everything. Every pain, every sorrow, and every sin can be healed through the Atonement. Christ has even given us a road map to success. I've been studying a lot in Isaiah and one thing I really enjoyed from my studies today was when he said this:

"The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light:" Not sat in darkness. Not moped in darkness, but those that walked. Those that were willing to keep moving and to keep trying their best to progress even though the world around them was in shadows. Even though it seemed as if there was no hope in the immediate, near or even distant future. These are they who saw the great light.

So to those who are in a spiritual dakrness, or who are suffering from a spiritual affliction; no matter the form, keep walking. Keep going. Keep trying. As we follow Christ through our small and simple actions (like reading the scriptures, praying, preaching the gospel, repenting, etc.) we will be shown  THE "Great Light" and through Him we will be healed.

I am in love with my mission and all the people here in California! I am so blessed to know all of you and to have you all as friends. I'm grateful for the love and support you have all shown me and pray that you all continue to draw close to your Savior.

Church is True!


Monday, November 30, 2015

Week #20--November 30, 2015

Wow! So much happened this week and I have a very short time to write. 

First off, Lisa got baptized. I haven't heard much about that yet, but when I find out more I'll send home about it. 
Second, Elder Jones went home (honorably, full 2 years was up) this morning. I want to apologize, because I think I came across a little too negative. I truly love Elder Jones, and he truly loved me. We taught well together and had a lot of great times. He taught me many important lessons, and one thing no one could take away from him is his love for those he served. He truly was concerned for their well being, and was truly concerned for me. He made sure I was taken care of and he had my back. I will miss him dearly. 

Now as for transfers? I'M WITH ELDER GOLDEN AGAIN! I'm freaking stoked. Out of the 180 missionaries, I got put with my MTC companion. We've already set up plans of all the work we're going to put in because we're both pretty green still and pretty fiery. I'm sure that big things will come from our companionship. 

Next, Thanksgiving. It was super cool. There's a really awesome family (The Lehndorfer's) who fed us breakfast, and will be facilitating our phone calls on Christmas. Then we immediately went over to the King's and spent the rest of the day with them playing board games and eating food. It was a blast of a day! I felt a very strange type of homesickness. It wasn't the kind where I wanted to pack up and go home, quite the opposite. I knew I needed to be there with them. I just... Missed my family. It was weird to have Thanksgiving dinner somewhere that wasn't home. But it was awesome! But it felt weird. 

And then to cap it all off: The baptism! Wow wow wow. What a cool experience. Elder Smith Topham Jones and I were at the church at 6:45 that morning setting up for the baptism at 10 (a youth baptism) and then stayed for the King's baptism at 2 and finished setting it all up. It was a brutally exhausting day, but it was such a cool experience to see them all baptized! The Priesthood has been restored!

Then when Elder Jones went down the hill yesterday afternoon and a few other days this week (with his temple trip and final interview with President and what-not) I was with the Zone-Leaders in the Tongan ward. They love me so much. The zone leaders made me sing for the first house and then news spread and every house after that knew who I was and made me sing. Then they made me sing at the ward party... Yeah. I got my fix of music this last week. They're super awesome. I love all the people I've met so much. 

Elder Smith and Elder Topham's area closed, so they're gone, and Elder Russell didn't get transferred so I won't get to see him until after the mission. That makes me sad, but it's okay. That's part of a mission! 

Sunday (yesterday) Elder Jones and I talked in church after the confirmations. It was funny, because there were 2 other speakers before me and Elder Jones, and a musical number, and the confirmation, and the sacrament... And by the time it got to me it was only 9:30, so we had 40 minutes to fill. I covered 30 of that, haha. I'll send my talk home, but don't feel obligated to read it. 

That's pretty much it. I'll count the talk as my spiritual thought, because I have no time. But I love you all and miss you! 

Church is true!


Monday, November 16, 2015

Week #18--November 16, 2015

This week, he didn't send a mass email, but here are the highlights from the letter he sent me (mom).

It's great to hear from you! Things are going great here in the big VVA zone. (Victorville A) 

And Elder Smith and Elder Topham are just in the district... But because they live a ways off and use our house for laundry they have spent the night at our apartment quite a bit to save miles on their car (because missionaries only have a certain amount of miles they're allowed to use)

Dad sent me his talk and I loved it! Both of you guys are such great speakers and great examples to me in the way you speak with the spirit. 

Since Elder Jones is going home, I'm getting a bit of "inheritance"... probably more than I want, but haha it's cool. With that he's given me some highlighters and colored lead for mechanical pencils to mark up scriptures. So that's kind of him. Also! The Elder gave me what might be my new favorite thing. He got a ukulele his first transfer while in a samoan ward and has had it signed by every companion he's ever had. I've had quite a bit of fun playing it this transfer in our spare time (Because we're not allowed to bike after dark and it gets dark around 7, which leaves like 2 hours of free time each night). 

Welp, I love you all and miss you!

You're the best!
Church is true! 


Monday, November 9, 2015

Week #17--November 9.2015

Hello!
Another week has passed, and I'm already 1/6 of the way done! Crazy how the time flies!
Not a ton happening this week worth sharing. Cynthia and her daughters are still on track to be baptized and although she's still coping with her loss they're all doing awesome!
A woman named April (maybe I already said this) moved up here from Arizona and was about to get baptized down there so hopefully we can meet with her and move towards a baptismal date sometime in December. 
It's getting a little chillier, which is nice. MUCH better than the 100 degree stuff that I was dealing with in Rancho, haha. Usually the weather sits anywhere between 50-70 degrees. So for the natives, that's big coat weather while for me... Yeah... I'm still biking in short-sleeves, because this isn't cold at all for me. Either that, or maybe I'm just storing the cold air inside me somewhere so I can ration it out during next summer (Because science). 

