Wednesday, July 30, 2014

All of Elder Pew's July letters and a photo of him at the bottom of the post

July 7th, 2014
Dear family,
I just want to start by congratulating mom and dad on their anniversary! Both of you are great examples of both husband and wife, as well as father and mother. I'm grateful for the lives you have lived that led you to the temple so our family will live together in the Celestial Kingdom as long as we keep our covenants. Thank you for that and for your living testimonies of the importance of eternal families! This was an incredible week!
Monday we taught the Ks. They still hadn't watched that talk we gave them, so we decided to just watch it with them. B really liked it and she's really on to the idea that we have a modern-day prophet. T is just awesome. We invited them to the 4th of July breakfast and handed out a bunch more invitations for the breakfast. We finally had a lesson with D. Her husband just ran off and she is feeling alone. She has a great attitude and has been praying that God's will will be done. We taught her the Restoration, and she knows the Bible well. She committed to read the Book of Mormon and pray, return appointment, and we told her we would help in the yard. 
Tuesday we had to go out to Kerrville and Fredericksburg which was a fairly long drive but we were back before 3 and had a lesson with P. We taught them the Restoration again and he likes his new job. We also talked about people they know who would be receptive, but they basically said no one, so we went through the list of people invited to the baptism and got a few people to keep an eye on that aren't in the area but seem decent like K. We did a bit of tracting and stopped by some people but didn't get much else.
Wednesday was awesome. We had district meeting and our district is awesome! Soo big. We practiced teaching lesson 5 from chapter 3 because the church came out with a statement that investigators should be taught it before and after baptism now and missionaries will lead the new member lessons. It was fun and it's just a lively group of sisters and us and the Assistants. We had some errands to run, but we finished by dinner. My stomach was giving me grief, but I really wanted to visit Brother H. We stopped by and he was able to answer the door. He was doing really well and he said he felt normal. He re-read all of Moroni and has just been eating up the Book of Mormon. I love it! We had a really good discussion and I asked him if he believed the Book of Mormon was true and he said, "I surely do" (that is such a thing he would say if you knew him). A couple minutes later after the Spirit was really strong he said he has been reading this sticky-note in his Book of Mormon that says "pray to know if you should be baptized by the priesthood." He said, "I found my answer. It's yes." We were surprised but super happy. We asked him if he wanted to set a goal and he said probably the end of July or the beginning of August. We are SO excited! We walked out of there happier than ever and I was so thankful for that! He has really grown to love us. We talked with bishop and PEC and Bishop wants to go ahead and baptize him. Brother H went out of town, so he missed the breakfast and church, but we are visiting him tomorrow.
Thursday was kinda crummy. We spent a lot of time figuring out our truck because Elder P wanted us to. The estimate for the hood and the windshield came out to about $1400 and the bed-liner will be about $500. It's pretty crazy. It was really hot and we had three lessons that all fell through. It was definitely Satan attacking us after a great day with Brother H, but we got through it okay.
Friday was the breakfast. My stomach was feeling terrible again, so I didn't even eat which was sad because there was more breakfast food than I've ever seen before. Sister O made a barrel, literally a huge barrel of beans with tons of eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, pancakes, syrups, muffins, etc. Lots of members brought their friends. T and B really liked it. Tons of women were really good to B and Sister W sat with her the whole time. We just need a solid friend for T who will do the same. We had planned to go to Austin since there were a couple things that are pretty urgent up there, we felt like we should work since the white handbook says to maximize holidays since families are home. I don't really agree with that since no one wants to talk to missionaries on their one day off, but we did it anyways, and as I knew would happen, we had a lousy day where no one was home and the people who were didn't really want to talk to us. We came up with some pretty cool ideas to tie the 4th of July to the Restoration, but no one was interested. We did get to visit N. She really loves us a ton. We listened to a talk we left her and she said she had a Book of Mormon in Swahili. She has a testimony of the Book of Mormon. We tried talking about baptism, but she's wanting her eyes to get better before she does anything and she wants to learn more first, so we told her we would need to come by more often, she was totally okay with that! We went in at 8 to be safe. 
Saturday was awesome. We ended up helping the Rs clear their storage unit for the whole morning. That was tiring, but a good workout and we were able to proselyte the evening. We had a lesson with P. We had an awesome lesson with T and B and we brought Brother D. We taught fasting and tithing and they really liked the idea of fasting. They both wanted to do it, but only T  did it. T finished 1 Nephi, and I've never had such a good investigator, he has just brought us a lot of joy.
