Monday, January 20, 2014

January 13th and 20th, 2014

January 13th, 2014

Dear family,
This was a solid week. I'm a little short on time today, but I will do my best to get all the information out. We are so excited to be staying here!
Monday night was pretty miserable. It was freezing cold and we were on the bikes. I didn't wear good socks so my feet were super cold and they were sore from P-day as well, so that didn't help. We didn't have any set lessons, but we were pretty cold and miserable so we decided to go by J and we had a little lesson with him. It was pretty sweet too because since it doesn't really fulfill our purpose to find, teach, and baptize when we teach members, so after we had a lesson and the Spirit was there we asked who he knew that needed the gospel and since he knows a ton of people from his preaching days and other things he ended up giving us 5 referrals. Only one lived in the area and so far nothing has come of them but it was cool to see immediate blessings of trying to maintain our purpose in a recent-convert visit.
Tuesday was a pretty long day. We had a lesson with M and M right off the bat. Marilyn had a bunch of little questions but I was a little frustrated with them and it was cool to see how the Holy Ghost was helping me to answer her questions and she ended up really liking the things we talked about. She likes the idea that sacrament is a reminder of our baptisms and likes the idea of three kingdoms of glory, even though the first time we taught that she didn't like it. She will read the Book of Mormon though, so we continue to teach her. The lesson with M went well. We taught the Restoration and she loves the church and basically said she likes the Book of Mormon way more than the Bible. She is doing awesome. The rest of the day we didn't have anything and it got really cold that night. E gave us some gloves that are really warm and I had my thermal garments so I was fine, but Elder W was freezing. No one was home or able to talk but we were able to laugh it off pretty well. We decided to stop by one last person at like 8:45 that was pretty close to our apartment and we decided to take a back road that we usually can't use with the car to their apartment but we ended up on the backside of the complex which is actually where they lived. Unfortunately they didn't have a pathway to the hallway they lived in, so we decided to hop the bushes next to the railing and climb the railing to get to their apartment to save like a 5 minute walk all the way around. I climbed over the bush and then grabbed the railing to climb over and I was stuck. I pulled myself away and realized that the railing had wet paint on it. Can you believe that? The one fence we try to climb is being painted at 8:45 on a freezing cold night. It was terrible luck. So I got paint all over E's gloves and my really nice winter coat. We were laughing so hard though since we couldn't catch any breaks that night. Plus, I accidently touched my face with the gloves and so I had black paint on my face and I didn't know it until I got home and it was everywhere but Elder W didn't tell me and I asked like two people on the way home if they needed help and they all gave me weird looks and then I realized why. It was a funny night.
Wednesday we had a lesson with A, B, and the D family. We shared missionary messages with all of them and asked for referrals. B is doing amazing! He understands the gospel so well and he had already invited a friend to church, but unfortunately he got sick so he couldn't come. Lots of people have told us how impressed they are with him. It's sweet especially since the ward council was somewhat doubting his readiness. We ended up getting out of the D's house at like 8:45 so we had a really long bike ride but the sisters told us they were in the area and could give us a ride home right then so we took them up on the offer. It was really nice of them.
Thursday was transfers so we continued the tradition of taking Round Rock out to lunch. We studied with them and then took them to Subway since we had gift cards and coupons. Old Settlers wanted us to take them to transfer meeting but neither of us needed to go so we tried convincing them to not go, but they really wanted to so we had to take them. It was fun to see all of my former companions and see the new companionships. There was a bit of a buzz when they announced me and Elder W were staying so that was cool. Elder T is staying at UT campus, Elder V is heading to San Antonio, and Elder S is staying in S and training a new missionary. We went to E's after the meeting and we went right in and had a really good lesson