Thursday, February 20, 2014

February 10th and 17th, 2014

February 10th, 2014
Dear family,
Can you believe that?! This Friday is my year mark for my mission call. That seems like a few months ago. Holy cow. This was another great week although not as much happened as last week. We put up similar numbers but that means less and less to me. We have had so many lessons lately that I have developed some new key indicators for us. We just split the member present and other lessons into two categories: progressing and not progressing lessons. A progressing lesson counts if we feel we helped them be motivated to act on their commitments. It's one thing to meet the requirements for a lesson, and another to help them be persuaded by the Spirit to act. We were fairly successful at that this week.
Monday we had a quick lesson with the Ds but A wasn't home like he said he would be so we just taught his mom really quickly and set up a return appointment. We stopped by S too and shared a thought with him and worked things out for a lesson and mutual the next day. 
Tuesday was pretty solid. We had a lesson with M and she is coming along fairly well and it has seemed to really help to have fellowship for her. We were suppose to help the Ds with their fence but it was cold and muddy so we postponed it for later. We had dinner with the As and they brought S to dinner too and then we had a lesson with him. We taught him the Restoration and then had some extra time before our ride was there so we reviewed with him and made up a game in the gym where he played around the world against me but you had to answer a question about the lesson before you shot. He is doing awesome and he really liked mutual. He is such a good kid. We also stopped by the Fs.
Wednesday was pretty good. We had a lesson with E and he was doing much better. He was happy to see us and we taught him about seeking the kingdom of God first. He said us coming over really helps him and brings the Spirit so we set up a time to come back on Friday. We went with Bro J that night and got Bro F a cake and took it to him for his birthday and shared a quick scripture with them. They were really thankful for us bringing that by and we left Bro J to continue to develop a friendship with them.
Thursday we had a lesson with the Ds and we taught them the Restoration. It went pretty well and they seemed to understand everything that we taught. Sister D is a really good lady and I think she will catch fire. She loves God and is constantly helping people around her. She said she has no use trying to please people and all she cared about is pleasing God. It reminded me of Mosiah 18:10 so we read that and I invited her to be baptized but she said she is Methodist and has different beliefs (we haven't found any yet) but she is open-minded and is willing to learn more. They committed to come to church and to read from the Book of Mormon. That was really all that we were able to accomplish on Thursday.
Friday was a fun day. We had exchanges and Elder W came here (he is our district leader). We had a pretty solid day planned but the lessons didn't go as well as we hoped. We had a lesson with J. He listened to the CD so we made him a new one, so I guess we'll see how he likes that. We had a lesson with E and we felt like we should talk about Joseph Smith and watch the Restoration DVD. We showed up and they were really happy to see us and I just love those two. We got talking about Joseph Smith and he was like, I just want to see kinda where he started and what his story was. Me and Elder W just looked at each other and we put on the Restoration. The Spirit hit me pretty strongly so I hope they felt it too and they enjoyed it. We were expecting to have to commit him to pray to know he was a prophet but he just told us he accepts him as a prophet. We also had lessons with R and J.
Saturday we helped the Ds with their fence again because someone keeps knocking parts of down as we finish other parts. We were patching a part by S's trailer and he came out and helped and then we asked if we could share a lesson with them. We went back to the D's house and the five of us had a sweet lesson about the importance of scripture study and they all re-committed to read and come to church. It was a neat experience to teach two investigators at once.