Sunday was pretty great too. T came to church and stayed for all three hours and liked it a lot. He told everyone that we were "God-sent" and he loves changes he's made. He's getting more fellowship and members are starting to get excited about who we are teaching. We had a lesson with a new guy named S, who is about 20 and really nice. I don't know how interested he is, but he was really curious about the Book of Mormon and he committed to read and we have an appointment Tuesday. 
So it was a really incredible week and we are hoping to cement Brother H's date and set T with one too this week, which will be awesome! I am so thankful for all that God has blessed us with. Sometimes I really don't feel like I am worthy to have such great things happen, but it has brought me a lot of happiness to see how much Brother H and T have changed from the first time I met them. This gospel is a gospel of change, and happiness, two things very evident in each of them. I know it can do the same for anyone who will live it. Thanks for all the support, it helps a bunch!
Elder Pew

July 14th, 2014
Dear family,
Thursday I finally went to the temple again! It was incredible! The new movie I saw (no idea which one) was awesome. It was like going through for the first time again since I have forgotten everything and it was a new movie. It felt good to be in the House of the Lord again and to feel the Spirit that was present. Really sweet to reflect on the past year and ponder and pray in the Celestial Room. The San Antonio temple is really beautiful.
Monday we had an awesome lesson with H and his wife. We taught them the Restoration again so his wife J could be in on the Book of Mormon. H had read quite a bit and she was pretty receptive. H was just like, "man, there is a lot more I could be doing to be a better dad and husband and leader of this family." He is just super cool. He doesn't do anything out of the ordinary, but he's just really cool. We are having a hard time meeting regularly though, and church at 1 is hard for their crazy 2 year old son, plus J is like 8 months pregnant. I think in time they will be baptized. 
Tuesday was awesome. We had to go to Austin and we made a bunch of deliveries up there including one to Elder W, so I got to talk with him for awhile. Strange that he's been out more than 8 months already. We had a lesson with Brother H and taught the Word of Wisdom. He thought it was strange that we can't have coffee or tea and he drinks both, but he said he'd give it up and he's on like day 6 now without coffee or tea. We had a lesson with the Ks and we brought both Brother and Sister W. It was an amazing lesson. T easily accepted August 2 for a baptism date and B said she's not ready but then gave this whole speech on how we have made her re-think things and question herself. She said the fact that we actually walk the walk is incredible and rare, especially in youth and it makes her want what we have. I told her I would tell her the secret, and then I just wanted her to know the church was true sooo badly I ended up bearing one of the most sincere testimonies I have on my mission. I almost cried and I told her it was nothing we do, but that God leads the church, the priesthood is on the earth, and we have the Holy Ghost to guide us to help others and become better people. We were really pleased with the results of the lesson. It was awesome for the Ks to have the ward support like that. 
Wednesday we had to start clearing out an apartment that no one is living in that the STLLs are going to move into with a ton of bunk-beds so they don't have to stay in our apartment every transfer. We thought it was going to be an easy project, but it turns out the last missionaries left TONS of stuff there and we have been chipping away at it the rest of the week. It's going to be quite the process. We had a lesson with N and tried explaining the importance of the Book of Mormon and we aren't sure what to do with her. She really likes us, the Book of Mormon, and supposedly the church, but hasn't come to church yet. At this point, I just want to be persistent with her and see if we can see a change, otherwise, we will move on.
Thursday we went to the temple and I got a couple pairs of garments since some of mine are getting wrecked now (sorry I've been using my debit card a lot lately, that's just been the life of a Moving Elder). We had another lesson with Brother H and taught him tithing and callings. We brought Brother D. Man he's awesome. Anyways, we had to run a few errands in the evening because we are over-loaded on Moving Elder jobs. 
Friday we had zone meeting which was really awesome and our zone is sweet. Again it was exactly what I needed to work on. We had another lesson with the Ks and Sister W. The lesson went really well and we went over the baptism interview questions for T and he's totally ready, and B asked a bunch of questions about each one that we answered and she brought up her main concern being that it seems like a man-made church to her, so we explained the roles of prophets and Apostles in revealing the truths about God and keeping things pure and organized. I think she's making a ton of ground. We also had a lesson with P and prepared him to receive the Aaron Priesthood. 
Saturday we had to do some urgent things like take a bed to where Elder D is coming back to, which I'm really excited about. We had another lesson with Brother H to review the baptism interview questions and fill out a form that President Slaughter needed for the interview set up for after church Sunday. We also stopped by H and J with Brother and Sister C who live just down the street to invite them to church. It was incredible! They got along super well and when we were talking on their porch H came home from work carrying his phone, laptop, and Book of Mormon. His bookmark was like 1/10 of the way in. They were happy to meet someone and we didn't even really have to do anything. Unfortunately they didn't come to church, but it was a super productive stop-by. 
