Friday, December 26, 2014

December Letters 1, 8, 15 & 22nd, 2014 and photos

December 1, 2014
Dear family,
Well this was a crazy crazy week, so I'll get right into it. 
1. J- Cancelled all the lessons on us again for whatever reason and still came to church, so that was good and we told him we need to teach him some more things before he can get baptized, so hopefully a lesson stays this week. He still wants to get baptized.
2. S- Had a great lesson with him one night when we caught him by himself. Talked about how he only needed to quit smoking and drinking tea and he could get baptized. He said that he would definitely think about it and he's been watching old general conferences on BYUtv, but he couldn't make it to church.
3. D- Had an amazing lesson before Thanksgiving and basically his new wife was bawling during the prayer and thanked us for our patience with them and for our "genuineness." 
4. R family- Had an awesome week. Taught D about baptism. He said maybe, but they came to church which is a huge step for them and Brother C was great. The kids loved church and Brother C invited them over for FHE tonight for a lesson too. Sweet!
5. C- Guy who referred himself on and wanted a bible. We went by and taught him and he was super sweet. We committed him for baptism on December 20. He was going to come to church but I guess his family are against it so he said he can't meet anymore. Bummer.
6. K- Was out of town for Thanksgiving but got back last night and we talked to her for a little bit and set up a lesson. 
7. A- Was super stressed out this week, he just needs to find a job before the new year. 
8. We found this new guy named R  yesterday as he was sitting out on his porch.We taught him the Restoration and he loved it and was really excited to read the Book of Mormon. We set a return appointment for tomorrow and we wanted to make sure his girlfriend is in on that one. He said that we just glowed and he could see the peace and happiness in our eyes which is a great sign.
This week we also were introduced to "He is the Gift," the Christmas video the church made. We are suppose to use it a ton in our proselyting and we track how many people we find and teach because of it. If you haven't watched it already, you must see it. It's incredible. It's at and they have the hashtag #sharethegift because the church wants this to be exposed to as many people as possible. Reminding others of the true meaning of Christmas and also to get people interested in the gospel. This is a great way to share the gospel with others!
Wednesday we had District Meeting and it was awesome. Elder L opened it up for testimonies at the end and everyone just sat there so I thought I would get up and give a simple testimony, but I just felt overwhelmed by the Spirit and I ended up getting emotional and crying for the first time while testifying on my mission. It was one of the most powerful experiences of my mission and I was kind of embarrassed to start off a simple testimony meeting like that, but it felt good.
Thanksgiving was a little stressful. We had a really good Thanksgiving dinner with the C which is the ones that Sister Gage knows. Bishop's family was there too and it was good.  We made a bunch of goodies for our investigators and delivered them for most of the day and then we did stewardships in the evening. 
Sunday was good. I woke up with a really sore throat and of course I had to speak in church. I spoke on how covenants make us happy. It was fun to study. I also met the Schoens (they live in our neighborhood in Utah) and the C spoke with me too. I felt well enough to work luckily and we taught R. At like 10:15 President Slaughter called me. He said that he was going to be losing Elder S here pretty soon and he needed a new assistant. He said he picked me and asked if I accepted. I think I said "sure I can do that." He said I would need to be there for transfer planning starting Tuesday so I would need to be ready to go to Deerfield. I was in absolute shock. So, I packed everything real quick this morning and came to the mission office. I was up all night with the cough and then plus thinking about my new assignment was pretty crazy. I got like 4 hours of sleep. I am actually writing this from the mission office and I'm with Elder T and Elder S. I am really excited to be with Elder T again, but I'm also really nervous and I know I will have a lot of weaknesses exploited, but it will help me to learn. I am really trying to focus on just bringing what I have to the table and recognize that I'm still not going to be the best at anything, but to just keep working hard and being diligent. We already have a lot going on and it will be a fun adventure. I just hope I can accomplish what God wants me too.
I know this work is true and that the gospel in the only way to eternal happiness. I know that Jesus Christ loves us. He is the gift. The greatest gift we could ever have. I am so thankful for the sacrifice our Heavenly Father made to send Him and for his willingness to follow His Father. Because of Him all things are possible, including returning to live with him in eternal happiness. Thanks for all the support!
Elder Pew with the APs
Elder Pew

