Friday, January 23, 2015

3 Weeks January 5, 12& 19, 2015 and a photo

January 5, 2015
Dear family,
This was a fantastic week! So much happened, I hope I can remember it all. 
Tuesday was the meeting for the new trainers and trainees and we did it up in Kyle, so we got up early to make the drive. I felt like the meeting went really well. The purpose of the meeting was to cover some really important points while they are still new and to really build their trainers in their eyes so they will listen to them. We also split off the trainees and trainers so they could ask open questions and it was good. There are some really good missionaries. I gave a training on talking with everyone, which is certainly something really important to learn at the beginning of your mission. I had four main points:
1. We must have faith in Christ and trust in His promise that there are people ready and treat them like it until they prove otherwise.
2. We must give everyone the best chance possible. Recently 2 Ne. 2:27, Jacob 5:41, and 2 Ne 26:24 have really stuck out on how God has done EVERYTHING in His power to help us accept the gospel and PMG says that "we are called to represent Jesus Christ in helping others become clean from their sins," so we must give everyone an honest effort.
3. We declare and then invite. No one will accept the invitation to learn unless we have declared restored truths that help them become interested in the gospel.
4. Our goal is to find new investigators. That is our end goal, so we can't simply pass out cards, we must try to persuade others to listen. It was a fun meeting. Afterwards we went on exchanges. I went with Elder W and R in Seguin, a country town. We had an awesome day. Within 30 minutes we found a new family simply from clearing the blind spots with a 17 year old LA boy they have been teaching, so now they are teaching his parents who aren't members. We taught pretty much all day long and they have two great investigators that hadn't been set with a date yet and I've been working on inviting to baptism with scriptures so with one we read 2 Ne. 31:8-11 (I think) and then Alma 5:62, my current favorite verse from the Book of Mormon and they both easily accepted for the 17th. It was fun and it was cool to see the change even from when they picked me up to the time I left. 
Wednesday morning we drove back in time for our District Meeting which was fun since we have a huge district. We had to do some office work to get ready for MLC and some other things. There was a Spanish Conference up in Austin and President thinks I have pretty good Spanish so he had me drive a couple missionaries from San Antonio to go since we have unlimited miles, and there wasn't a lot of proselyting on New Year's Eve anyways, so it was worth the drive. We saw some fireworks which was pretty fun on the way up and to see Austin. The Spanish conference was great and I'm in the process of taking the Spanish test to see where I'm at. So far I'm hitting about 40% which isn't terrible without any studying since you only need 75% to pass. 
Thursday we had to finish everything up for MLC and unfortunately no one was really home, but we talked to a lot of people on the streets but no one was interested.
Friday was MLC and it was incredible. President decided to have us go to the temple as an MLC, so we got to do a session. It was so cool and I learned a lot. I love the temple sooo much. It was cool to be in the Celestial Room with a bunch of other missionaries. Me and Elder T were the last ones in there and we talked about a couple things and then prayed on our own and it was just a great experience. The actual MLC was really good too, and not stressful since I didn't have to give a training. Our evening was pretty sweet. We stopped by this guy named L that really wants to join the church. He was miraculously home and he is still totally on board with joining the church. I had never heard of him before then, so I was super excited. It's just a matter of time before he joins. He's just waiting for his wife, but they have a ton of member friends and we are hopefully going over for a lesson this week. He asked us to find a convert family of about 3 years that has been integrated into the church, and there is this sweet family that joined about 2 years ago and are PERFECT for them. It is exciting.
Saturday we had a great day. We dropped off some departing missionaries at the airport at 5:30 in the morning. We hadn't heard from P since the first lesson, so we stopped by and had an amazing lesson. He is SO COOL. He asked us "after I'm baptized, what do I need to do to stay worthy?" Best kingdom-building question ever. We read from the Book of Mormon and it's just a matter of time until he is baptized, things just need to slow down. We also had this killer lesson with this new family whose name is the R. They are really young and really awesome. They haven't been very religious which is great so we didn't need to unteach them anything, and they understood the Restoration really well. It was great. They accepted the 29th as a baptismal date and they really look forward to being cleansed of sin and having a new start. V's prayer was really touching and she asked that us and the Book of Mormon would help them accomplish their "family goals." It was great. We also had a lesson with a part-member family that has a 9 year old that hasn't been baptized. We read a chapter of the Book of Mormon. The mom isn't really interested right now, but hopefully they come along. We also talked to another new family, the A, and they are super interested and we were going to teach them after church and they were super excited to come to church, but the dad got called into work at8:30 but he let us know beforehand, so we are still excited to teach them. J texted us and told us that he got a new job that will let him off every Sunday, so this was his last week not at church, so he should be baptized pretty fast. I It's amazing how much we got done when we actually had a whole day to be in our area. Also, we taught this other new lady about the Book of Mormon and she was super interested, but her boyfriend came over after and told her to never meet with us again, so she called and said she would read, but we wouldn't be able to come back now.
Church was awesome. H came again and this ward is really supportive. So H is doing great, P and J are doing well, and we have the A, R, and Mi families on the radar, and W from last week that we are teaching tonight. The work moves on and it's been amazing to see that this really is the Lord's work. If we do it in His way and have faith in Him we can see miracles. Thanks for all you do!
Elder Pew

