Sunday, December 29, 2013

December 16 & 23, 2013

December 16, 2013
Dear family,
This subject (Smithmas is in 7 days) is brought to you by Elder W who is counting down the days until Joseph Smith's birthday since I told him it was on the 23rd. He is a funny guy. Overall it was a solid week. The beginning of the week was really sweet with lots of lessons, and things slowed down at the end but then picked up again on the weekend. Also, before I forget, B is getting baptized next Sunday at 7:30! We are really excited for him but of course there has been some drama over this which I will explain later.
Monday was a great day. We had our bikes again, so we biked to R's place to see how he is doing. His friend was there , distraught so I decided to whip out Mosiah 23 where it talks about God trying our patience and our faith but those who hold out faithful will be lifted up in the last day. We promised him if he trusted in God that things would work out and that Christ knew what he was going through. We offered to give him a blessing and R basically forced us to, but he wanted one anyways so I gave him a blessing. It was a neat experience and I really felt the Spirit working in me. We didn't have time to do anything else before our lesson with B so the member coming to the lesson picked us up there. We left our groceries at the church because we didn't realize we would have to bike back, so after our lesson with B we didn't have time to bike back with our groceries so we got dropped off at the apartment and left our bikes at R's overnight. It was interesting. Our lesson with B went really well and we taught him about the priesthood and he really liked it. He wants to be able to give back and we talked about how this is the best way to do so and we told him about callings as well. He is a great guy. We tried setting up his interview and baptism, but because of scheduling conflicts it remained in question. I spent a TON of time praying about his baptism this week which I will explain later too.
Tuesday we had to walk all the way to our bikes which was like an hour walk. I thought, well at least this will be a good experience for Elder W to practice contacting people. It turns out it was apocalypse day because we didn't see a single person. It was crazy! By the way, the training program has been interesting. I still don't really know what I'm doing and we end up being too busy to do the full two hours some days, so hopefully Elder W turns out okay. He is talking more in lessons which is great and we still need to work on some things of course but he is doing great. After we got our bikes, we stopped by a few people but didn't have much success. We had our lesson with J, but for some reason we couldn't get anyone to make it so it was just us two. We read Alma 7 with him and it was pretty sweet. The Spirit was strong and we watched the mormon message about the Road to Damascus and
it was pretty blunt which was good but he didn't get out exactly what we wanted, but I'm certain he will get baptized once they get married. I think he doesn't want to be put in an awkward stage if he gets baptized and they end up breaking up, plus they are really stressed about finding a place to live, but once those things are resolved I think it will come really fast. It hit me how good of friends I have become with both of them. We invited them to the ward Christmas Party and they were excited to go.
Wednesday was a great day. We had Zone Meeting which was really inspiring. It also blew my mind. They did role plays on how to contact people you walk by and instead of trying to stop them and talk to them, they just waived and said good morning. It is totally different than what I was taught. Before someone would consider someone not a hard worker if they didn't try and talk to them. President wanted us to know that we represent the church and we don't want people to have bad first impressions of us. The emphasis of the training as usual was to follow the Spirit. If you feel like you should talk to them then go ahead. Otherwise wait to see if they will give you their attention. It feels so much more natural. It makes it hard though since instincts tells me to talk to every single person I see and it's hard to tell the difference between that and the Spirit and just waive and say something kind, but it makes sense. The Zone Leaders told us that when President was with Elder Golden they passed by tons of people when they went out to do missionary work and talked to those who would notice them and give them attention. It is a total change from what I was taught, but it feels right. The Zone Leaders also called us the night before and asked if we could do a musical number because they felt like we have musical talent in our companionship. I think they were partially doing it to be funny, but me and Elder W had to throw together a song really quickly. I figured out a few weeks ago that "O Savior Thou Who Wearest a Crown" can be sung to the melody of "If You Could Hie to Kolob" so we sang that. We had an accompaniment for three verses and we sang the last one A Capella. We sang unison on first, I sang bass on second and tenor on third, and then unison again for the fourth verse except the last line I dropped down to bass again. It was actually pretty sweet since Elder W has a really good sounding voice and I can sing harmony so everyone was really impressed. The Zone Leaders were really surprised and impressed. That night we helped the ward on their "Priesthood Blitz" where the men get together and make plates of cookies and take them to the less-active families in the ward and invite them to the ward party. It was pretty cool and we got to be in a car which was nice. 
Thursday we weekly planned and got ready for the baptism. We got the interview set up for the next day. I prayed a ton to know when the baptism should be and finally came to the conclusion that the 22nd would be the best day since B would have lots of friends and family that could come and the ward would also be able to support him. So I called the Bishop to see if that was okay with him to be confirmed the next week in sacrament meeting. I was really stressed about whether or not he should be baptized (because he sometimes works on Sundays) so I read the qualifications for baptism like 100 times and prayed 100 more and I knew it was right but I was shocked that Satan actually made progress tempting us that he wasn't ready for baptism. I never thought that it would be a tough thing. Anyways, our Bible Study went well and J, A, and N came. They are all awesome.