The ward is shrinking like crazy, and it's quite a poor ward which makes for a different dynamic. We only have about 65 active members every week... Which I guess just means we need to baptize everyone we can! 

Today for lunch we ate at Apollo Burger (which is amazing, and if you ever go through California, you've got to stop to eat there. Much burger, very wow) and I had a cool spiritual boost. There was a homeless man sitting next to us who sat down with his food and began to pray over his food. Not vocally, and not with a big motion to make it obvious, in fact I'm pretty sure I was probably the only one who noticed his prayer, but it was fervent. You could see it in his face. It's rare enough to see people pray like that in public, especially a loud burger place, so it was cool and I couldn't help but take a few more glances. The man even got a bit emotional as he prayed, for a solid 5 minutes or so, before finishing, looking up and then eating his food. Elder Smith and I talked to him for a bit and it was amazing how grateful he was for the Lord. He kept saying "The Lord gives me exactly what I need. With the Lord, I never want." This blew me away! This man had been living on the streets for 6 years and all he could talk about was how the Lord kept on providing for him. 

Apparently about a year before, he was outback and saw that someone had tipped the giant trash can over so he went to clean it up. A man drove up and said "Get out of here ya bum!" and the man told him he wasn't going to leave until he'd done his good deed of service for the day. So he finished cleaning up the mess. The man was shocked, thinking he was stealing cans or something only to find out he was cleaning up. The man was also the owner and offered him a free meal whenever he wanted to come and do the jobs the other employees didn't want to do like clean the toilets or take out the trash.

That's a little off topic, but I thought it was a really cool story. The point I was getting at is that it showed me how ungrateful I am. I have so many more luxuries than this guy and yet how much thanks do I show to my Father in Heaven? How fervent are my prayers? Usually not nearly as much so as this man! His love for God was so incredible. It truly impacted me.

I have a few other stories, but I don't want to write you all anymore than I already have, but the message I want to close with is that the Church is true. I know it. I love my Heavenly Father a lot and I have so much room to improve. We all do. But we have the knowledge of the fullness of Christ's Gospel, and that will be what brings the most joy in our lives. 

I love you all so much. I'm so grateful for all of your support. 
Church is true!


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Week #16--November 3, 2015

Hello all! Crazy monday, which is why this is coming out a day late. P-day was... Yeah. Something else. 

This week we've been working alongside a Recent Convert named Donald. The guy is a champ. And his family. They sacrifice literally everything for the missionaries. They are so loving and kind and missionary minded, so even though they don't make much money they feed us often, come out and work with us often and they're just awesome! Especially Donald. He's such a good example to me of being focused on that which matters most. He has had a really rough life, but he will testify of the mighty change that the gospel has wrought in it.
We've also been working with Cynthia and her family. They're super solid and their baptismal date is set for the last week in the transfer (Nov 29) so we're very excited!
As for the crazy monday: We have become really good friends with our District Leader and his companion: Elder Smith and Elder Topham. Elder Topham came out with me and is super tight with Elder Jones, and Elder Smith is the district leader, is a bit older, but is into all sorts of nerdy things so him and I are really tight. 
Then P-day rolls around and the Zone Leaders want to go on a hike in Barstow. The hike was decent, not great, so we made it more interesting by going our own trail. This resulted in many dumb decisions, some near death experiences on cliff sides and getting stuck for a bit. Luckily we all made it out safely and went to In N Out for lunch. We were going to drive back up with Elders Smith and Topham, but the car was having issues so we were stranded in Barstow for a few hours. Yippee. 
Finally got back later that night, but the rain was so bad that the Elder's had to stay the night because they still didn't trust the car. Very adventurous day, and none can deny that fact!
Now for a really cool experience. This one is a very special experience and I would ask that you not share this, because I don't want it to end up in the wrong places.  
Cynthia and her daughters have been super interested for the past 2 months and super excited to get baptized. Her husband was on board and we were looking at setting a date with him as well. 
Unfortunately, out of nowhere, he left her. We know now that it's for good, but there was a long time where we weren't sure. With no real family or close friends nearby she turned to us.
Rarely have I felt so inadequate in my life. I'm an 18 year old kid with little to no life experience and here is this person who I care about in the absolute depths of misery. How am I supposed to comfort her? The whole houses demeanor was dark and gloomy. It was a very difficult thing to experience as she expressed her sorrow to us. 
It was then that Elder Jones offered to give them all a Priesthood Blessing. It was a little awkward at first, because they didn't know what it was. So we explained how it worked and what it was and they agreed, sort of hesitantly. Elder Jones was asked to speak and we gave the blessing. It's difficult to describe the change that took place in the room. Neither Elder Jones or I can remember a single word that was said during the blessing, but it was very powerful. The wording was simple (And he himself will tell you that he's just an uneducated farm boy, and not very eloquent) but it didn't need to be complex. It was beautiful because the words didn't dilute, block out or disrupt the spirit that was there. 
After the blessing was given, she asked something that will always stick with me. "How long is he staying?" We were taken aback, at first so she rephrased "How long is this feeling or person, whatever it is going to stay?" We were able to testify of the power of the Holy Ghost, the power of the Priesthood and the presence of God in her trials at this time. It was an incredibly special experience. She informed us that she knew now that this was just a tool of Satan to keep her from getting baptized, but that it wasn't going to work. She said even if her legs broke she'd have someone carry her into that water. 
How cool is that?
I have such a strong testimony of the divine nature of the Priesthood, and that God's authority has been restored to the earth. I love this gospel so much, and having the opportunity to share it has shaped me in so many ways. I love and miss you all. 
Church is true!