Sunday was crazy and awesome. T and Brother H came to church, and T really liked it again. The talks were super good. All on Joseph Smith and I was really impressed with all of them. Brother H had his interview during Gospel Principles, and then right when they finished, priesthood was starting and we took part in P getting the Aaronic Priesthood. It was really cool to see. We had dinner with Brother and Sister S, a couple in their early 50s and they invited the Ks. It was awesome! It was just amazing to see members being proactive in member-missionary work. They were super helpful for T and B and they really enjoyed it. B said Sister S made her excited to read the Book of Mormon. I really hope she does! Things just go SO much better when members are involved. I'm not worried about them once we are transferred, the ward loves them. We went to their house early this morning and mowed their lawn and trimmed some bushes since T hasn't been able to do much. It was fun and we really love the Ks. Well again, it was an incredible week and we are really excited for T, B, Brother H, H, and J. Even if there are only five solid people, it's amazing to see how they have been prepared and how the gospel is changing them. I know that this church is led by Christ, not man. I know the priesthood is real, and the Gift of the Holy Ghost is the greatest gift we could have in this life. Thanks for the love and support!
Elder Pew

July 21st 2014
Dear family,
This was a great week, although the past few have been very similar. Great things with the Ks and Brother H, but little success elsewhere, but we keep trying.
Monday we had a lesson with Brother H and we read Mosiah 5 with him to keep him in the Book of Mormon and he enjoyed it.
Tuesday we had zone conference. It was super sweet! President Slaughter is just incredible. Lately I've been studying the scattering and gathering of Israel and what does he give a 2 hour training on? The scattering and gathering of Israel. He dropped so much knowledge on us and he answered all of my questions. He said that possibly the most important answer to who we are is Israel, the Lord's chosen people. He explained that it is a huge misconception in the church that we are adopted into the House of Israel when we get our Patriarchal Blessings. He explained that we are literal descendants of our tribes and not adopted. Rarely do people come into the church that are not descendants of Israel, and that is fulfillment of prophecy as is the fact that most people are from Joseph. God knew they would be those ready for the gospel in this dispensation and one reason the House of Israel was scattered was to strategically place His people where He needed them to build His kingdom. He talked about the "four systems of salvation" that shows how our church believe more people will be saved than anyone else. First is children who die before the age of accountability (close to 50% of all people who have lived) Also included is those who are not accountable- those with mental disabilities. Second is the would-haves, those who will accept the gospel in the Spirit World and never had the chance here (he referenced 2 Nephi 10:4 ). Third is those in the Millennium, a time when children will grow up with out sin unto salvation (don't remember what the scripture was for that). And fourth, the scattering and gathering of Israel. Pretty cool stuff. We had a lesson with the Ks and we brought Brother C. We read 3 Nephi 27 and it went well. T continues to fly through the Book of Mormon, and B actually read the testimony of Joseph Smith. We explained the importance of a prophet, which is what she's having a hard time with, she still thinks it's a man-made church. We also had a lesson with T and he is still going through some rough stuff, but we talked about putting God first (basically what we always talk about with him) and this time he finally got it. He said he realized he needs to not worry about this other stuff and make sure he's putting God first no matter what. The Spirit was strong and it felt so good to hear someone finally understand for themselves what they need to do. He wants to be fully active in church again. He's cool and it's cute how he's our little buddy. He will randomly text us and ask us how we are doing and will just call to talk to us. He's awesome. 
Wednesday we finished clearing out the Stone Oak apartment so now it's ready for the 5 bunk-beds or whatever we decide to put in it. We also found someone for the Las Lomas sisters to teach in their apartment while we were throwing stuff away. We had another lesson with Brother H and Brother N came. We watched the Restoration DVD with him and he really liked it. He is just doing so well. He also managed to get his wife to watch it, and she liked it fine, although he told her yesterday he's getting baptized and she was pretty upset with that, so we aren't going over there until he can clear some things up with her. He doesn't flinch though, he's super determined to get baptized.
Thursday we went up to Austin in separate cars to take one to Pflugarville. It's a really long story, but we solved a huge problem they have had that the Assistants, President, and the office couples hadn't figured out yet. That was pretty intense driving separate, but since I know Austin and Round Rock so well I didn't have the GPS and just got around fine. We stopped at the Zone Conference up in Round Rock to drop a few things off including mail that the Assistants were suppose to bring but forgot. I saw Sister B from Brushy Creek and she was wondering what we were doing in normal clothes, so I explained to her what we do, but it was fun to see someone from Brushy Creek. We went in the gym to talk to some of the missionaries during lunch. We got back in time to proselyte but we had no success finding new families.
