Monday, November 28, 2016

Week #72--November 28, 2016

Hey! This week was great! 

Thanksgiving can be rough, and I thought it would be tougher leading up to it, but it was surprisingly good! Mostly, I don't remember much because we had 4 thanksgiving dinners, and the first one was really good but I don't remember the rest of the day #FoodComa. 

Paul is still excited to get baptized! We're really pumped for him as well. 

Also, I'd be perfectly fine to stay in Barstow for the rest of my mission. It's a little unlikely, because that'd be 7 transfers/10 months but it could happen!!

Also, our Sacrament meeting on sunday was packed with people from Utah, haha. We had 3 BYU athletes and a member of the seventy all passing through on their way back to Utah, haha. But I guess when the Bishop excused the Aaronic Priesthood to sit with their families after the sacrament, everyone else thought they had the aaronic priesthood and got up and left! 

I hope everyone had a great thanksgiving! 
Church is true!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Week #71--November 21, 2016

Okay! Hold up. Life is so good. Barstow is the best
Also, fun fact. I bought some shoes here this week. 
So I guess you could say
I got my kicks
on route 66

Nah, but for reals this week has been one of the best. Ever. 

I'll just start with the coolest story. So Paul? (For those of you who have been following, he's the Super cool Samoan investigator that got on date.) We had a lesson with him on Friday. To kind of give some background to the story, he set the date mid January but we were all skeptical as to wether or not he'd be able to make it. He kept refusing to pray and come to church, so there was this un-seeable wall that was preventing him from progressing any further. 

So for the lesson we just dropped the question. "What is keeping you from coming to church?"
He skirted around the actual concern for a little bit, but after some discussion he came out with the actual concern, which was that he didn't want to fail. He didn't want to fall short of what was expected and break these commandments and when he went to church he wanted it to be the first day of the rest of his life.  He didn't want to come short. 

We've tried addressing this concern before, and have talked about how Church is a hospital for those who are struggling, not a museum for people to show off their good works before men. We've talked about how we go into the waters of baptism dirty, and come out clean, we don't go in clean. We've tried talking about all of that before, but it's never hit home. But this time, we sat in silence for a while, and then the spirit kicked in on overdrive. I can honestly say it was one the most spiritual moments on the mission. I think in part because both Elder Prestwich and I needed to hear it just as much as Paul did. 

We explained how, when it comes down to it, there's three reasons we make mistakes. Ignorance, Rebellion and Weakness. Obviously, for those who know of the gospel and the commandments, ignorance falls by the way side and becomes irrelevant. So that leaves rebellion and weakness. When God speaks of unrepented rebellion, it is not good. It just flat out is not good. But when he speaks of Mercy, it is always with mercy, and love and compassion. We shared the well known Ether 12:27 'And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.' and explained that while there are multiple differences between rebellion and weakness, one of the most important is our humility. If we are trapped by 'the sin which doth so easily beset us' and feel overwhelmed by the multiple mistakes we make, we must remember not to confuse our rebellion with weakness. If we remain humble and teachable then God not only CAN work with us, but God WILL work with us. 

Now President Uchtdorf reminds us that "Some suppose that humility is about beating ourselves up. Humility does not mean convincing ourselves that we are worthless, meaningless, or of little value. Nor does it mean denying or withholding the talents God has given us. We don’t discover humility by thinking less of ourselves; we discover humility by thinking less about ourselves. It comes as we go about our work with an attitude of serving God and our fellowman."

So, if you feel like Paul, that you will never live up to the standards the church has set, that is okay. To rebel is of the devil, but remember that weakness is of God. As Neal A. Maxwell put it: "Now may I speak . . . to those buffeted by false insecurity, who, though laboring devotedly in the Kingdom, have recurring feelings of falling forever short. . . .

. . . This feeling of inadequacy is . . . normal. There is no way the Church can honestly describe where we must yet go and what we must yet do without creating a sense of immense distance. . . .

. . . This is a gospel of grand expectations, but God’s grace is sufficient for each of us. "

The love and Grace of God is sufficient for you. Don't ever forget that you are enough! I don't mean that you WILL be enough when you grow up a bit more. I don't mean you COULD be enough if you were more obedient. I mean you ARE enough. You're exactly what God needs right now. Keep improving and working to become, but find encouragement in the knowledge that you're doing well.
Well, sorry this was so long. But I love you all!
Church is true!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Week #70--November 14, 2016

Hope you all had a good week. Just want to point out that scriptural prophecy was fulfilled this week: "For a trump shall sound both long and loud, even as upon Mount Sinai, and all the earth shall quake, and they shall come forth..." (D&C 29:13). Haha, funny stuff. (Don't take that as having a view, because for the next 8 months, I honestly don't have much of an opinion. Just funny wording.)

This week was really good. I can't really make a summary of our good lessons, because we had a lot of good lessons! We were super blessed! We taught 19 lessons, and had so many names on our progress record that we had to staple 2 together for ward council! That's a first for me, so we were very grateful that we were able to see so many people. 

That being said, due to lack of commitment we have to drop quite a few of them, but that's okay! The one's we are working with are doing great! 