Monday, October 26, 2015

Week #15--October 26, 2015

So my first week in Victorville has been pretty crazy! Elder Jones is one crazy guy. Apparently he was ranked 7th in the nation for high school wrestling. At peak performance the kid was 5"8, 200 pounds and about 5% body fat. The dude's a beast. I'm pretty sure he wrestles alligators in his spare time. 
But him and I (Although total opposites) have become super good friends! He's a very VERY loving individual and I've learned a lot from him. 
The desert is very different from the valley, but the weather is gorgeous! It's felt so cool and nice every day and biking has been a real joy! We work super hard and laugh super hard so it's been a fun week. 

(THIS part is super long and boring, so if you don't want to read it skip down to "Because at the end of the day")I've been thinking a lot about obedience, and my thoughts may be super confusing so I apologize if I don't make any sense. So we're promised in D&C that every blessing we receive is received by obedience to whatever law or commandment it is connected to. Another missionary legend coined the phrase that "Application of correct principles produces desired results." While it seems simple, I've been thinking a lot about that. 
Missionaries out here have categorized missionaries into to categories that I think we categorize ourselves into as members of the church. "Letter of the law" missionaries and "Spirit of the Law" missionaries. This is of course a reference to Christ talking to the pharisees, informing them that Spirit of the Law was better. Letter of the law missionaries are kind of put in a bad light because they see the rules as stiff (Because there are some rules in the white handbook that are a little more strict and particular) while Spirit of the Law missionaries state that they try to understand the principles and make decisions based off what feels right. 

This bothered me. Because I didn't understand why there should be a difference, or why we should have to choose between Letter or spirit of the law. 

So drawing it back to the original statements, we can understand that: Application of principles=Blessings (Or results) and it isn't until we Apply PROPER principles that we achieve the DESIRED results. 
Now, we cannot believe that understanding principles is enough to achieve the blessings. Just like we cannot think that knowing a trail very well because of amps and pictures we've seen is the same as actually walking the trail. So principles must be put to practice. So: Practices based on Principles lead to Promises from our Heavenly Father (because he is bound when we do what he says, but when we don't he is not bound). This equation (Principle => Practice = Promised blessings) is doctrine. So for example, the doctrine of Christ: Principle= following him and being born again. Practice=  Acting in Faith, Repentance, Baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. Promised Blessings= returning to live with our Father in Heaven.

So, this was basically what had to go through my head to wrap my head around this whole "obedience" thing. So how does it apply? 

As a member of the church I get too caught up in the particulars without understanding the principle. And sometimes, I get caught up in trying to understand the principle without actually paying heed to the practice. I usually chose whichever one would be most convenient at the time.
But, as we understand and apply principles, we receive blessings. But when we understand and apply PROPER principles, we achieve the results we desire. These "results" come in many forms. Comfort. piece, temporal blessings, blessings on those around us, and most importantly having the spirit to be with us. 

We cannot say that we "Understand the rules so we know how to break them" in the gospel. Because if we truly understand the principle, we understand why the practice (our commandment, or guideline from any priesthood holder with authority over us) is in place. And if we don't understand the connection, that's fine. We're not commanded to understand the connection between the Principle and the Practice. We're merely asked to understand the Principle, apply the Principle through whatever practice has been given us by Priesthood Authority and to enjoy the results, blessings, whatever you want to call it. ('Adam fell that men might be, men are that the might have joy' sort of thing) 
So I've had a lot of fun taking commandments I don't always understand or commandments that are a little more vague with how to practice them and breaking them down through this model. 

Because at the end of the day, what we do is a sign to our Heavenly Father of how much we love him and how much we want his spirit to be with us. The more we strive to be like Christ, the more we are guided by the spirit and the closer we become to becoming one with the Father. With that, we will enjoy more blessings of spiritual happiness and joy that can only come through obedience and submission to the will of the father. Let us take on an attitude of "Not my will, but thine" in all we do. 

I love you all! I brag about my family and friends all the time, and can't wait to see you all again! (scratch that, I can wait... but you know what I mean)

Church is true!


Monday, October 19, 2015

Week #14--October 19, 2015

Well, I've been transferred! (2/17) And let me tell you, I am going to miss this last Ward. They said some incredibly kind things to me on Sunday, and a lot even over the pulpit! Then a family threw a huge farewell dinner with all you could eat tri-tip steak and salmon and... Yeah. That dinner made it into the journal entry. I love that ward so much and will miss the wonderful people I met there dearly.

I will also miss my companions. Elder Acox was a wonderful addition to our companionship for those last 6 weeks, and he was a great example of humility. He totally changed his attitude towards mission culture and things like that that I was pridefully worried about (lesson learned) and he just... Yeah. Humble is the best way to describe. And hard working. 

Elder Russell I won't see until I'm home since he's going home in just a few short months and we're far away. He really has changed me a lot. I'll miss his guidance and insight dearly. He just understood charity. And that was usually the center of both our goals and most of our discussions. How could we love people more, how could we show them, how could we feel the love our Lord has for us more in our lives. He gave selfless service often to me and Elder Acox, and never found fault in us. Always after an argument he would take the blame and apologize and make restitution, even if it wasn't his fault. A truly great missionary.
But onto bigger and better places! Elder Jones is my new companion, and he goes home at the end of this transfer. We're in the Parkview A ward, in Victorville. I'm officially in the desert, and apparently it's a different world up here! He's a very wise and experienced missionary. He's a small town Idaho boy (Moscow Idaho) and played varsity football all 4 years so the guy knows how to work! I'm really looking forward to hitting the pavement hard with this guy and just tearing up this area!
Thought for the week:
So there's this family in the Terra Vista ward named the Eggets (Yeah, Rebekah Egget's cousin for those of you who know her) and he's awesome. Him and his wife: super spiritually in tune. It's so cool to be around them. Anyway, he was talking about how the Gospel is like a Rubix cube. (Bear with me, this analogy is cool) A rubix cube is simple, 6 sides and 6 colors. For those of you who know how they work, it's like a 3 step process that you repeat over and over again to solve it. No matter what state that cube is in, you repeat the 3 steps and eventually it will be solved. 