Friday was Bs interview. We went to pick up Elder W and found out that Elder L just got pnemonia and had just gotten out of the hospital! I guess everyone has been getting sick so we got to come and write our families to make sure we had a personal insurance card. It was really bad weather too, so we stopped by Ross and got jackets so that we wouldn't get sick. B passed with flying colors. He has an amazing understanding of the gospel and even told the story as to how the Word of Wisdom came about. He's the best! Not much else happened that evening.
Saturday we had a ward Christmas dinner. It was really sweet. Our smaller ward is bonding well. J and A came and we were hoping that B would be able to come so that he could meet some more people but he was stuck in Austin. The ward did a really good job of fellowshipping J and A. The T brought a family that is super Catholic, so hopefully they can make some progress there. We also found out that the Js were the ones to go to the Fs house for the Blitz and they hit it up right off the bat. That was the best news ever! Now they have a pretty good friend in the ward. We are going to try and set up a FHE with them. The Fs have been really busy so we haven't been able to get in and have a lesson.
Sunday was great. Church was awesome and the ward continues to rock. After church we got a text from E saying that he was home so we went by and taught him and his sister and nephew. He is so cool! The relatives were cool but kinda made it hard to teach E so we weren't able to invite him to be baptized. He also gave us some Cajun meatloaf that he made, so we will see how that tastes. We are super happy he's back though. He even read a bit on the cruise. We had a lesson with B and I made a little Jeopardy review game and since Elder W is pretty new and B has a really good understanding of the gospel, they competed against each other. Bro A came and it ended up being sweet! It invoked some really good discussions about the gospel and it was really uplifting. Bro. A was awesome too. Brother J made us a bunch of invitations to the baptism to pass out and we set a goal of 30 nonmembers at the baptism. It is a faith-filled goal, but Elder W wanted to do it so I'm running with his faith. We talked to B about his friends and family he can invite and he has about 15 coming on his side and we will try and fill the rest. We did it like President Slaughter trained so we are really hoping to find some new people to teach from this baptism because "in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest." (D&C 84:20) We are really excited and despite the stressfulness of things it was a great week and the work is moving. Thanks for all the prayers!
I know this work is real and that the Book of Mormon has the power to change lives and is that convincing evidence that Joseph Smith is a prophet and this is the Lord's kingdom preparatory to the Second Coming of the Messiah. I look forward to talking to you soon!
Elder Pew

December 23, 2013
Dear family,
This was a super solid week. Loved this week. Tons happened and our area is really doing spectacular. I'll just go ahead day by day. Actually, I'll tell one super funny story first. Wednesday we were biking to the Fs and I was leading of course and as we turn the corner I hear a super loud bang and crash behind me so I turn around and see what looks like a dead Elder W and his disassembled bike. I went to see if he was okay and luckily he didn't get hurt except a cut on his hand, but it was a super funny image to turn around to once I knew he was okay. The way he tells the story he was reaching back to turn on his back light and started to lose control so he thought it was a bad idea but I guess he continued anyways, and then his foot got caught in the bike frame and then he got flipped up over the bike and landed on the road. That's why it made a super loud noise and like everything broke off of his bike including his back brakes. He wasn't hurt and thought it was super funny too and now I will forever have the image of looking back and seeing him hunched over on the ground and his bike sprawled out across the road. I wish I could have filmed it. Anyways.
Monday we taught J. Oh boy that was an adventure. We decided we would measure just how much of a testimony he knows so we brought a little object lesson and attempted to talk about the four pillars of a testimony: Book of Mormon, Jesus Christ, Priesthood Keys, and Joseph Smith. We tried asking him how he gained a testimony of each of the four things but we only made it through two because he started telling us other stories.
Tuesday was pretty good but interesting. We had our bikes of course so we were biking all over the place. I think we biked around 15 miles. We biked around and invited a ton of investigators to the baptism. We set a lofty goal of how many nonmembers we wanted there so we attempted to invite them all that day. We went by the S and they gave us cookies which were pretty hard to carry around on the bikes. For some reason everyone was giving us food this week and it made it tough to bike, but we aren't complaining. We stopped by J the 82 year-old boss who takes us to Denny's to invite him to the baptism. We talked for a while and we ended up reading 2 Nephi 32 with him and he had some questions but either we answered them or he figured them out himself. He really loves us and he basically acknowledged that our church produces more faith-filled people than any other church. It was an awesome lesson. I love the power of the Book of Mormon. We had our lesson with J and our member we were taking fell through and A was too sick for the lesson so we ended up just teaching J by himself. We aren't sure what to do but they are moving and we probably won't have another lesson with them before then so we might not have to worry about that. It was really sad and I've thought about him a lot lately. We had a pretty fun dinner at the A's that night too, although a little stressful. There was awhile before dinner would be ready and they refused to let us help, and I've already talked to all of their neighbors and their kids were really pushing us to play with them so we ended up playing with them outside. It was here that I learned why they don't let us babysit kids. Holy cow that was stressful. They were all running around crazy and trying to jump on us and hold our hand and stuff and it was really fun, but stressful. Their kids rock though and I'm super good friends with that family. They are fun.