Also Paul Paopao set a date for baptism! January 21st! His family (who are members) are all really excited and were very pumped to talk to Elder Prestiwch and me at the ward party on Saturday. 

Also a woman named Sally set a date, and she's been investigating for about 2 years, so if that happens a lot of missionaries will be very happy!

Also, we had a super cool experience! We saw some teenagers skateboarding in the church parking lot as we were driving away. This bothered me, because... Well... I don't know why! But my first instinct was to tell them to leave... But I decided to try doing it in a nicer way. So Elder Prestwich and I parked and walked out and starting contacting them and then offered to give them a church tour. 2 were super bugged by it and wanted to leave, but one got super excited because he had a friend that was mormon who had brought him to mutual one time. We did a church tour and used the art work to explain our beliefs. The final picture was a big one of the first vision, where we recited the first vision. The spirit was SO STRONG! It was incredible. Right then and there, Aaron (the one who was open from the beginning) agreed to start coming to church and taking the lessons.  

That was an awesome experience!

So all in all, it's been a great week!

Kind of a short spiritual thought, is just that god is the author of peace! also, I was informed that 'Fear Not' appears more times than any other commandment in the whole Bible! I thought that was really interesting and also realized that to 'fear not' is a commandment of God! God casts out all fear, and is the author of peace. No matter where we are or what we're doing, God's life is a peaceful life and he can help us overcome our fears and live in peace. 
Also, an interesting point from Ether 6 that was pointed out to me, is that even though (while the brother of Jared and his Family were crossing the ocean) the winds and waves never ceased, and they were swallowed up in the depths of the sea may times, and trial after trial took place, it was the winds that drove them to the promised land. Still waters don't make great sailors, and motionless boats don't do much sailing! The comforting thing we can take is that those winds "did never cease to blow towards the promised land while they were upon the waters; and thus they were driven forth before the wind."

So don't give up when the pressure mounts! Take a deep breath and remember that God is God. He's more powerful than anything and he loves you and all of this is for your good. Change and progression are uncomfortable, just like crossing the ocean in those boats was uncomfortable, but it is all worth it in the long run. 
Love you all! Church is true!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Week #69--November 7, 2016


This week was good. We had transfers, but Elder Prestwich and I are staying, and so are the other Barstow Elders and we're exiled from the rest of the mission so that's pretty much the only news that effects us, haha! 

Going into this week, I didn't really expect it to be as hard as it was, but it was still good! I've learned that missions are always hard! They don't get easy as soon as you first 6 months are done, or as soon as you get past your year mark. It's always difficult. You never  REALLY get used to the emotional/spiritual/mental/physical strain that comes from a mission. I think in the book of mormon we talk way too much about the thousands of convert, and not enough time about the times their hearts were depressed, the times they were about to turn back, the times they were bound in chords, spit on, smote upon, beaten, scourged, stoned, etc....Like it's very hard. But it's so worth it. I really do enjoy it. My testimony as grown so strong, it's incredible. Like, the church is so true. I love how much the church has changed me. 

So if you remember E.J., the 13 year old boy who had a ton of good questions and knew his bible really well? Well we saw him and asked him if he had read the book of mormon and he said "No, I'm sorry, I'm only in Mosiah." LIKE WHAT THE HECK????? He thought we were asking if he'd read it all and HE READ ALL THE WAY TO MOSIAH IN ABOUT 4 DAYS LIKE WHAT ON EARTH. He's pretty awesome. His parents gave him permission to investigate, so we'll continue to teach him and even if he doesn't get baptized now, I have no doubt that he'll eventually get baptized, because it's all making sense to him. 

We went to a Ghost town last p-day and that was pretty cool. 

A lot of people have been sick this week, so we weren't able to meet with them, so that was rough. But because of that we were able to find some new investigators! 

There are some.... Interesting situations with a lot of the people we're teaching. I guess that's just the way it is in Barstow. That makes it hard for people to get baptized. Also, pretty much no one down here in married, they just live together and that's pretty much the worst. And they're usually too poor to afford a marriage license so R.I.P. 
As a spiritual thought, I want to share this scripture. (from 3 Nephi 8):
and then behold, there was darkness upon the face of the land.
And it came to pass that there was thick darkness upon all the face of the land, insomuch that the inhabitants thereof who had not fallen could feel the vapor of darkness;
And there could be no light, because of the darkness, neither candles, neither torches; neither could there be fire kindled with their fine and exceedingly dry wood, so that there could not be any light at all;
And there was not any light seen, neither fire, nor glimmer, neither the sun, nor the moon, nor the stars, for so great were the mists of darkness which were upon the face of the land.
And it came to pass that it did last for the space of three days that there was no light seen; and there was great mourning and howling and weeping among all the people continually; yea, great were the groanings of the people, because of the darkness and the great destruction which had come upon them.

When I read this scripture, I thought about how bleak out lives would be without the hope of the gospel. I thought about how bleak the day to day would be. Too many people just let their eyes adjust and live on in this darkness... And often we turn of our flashlights and lamps and allow ourselves to live in the spiritual darkness. 
So turn to Christ and find hope in his Atonement. Because of his sacrifice we have hope for a better tomorrow. We can find hope in being a better person tomorrow than we were today! 

I love you all! Church is true!