Sunday was pretty stressful. We spent a lot of time on Saturday making sure everyone had rides and everything and then 5 minutes into church we realized our WML was there but he was suppose to have S. We were pretty worried and right after the sacrament we ran out and called the Ds to see if they left yet and if they could get S. Sis D said she was going to come anyways but she felt really sick and she sounded like she was so we let them off the hook. We decided to just go back in and we went back in the chapel and Shane was actually sitting on our row. A (a really cool 16 year old) went to pick him up and waited for him to get ready and brought him. The deacons seem to like him and he likes them. It's great to see. The Fs were a no-show again and E had to stay home and take care of L. At church Bro R told us his non-member daughter was with them for the day and that he was worried that she wasn't baptized and he asked what to do to help. We weren't sure what to say since she usually lives in C and we didn't really know the situation but I felt prompted to just ask if we could meet at like 4 that day. We went there after church and his daughter was there (she's 14) and she was quiet but she said she loved church. The Mia-Maids did an amazing job fellowshipping her and saw her after sacrament and went up and introduced themselves. She loved that and she wants to learn more. It was a tough situation since we had no idea what to do going in, but we really followed the Spirit and everything naturally came up and we got her address so missionaries can go by. We had a lesson on the Book of Mormon because it sounds like her mom likely won't support her going at all so I figured if she isn't able to consistently be taught, the Book of Mormon will give her a great place to start and a solid testimony and things will work out. She is a great young women and I could easily discern that she is ready for the gospel. She easily accepted a commitment to read the Book of Mormon and to be taught more and work towards baptism. It was cool. We felt prompted to go by the L family and they were so glad we stopped by. They said it was the perfect time. We listened to part of the "Come, Join with Us" talk and talked about the blessings of the gospel. The Spirit was really strong as each of them bore testimony of the church and you could just feel their desire to experience the full blessings of the gospel. We asked for referrals and they didn't have anyone specific except Sis L described someone at work that is a less-active member that I immediately recognized as Sis K (S's mom) and she actually works with her has given her a few rides home and they talked about how they are members. She also found out that day she is her visiting teacher. It's awesome! What a testimony that God has a plan for everyone. We finally get to teach her son, she warms up to the gospel and then a sweet lady moves in and works with her and develops a great relationship with ends up being her visiting teacher. This is their time! Anyways, that was a cool experience and they are the nicest family and such a good example. They remind me of the Ss a lot. Very humble and obedient and desire the gospel to be everything for their family.
In other news we tried by the Hs and texted them almost every day this week and we didn't make any progress but in ward council a few leaders said they asked Bro H and he is crossing his fingers that everything works out this time. We need to get her interviewed and we can pretty much do the rest so hopefully it works out this Saturday.
I know that this church is true and we have the fulness of the gospel. The Book of Mormon is true. Christ is our Savior and He lives, and that is the glorious news of the gospel. Joseph Smith is a prophet and we have the priesthood power and authority to act in God's name. Thanks for everything you guys do!
Elder Pew