Friday was a little frustrating. We had the hardest time getting anyone to our lesson with Brother H and the Ks, and then P and L cancelled on us, and then B was in a bad mood and wouldn't join us in the lesson, so it was a little awkward. T is still doing well and excited for his baptism. The lesson with Brother H was a great ending to the night and he has been reading a ton from the Book of Mormon again and has a couple friends from his old church he wants to be taught. 
Saturday we had to deliver a dryer to Bastrop since theirs broke and Elder W wanted them to have a new one by Monday, so we drove the 1.5 hours to their place, but it was fun to see Elder L again. We did a lot of contacting, but still not much success. We did meet this one lady that I think we really got interested. Elder R didn't think she was receptive so he just asked for referrals before we really taught anything, and she said her husband needed a message about Jesus Christ. She was outside watching her little kids play in a pool, so I swooped in and talked about how our message is aimed at blessing families and read the paragraph from the Family: A Proclamation to the World about happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of Jesus Christ... By divine design fathers are to lead in their home in righteousness. She was like, "wow that sounds awesome!" We got her info and set up a lesson Wednesday when her husband would be home, but she's not sure if he will be at all receptive.
Church was awesome on Sunday. T and Brother H came, but T left after sacrament meeting to check on B. Brother H was fellowshipped very well and he really liked the talks in sacrament meeting. We had a lesson with P and L about baptisms for the dead and P seemed to like the idea and hopefully we can get him to the temple soon. Him and L are so cute and I love how much faith they have that things will work out despite their rough situation. They are awesome! We contacted a lot more and still didn't have any success. I've really been trying to think how we can get the ward more involved in actually finding people. I've thought about trying to teach a Preach my Gospel class, because I feel like members don't know how to study from it and they could apply those things into their member-missionary work. Well, either way, I know there are families here in this area ready for the gospel, and if we are diligent we will find them. Miracles still happen, and God knows each of us and has a plan for us to return to live with him. The Book of Mormon is true, and Christ is our Savior and this is His church and His work. Thanks for all the support!
Elder Pew

July 28th, 2014
Dear family,
This was absolutely the busiest week of our lives, and it's not going to stop until after transfers (unless I stay, then it will probably continue). We have been incredibly blessed though and it has reaffirmed that this is the LORD'S work, not ours, which is an awesome and humbling experience. Hopefully I can remember everything...
Monday like right after I finished emailing you Elder W called and told us he forgot that the lease some missionaries' apartment up in Austin ended that day, and so we needed to miss our P-day and help them. We didn't have our truck because we took it in the morning to get fixed finally, but Elder P happened to have an extra truck that we were able to use, so I've driven in about 10 different cars since I've been in this area. We had set up a lesson with H for 1:30 even though it was P-day, so we went to that first. It was INCREDIBLE. He is such an amazing guy. His wife wasn't there and he explained that she is pretty hesitant about the church and feels more comfortable in the Catholic church. But he said he is LOVING the Book of Mormon. He said he feels like a better person every time he reads it. He says he never reads but something told him to read it and he is hooked on it and can't stop. He said he feels like he's such a better father and husband because of it, and he knows it's from God. He really loves meeting with us and he says we have helped him a lot and he feels like he's known us longer than the actual month it's probably been. As he was talking it reminded me of Moroni 7: 16-17, so I shared it with him and he said it is exactly what he has been feeling. So, he knows the Book of Mormon is true and so is the church. He really wants to come to our church, but he doesn't want to upset his wife. he said he's going to support her, but he would love to continue learning and hopefully she would join us for those and if not, he wants to see this through. I love that so much, you have no idea. He was really excited to come on a church tour on Saturday with the O family, but his wife had their baby girl on Friday or Saturday, so he couldn't make it but the Cs and us are going to bring them something. The lesson made it a lot easier to just give up the rest of our P-day, because I thought that this is really why I'm here and if that's going well, then who cares about the rest. Since we didn't have our truck, we didn't have any CDs or flash drive, so it was pretty boring, but whatever. We got the sisters there moved out by about 6:30 and by the time we finished everything and got home it was 8:55.
Tuesday we had to go down to the Border to Uvalde. It was really hot down there, but we got back in good time and we had a lesson with the Ks about the Gift of the Holy Ghost. B is really struggling. She isn't even listening to us. 