Wednesday we had District Meeting and we were asked to teach a little Christmas message to our district. Elder W told the story of the Christmas orange and then we talked about things that we have been given and can share with others. Then we asked for referrals the way President Slaughter trained us to. It was pretty powerful and I think everyone looks to our companionship a lot since we are so young and have such a unique combination of personalities, and we are having a lot of success. We also taught A and since it was all review I had Elder W do the bulk of the teaching and he did a pretty good job. I really like the S's. That night we got the car back and picked up Round Rock since they were riding down to Christmas Conference with us the next day. They slept over at our apartment and it was really fun.
Christmas Conference was sweet! We got up early and I drove us all the way down to San Antonio. We took pictures of our zones and then went into the chapel. There were a few really good musical numbers and President Slaughter taught us about the Christmas story from Luke 2 but he went super deep and taught things that I don't think anyone else has ever thought of. He is amazing! He focused a bit on angels and how they have always been a key part to the gospel just as it states in Moses 5:58 and how it's not crazy at all that Joseph Smith saw angels and stuff. It was a really cool training and I was just soaking it all in. After lunch we had a talent show which was really surprising. Lots of people came up after and told me and Elder W we were their favorite part of the talent show. I'm not sure what we were even doing, but apparently people thought we were funny. They made Elder V freestyle rap and he was super funny and did a pretty good job. It was fun to see everyone in the mission. Elder V hung out with me and Elder W for a lot of the time because his companion went with some other missionaries for awhile. It was fun to see our whole MTC district again and we took a picture of us Elders and I would upload all the pictures of the week but I don't know where my cord went. Oops. I talked with Elder T for awhile and some of the other missionaries I'm friends with. I'm probably closest with Elder V, Elder S, and Elder L. We drove all the way back and it was time for our exchange so I went with Elder L to their apartment and Elder W took Elder White to our area. Elder L was still feeling really sick so we stayed inside all day. It was nice though kinda because I was also feeling pretty sick this week and so it gave me a chance to recover. We did studies in the morning and then he went back to bed. I ended up reading all of Our Search For Happiness, the Book of Helaman, and watched 1.5 sessions of 2011 general conference. I ended up falling asleep for like 2 hours and I felt a lot better when I woke up. I was a little nervous of how things would go in our area but Elder W and Elder W taught M, E, and the Fs and it sounds like all the lessons went pretty well. I was proud of Elder W. 
Saturday we weekly planned and I am excited with everything going on in the area. I honestly think we could have 14 baptisms in the next 2 months. Not much else happened except a lesson with B just to make sure everything was set for the next day. We taught a little about scripture study from 1 Nephi 8 and then I shared my new absolute favorite scripture that I found when I was studying Helaman. I don't know if anyone else has caught how beautiful these verses are. Helaman 3:29-30:
"29 Yea, we see that whosoever will may lay hold upon the aword of God, which is bquick and powerful, which shall cdivide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil, and lead the man of Christ in a strait and dnarrow course across that everlasting egulf of misery which is prepared to engulf the wicked—
"30 And land their souls, yea, their immortal souls, at the aright hand of God in the kingdom of heaven, to sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and with Jacob, and with all our holy fathers, to go no more out."
Maybe it's just me but I think that is beautiful. Anyways, B told us he wouldn't be able to make it to our church the next day which stressed me out because I knew our ward is already a little skeptical of his baptism simply because they haven't all met him. We went ahead though because he is still ready to be baptized. 
Sunday was a great day. I still cringed every time they announced B's baptism but besides that our sacrament meeting was one of the best I've ever been to. We had a Christmas musical program and they did some beautiful songs. The closing song was some version of Silent Night with a Cello, Flute, Harp, Piano and choir, and then the congregation was singing the Hymn version of Silent Night. It was amazing. We found out Brother J is released as Ward Mission Leader and Brother R is the new one. He is a cool guy and a convert of 5 years. We spent the evening preparing for the baptism. We found out that not many of our investigators we invited would make it so that was sad, but it was a great program. You would never realize how much goes into a baptism until you put one on. I was actually pretty stressed before it started. B came and got dressed and quite a few people came. We only had one investigator there and I was surprised to see him there. He enjoyed it though and unfortunately he isn't interested in learning more right now but he said he really enjoyed it. I found out right before that I would also be giving a talk on Baptism so it almost turned into the Elder Pew talent show. Luckily I didn't end up leading the music or saying the closing prayer. My talk was decent but it was basically me just teaching the two non-members about baptism and why we do it by immersion and the importance of priesthood authority and then showed a bunch of scriptures to back it up. Elder W gave a pretty good talk on the Holy Ghost and then I got to baptize B. It was a great experience. I felt the Spirit very strongly as we got into the water and I think everyone there felt it. We got out afterwards and I asked him how he felt and he said different. I let him change first and then I changed. Meanwhile Elder W put on a few Mormon Messages for everyone else to watched. He said it was pretty powerful. We finished up with a welcome to the ward by someone from the Elder's quorum and then Bishop H. It was well attended by the ward. Bro. S and Bro. A came who have been coming to lessons with him, Bro L, Sis S, the Js, Sis S, and J were all there. It was great for them to support him and for him to get some more fellowship. He will be confirmed at church next week. It was such a good experience for everyone! Unfortunately in the madness of running the whole thing I totally spaced getting our picture taken which I was really bummed about, but whatever. It was a great week!