December 8, 2014
Dear family,
Wow what a week. I have no idea where to start, but it has been fast, furious, fun, nerve-racking, etc. I will just go through the major events if I can remember.
Transfer planning- We transfer planned on Tuesday and Wednesday and we basically just sit in President's office with the board open and just stare at it until we know where people need to be. Well actually we start with Zone Leaders, then District Leaders, Sister Training Leaders, Sisters, and then everyone else. I had a horrible cough all week, but besides that it was really cool to see how President works. It was fun to see how much he trusts our advice as well. There are several changes that I felt strongly about that he just listened to and agreed with. I guess it went way smoother with less mistakes and a shorter amount of time than normal which is great. 
MLC- I was super nervous for MLC because I found out Tuesday I was going to be giving a training, so I had Wednesday morning to figure that out and it was suppose to be on contacting, definitely my weakest area which was good though for me to work on. It went way better than I was expecting and I was so grateful for the help of the Lord. It was cool to see my prayers really simplify because I didn't have anything grand or inspirational to share so my prayers became "just help me to teach what you would have them learn" and I was much more myself and comfortable than I thought since I made everyone laugh a couple of times, especially demonstrating in front of everyone three different scenarios of contacting. Then Elder S asked me to get up since we had an extra 15 minutes and I basically just had to wing it so naturally I talked about the Book of Mormon and it went well enough I don't think people could tell I just made it up. Then President asked me to bear my testimony at the end and everyone was just dead silent and I almost got emotional, but not quite. I was so grateful for the help with that. I think a lot of people were surprised to see me as the new Assistant so hopefully I was able to gain some of their trust. 
We spent a lot of the rest of the week doing paperwork for transfers, but we were able to simplify some things and all week we were able to work in the evening. We had a lot of great experiences with He is the Gift, but none have turned into solid investigators yet. We have a cool family that was found back when I was in San Pedro so I met them a couple times that we taught, but they flaked on church and a second lesson. We are teaching a man named H that is really cool and comes to church every week. We are also teaching the P family.  J totally wants to be baptized, but he works on Sundays and that is the last thing. In the lesson he said, "everyday I try to do something better in the church." That was awesome. He should have Sundays off soon he hopes. 
Elder Wright and Elder Corbridge with the APs & STLs
Elder Corbridge's visit- I don't remember if I told you all but Elder Corbridge came on Saturday, so that is when it was unveiled that I was the new assistant. We got to wait outside and meet him and Elder Wright when they arrived. They were both super nice and I really loved it a lot. We got to walk in and everyone stood for Elder Corbridge and we walked up to the stand. It was a neat experience. Elder Corbridge gave another incredible talk, he is definitely my favorite General Authority. He talked about how the one thing that is more important than anything else is to have the power of God in our lives and having access to the fruits of the Atonement. It was amazing. It went right along with the study I am doing right now of the Book of Mormon studying the need for a Savior, the redeeming power, enabling power, fruits of the Atonement, and how to access it. It has been incredible and the Book of Mormon does such a good job of teaching how to access the Atonement. We also got to eat with Elder Corbridge after the meeting which was really cool, although they didn't have much time for questions, but I would have asked him if he could have the rising generation of the church change one thing about the church, what would it be? It was such a neat experience, I am so lucky. It was just the Slaughters, us, the Williams (office couple), and the STLLs (one is Sister J from the MTC so that is pretty fun). 
Sunday we did transfer calls and it was really fun. We went to the Slaughter's home and watched the Christmas Devotional and then made the calls. We meet there every Sunday night and talk about things for the upcoming week and then ask doctrinal questions or they tell us awesome stories from their marriage, or life, or whatever. It is amazing to see. It is such a privilege to see President as more than just our Mission President and as a father and a husband. They are great examples. They were telling us some hilarious stories from their dating.  
I really like the Deerfield ward and area. We have amazing members who are very helpful. We have people sign up to go on splits almost every night. The ward mission leader, Bro. Lowry is incredible. We also played tennis this morning with some members which is also a weekly tradition that I am really looking forward to.
Making transfer calls
I am so grateful for the chance to serve a mission, especially around this Christmas season. Christ really is the gift of Christmas. Without the Savior we could do nothing, we could not be saved, there was no Plan B of Salvation. We can access the Atonement and the power of God through having faith, repenting, being baptized by someone with God's authority, receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. Thanks for all that you do!
Elder Pew