Wednesday we helped D in her yard and her lawn was like 3.5 feet tall and it didn't have a shield on the side so I got CAKED with grass. We brought T since he knows how to fix pipes and we started fixing her leak in her yard. We had to stop so we could run home, shower, and get to District Meeting. We had a great meeting and it's awesome to have so many sisters. They gave some good suggestions for working with female investigators. They are all really hard workers and I'm impressed with all of them. We went back with T and finished fixing the leak and then we had to pick up like 100 things from the furniture store for the incoming Sister's apartment (which by the way Elder W found that the original lease was signed by grandpa Pew when he was here). We had to unload it all into the storage unit which was really tiring because bunk-beds aren't light. We also carried like 6 mattresses and a couple wooden boards at a time to save time. We were exhausted and got home at 9, so didn't even proselyte. 
Thursday we were on an exchange with Elder T, our zone leader. He is really cool, and a really good singer. He's on scholarship at Utah State for his voice. He is a great teacher and just a solid guy. We had to take care of some bike issues and we were able to be out by 5. We had a lesson with Brother H and taught him about family history and temples. He likes the idea a lot and wants to take his dad to the temple. He's awesome. We had a lesson with N and we just emphasized the importance of church and Elder T did a great job of resolving her concern, validating her trails, and building her up in like three sentences and she said she would come. We had a lesson with the Ks as well and taught the importance of baptism by priesthood. Sister W has really helped Barbara, but she's still just floating along. We basically taught all night which was awesome. 
Friday we we had to go to Seguin and Lockhart which are very similar and they have some awesome houses out there. Look like big, southern plantation houses. We made it back for dinner and we dropped a present off for B's birthday. We drew a card that she really liked. We forgot to take pictures. We dropped off a bunch of invitations to the Pioneer Day celebration for Saturday morning. 
Saturday morning was the stake Pioneer Day celebration and it was pretty awesome. They had a ton of activities. Brother H and T came, but B was up partying with her friend too late and they didn't come. Brother S talked with Brother H like the whole time which was awesome. P and L went too. Our ward was defending their three straight tug-of-war titles and we watched them march their way to the championship. We went against Sonterra for the championship and Sonterra looked pretty good and big, and the ward finally convinced me and Elder R to help, but we ended up winning really easily. It was fun and T and Brother H had a great time. After we had to run to San Marcos to do a preliminary move because they are moving into DeZavala's apartment and DeZavala is moving into a new apartment. We moved San Marcos big stuff out and looked at the DeZavala apartment to see what we have to take to the new apartment and what we need to get for the final move this weekend. We made it back for dinner and T had his interview with President Slaughter. He also got a haircut and he looks sharp. It was a really short interview, so I think President could tell he was ready pretty quickly. 
Sunday was awesome. Brother H, T, N, and N all came to church. T, Brother H, and N really liked church and T invited everyone in Gospel Principles to his baptism. We had like 16 people in Gospel Principles. P, L, Sister S, the O family, S, Brother H, T, N, and us of course. P passed the sacrament for the first time which was awesome to watch. Sister S led the little army of women to relief society. We also met this kid named T and his mom who just moved into the area and she wants to come back to church and he's 12 and hasn't been baptized. So we set up a lesson for Tuesday night to start teaching him. He's a nice kid and it will be good review for his mom, she doesn't remember anything. We also had another member say their grandson is visiting for summer and they want us to teach him since he's 15 and not a member. So we have that this week too. We were super-blessed and those are the experiences that really reminded me this is the Lord's work. We can work as hard as we can, but ultimately, He's in control. We had dinner with the Fs who are pretty sweet. Brother F cooks some ridiculously good steaks and he's a huge Jazz fan. We had a lesson with T since he had the house to himself. We explained the Aaronic priesthood and he seems excited to participate. I also felt like we should stop by this older couple that we met like 2 months ago that wanted us to pray for them before their trip (I think I told you about them when we first met them) and they said they were getting back in July which was forever away, but I felt prompted to go back, even though Elder R was certain they weren't interested, and they let us right in and were so impressed with remembered them and were checking up on them. We got talking about T getting baptized and they started asking questions and we ended up teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them and answered a lot of questions. They seem more intellectually interested, but P (the wife) said she felt "so good!" after talking with us, and that she loves Mormons. We have another lesson tonight so we can see more where they are at. I know this is God's work we are in. Working to restore His people (Israel) to the truths of the gospel. The Book of Mormon is the tool to gather the elect (Moses 6:62 I think) and it is so powerful, as we've seen with T, Brother H, and H. It's amazing. Christ is our Savior and loves each of us. Thanks for all of the support!
Elder Pew

moving Elder extraordinaire