To close I will bear a quick testimony of Joseph Smith in honor of Smithmas. (This is the same one I sent to you mom so if you don't want to read it to the family before FHE don't read this part to the kids) This morning we had an extra hour waiting for our ride so for Smithmas we watched the Restoration. Obviously I've seen it many times but it hit me again today how much Joseph Smith went through for this church and for God. To think that he would do this all simply for a church and a story that he made up is crazy. There is a reason that we share the words of the First Vision word for word because there is a power and Spirit to his wording. I know that Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and I know that because I know that the Book of Mormon is true. There is no way any human could invent such a intricate, interesting, powerful, and inspired book. I know that it truly is an account of the people here in the Americas and their dealings with God. It is the convincing evidence that Joseph Smith is a prophet and it is how I know that he is a true prophet and that he did more for the salvation of the human race save Christ himself (D&C 135 I think). I'm grateful for all that he did and I know that he is the prophet of the restoration. I love you all and hope you all have a fantastic Christmas! I'll talk to ya soon!
Elder Pew
p.s. I don't why the formatting got all weird with the paragraphs but it really bothers me.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

December 2nd & 9th, 2013

December 2nd, 2013

Dear family,
This was yet another very exciting and eventful week! It feels like it's been a month since I wrote, so much has happened.
Monday was a pretty normal P-Day. Since it was the last one of the transfer we all got together to play basketball which was fun. We also taught a guy who just moved into the ward boundaries who was just barely baptized. We met him Sunday night and we taught him Monday.
Tuesday was interesting/freaky. Our car was fixed so we now had two cars but some sisters in Austin needed the replacement one, so me and Elder T had to drive separately to Austin. It felt super disobedient to drive alone, but that's what the Office couple told us to do. It was just scary since I didn't know the area and didn't have a GPS or a phone, so I really had to follow Elder T. Turns out it was a good thing he had a phone (you'll see). We got just past downtown Austin and got off at our exit and we made it to the place we were going to meet the sisters, but we had like 40 minutes so we decided to get lunch. Elder T thought he knew a place, so I followed him. We ended up going through part of downtown Austin which is beautiful! I LOVE the big cities. It made me both super happy and also gave me the butterflies since it reminded me of my trips to New York. I was also blasting "What Child is This" by MoTab so that added to the affect too. Anyways, we were driving straight in front of the Capitol building when (I later found out) Elder T realized we went too far, so he pulled into the turn lane to do a U-turn (I didn't know this since there's no U-turn blinker) as the light was yellow so I had to fly into the intersection, but as I got into the intersection Elder T U-turned and I was already committed to turn left and I could back out since the light was now red, so he was headed south and I was headed west. Yup. I had no idea where I was and we were in the thick of downtown so I couldn't pull over anywhere and all the parking lots were full and you had to pay, so I had to just keep driving.  I was praying my heart out as to what to do. I didn't have the phone or know where I was so I knew it was all in my hands and not Elder T's, so after praying I decided that I would get back on the road I knew he turned down and just follow it until I hopefully saw him. I was praying that he would know what I was doing and that he wouldn't panic or do anything dumb. I was kinda thinking, "well we might never see each other again" but then I realized that he still had the phone and I had the number memorized, so we were going to be fine. I followed the road south until I was out of downtown Austin and could park at a gas station. I actually was turning left to park at a gas station and I saw Elder T flying by doing a U-turn and heading back into downtown Austin and he looked panicked. Oh man, looking back it was hilarious. In the moment it was kinda scary. I was waving like crazy to get his attention but he zoomed off. I pulled into the gas station and went inside and asked someone for there to borrow a phone and they gave me the shaft, but then the cashier said I could use their land-line, so called Elder T and gave him the street I was on and he came a minute later. He was freaking out and I thought it was pretty funny once I realized we were going to be okay. I will definitely find a way to never drive separately again though. Crazy stuff. We dropped off the car and grabbed a bite to eat and headed back to Round Rock. J had to pick up his kid so we didn't actually teach him which was sad to break the 17 week stretch, but I had a feeling there was a good reason. We ended up getting a call from the McNeil missionaries and they told us they have an investigator who moved into our ward boundaries, and they were teaching him at 8 and they wanted us to be there so they could pass him off to us. Him name is B and he is super sweet! He is like 29 and works for Blizzard entertainment. I guess that's a big deal from what I hear. He is super smart and super sincere and he really wants to get closer to God. He referred to the church as "his" church and our beliefs as "his" beliefs. It was awesome! They taught him the law of Chastity and that was the last thing he needed to be taught. He wants to get baptized but he hasn't been to church, so he said he has been saving up vacation hours so he could make it this week and he came to Sacrament! He is awesome! We set a return appointment at his new place for Saturday. We are SUPER blessed to have him fall into our laps. Tuesday night I was feeling better than ever before in my life. Maybe he wasn't a direct result of our hard work, but we were blessed to have a super ready, cool investigator drop into our laps because we have been obedient and working hard. It's the best thing ever.