December 15, 2014
Dear family,
This was an INSANE week. It was like being a moving Elder all over again, just being in charge of everything. I'll try and walk through the week day by day.
Monday- We play tennis every Monday so that was really fun. Had a great P-day and we went to the Mercado, a little Mexican street shop place. Our evening was fun and had a couple lessons so it was a great final night for Elder S. He was incredible. Such a great example. 
Tuesday- Got up really early to drive the van and trailer up to Austin and we picked up all the departing missionaries up in Austin and took them to the church. We were suppose to go to our zone meeting, but our car got a flat tire from a screw, so we went with the Moving Elders and we were suppose to give a training but I had 0 time to prepare for it, so I just came up during the meeting about how when we offer "the Gift" the difference between our church and other churches is that we don't only know about Christ and who He is, but we know "how to come unto Him and be saved" (2 Ne. 15:14). We set everything up for the departing missionaries sleeping over and then had some time to proselyte. We don't have a lot going in the area and I think it gets neglected sometimes due to our other duties, but we can do much better at least staying in contact daily with our investigators like Preach my Gospel says. The departing missionaries stayed at our apartment for the night and it was fun.
Elder Pew with his companion and Sister and President Slaughter at the temple
Wednesday- Also had to get up super early to take the missionaries to the airport and said a final goodbye. We got back and I had like 30 minutes to prepare for the new Trainer meeting and the new District Leader meeting that we had to go give trainings at. I was able to jot some thoughts down and we mostly just led discussions and answered questions for both. I feel like we can improve that meeting. It was fun to be with them. Elder W was at the trainer meeting and Elder N, J, and O were at the District Leader meeting. We went straight from there to pick up the new missionaries at the airport. It was super exciting to see them come down the escalator. We go with the Slaughter family and the STLLs. We did their first abrazo with them and bring their stuff in the van and trailer. We drove them straight to the temple which is a new tradition and it's amazing. President talks to them about beginning with the end in mind, and how the temple is really our goal. We have some fun new missionaries. Elder T and the STLLs took those missionaries to the church for lunch and President Slaughter had to go with someone to pick up the four missionaries coming in from the Mexico MTC, so I went with him. It was fun to have one-on-one time with him. Elder T met us later at the airport to grab them and their luggage and we went straight to the Alamo. It was SO fun! Now that I actually know how to talk to people I was just eating it up. I went with an Elder named Elder N and we passed out 4. One family was actually pretty interested and we got their info and missionaries are going to go by in Houston. We passed out three and just had the one left, and we were going to be done and this man was walking passed with all these cameras so I just commented that he had nice cameras, and he stopped and we ended up getting into a 20 minute discussion with him. He was super cool and interested and he asked a lot of questions and I just shared Book of Mormon verse after Book of Mormon verse with him and he was really interested and all the other missionaries were done so they were just watching us. We went back to the Slaughters for dinner and a slideshow and then the new Elders stayed with us for the night.
Thursday- Also had to get up really early to get the new missionaries ready to go to transfer meeting. They have a special meeting before where we tell them their area and their companion. It was fun. I conducted the San Antonio transfer meeting which was a little nerve-wracking and President wanted me to bear my testimony too. It is a really cool feeling when we hear Called to Serve playing in the chapel and then we walk in briskly with the new missionaries and everyone stands until the song is over. We drove the vans separately with missionaries getting transferred to Austin and it was fun to talk to different missionaries. I did the call-outs at the Austin transfer and moved the podium up and down. Call-outs is just where we read off where everyone is going and they stand and hug there new companion. It was really fun to do. It is such a humbling experience to look around for those missionaries you always idolize and realize they are all home and now everyone is looking at you on the stand. It's cool though. We drove back down to San Antonio with missionaries getting transferred down and I talked with a very young, newly called District Leader Elder E. He has been out 4 transfers and he was just picking my brain the whole ride down so that was fun. We had time to work in the evening, but didn't see much results.
Friday- We were in the office a lot of the day doing paperwork for the new transfer. It kinda dragged out and we also planned the upcoming transfer with the STLLs and it looks like I'm going on 4 Spanish exchanges since Elder T doesn't speak Spanish and there are 4 Zone Leader Spanish areas. That will be fun. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday we had a lot of time to work, but we had a lot of member lesson showing members how to use the "He is the Gift" pass-along cards as more than just a card, but a way to get people interested in the church. Brother L our ward mission leader has been setting those up for us. He is pretty awesome. 
Church was great Sunday. This is a really incredible ward. B, the sweet

with the Sister Training Leaders 

recent convert was at church and he is so funny. He was freaking out about becoming like Heavenly Father though in our Sunday school class. Hector came again, but we haven't been able to teach him. He is meeting with the EQ President first, and we aren't sure why. We worked super hard after church and did find a couple people that seemed promising, including someone who told us he was about to get baptized 3 years ago but bailed out at the last second. I think now could be his time. 
I am so grateful for the chance to be a missionary during this Christmas season. Christ really is the gift of Christmas. Placing Book of Mormons at the Alamo just made me even more in love with the Book of Mormon, the message it contains, and all that it has done for me. It truly teaches us not only who Christ is and "how to come unto Him to be save (2 Ne 15:14). It's all true and real. Merry Christmas!
Elder Pew