He then compared that the gospel is simple. 1 plan, 1 destination, 1 Savior, one purpose, and a simple process of Faith, Repentance, making and renewing covenants and enduring to the end to solve it all. This process is all that matters. But too often, we rely on our own wisdom and our own knowledge to try and figure it out for ourselves. Have you ever tried figuring out a rubix cube without the steps? It's a mess. And the cube always ends up worse then before. As soon as we try to "Figure out" the gospel and delve into the weeds of deep doctrine and all the fluff, we assume that we can produce a process better than the one already provided. And our testimonies will suffer. The gospel is simple, and as soon as we over complicate it we end up with a weaker testimony. Read the Book of Mormon. Pray to know it's true. Act in faith on the Commandments of the prophets. It's these simple things that will get us to return to live with our Heavenly Father, even if it seems as mundane as a 3 step process you repeat over and over. 

Cool stuff, huh?
Church is true. Wish me luck in the new area. I love and miss you all!


Monday, October 12, 2015

Week #13--October 12, 2015

Hello! It's good to write you all again. The weeks seem to keep getting shorter and shorter, which is a good thing but also a scary thing. I worry I won't take advantage of the time I have here as much as I should.
Some cool things from this week: Brother Rios, (the less active guy who fasted and as an answer we ran into him) Totally came to church yesterday with his whole family! How cool is that? I was so excited to see them all I could hardly hold it in! We plan to follow up with him to see how his experience was.
It was such a powerful fast and testimony meeting too! So many powerful people bearing their testimonies born. And our bishop bore his testimony as well. And that was cool. He had a really nasty surgery a few months ago and has been in brutal pain ever since, but his testimony as so powerful. He's an awesome man.
We also met a woman at a bus stop who told us "Yeah... I've met with you mormons before... But you lost me at John Smith's dishes" .... We were very confused for a bit, and had no idea how to respond to that... Then I realized where the mix up had happened: "Oh! The plates!" Haha, we got to clear up the misconception about that, and she also believed that it really was John Smith... Like from Pocohantos (spelling?). So that was a fun conversation.
And I've been thinking a lot about mom's. One of our investigator's was complaining about her Hashimoto's disease (again... spelling?) and how it totally wiped her out most days, and how he couldn't meet with us because of it. And everyone who knows what that was has taken it as a valid excuse saying things like "Oh yeah, that would give her lots of ups and downs." or "Oh really? I don't blame her at all, that's a really tough thing to go through!" And the whole time, I was getting confused, because my Mom suffers from the same disease, and it doesn't stop her at all! 
Now maybe that's too much information to share, but the point I'm getting at is that the longer I'm out on my mission the more I realize what a blessing my mother has been to me. Literally nothing can stop her from doing 10x the tasks of an average human being, and working on like half of the sleep. What a woman! And if that was the only medical issue she was dealing with, that wouldn't be nearly as impressive as if she was dealing with all the physical and medical conditions she is dealing with! But nothing stops her! 
And then I started thinking of all the amazing hard working women in my life that make everyone else in the world seem like a bunch of pansies! Both my grandmother's, my aunt's and adult cousin just to name a few. Elder Holland couldn't have picked a better topic for his talk because everything I am today I owe to my Mother and the other women in my life. Thank you so much for all you do.
Church is true, and families can be together forever. I know that to be true. With all my heart and soul. I know Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God. Not because of any physical proof, or intellectual research, but because of the burning in my heart I receive as I read the Book of Mormon and as I pray for a witness that it is true. I know that by small and simple things, great things to come to pass and the foundation of a lasting testimony comes through the small things like daily prayer, daily scripture study and weekly church attendance. And I know that we have a solemn responsibility to proclaim these things to the world. In the words of my wise mother: "I believe that is what eternity will feel like... We will long for those who we didn't help and we'll wish we could go back and work just a little harder, accept a little quicker and love a little more." Share the Gospel brothers and sisters. Share the good word with all you come in contact with.


Monday, October 5, 2015

Week #12--October 5, 2015

Hello!