Wednesday was a blast. So fun! I had to go to San Antonio for a training meeting and so I got to drive down with Elder W and a few other missionaries to San Antonio which was really fun. The training meeting was interesting. President Slaugther threw away the old trainer packets and held up his scriptures and told us that these and the Holy Ghost are our packets and instructions on what to do. It was sweet. He is such a good president. Oh yeah, I walked in and he was already talking with some of the other missionaries that were already there and he said, "Elder Pew, I've been waiting for you. Come sit by me." So we were at the head of the tables in the High Council room and everyone else was facing us. I don't know why he had me sit right there next to him, but he did. He basically just told us to make our best judgment and follow the Spirit. When the missionaries asked questions he would usually just say, "What do you think?" or "It's up to you. I trust you." So that was cool. After we all went out to eat and then we headed back to Round Rock. Elder V's companion went to San Antonio with us and stayed there because he was on a trial mission, so Elder V didn't have a companion, so he was with Elder T and Elder L until we got back. When we got back we went in his truck out to T with Sister J and Sister B and it was quite the drive. It was super fun. Then we came back to B and so I got to be with Elder T and Elder V. It was sweet! We went to the As since Elder V loves them and we didn't have a dinner and it was super fun. We also had a lesson with the Fs that went really well. E (the 9 year old) wants to get baptized and so bishop is going to work with Bro F so that he can do it. It was an awesome night.
Thursday was turkey day, and I got to spend it with some of my favorite missionaries. Elder L and W came over and us five cooked ribs that E gave Elder T as a parting gift so we ate that for lunch and then skipped some rocks before transfer meeting. Transfer meeting was sweet. Sister Slaughter gave a great training on charity towards your companion which was helpful. The new missionaries walked in and it was weird to see Elder W for the first time. When he introduced himself in front of everyone he said that he likes to wrestle, but not with sisters. Our zone is different since it split, but a lot of people stayed in the same zone. Elder S moved to a different area with Elder D but I will still see them on P-day so that's awesome. Elder V stayed in T. Elder T headed off to the UT campus. It was a little sad seeing him leave. I loved serving with him and I learned a lot. I think my faith grew a lot with him and I learned how to talk with people and teach to their needs better. I've been blessed with really solid companions. We got sisters in our district to cover the Spanish branch in our zone and new sisters for the new ward as well. Elder W is cool. He is 18 and right out of High School. He is from Las Vegas and I don't really know what he likes. We didn't have time to take pictures or anything since we had to run back with Elder W with something Elder L forgot to bring, so no picture yet. Sorry! We went to dinner at the K's house and since it was a big family thing, we just kinda sat there and listened to their conversation, but it was good. We came in before 8 and got ready for bed.
Friday we stopped by bishop and talked over some of the concerns of the new changes to the ward. It was a great meeting. I honestly think that was the only thing that really happened on Friday.
Saturday we got on the bikes. It was crazy how big our area is on a bike! We had a sweet lesson with E and they said they would be at church but then they didn't show up. We biked all the way to the middle of our area and met with the Fs. It was H's birthday so that was good timing and we wished her a happy birthday.They are such a sweet family! We were suppose to have a lesson with J, but she cancelled on us. We had our lesson with B which was sweet! We brought Brother A and he was great. We taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Spirit was really strong and we focused on the importance of baptism. He really wants to be baptized and he accepted a baptismal date of December 21st which should be sweet! We had to bike all the way back to our apartment which was a 35 minute bike ride and I was pedaling the ENTIRE time. Luckily I wasn't sore or tired, but Elder W didn't like it. It was a great day.
Sunday was awesome. Church was sweet and the ward is so nice. Ward council was exciting with all the changes that are going on. J was sick so he couldn't come to church, but B and E were there so that was good. We had dinner with J and he gave us a pie, but that was pretty hard to bike with. It was sweet though and he is my favorite. We stopped by J and A and showed them the new ward boundaries. We also stopped by H and she gave us a big bag of Muddy-Buddies. It was awesome! Overall it was a great week.
I know that the Lord supports us in our trials. I know that he knows and loves each of us. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and we can learn from it and feel the Spirit every time we read it. Thanks for all the love and support!
Elder Pew

December 9th, 2013
Dear Family,
This was a fantastic week. Lots going on up here in the B. It was SUPER cold this week. Not just like Texas cold, but like cold cold. The lowest we saw was 25 degrees, but it didn't get above freezing until yesterday. For some reason we were able to get into a ton of less active member's houses this week and so we racked up the less-active lessons which I guess is pretty sweet.