December 22, 2014
Dear family,
This was another eventful week full of great things. I'll try my best to go day to day.
Monday was just a normal P-day and we played volleyball as a zone. It was fun.
Tuesday we had to do a bunch of stuff in the office and we met with President Slaughter to discuss Christmas and what our policy would be for the missionaries. We decided that since the Missionary Handbook says something like "Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays are great opportunities to find and teach families." So we are encouraging everyone to be considerate, but to find time on Christmas to be out and about, Sharing the gift of Christ. We had a lesson with the M family and they are really cool people. They both have thick Boston accents and we hit hard on the importance of scripture study. We also taught B and tried to explain the Plan of Salvation to him. 

Wednesday was Christmas Conference. It was really fun, such a great experience. We took pictures first thing and then had a little program. President Slaughter taught about what would the world be like if there were no Christmas and the infinite reach of the Atonement. It was amazing. There were a couple great musical numbers by the missionaries. It was so humbling to look out on all 250 missionaries and to see their great faith. We have such a great mission. We had Texas BBQ for lunch and we got to go around passing out candy canes and talking with the missionaries. I still feel inadequate in this position, but I'm picking a couple missionaries that are struggling and I'm going to really focus on helping them. After lunch was the talent show which was really great and I conducted that. We went back into the chapel and President talked about the plan for 2015. He really just talked about really being completely consecrated. It was really motivating and then the closing hymn was "Angels we Have Heard on High" and we sang so loud with such good pace, it was SO powerful. I love that President has us sing loud and fast paced it is so much better. The rest of our day was pretty slow, mostly trying to just Share the Gift.
Thursday we spent a lot of time putting together this gift that we planned for the Slaughter's anniversary on the 27th. It is pretty sweet, I'll send pictures. We had everyone in the mission send us something they have learned or love about the Slaughters. Brother L our ward mission leader came out on splits with us and we had a great lesson with J. He had questions about garments so we watched the video the church made and then we talked about daily scripture study with him. He is just waiting to get Sundays off. We had a lesson with that man that said he was almost baptized a couple years ago and he understood the Restoration well and seems like he has good potential. We had another lesson with him yesterday and he is really stressed about his finances, but we had him convinced that the gospel will help him through his trials. We had another lesson with B trying to clear up his questions and I think he's good now. 
Friday we went on exchanges. I went with Elder C in Hill Country and Elder R went with Elder T. I had a great day with Elder C. We found an amazing family of 5 , but a super kingdom building family. All five of them were just glued to the screen for the "He is the Gift" video and they were all over the Restoration. I can't wait to hear what happens to them. In Deerfield Elder T and R got a text from Bishop about a family that just moved in and the wife is active and the husband is a non-member and they wanted missionaries over ASAP, so they met them and set up a lesson for Tuesday and they sound super solid, they just had a baby this last week, so that will be the only thing slowing them down, and they are a really young couple. Super exciting.
Saturday we weekly planned for the first time I've been here and it was great to put a plan and set some goals. We had a pretty slow afternoon and evening, but we had dinner with a returning less-active lady and her non-member boyfriend. He's not super interested yet, but I think he's starting to realize that he has to join if he wants to stick with her because she is getting more and more involved. 
Sunday was great. I always love the Christmas program at church and they have a pretty good ward choir.  H came to church and Sister P since she had work off, but that was it for church. Our meeting with President was amazing. A RM from the TSAM was there and she was talking about how she felt disappointed because she doesn't have the same spiritual high as she did on her mission. President just comforted her and said that's normal and to lower her expectations of what the "after-life" would be, but he was just so loving and kind in his answers. He's great. I am so lucky to be in his presence so often and to see him as a father and husband too. He's such a great example. 
I love being a missionary during the Christmas season, sharing "a more excellent way" to discover and embrace the gift of Christ. He is the Gift. I know this is His work and He leads it. He is in the vineyard working with us. Thank you for all your examples, I am excited to see and hear from you on Christmas!
Elder Pew