Another awesome week and a half. Especially with Conference! Boy did I need that uplifting change in pace. That was so very nice! I wish I could write all my thoughts on Conference, but my condensed notes alone spanned about 20 pages in my study journal, so I won't put too much in here :)
Update on the work: Everyone was out of town! So we only got to teach one lesson since last Thursday, and that was on splits, so it was just me and our Ward Mission Leader. His name is Jason, and he's a hard-core gamer, so I've been the only missionary that's actually been able to progress with him. So it's been super cool to work with him! One night I really wanted him to say the closing prayer, but he was too embarrassed to pray in public (Because he went less active shortly after converting at 18) so we rolled dice for it like it was a DnD game. I had faith the lord would help on a silly matter like Dice, and he did! Jason said the prayer.
Another cool experience: (There were quite a few this week) We met a man working on his car, who was 23 and had gone from living in a small South American country with a dirt poor family to being quite successful here in the States. We talked about his religious background, and he used to be Jehovah's Witness and had read the bible many times... But didn't have any faith. We asked him if he believed in God, and he replied "I work in law enforcement. In San Bernadino County alone, 7 people are killed every day... Where is your God in that?" His question was not one of anger, or malice but of legitimate heartache and abandonment. I have rarely felt the spirit so strong as that moment when I had the opportunity to testify to him that there was indeed a Loving Heavenly Father. I asked him if it had been hard to turn his life around and leave his home to live here. He said Absolutely, and I then asked if he would trade those difficulties for anything. He stopped, and said with tears in his eyes that he wouldn't. I told him that this life is like a "refiner's fire" and that we go through, just like metal, excruciating heat and brutal pounding and shaping in the hands of the Maker that we may become the beautiful creation he wants us to be. It was so cool to see his countenance change, and even though nothing else has come of it, my testimony was strengthened that there is indeed a God who loves us all.
Another cool experience: We had just visited our Ward Mission Leader and had planned to be across town, but Elder Acox suggested we should visit a less active in the complex just over from us. So we did, and on our way we saw a different less active, who had stopped coming to church when he moved into our ward. We'd dropped by a few times but he was 'too busy' and didn't want to talk.Today though, he opened up to us completely. He was a returned missionary and has been swept away by Anti-Mormon material. He was truly hurt by things that the Church said, and there was no explanation to his concerns that we could say that calmed him. But the key was that he had stopped reading the scriptures about the time he came across these doubts. We talked about the importance of the Book of Mormon, things he already knew and had just forgotten, and the contention left immediately, and as the subject had changed, so did the mood. The spirit was strong as we testified of our knowledge of the truthfulness of that book, and he accepted the challenge to read it again cover to cover. As he was leaving, he said "You know, today for some reason... I just felt like fasting. I guess you guys were the answer!"
This church is so true. I have more experiences, but I don't have time to write them all. I just hope you don't take for granted the power of the scriptures. Seriously. That's the key. People can create arguments all they want, and they can disprove, deny and down-play the Book of Mormon, but none of that matters. What greater witness can you receive then from God?
I know the Book of Mormon is true, and I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God called to restore the one true gospel of Christ. And what an amazing gift we have that comes with that! The opportunity to be like God and live with our families forever!
I apologize if I seemed a little bummed out the past few weeks, because I really do love this work that I'm doing.
I love and miss you all!
Church it true!


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Week #11 (kind of)--September 24, 2015

So today we got to go to the temple, which was really cool, but that means we moved our next P-day to today. So you won't be hearing from me for 2 Mondays!

It was a nice refresher to go to the temple again. It's felt like so long since I last went, so it was nice to go and feel the temple spirit and see what it was like inside the Redlands temple. It was a much smaller temple than the one's I'm used to but very pretty none-the-less! 

As always, I love you all and hope you have a great week and a half!

Church is true!


Monday, September 21, 2015

Week #10--September 21, 2015

Well this week was brutal, but that's okay. Because the Atonement is more powerful than any hard week! 

So all week we did an abnormal amount of street contacting which can be difficult when people don't like you, but ah well. We did meet some really cool people and hopefully one of them will turn into a new investigator! 

We went on splits with the High Priests, and I went with the HP group leader to visit some less actives around the ward and set up some appointments. That went alright, but apparently the other missionaries and a much older high priest who had gone to visit a really solid investigator... well... the lesson went into the weeds. The High Priest started spewing deep doctrine, which confused the investigator and the investigator has started meeting with his Calvary Chapel friend (Calvary Chapel is one of the churches that teaches anti-mormon classes) and he's waning. But we're meeting with him this Tuesday so we'll hopefully turn it around!

Then we visited with a Part-member family. The parents are less active but want their kids baptized. The problem is... The family is super less active, but thinks they're active. We told them we couldn't baptize their kids until they became active in church and in the home (Family Scripture study/prayer/FHE) and they got really offended. But the line was drawn! And we invited them to become active! So we'll see what happens.

Then Lisa is out of town all week, so we couldn't meet with her this last weekend, but at least she's still progressing!

And then Neil dropped us. That was hard. He told us he was praying really hard and got the answer to stay Catholic... So we're not going to be able to meet with him as much. That one stunk.

On top of all that, we've all started getting a little sick as a companionship and we lost the phone and had to retrace our steps for the day (Wand it was a long biking day) to try and find it. So needless to say, a little discouraging of a week. 

Then this morning, I was reading in Alma 5 and just spent the whole hour studying that and making notes on that BEAUTIFUL sermon Alma gives. And I realized how selfish and self-centered I was being! Not in a self-deprecating way, but in a liberating way! I realized everyone has hard weeks, but it certainly can't get as bad as the Savior's last week. I realized how easy I've got it, with a family who loves and supports me, food, shelter, and a purpose every single day. And most of all, I get to spend 2 year completely immersed in the Atonement, so why on earth was I whining? I need to be singing the song of redeeming love! Rejoicing! I'm a missionary! I have the whole and completely restored gospel of The Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Because of that knowledge, I can live forever, and more importantly I can live with my future spouse and family forever.  

I love you all! Church is true!


Monday, September 14, 2015

Week #9--September 14, 2015

(Sigh) Yes everyone. I have heard about the BYU games. There are Mormon's down here too. Showing up to ward council with everyone wearing BYU ties and full of life at 7:30 in the morning usually means I missed something. Haha, I don't want that to sound super bitter. That's not the intention. And for those of you who did send me the info about the games, don't feel bad and I'd love to hear more of it! But needless to say the Ward was buzzing about both games. And you'll be happy to hear that even though I was offered by multiple people to watch the replay's I turned them down!