February 17th, 2014

Dear family,
This was such an eventful week and I don't have a lot of time so I am just going to blow through some of the very crucial things that happened this week. Amazing week though!
So I'll start with the baptism of T. We were able to make very slow progress throughout the week and we found out that the family didn't want any program at all and we got an official time so we coordinated all of that with the ward mission leader and Bishop. We set up the baptismal interview and she easily passed. We got everything together for the baptism on Saturday and set up the G building. The Spirit was really strong at the baptism. It was a small baptism, but it worked. It was just us, Bishop, Bro R, and their family. We had a prayer, baptism, confirmation, and closing remarks and that was it. Like I said though, the Spirit was really strong and it was evident that despite the families struggles in the gospel they really loved each other, so that was cool. I felt a total feeling of peace and fulfillment. The Spirit also confirmed that this was one reason me and Elder W were together when we were because we handled the situation the way it needed to be handled.
Next, we had a great week with the Ds. We had a lesson on the Plan of Salvation and they followed everything well and Sis D didn't really agree with Resurrection or the kingdoms of glory but we showed her evidence in the Bible and she seemed more sold on the idea. We had things set up with her to take S to church to knock out two birds there but S had baseball. She still came to church and had a great experience and the Relief Society did a great job. We had a lesson with S and he enjoyed mutual and he's coming along really well except this new baseball problem. We will have to figure out that one. M had a great week and we had two lessons with her including a FHE last night with the Ts that went well. At church the lesson was on baptism and she broke down and basically talked about how badly she wanted to get baptized but she has to wait because of some issues. A few women who were in there did a great job of comforting her including J, the recent-convert who has recently come back to church and wants to meet with us regularly. She is amazing! I love her a lot and I have barely started to get to know her. I just can't say enough about her. After class she went over and hugged M and comforted her despite the many trials that J is going through. It was beautiful. Then she texted us later and told us to let her know if she could help in any way.
E and J are still struggling to progress and we will likely discontinue visiting them frequently.
We had a lesson set up that we had to cancel because the ward and stake leaders set up a visit to their house. We were excited about that but when we went over the next day they told us that no one had stopped by and they never got a phone call. They were just sitting there until 9 p.m. waiting for someone to come! That broke my heart. We found out in our meetings with the ward that there was scheduling mess-up. That was a bummer, but we had a great object lesson on the gift of the Holy Ghost. We had a bunch of paper balls spread over the floor and blind-folded the kids and the first time someone would give them directions but only every 30 seconds. It took them a long time and sometimes they would touch the paper anyways and lose. Then we had them do it again, but this time the person giving them direction could do it the entire time. This illustrated the difference between the power and gift of the Holy Ghost. There are so many parallels to draw and the kids loved it. H was actually listening very intently and at the end we asked them each about baptism again. E said sure, A said no, but H said she wasn't sure. I could see it in her that she wanted it. She was torn because she doesn't know what would happen but I could tell for at least that minute she thought it would be worth it. We invited them to pray on that. They have got to start coming to church though to see how it will help them. They are so amazing!
On a much better note we had a really cool experience in our PEC meeting. Everyone pretty much knew that I was going to leave so when they were going around the circle asking if anyone had anything they needed when it got to me Bishop H said "thank you Elder Pew for everything you have done. Your service has been much appreciated." I said thanks but then it was still quiet and I was looking down, so I looked up at everyone and everyone was looking at me and nodding and looking at me intently with looks of gratitude on their face. It was kinda awkward so I just smiled and thanked them.
We sat around waiting for our transfer call and it didn't come until like 9:30. I was starting to get second thoughts about the possibility of staying, but I thought I was just telling myself that because that is what I wanted. Finally we got the call and it went something like this: me "Hello this is Elder Pew." them "How are you?" me "good" them "any predictions?" me "I don't even want to" them "what do you want to happen?" me "I think we both want to stay but.. them "well let's do that then." me "okay." them "alright have a great night." me "okay, you too." them "bye." I hung up and I was super confused. The whole time I was waiting for them to tell me they were kidding but they never did. Elder W even called them back and asked if they were joking and they weren't, so we are staying! I can't believe it! It is so crazy. No one we have talked to has ever heard of this happening. I am super excited and we are going to work hard to get tons done. Our entire district is staying the same. It's so crazy! I am so grateful. We found out today that President Slaughter is making some major changes too. One of the assistants is now just a normal missionary training a new missionary, a few zone leaders are becoming district leaders to lead out in example districts, as well as some other shocking changes. President Slaughter is really raising the bar here and sometimes it's pretty overwhelming because of how far below his bar I am but he is so incredible. He has changed the culture of the entire mission. Crazy stuff. 
I know that God lives. He knows us, He loves us, and He is aware of each of our needs. I know that the gospel and the Atonement has the power to change lives. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and I have read every page yet again and I know that it is true. I know that this is Christ's church and living the gospel brings true happiness.

