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.