But now onto this last week. It went really well! We got our new companion, Elder Acox, and he's been a fun new dynamic. Elder Russell was big on not using any Mission Culture in our discussion, or vocabulary. Things like just calling people by their last names, or calling Investigators 'Gators'... Things like that. Elder Acox is a big fan of mission culture. I'll leave that be. 

But it's been nice to have a third witness to everything we say! He adds a different dynamic to the companionship.
Neil is doing well. He is frustrating us to no end but he's doing well. He's a riot, and every time he reads the Book of Mormon he has the funniest commentary on it. "I got really happy when this Nephi guy wanted to obey the commandments and show some mercy on the drunk dude.... But then good ol' wrathful God whispers 'No, kill 'im'" Or last night when reading about the Brother of Jared: "This guy seems really important... And he doesn't even get a name? Someone must have said something and offended someone. Jared's probably the one writing this! And nobody even knows who Jared is!" Maybe that's not as funny to read as it was to live but we got a good kick out of it.
Unfortunately he's Catholic, and doesn't want to change from what's comfortable for him. He told us if he could get baptized Mormon and keep going to Mass, then that would be the ideal scenario.... It's an adventure. 
But we'll keep working with him
Lisa is progressing like crazy! She's the one who works for Disney Channel and was a Jehovah's witness for 39 years but always felt empty. And she comes to church every week and keeps getting emotional about how happy it makes her, and how she's so sad that she was missing out on so much for so long. It won't be long until she get's baptized, we're sure of it.
Then we met a young couple, one's a Less active and the other isn't a member and they're super interested. They actually called the mission office and asked for missionary's to come teach them. Those are the best kinds of days.
So those are the big 3, sorry I rambled so long.
Oh! Also, Elder Fallabela came and visited the mission. And that was amazing! He's a member of the Seventy and had such an incredible spirit about him. I was also asked to arrange and put together the special musical number for that conference. So I guess that was cool. It only took 6 weeks before they figured out about my skill set and informed me "Yeah, you'll probably be doing most of these special musical numbers. 
I'll send the audio to that when I get it. It's not great, but it's pretty good.

Anyway, Elder Fallabela. He talked a lot about the Atonement and how powerful it was. It was such an amazing experience because we walked through the process of conversion and the Atonement's hand in every phase. He had us study Alma 17-22 and Mosiah 2-5 in preparation and we discussed the points of conversion and the signs of conversion. It was cool to sit with 80 or 90 missionaries, each one with different things that stood out to them. Thing's I wouldn't have noticed at all were brought up and were so cool.
Then my favorite part was when he talked about people who know the Bible. He said (And this is not word for word, just the jist of it) "You will come across many people who know the Bible a lot better than you. They will know their references and facts a lot better than most of you ever will. And it may be discouraging when they yell and counter everything you say and believe. But you have something they don't. You know about the Atoning Sacrifice of your Savior Jesus Christ. They don't know anything about that. Ask them! Watch them stumble! And then bear Testimony. Because again, another thing you have on them is you have the knowledge of the fulness of Christ's Gospel and a very personal relationship with your Savior. And there is nothing they can say that can beat that." 

Now that was cool to me. I love my Savior so much. He has done everything for me. He is everything to me. I'm grateful for this opportunity that I have to immerse myself in his teachings and his love. I encourage all of you to continue/start feasting on the words of Christ and crying to him in fervent prayer.
I am SO happy here. I honestly can't imagine what life would have been like if I would have made the decision to stay and not come out here. BYU games and dating and board games and naps and theme parks will still be there when I get home. I'm learning that a little more every day. And 2 months are already gone from my short 24, so I plan to make the most of every possible second. Even if it means I continue to be exhausted and sore and tired and sweaty everywhere I go. I encourage any of you, my friends who are considering whether or not to go on a mission, to just do it! You will realize it's hard work, and it's brutal emotionally, physically and spiritually, but it is so worth it.
Wow that was a novel. If you honestly made it through the whole thing, I owe you Ice Cream or something. I love you all, I miss you all. 

Church is true!


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Week #8--September 8, 2015

Welp! I apologize for getting this out a day late, but all the library's were closed on Monday due to the Holiday. Plus it was transfer day which meant moving and meetings for hours. 

So yeah! First transfer done! Each transfer is 6 weeks, and there are 17 in a mission. So 1 down, 16 to go. It really flew by so fast! Like, so fast. I'm staying in the Terra Vista ward in Rancho, and Elder Russell is staying as well but we're getting a third missionary for a tri-panionship! So that will be a fun new adventure!

His name is Elder Acox, and he looks a lot younger than both Elder Russel and I, but he's actually 25. So that's funny. He was not excited to be our companion at first, and was really kind of mad. Apparently we're known throughout the mission as being 'Pharisees' because we take the rules 'too' seriously, and we're 'too' obedient. (I'm sorry, didn't realize obedience was a bad thing. You know who else was really obedient? Jesus. True story) But after a little bit, he realized that although we like to work really hard and constantly strive to obey every rule, we're still really funny and a lot of fun to be with. 

I don't have a lot of time to e-mail today, like less than an hour so I apologize if my answers to some of you are really short. I'll try and write you better one's next week.
Both Neil and Lisa (Disney Channel worker) came to church! Neil didn't like Testimony meeting very much because he felt uncomfortable... Don't know what that's about but we're working with him. And Lisa absolutely loved it! So we're planning to set a baptismal date with her this weekend. The ward loves how much work we're doing and tell us a lot. This ward hasn't seen a baptism in almost 2 years, so it would be cool to get a few before we leave.
And the community notices us too! Keep in mind our area is the biggest English ward in the City, so there are tons of people, but people always comment on how they see us everywhere. And not just missionaries, "The big one and the small one... And the big one's always a ways behind!" So they're recognizing us in particular, which is cool. People are always watching everything we do as members of the Church, and we all represent Jesus Christ in our actions. That's part of the baptismal covenant! We literally take his names upon us.
I've been thinking a lot about the power of prayer, and especially prayer with faith. I was reading in Mosiah 27, where Alma the Younger is visited by the Angel, and the Angel tells him that he has not come because of Alma's wickedness, or to protect the church like I'd always thought, but because of the prayers and faith of the people. Prayer is powerful. 