Elder Pew

Thursday, February 6, 2014

January 27th and February 3rd, 2014

January 27th, 2014

Dear family,
This was a pretty solid week, although a little slower again. M's sister got hurt in H so she had to fly out to H and we weren't able to see her this week. We have some great stuff going though. 
Monday we had a lesson with J. We had a lesson later in the week and it turns out he had a pretty crazy week.
Tuesday we found out that Sister K, S's grandma, was in the hospital possibly about to die. Her family told us she was heavily sedated and kept ripping her tubes out and she couldn't talk or anything. We went first thing to give her a blessing. We found her in better shape than they told us and she was able to talk to us and shake our hands. We talked with her for a bit and then we gave her a blessing. It was a great blessing and I felt like promising her a full recovery if she desired to return to activity and love and serve God. She was very thankful and promised us she would come back to church. It was a neat experience. We went and talked with S and his mother on Sunday (Sis K's daughter) and they said that after the blessing she started recovering and that she was about to be released from the hospital. I was so happy that they noticed the power of the priesthood and S loves telling us about his day. We encouraged him to come to church and he wants to go to mutual every week. I told the ward council of an idea I've had with him where he gets picked up early for mutual and taken to the church and we teach for like 30 minutes before mutual so he can work towards baptism. He is a great kid and if the ward reaches out he will be baptized soon. We had a really good lesson with the Fs that night as well. We asked them to tell us where they were and Sis F specifically how she felt. She told us that she wants to try it out again but honestly the hardest part is getting everyone up and ready by eight. She said that she couldn't force the older girls to go, so we directed the rest of the lesson at them. We asked them what it was going to take and I bore the most heartfelt and sincere testimony of my mission about how the gospel will help them even at this age. They still want nothing to do with the church, but they really like us. We invited them to read scriptures and pray as a family each day and told them we will text them a few verses each night for them to read. I don't know if they have been doing it, but they are awesome. Bro F told me he saw a side of me he hadn't seen and that he really felt what I was saying. That was good to hear. They are such a great family.
Wednesday we had district meeting and that was pretty sweet. We went to J's house and had a good lesson with him on the plan of salvation. He has a hard time believing some things, but then he always tells himself that he needs to have a more open mind. Him and his wife are such good people and so nice. I love them both. We had dinner with the S's . Sister S gave a killer talk about her conversion and how important it is to help recent converts and that without fellowship she wouldn't have progressed in the gospel. It was very powerful. She is awesome and they are an amazing family!
Thursday we decided to take R back to the tent people to see if he could help them any more, but it was freezing cold that night. We actually got a text that we should go home if we didn't feel comfortable driving in the freezing cold and occasional ice. We took R there anyways and luckily they were inside somewhere and had a place to stay. Since we had him with us we decided to go to E's house so they could meet. We asked E what he's thought about baptism and he said he doesn't feel like he's there yet but he does foresee that in his future. We just can't seem to express to him enough how important it is and how badly he needs it. He told us he thinks the Book of Mormon is great and so he has a testimony of that, but he hasn't been to church and he hasn't read any more. R said some interesting stuff, and they got along pretty well and R told E how important his baptism has been to him, so that was great. We went to R's parents house afterward because they live close to E and we ended up giving R's mom a blessing because she had surgery. I wanted to try to teach them, because they were really nice, but R took us out of there before we could do anything.
Friday we woke up to snow, everywhere. It was crazy! It wasn't deep at all but it was the first time in like 3 years here. We were told to not go out until they cleared the roads of ice. It warmed up fairly quickly though and we were able to go out around 1. Not much happened except we had a lesson with R and J about patriarchal blessings. Me and Elder W have done a lot of studying about the 12 tribes of Israel and the importance of everything, so we explained it pretty well. It was actually strange since I was fulfilling part of my patriarchal blessing by learning about the 12 tribes and patriarchal blessings. 
Saturday we went to a breakfast with the Js that the Fs invited them to for a fundraiser for H's team. We were hoping that we would be able to talk to their family. The Fs were pretty busy. Oh well. Bro R made us a CD with a few chapters from the Book of Mormon and talks that I picked for J to listen to. We picked those up and then had a solid lesson with J. He really wants to continue to learn about our church and he said he would listen to the CD soon. We listened to part of one talk and then ended up discussing things with him for another hour. It was a bit long but we hashed out some important things. He is a great guy and we are going to bring a family history consultant next time to help his wife with some of her family tree. We had a few lessons fall through the rest of the night.
Sunday was pretty good but we have just really struggled to get people to church. We spent a lot of time Saturday reminding people about church but we only had one person. It was Z, a young man whose father is a member. Bro R brought him and he is a really nice kid. He plays lacrosse so we talk about that a lot. Hopefully we can actually teach him soon. Bro G (EQ president) told us our efforts aren't in vain because Bro F told him that he really likes us. It was sweet. Elder W is worried that when I leave all the investigators will just stop completely since they all have really good friendships with me. I certainly hope not but I'm glad I've been able to make such good friends with such amazing people. I really love the people here. 
Anyways, I know that this church is true. That we have the fulness of the gospel and that it brings true happiness when we live it. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and incredible. I know that the priesthood authority is so key to leading and guiding the true church of Christ and that is what separates us from other churches. Thanks for all the support!
Elder Pew

***A sweet family just emailed these photos.  They had Elder Pew over the day after his birthday so they had a birthday celebration.  He loved it!  So grateful to the awesome people there taking care of my missionary! 