Monday was pretty sweet. P-day was fun and we played basketball and volleyball as a zone. Sister C is amazing at basketball which is shocking but pretty cool. That night not a lot was happening and Elder W was really pushing to get a McRib, but I told him that we had to work really hard for 2.5 hours before we could get one. I think he loves them mostly as a joke, but it was funny so finally we got one. Right after that R called us and asked if we could come by so we did and answered a few of his questions. He also sang "Thank you" a random song about thanking those who serve the Lord and so he sang it for Elder W since he is just starting his mission. Luckily I had the genius idea to record it on the phone so now we have a very coveted recording of R singing his famous song to missionaries. It is sweet!
Tuesday was cool. We found out that we had interviews with President the day before so we had to go those and it went pretty well. We showed up a bit early and there were still like 12 missionaries waiting to be interviewed so we told them we were going to go back out and work some more. We stopped by A, J's ex-wife, and asked her how things were going and she was really glad we came by. I didn't know that we were suppose to have a scripture to share with President, so that made it obvious that I didn't read his weekly email which of course was the first time on my mission, so that caught me by surprise but obviously I have a huge bank of scriptures to choose from so I picked Mosiah 2:41 since it has been on my mind a lot lately and he had me read and explain it. He was impressed with the way I explained it but then he re-read it really slow with emphasis added on certain parts and then talked about how we can explain verses simply how we read them to people. That was really cool. We stopped by E and L came out and was really happy to see us as always and he actually read the Book of Mormon! We were super excited because we thought we were going to have to sit down with him and explain that we couldn't come over if he didn't read the Book of Mormon. We read 1 Nephi 8 with him and explained it to him. He understood it and it was sweet. Our lesson with J went really well. We were teaching the Word of Wisdom and so we got J (just quit smoking) and Bro M (who we also found out had to quit smoking to go on a mission) to come with us to the lesson. He obviously knew about it already so we wanted to emphasize the blessings of keeping the Word of Wisdom. We talked about a bunch of blessings from D&C 89, the Word of Wisdom pamphlet, and talks. Bro M asked an awesome question, "do any of those blessings stand out to you?" and J responded with how he liked the part about receiving answers to prayers as the one that stuck out the most. Perfect! It was exactly what we wanted to talk about and so I pulled out the Obedience Brings Blessings talk by President Monson where his main emphasis is that we can only receive revelation when we are keeping all the commandments. Then Bro M and J shared how they quit and gave J and A advice. Then we bore testimony about how we don't know what it's like but the Savior does so he can always rely on prayer to help him. It was powerful. Unfortunately they still need to move, so I'm really praying they will stay in the area. It was a great lesson.
Wednesday was our less-active and recent convert day. We taught A the Plan of Salvation and it went well. She is continuing to progress in the church which is cool. She understands things well for a nine year old. We also had a lesson with C and his family and it went well too. We had a lesson with Sister S and she came to church for the first time in 26 years this week. Sweet! For some reason we have been really successful at reactivation even though that's not really our purpose.
Thursday another great day. We had a lesson with the S family, another less-active family in the ward and they straight up told us they don't believe in the church anymore. The dad said he wants to but has a hard time after some stuff he's seen (anti Mormon material). I honestly had no idea how to react since they seemed pretty set on that, but we went ahead I felt like we should share a Christmas mormon message and then discuss how we can remember Christ during this season. It went well and the Spirit was strong as we discussed how they can rekindle the testimonies they once had. We will see if anything comes of it. We had our Bible Study class and that went pretty well. Only J came but we also got to meet Sister R's friend who came to a Relief Society thing so that was awesome. We had a lesson with B that night. For some reason no members could come, but we had an incredible lesson. We went over the baptismal interview questions and he is way ready for baptism. As I read the final question which asks if you are willing to take the name of Christ upon yourself and always serve Him, the Spirit hit me like a ton of bricks confirming that this is all very real and how important and how big of a deal baptism is. It was really cool. I really like B. He's the best!
Friday was fun. We had Elder W with us so I had two newbies with me but it went really well. We had a lesson with a lady in the morning who isn't really interested but was really nice and let us teach her a lesson about the Book of Mormon. We baked a cake for E because it was his birthday and we wanted to say bye before he left on his cruise Saturday. We baked a cake that was really interesting. We didn't have any measuring utensils so we guessed on water and oil, and they ended up with a dense, sponge-like texture. We boiled some caramel and toffee we had and spread it over the top. The topping was really interesting. It tasted good but the more you chewed it the harder it got until it was basically toffee again. Anyways, we took it to his house. Eric wanted us to pray with them, so we said a prayer to bless them on their trip and they were kinda in a hurry so I asked if we could share a quick message with them. I just shared Alma 37:37 about prayer and it was cool and they responded really well. Then E was like, "I just want to tell you I have a testimony..." and so I thought he was going to say prayer because he says he is always praying, but he finished "...of the Book of Mormon. I read it the other day after you guys came by and it hit me harder than anything else I've ever read. I didn't think it could have such a huge impact on me." It was AMAZING! We had no idea how to respond so we just told him how great that was and how it would continue to bless him as he reads it. He said he will definitely set aside some time to read on the cruise and we didn't even ask him to. He is sweet! We walked out of there on a spiritual high since no one else has been able to get him to read the Book of Mormon and now in just a week he has read it and knows it's true! The power of the Book of Mormon is real folks. We had a fun lesson with A's family and we played the flour game with them and talked about having a foundation of faith. It was a great day.