with them. He said that he read from the Book of Mormon and really liked it and confirmed that he wants to get baptized but doesn't feel ready. We explained that he can be ready if he follows through on the commitments we leave him. He said that he was going to come to church too. We headed off to J's house and we ended up having a great lesson with him too. His wife still brings us apple juice and cookies everytime we come by and they are really nice. He is so awesome! It's funny to watch him struggle with himself because he knows the church is true but he doesn't seem to know what to do about it or to admit it, but I'm confident one of these days he will finally realize he needs to do something about it. We had dinner at the K's house and they brought a friend that Bro K has been talking about the gospel with, so that was cool. The guy's name was C but he has some issues with religion. We shared a lesson about the Book of Mormon but then he wanted to know about Joseph Smith so we ended up back-tracking and teaching the restoration. He wasn't super receptive but the Ks were great and I saw how much better it is to have a member fellowship like that. If he was ready I have no doubt he would be a solid investigator.
Friday was awesome. We got to go to San Antonio because Elder Bednar was in town for a stake conference. We knew about this weeks ago but we weren't suppose to make it public for security reasons. We had some talks we were suppose to read about learning by faith, and conversion. Basically the main thing to get out of it was that we need to act in order to strengthen our faith. They were really good talks and I highly recommend them. They are called “Learning by Faith,” “Ask in Faith,” and “Testimony and Conversion” or something like that. All by Elder Bednar. It was really cool to be in his presence. He was really funny and really showed his personality. Instead of just talking he had everyone particpating so that we could learn by faith as we talked about learning by faith. It was interesting. He said a few things that were really cool. First he said that members write too many “large plates” by simply writing things that were said. He said to write “small plates” and the things that the Holy Ghost teaches us while we listen with our hearts. I learned so much more but you will have to ask for more details some other time. It was incredible. He is amazing!
Saturday we weekly planned. We also had a quick lesson with S about the Book of Mormon and asked him to read a scripture from the Book of Mormon. He is a really good kid. We also stopped by E and he had us come in and we had an incredible lesson with them. We talked about baptism a lot and L even said that she wants to be baptized too. It was a really inspiring lesson and they are just the best people ever. I have such a deep love for them! They weren't able to make it to church so that was too bad, but they will come next week. They also gave us some really good chicken and egg salad.
Sunday was sweet. No one was able to make it to church but the talks in church were awesome. All about fellowshipping and making people comfortable. The ward council is really pleased with the efforts we have made and we seem to have their trust. We have been really successful with reactivation even though that's not our calling but it's been cool to see. I really love this ward. We had a really good lesson with the L family and they love us. They are such a good family and we are so happy to be a part of their reactivation. Sunday after dinner, we came out of the family's house and there was a huge dog eating out of a garbage bag on the side of the road. I looked at it and I thought it was a fox because I thought it had a white underside, so I told Elder W that it was a fox and then he took off running. Unfortunately this made the dog jump up and chase after us, so I had to start hauling booty to get to the car. Luckily the car was unlocked and I got there just in time. Then we realized it was just a huge dog, but it was so freaky. We had so much adrenaline. We drove past it again and we realized that it did have rabbies so that was still pretty freaky.
On a more serious note, I have come to know how important the gift of the Holy Ghost is and how real it is. I know that that is why baptism is so essential so that we can go to the Celestial kingdom and have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost to help us on the path. I know the Book of Mormon is true and that it was written for us in this day and has a pure translation and that is why there is such power behind it. I love you all and thanks for all you do!
Elder Pew