February 3rd, 2014

Dear family,
Okay obviously the subject line is a complete lie (I watched my first Superbowl was the subjectline). I just wanted to freak you all out that I was watching the Super Bowl and none of you did. I honestly didn't think about it a lot and I forgot until like 30 minutes ago to find out who won. Anyways, this was the best week in recorded history of our area! It was absolutely nuts! I hope I can fit everything in because SO much happened and all of it was amazing!
Monday was about the only slow day of the week. It was really bad weather and we couldn't get a hold of anyone we were planning to. We did contact a cool guy named R who said he would be interested in going to lunch and discussing our religion with us. Hopefully it happens.
Tuesday is where things really picked up. We were planning to help a lady fix her fence at 2:30 and we wanted to go to J's with a family history consultant, but we also had a lesson with M set up and so we spent quite a bit of time calling everyone to set everything straight. We called Bro A and asked if he could come to our lesson with M and he said he could and then he called back and asked if he could give us rides around for the morning since it was really bad weather. We got a text telling us not to go out until the roads cleared but we spent so much time setting everything up we decided to go anyways. Bro A took us to our lesson with J and the family history consultants were already working with J's wife on her family history. They have been really awesome. We had a good discussion with J and he has enjoyed the CD so far. We tried showing him how we need a spiritual witness and even though we have records that prove Jesus of Nazareth is a real person, we have to have faith in who he said he is and what that means for all of us. I also found a sweet talk by President Uchtdorf about gaining a personal testimony from 2006 we can show him. He's awesome. M wasn't home which was disappointing but Bro A took us to lunch. He is great. We went to the service project and invited the rest of the district to help, but only the sisters came. It was pretty awesome. I loved the service. We went to the place where we were fixing the fence and S lives right there and him and his mom got home while we were working so S came to help us too. A's mother is super funny and old and she just has no idea what she was doing. We spent like 30 minutes just listening to her trying to figure out what to do. We patched up her fence and picked up a bit of trash and finished by 5 and told her we would come back to fix the last part we didn't. She was super thankful. We set everything up for S to get a ride early to mutual and we had a lesson with him at the church before mutual. He is a great kid. He understands what we taught him about faith in Jesus Christ. We invited him to be baptized and he accepted for March 1st! We also taught him to pray and he said a really sincere prayer and thanked God for our kindness and helping him out. It was powerful.
Wednesday we had Zone Conference with the Assistants and President Slaughter. It was amazing. We did role plays for like 2 hours on different situations. We practiced diagnosing needs and raising their vision, combating arguments, and knowing who we are and acting accordingly. We role played how if they have a specific answer to just focus on that and not worry so much about points in a lesson. To reply to arguments we practiced just being very kind and making the other person feel good and inviting them to learn more. It was a very unique way of doing things. President gave us an amazing training on repentance and changed the fundamental questions that the gospel answers to Who am I? Why am I like this? and How can I change? He talked about how we are basically all scumbags by nature and would be without the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It was a different take on who we are then I've seen in the past, but it was cool. We went straight from that to a rescheduled lesson with M and we went to Bro A's house and taught her there. She said she is not giving this up and will do anything to get baptized this time. She is awesome! I hope the ward will welcome her with open arms.
Thursday was a historic day. We went back to the D's to finish up the fence and again A's mother was super thankful. She asked if we wanted to go to her house to wash up and we accepted and asked if we could share a spiritual thought. I brought my tiny copy of the Book of Mormon with me and talked about how everything we do in the church is to follow the example of Christ. We talked about how service is one of those ways. She told us a few of her concerns with the church and we discussed them and invited them to church and to learn more about the gospel. She accepted both easily and seems pretty golden. She really likes us and invited us to her cabin in the Rocky Mountains in June or something on her time share so she has definitely warmed up to us. We went straight from that to change and then to a lesson with M and Sis S came again and it was a great lesson. She likes Sis S and she came to church! She is cool. She also took us to Rudy's, some real Texas BBQ. It is incredible. Brisket on bread with some amazing BBQ sauce. It is legendary. We went to a lesson with the S's and G is still not interested