And not just prayer, but fasting. We had the opportunity to fast as a mission for one purpose. "To Help us prepare to find those who are prepared to hear the message of the restored gospel". And imagine 200 or so faithful missionaries sacrificing and praying in faith for each other and for those who are ready to hear the word of the Lord. Pretty powerful image.
I love you all and miss you! And this church is true! I know it. Beyond a shadow of a doubt. It is the one true church.


Monday, August 31, 2015

Week #7--August 31, 2015

Hello friends and family, I think this one will be shorter than the novels I usually write, and I'll try to make it brief. 
No pants wheelchair guy (Neil) Is progressing really well! And we love meeting with him every week 2 to 3 times. He also came to our music fireside which was a big success! The arrangements were great and every one who came loved them! But all the refreshments had wheat in them. #thestruggle

We also met a new investigator named Lisa who was a Jehovah's Witness for 39 years, but always felt empty. She tried really hard and followed all the commandments and just felt empty, so she left for 17 years and is now having lots of friends who are being baptized LDS and is loving everything about the lessons so far!
She's super cool, and doesn't look 56. She looks way younger and actually works in hollywood fro Disney Channel. She was a little disturbed at how excited I got about that and how much I knew about said Disney Channell shows, but... I don't feel bad. She's the prop manager for shows like Jessie, Ant Farm, Liv and Maddie and the one she's working on now is a new one. (Bunked?) That hopefully doesn't mean anything to most of you, but I got excited.
I've been thinking a lot about Grace. I got bible bashed for the first time by some member of Calvary Chapel. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Calvary Chapel actually teaches anti-mormon classes! (Yeah Christianity!) And they're not the only one. But they made the claim, that we as Mormons didn't believe in Grace and we were trying to Earn our way to heaven. I got confused and went into a lot of study on the matter. They pointed out how in the bible it says we are saved by Grace, and in the Book of Mormon it says we are saved by Grace, after all we can do.
Elder Russell then showed me an amazing talk by Brad Wilcox called "His Grace is Sufficient" And I encourage you all to listen to it. But he talks about how through Grace ALL of our sins are forgiven. We can't pay him back for what he's done and through the atonement he covers it all, and we will live with him forever. Then why works? Because it's like a young child taking piano. Mom pays the price for the lessons, and asks us to practice. Does practicing pay the piano teacher? No. Does it pay back mom? No. But she doesn't want us to pay her back, she wants us to become pianists. So we're not Earning heaven, we're learning heaven. The lord loves us enough to let us live with him if we choose, but this life is an opportunity to obtain celestial habits that will prepare us for Eternity in Heaven.
If it seems confusing, read the talk. But the point is I am so grateful for our savior Jesus Christ. He's already paid the price and taken everything on himself. And as President Uchtdorf said in this last Conference, we obey his commandments because we love him. Just because we have been saved by Grace does NOT mean that we can now sit back and relax and stay in sin. Then we're missing the point. Born again Christians miss the point because this truly is a learning experience.
So brothers and sister, I plead with you to read your scriptures more fervently and to pray more fervently. Those two habits are so key in "learning" heaven. SO key. I never was good at either one at home but my mission has woke me up to that fact. Because when you're studying 2-4 hours a day and praying 6-8 times on your knees and 40-50 other times throughout the day, you see the increase in blessings. It's overwhelming.
I love you all. Church is true.


Monday, August 24, 2015

Week #6--August 24, 2015

Hey guys! 

Another great week. I don't know if I talked about Neil, but I don't want to re read my email's so I'll just re-tell his story if I haven't, because he's left an impact on me. 
We were looking for a less active-member and knocked on 'her door' to see a tiny bald head pop out from the door at about knee height. As you can probably guess, Elder Russell and I were slightly, (or gravely) taken aback at the sight of such a head at such a low part of the door. We asked if Jennifer lived there, and he asked: "I dunno, do I look like Jennifer?" (But in a nice way... When I type it it sounds like he's mean.) We laughed and said no and asked if he'd like to hear a message about Jesus Christ, and he said "Okay... Can I put some pants on first?"
Oh yeah! You can't buy this kind of entertainment ladies and gentlemen.
Turns out he was in a wheelchair, so that combined with his absence of trousers explains it all. He's awesome. He's hilarious and Catholic, but disagrees with a lot of catholic beliefs. He studied Theology in college so he's familiar with the bible, just not our beliefs, and we've met with him 4-5 times since then. We brought the Elder's Quorum President a few times, and they're both a riot so the first half of each lessons is just us 4 laughing. But then it get's super spiritual. 

He asked early on how he could know it's true, which is like a golden question to get as a missionary, so we talked about Moroni 10:3-5 and how all he needed to do to find out for himself was read and pray with a sincere heart and he'll know. 

BUT HE WON'T DO IT. 

The reason this has been on my mind goes beyond him. 

It bothers me because it's a simple request that so few people heed. 