Saturday was a pretty slow day. Not much happened until the evening. We taught J and his girlfriend was there. We taught the Plan of Salvation and she was actually pretty receptive and believed it all. Unfortunately she got really tired and left to go to bed before we finished. Me and Elder White get along really well. We have had a ton of fun together and he is a happy guy. We have a great relationship. The other missionaries are always talking about us because of the dynamics of our companionship, it's pretty fun. Anyways, we had dinner with J and B was suppose to come since him and J would be best friends but he had to work late unfortunately. We ended up staying there more than an hour which I felt bad about but we didn't really have much of a choice and Elder W really wanted to stay. I was able to justify it though since it was below 25 degrees.
Sunday was pretty good. Church was pretty sweet. The children continue to absolutely rock and we sat next to the Ls so T and B were trying to talk to me the entire time. It was fun. Ward Council was also sweet. We picked the five focus families for the year. One member also suggested that anytime we have a lesson with one of them to let Bro. J know so he can email the ward council so they can come. It is awesome! That would help a ton. We had dinner with a family after church. Then it was up to us to go to the Christmas Devotional, and we decided to try by the Fs first and right as we got there Sister F pulled up with H and E. I love it when the Spirit directs us to perfect timing. They let us in and we talked with them for awhile. They are doing pretty well. They didn't come to church and we weren't able to set anything up earlier in the week, but we had a great lesson on the true identity of us all being children of our Heavenly Father. H, E, E, and Sis F have opened up so much. I love that family. E still wants to get baptized so that is great too. 
Well it was a great week and the work is really hastening here. You can feel it in the air with all the changes to missionary work, the stake, the ward, ward council, people are being prepared to come back or to start learning about the restored gospel. It is great to be apart of and I know the work is real and true. I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God and I was beyond happy to see it change E the way I know it can. Thanks for the love and support!
Elder Pew

Sunday, December 1, 2013

November 25, 2013

Dear family,
This was a crazy week! So much happened, and I don't know if I will be able to remember it all. I hope Zane had a great birthday, you litte pompeeface! It seriously feels like my birthday was months ago! I'd like to start by thanking everyone who sent me a package or email because they all meant a lot to me. Now with the craziest week of my life:
Monday was pretty average and all of our appointments fell through, it's basically the only day nothing happened. Cool.
Elder Pew's 19th Birthday!  Love this family for taking care of him!
Tuesday was obviously my birthday and it was a great day! I received a few packages the day before and so I waited to open them all on my birthday and they were all awesome! I loved everything that I got! Aunt Julia came by and gave me and Elder T Texas-sized Round Rock Donuts which was sweet! Apparently they are the biggest donuts in the world that they mass produce. The day went pretty slow and we had a few things that fell through again, but it was fine. I texted J to see if he was feeling better since we haven't seen him lately and he texted back and wished me a happy birthday. I had no idea how he knew, so I asked him and he said that I told him months ago and he remembered. He is so nice. Then he sent like the nicest, heart-warming text that I took a picture of and will have to send next week. He's the best. We didn't have a dinner that night but Elder T asked the S when I was on exchanges if they could feed us on my birthday so we ate with them. They are so sweet! I love that family! They made me a cake and everything. We got overloaded with food and as a result I spent only 6$ today for food. It was crazy. We taught J that night which was a great birthday present and we talked about temples. It wasn't one of our better lessons but we are running out of things to teach. A said that they just need to get married and she thinks he will get baptized. Unfortunately they will be moving at the end of December, but they are really trying to stay in the ward. They are so awesome. Overall it was a fantastic birthday!
Wednesday was amazing. Mostly. We had Zone Conference with Elder Golden. We got to drive past downtown Austin which was pretty fun. It started at 8 and ended at 4, so we were there like all day. We all got to shake Elder Golden's hand and we took a picture with us all.  Anyways, he gave us a lot of training. He goes all over the place and is super sporadic, but I learned a ton. Me and Elder T have been debating a lot of gospel doctrines and going deeper, and so he ended up answering a lot of those questions we have. I'm also developing a reputation for having a really good understanding of the gospel and lots of interesting questions. I didn't ask any though since they didn't seem revelant to missionary work. He did have a Q&A for any doctrinal questions and we discussed so many things so deeply. I don't have time to share everything I learned, but one cool thing he explained was that the pre-earth life was similar to our life here. We still had agency and we still needed faith, and the war in heaven was to win back the spirits who followed Satan. Essentially we were doing missionary work before this life. Pretty cool. We also talked a lot about the nature of Satan a lot and he was very blunt and talked a lot about how our purpose is to become gods. That is a really hated doctrine of ours out here in Texas. President Slaughter also gave a killer training on helping others see who we are and who they can become using the story of Living Water. The lady at the well first addresses Jesus as a Jew, in a derrogatory way, and by the end of the story she tells others about him as the Savior and Jesus Christ He said he was. Super cool. We had dinner at the L's and somehow they knew it was my birthday too so they had streamers and balloons and made me a cake too. They are SO awesome! It made my day! I wasn't expecting anything so that was too kind of them. They will likely send pictures soon. They also gave me an awesome poster that the kids made for me which no offense to anyone, but was probably the best gift that I got. Brother S also wanted us to come over, and he also got me a present! He wasn't there on my birthday, so he had us come over and he bought me a sweet AirJordan sidebag! We just found out we aren't allowed to have backpacks anymore so I was thinking I needed to get a sidebag, but he got one for me! I didn't tell him and he had no idea, he just thought it would be useful. I love this area!