but we felt inspired to talk about the priesthood and he said it was cool to learn about but he's still missing something. They are a really nice couple. We also had a lesson with S really quick and we asked his mom for permission to work towards his baptism and she said absolutely. She is great. Hopefully we can help her come to some lessons and get her back to church too. I would be ecstatic if we could get the Ds to pick up S and his mom and they can all help each get to church since they live so close and S and his mom don't have a car. We dropped into the Fs and they had a lot of stories to tell us for some reason so we only had like 5 minutes to share a thought about the purpose of life and they are still struggling but just an awesome family. They are awesome! So if you kept track, that was 5 lessons with a member present in one day. It was so awesome and I am so thankful to Heavenly Father for allowing us to have such success.
Friday we weekly planned since we didn't have time Thursday and we did a spoof of Trale Lewous for our song. Nobody got it but everyone loved it. We felt inspired to stop waiting around and praying for the Hs to pick a baptismal date for T, so we decided to pick an inspired date and fast for that to happen. We decided on Feb 15th. We headed off for the day. One of the sisters in our district needed a blessing, and I gave it. It was incredible. I honestly can't describe how I felt but I'm very thankful for the priesthood and the Spirit because I know there is nothing I could have come up with to comfort her but the Spirit was right there with me helping me to know what to say. I witness the reality of both the priesthood and the Holy Ghost and how real they are. We ended up having a lesson with the Ss and B and they both went really well. They are awesome. We actually had a lesson with J the recent convert of 10 months. She is awesome! She told us everything she is going through and she has quite a few trials and she said she has re-evaluated her life and wants to strengthen what she calls her "weak faith" and then she describes how she just "knows" the church is true and doesn't know how to describe it any other way. We told her she described to us strong faith so she is doing fine. She feels like she doesn't know any doctrine so we are going to meet every week to help her. She is an amazing lady and she loves basketball! She played with a semi-pro team in the area and I want to play her sometime!
Saturday we had a few lessons. We had lessons with J, R, and the S, all RC or LA members. We also had a lesson with J and he is still having a tough time with "faith" but he's coming along and wants to make it out to church soon.
Sunday we had an amazing day! We decided to fast for T and her family for the baptism date of February 15. M was the only one to come to church which was a little frustrating, but we had an amazing day at church. Sister R got up and bore her testimony on missionaries and thanked us specifically for all we do. It was awesome! We have seen a big increase in the ward's prayers for the missionaries and I think it is a huge reason for our success this week. After church ended Brother H came up to us and told us his wife set a date of February 15th for T's baptism. We were absolutely stunned. In our excitement we didn't ask for a time or any details but we told him we would plan and schedule the whole thing. We walked out of there and we were so happy. I was absolutely filled with gratitude with the miracle that had just taken place. We went into a room and I offered a prayer of thanks for allowing us to be a part of this miracle. When we came out suddenly everyone was talking to us and telling us how amazing they think we are and we were on top of the world. In PEC Bishop H offered a prayer specifically for me and Elder W and thanked us for our efforts and asked that the ward be more conscious of opportunities to share the gospel which was powerful and the ward is very impressed with the many people we have been helping. It is amazing. We didn't even have enough room on our progress record and we taught 20 lessons this week. I don't even know what to say it was such an amazing week. Just pray that everything will continue to work out and we can really help these people progress towards baptism. Thanks for all the support!

I know that this gospel is true. I know that with faith and according to the will of God all things are possible. I know that fasting is a real principle and commandment. I know that the Spirit is real and can guide us as long as we open our ears to hear. I know that the priesthood power is back on the earth and I am humbled to hold it. I know that it was restored to the earth through Joseph Smith and that the Book of Mormon is true and is the evidence of our church being led by prophets today. I know that through Jesus Christ we will all be resurrected. That through his sacrifice and our obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel we can stand spotless before God. I know that through the priesthood power families can be eternal. I know that the hope in Jesus Christ motivates us to do good to all and that we can always rely on him. Good luck and have a great week!
Elder Pew
At the temple with a guy they taught and baptized!

The pond behind their apartment where they like to skip rocks.