January 20th 2014
Dear family,
This was a pretty good week, although it was a bit slower than normal.
Monday was a pretty slow evening. We didn't have any set lessons and we tried tracting (Elder W's second time) and telling people about family history and the new family search. There wasn't any more visible success but we felt like it was the right thing to do. We made some cookies for M since her son Noah was sick, but the cookies we had had peanut butter in them and it turns out she is allergic to peanuts, so that was a bust. That was about it for that evening.
Tuesday was a pretty great day. We had a lesson with M right off the bat and we brought Sis S and it was great. She bore a pretty powerful testimony of the influence the Holy Ghost has played as she has tried to be more active again and how much happier she is. At church Sis S said she was really happy to come with and she really loved our lesson and said we did an amazing job. That was sweet. Elder W's tire went flat at the same spot again, but this time we had the equipment and we were able to patch the hole and keep going. It was pretty funny since it was identical to last time. We went to J's house and ended up having a pretty good lesson with him. He feels bad about never being healthy enough to read from the Book of Mormon but we suggested giving him a CD with the Book of Mormon on it. I think it will really help him. We had dinner with the J and Bro J is the bomb! He is the new 2nd counselor to the EQ and he is already helping us so much (since he is in charge of missionary related items). He has worked hard with the Fs and now we can actually get updates on what is going on with the ward. It was awesome! It was like an hour bike ride from there to E's house and we ended up teaching him the Word of Wisdom and he says he has a few things to he wants to work on but that he does want to get there. He hasn't read any more of the Book of Mormon, but he has been really busy. It was successful though.
Wednesday was pretty great. We had zone meeting and me and Elder W we actually were asked to give a 20 minute training on changing shaky baptismal dates to set dates. It was a really tough topic and at first I had no idea where to go with it, but we pulled together a training where I learned a ton in preparation, so hopefully the zone benefited. I won't go into too much detail, but I examined quite a few different examples of people who are baptized in the Book of Mormon and made a list of their attributes. The one that reoccurred every time was desire. So I redefined desire as deciding for yourself that you want to get baptized, and that this is what we need our investigators to do. Then we dove into desire and talked about how we can help them to do this. We examined Alma 22 where Aaron teaches king Lamoni's father and looked for how he helped him increase his desire. I found a sweet talk from Elder Oaks about desire and he said something like "When we have a vision of what we can become, our desires and our capacity to act increase enormously." We had everyone insert an investigator's name in each pronoun and gave everyone a few minutes to think about that investigator and what their potential really is and their great qualities. We challenged everyone to help their investigators see their potential and promised them that by doing so it would increase their desire to act and change their shaky dates to set baptismal dates. It went well. At lunch everyone was asking us about stories, so we told a bunch of stories which was fun. Then they asked me if I could send a zone text with a quote from Elder W every night, so I've been doing that since then. Oh and if you are worried, Elder W loves it. After zone meeting we had a lesson with M and Bro R came. We taught her the plan of salvation and she is progressing really well. She really wants this. We had a lesson with S really quickly and then he told us all about his day (we are really good friends with him). Then his mom came out and told us there was something we could do to help. She told us there were some people living in the woods right behind their trailer and that they needed help. It is kinda a weird situation since we can't really do anything ourselves other than try to teach them, so we told them we would do what we could. R knows the low-income housing situation really well so we waited for him to get back in town to work something out. That night we had a lesson with B and Bro A and Bro S came and it was a great lesson and then he was ordained to the Aaronic priesthood which was really cool to see. He is awesome!
Thursday we did service at the same place again, and it wasn't as cold so that was good. We weekly planned and our district has a tradition of sending each other weekly planning songs each week and last week we did a Joseph Smith rap that everyone loved so we did an encore performance this week called battle of the dispensations and I rapped about Brigham Young and Elder W rapped about Moses. It is pretty famous. Everyone is always waiting for our song. We had a lesson with the S and we challenged each of them to work on a Christ-like attribute and Sis S's little brother and A's older brother who is our age and inactive was there and he ended up going to church on Sunday so that was cool to see. He is a nice kid. We had Bible Study but only J showed up so that was tough, but he is awesome.
Friday we went to R's house and he was finally back. We had a really good lesson on repentance. We had a lesson with J that night , and E was back. J actually stepped up and defended Joseph Smith and the restoration which was pretty shocking and good to hear. It was a good lesson and we didn't back down and were pretty bold and she just needs to soften her heart a bit, but I think it's possible.
Saturday was awesome! B was going to the temple with the youth in the ward and getting driven by Bro A so we got to go with! The zone leaders just said "if you feel like it's productive" so that didn't help since we knew we wouldn't find anyone to teach, but B wanted us to come and it would feel mean to say that we had more effective things to do so after much prayer we decided to go. It was an amazing experience. Bro A is awesome too. He did a great job explaining some of things about the temple that we hadn't taught yet and so B felt comfortable going in. The San Antonio temple is really small but beautiful. You can hear the baptisms once you enter the temple and it has a ton of stain-glass windows which are beautiful (Emily's friend's dad did them). We got to be baptized and the youth were there so that was pretty cool. I had awhile to sit by myself and ponder and it was cool to think and pray over the first six months of my mission and think about how I can improve and what we can do for the people in this area. I also ended up doing everything there because they ended up one priesthood holder short so I witnessed, confirmed, recorded, was confirmed, and was baptized. It was a really great experience. B really loved it and said that he felt the Spirit the entire time. We have a picture of us three in front of the temple I will send next week. The evening was pretty slow and not many people were home.
Sunday was pretty great most of the time. Church was awesome except we only had one non-member there and that was a friend that B brought to church. He is awesome. B said he is pretty interested and hopefully we can set up a lesson with him. We also had so many people there from the fruits of our efforts but all of them are already members. We have recently reactivated or have helped Sis S, R, A, J, B, and Sister S, so we had a bunch of people with us. It's nice to know we are helping people out. The evening was pretty slow except we did find a former investigator who is really nice and wants us to come back, so hopefully that works out. 

Anyways, I know that this is Christ's church and that this is His work. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and that people are capable of changing. I also know that baptism is the GATE to eternal life. It is not the end. There is a reason Preach My Gospel and our recent-convert sheets talk about setting up addiction recovery classes when needed. The qualifications for baptism does not require perfection. Only desire, sincere repentance, and a willingness to serve and follow God until the end. I know that none of us would ever be perfect if it wasn't for Jesus Christ and that as we "hunger and thirst after righteousness" we can be made perfect through the atonement of Jesus Christ. Thanks for all the love and support!
Elder Pew