Thursday we went out to lunch with a few of Elder T's past companions since one of them is going home and one of the office missionaries were there that they worked with closely, so we got to go to downtown Austin again! It was pretty fun. I felt bad how long it took and so did Elder T, but he already turned down going to San Antonio again for a baptism with this past companion so we couldn't say no this time, but it was fun. We taught C and his friends again.. They are so awesome! They said they would do anything for us if we need it. They also came to Bible Study and so did J. We had a great meeting again and we closed with the "None Were with Him" mormon message which was really powerful since we are finishing out Matthew. The Spirit was really strong and I've already used the mormon messages a lot. We use the Thanksgiving one to talk to people and it's a great asset. Thanks! Thursday night it started dumping rain which was SO awesome! We ended up needing to go in like 10 minutes early because of how bad it was, but it got so bad that we literally couldn't see two inches outside the car, so Elder T slowed down and I felt us go onto the grass! We ended up on the side of the road! It was so cool! We were close to the apartment so we were able to get back safely and enjoy the rain. I LOVE the rain here! 
Friday we had an awesome lesson with E and L. We brought our cardboard cutouts of the Plan of Salvation and taught it to them. They were really receptive and we asked E to be baptized again and he said he wants to come a few times to church before he commits to anything but otherwise he is in. He's doing really well. They also gave us ribs which were super tasty. We told them that we might be getting moved out of the area and he was upset with that and wanted our "bishop's" number so he could tell him we needed to stay, so we actually did give him President Slaughter's number so he could call. That should be cool. We also taught a part-member dude, but I don't think he's really interested so we will see what happens this week. It was also like 34 degrees so we were freezing cold and all of our evening appointments fell through, but we survived. 
Saturday was pretty cool too. We had dinner with another part-member family and they are super nice. The husband is a member and hasn't been to church in forever, and the wife is from Mexico and doesn't speak hardly any English, but he doesn't speak Spanish! It's pretty funny! Elder T mostly talked to him and talked to her in Spanish most of the night. It was super fun to use my Spanish and I told her about what we do and she was really impressed. They fed us amazing Mexican food as well and they were really happy we came over. We are definitely sending the Spanish missionaries over there. For some reason I used my Spanish like 5 times this week and I did pretty well. I set up a lesson for the Zone Leaders in Spanish and talked with a few more people that didn't know any English. I was completely honest with the lady on Saturday night and told her everytime I didn't understand because I didn't want to accidently confirm myths about Mormons that aren't true just because I don't understand what she said and just nod my head, but in the hour or so that we were with her I only didn't understand her like 4 times, so that was good. We also had Stake Conference which was awesome. It was all centered around member missionary work and the youth. President and Sister Slaughter spoke and they both did an AMAZING job. President Slaughter is such a good teacher and everyone loved him. He's funny, super smart, and has a powerful testimony.We are very blessed to have him. 
Sunday was crazy too. At Stake Conference they made all the changes. Our ward surprisingly didn't get changed that much. We only lost a section of it and the rest remained. We didn't lose a single person we were working with and it is a section that has never had much going, so it didn't affect us a lot. The Zone split down the 35, so now Elder V, Sister J, Elder L, Elder W, and Elder S are all in a different Zone now. Elder Corbridge and Elder Villa-Real gave talks and they were great. Elder Corbridge gave an unbelievable talk and he opened very seriously, "What do you really want? What do you think about the most?" They were very penetrating questions and they he used a bunch of scriptures that point out that the ONE thing that matters most and what we should desire is to be cleansed from our sins and enjoy all of the fruits of the Atonement. Some of it was over my head, but it was really good. He talked about how it's all about having the Holy Ghost with us and keeping our covenants so that we can be endowed with the power of God. It was really powerful. You will have to read all of my notes on it someday. We also got our transfer call from President Slaughter. We actually already knew what was happening since the moving Elders told us earlier that day, but we had our knowledge confirmed. Elder T is leaving and becoming a Zone Leader at the UT campus Singles Ward, the most coveted area in the mission, and I'm staying! I'm super pumped to stay. We also found out that it will be a car share with the new Zone Leaders so we will split the car and bike half the time. It will be interesting to see how that works out. Oh, I'm also training a brand new missionary, so that should be pretty fun. I already know his name, but obviously nothing else about him. I'm a little nervous. It will be fun to go down with Elder W

to the training meeting. I'm sorry I don't have more time to write the 19 most important things I've learned in my life or write a few things I'm thankful for, but I hope you all know that I know the church is true and I'm thankful for the chance to be a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. I love you all!
Elder Pew