ETERNITY IS HANGING IN THE BALANCE HERE PEOPLE. Forever, always, never ending. It's even longer than the Sound of Music! If this church is true, then what we're claiming is the passage way to Eternal Life and happiness through Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the Holy Ghost and enduring to the End. We're claiming that this is the only church with the fullness of the gospel, the fulness of Priesthood Authority (Or any Authority, really) and we're claiming that this is it. This is how we can spend the rest of time with God, Christ and our families. Literally the three best people or groups of people to spend the rest of time with!
And all of it is hinged on the Book of Mormon. It's so simple. That's it. That's all you need to do to know it's true, because once you have read those 580-something pages, and prayed with real intent and Faith in Christ and a willingness to act on your answer: You. Will. Know.
And there's no 18/19 year old boy, 42 year Quorum President, Stake President, Area 70, Apostle, Prophet or Angel who can tell you anything more powerful than that witness. Upon that witness and knowledge that the church is true, everything is balanced.
Read the Book of Mormon. Read it daily, read it constantly. Feast on the words of Christ. Treasure up thoughts of it through out your day. Ponder on it in your mind and in your heart. 

Don't have time? Make time. I personally don't think I'll ever look back in the vast endlessness of eternity and think "Wow, my job was definitely more important than the Gospel." 

I was a slacker at home, and I didn't understand the seriousness of that book. I challenge you all to figure out it's weight and take Moroni's challenge. Take James 1:5's challenge. Take Joseph Smiths challenge. Ask of God. Ask him if things are true. 

And I promise if you do it with a sincere heart, with real intent and Faith in Christ; you will receive that witness.
I love you all. The church is true. I know that know more than ever, and because I love you more than you know, I need you all to find that out for yourselves as well. Because I don't want to see any of you miss out on any of the blessings your Father has waiting for you. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Week #5--August 17, 2015

I just want to begin by letting you all know that I love you. I feel your prayers, I feel your support. And more important than that, your Heavenly Father loves you. He's spent years and years and year creating you, teaching you, and getting to know you before you even came to this earth. And he wants nothing more than to see you succeed, and to see you return to him. His love is infinite, his knowledge is infinite, and his gospel is infinite.
Now as for the week: The work is picking up! I don't know if I mentioned this before, but Elder Russell and I are both new to the area. (It's called whitewashing) and the Elder's before us (Awesome Elders) were also over the Young Adult ward AND they were zone leaders, so their efforts were a little spread out. But after 3 weeks of exact obedience to the best of our abilities, we are seeing really incredible blessings! This last sunday was such a pick me up, because we had tons of Less Actives come that we were working with, some investigators, and even a woman who just showed up, lives in our area, and wants to learn more and be baptized! Exact obedience brings miracles brothers and sisters!
By exact obedience I suppose I should expound. One: That would not have been my first instinct, and I owe so much of what I've learned from my incredible trainer, Elder Russell. But he talks about getting up 5 minutes early so that you can be legitimately awake by 6:30, literally eating up the white handbook, every day getting rid of the smallest pieces of disobedience and other things like that. We'll end up at our apartment complex after a very long day at around 8:50. We need to be in at 9:00. So what do we do? We go bike around and meet people for 10 minutes before returning as we are prompted. Things like this have shown us the tender mercies of the Lord.
But Holy Moroni it was hot. Like freakishly hot. And we had so much biking to do. Every door we got to, people were shocked that we were biking in the heat we were in. But that didn't stop us! We had a message to share and lives to save! And souls still need salvation when it's 108 degrees outside! No exceptions!
We have one investigator who is 15, (I may have mentioned him) and is the sweetest kid you'll meet. He melts my heart every time we teach him. But he has a really hard home life, and it crushes me.
We also are teaching these two kids who are really interested but their parents are less active, and we go teach them and they're kind, and loving, and fun... And their parent's won't stop putting them down! One kid plays football and I asked what position he plays, and his dad yells from the kitchen: "Left bench! He can't play football!" The look of discouragement on his face killed me.
Brother's and sisters, especially friends of mine who will be parents in the next 5-10 years, don't put down your children. I am blessed to have parents who are very supportive of everything I try, even the silly things! They cheer me on, and praise me after every performance and always have. They're honest with their critiques, and help me as I strive to improve, but always happy and never put me down. Even on days when I got nothing but put downs all day from friends and others and even teachers, I always relied on my parents to cheer me up and make me feel important.
BE THOSE KINDS OF PARENTS! I can't wait to be! Forget my hobbies, my kids will be my hobby. I realize that parenthood is a ways a way from me, and there's that whole marriage AFTER my mission thing I've got before I get a baby, but still. It's the concept that I'm preparing now to be a father worthy of my children. Someone that is worthy of taking on the role of raising a Child of Heavenly Father. That's what it's all about.
I love learning about the gospel, and it's so cool to study. A young woman asked. "Is it true that you can read the Book of Mormon multiple times and get something new out of it?" I responded by telling her that you could read the Book of Mormon an infinite amount of times and learn more each time. Because God is infinite, anything he creates must be infinite. Otherwise he would no longer be completely infinite and would therefor cease to be God. I told her how Elder Bednar has talked about how he has read it cover to cover well over 1,000 times, not to mention studying it for specific passages and specific scriptures. And why on earth would he continue to read it if he wasn't continually learning.
That's pretty cool isn't it?
Well, I've preached a lot. And it all seemed to have a bit more of a solemn note, so I apologize if you were searching for something very funny.
The Church is true. It has to be true. There's no other way. There is too much proof I see every day to say otherwise. If you have not had that witness yet, and don't know how to receive it let me draw for you the simple equation: Read the Book of Mormon + Pray about it= witness. It's literally that easy. It's a gospel simple enough for children and complex enough that gospel scholars spend their whole lives just trying to scratch the surface.
I love you all and pray for you daily. 
I feel your prayers and appreciate them.
Write me and I'll write you back
The Church IS true.