January 12, 2015
Dear family,
This was possibly the best week of my mission! It was incredible! Before I forget though I have to tell you about our tennis match this morning. I played Brother S the one who is really good 1 on 1, and lost a heart-wrenching match. We won our serves until it was 4-3 I was up, and then I broke his serve so I was winning 5-3 and only had to close out on my own serve and we went to deuce 12 and I had 8 set points but Brother Smith pulled out his "dad power" and somehow hit ridiculous shots to stay in it and eventually won the game, and then won the next three games to win the set. It was awful and I'm so sore, but it was super fun. On to relevant things:
Monday we worked in our area and nothing really happened. We had bad luck in the evening and no one was home.
Tuesday we had zone conference in Austin, so we left early with the Lead Sister Training Leaders and it was great. The trainings were really well done. I had a hard time since we were low on time and I didn't know how long it was going to take to say what I wanted, so I don't think I was very clear, but Elder T said he could visibly see missionaries see the big picture. I trained on the importance of inviting everyone to baptisms and confirmation since it is such a great way to find. Basically the theme of the conference is that finding people to teach is a principle of faith and action, and that we should ALWAYS be finding. In our lessons, with members, less-active members, recent converts, baptisms, etc. always asking for referrals. I talked about how to invite family and friends of the baptismal candidate to get them interested and a bunch of other things. I went on exchanges in Palm Valley in Round Rock which is a Spanish area, so that was the start of my Spanish exchanges. It was a good exchange and we taught a recent convert in the branch that me and Elder W found street contacting in Brushy Creek and the wife spoke English, but we asked if we could teach her family and she said he spoke Spanish so we had the Spanish missionaries go by and I guess her and her husband got baptized. It was sweet! I guess she said she recognized me, but it was in Spanish and I guess I missed that, and the Elders I was with were confused, but that was a great experience.
We left early Wednesday for Kyle, which is in between Austin and San Antonio and had another zone conference. Each zone conference has gotten better as we have seen what works and what doesn't. I went on exchanges with Lake Austin in Austin, another Spanish area and we had a great day. It was really fun and we found a family applying some of the stuff we learned at zone conference. I understood everything going on really well, but I still struggle to speak. 
Thursday was our one semi-normal day but we had to catch up on all the office work we had missed, so that took up until dinner. We had Brother L (WML) with us in the evening so we stopped by the Ns and had a great lesson on scripture study. They are just the coolest couple to teach. 
Friday we left really early in the morning to drive down to the border. It was a blast. Our car looked like it was a family vacation because we had so much stuff. Oh, quick story, the East Stake president sent cereal for the whole mission on Monday, so we decided to hand it out at zone conferences and it has been really funny because each time we ask a couple Elders to help us carry some "boxes" inside and everyone starts freaking out thinking it's iPads and then when we walk in everyone is disappointed. It's hilarious. So our car was full of cereal boxes too. The zone conference went great and I found out my new companion will be Elder H. He was on the Border. I didn't know much about him, but he has a great reputation and he goes home with me. He is Spanish called. He loves sports and he's kinda quiet like me. He's really great and we brought him back to San Antonio so he can help us transfer plan this next week. I went on exchanges again in a Spanish area with the Zone Leader that will replace Elder H and it was a blast. I love the border. We were like 3 miles away from the border and I really wish I would have taken a picture on this one street. It just looked awesome and like Mexico. It rained too so that made it even better.
Saturday we drove back and we have a really fun time together. We had a lesson set up with the Ns and they asked if we wanted dinner too, and we didn't have one so they fed us too. They are like my idols. Also, P's mom is from Chico. (No I don't know her). We had a great lesson and told him we wanted to set a goal for baptism and asked about the 31st of this month and he said "sounds like a good goal." Then we stopped by the P family, which is L's (from San Pedro) sister and brother-in-law, the one that me and Elder R found when she came to our lesson and sent the missionaries by. Anyways, J has been wanting to get baptized but has had to work on Sundays, so he hasn't yet. We stopped by and Sister P was just beyond excited because they both finally got Sundays off and J got a great new job that pays better, is closer, and gives him more time for church and family. It was a miracle. So we had P, J, and H all committed to come to church.
Church was amazing! All three came and loved it. The ward was good with them. Sacrament meeting was incredible since it was ward conference and our bishop and Stake President just threw it down with some great talks. We had a lesson with J afterwards and he was so excited to have Sundays off so we just got him really excited about getting baptized this next week, so we have a baptism next Sunday at 7, so we get to practice my training of getting tons of non-members there. We set up the interview and Sister P was crying she was so happy. It was such a touching moment and it was just amazing to be a part of. It was great to see how much the Lord blessed their family for their faithfulness and their desire to do what was right and just plopped the perfect circumstances right when they needed it. On top of that, it is so cool that I have the chance to be here when he is baptized after finding him in a different area several months ago. And to complete the S family especially since she joined the church so her daughters would grow up in a strong church and then they all fell away and now have come back. On top of that Elder T gets to leave with one last miracle baptism that I know will mean tons to him. It has truly been a humbling experience. Our meeting with President was incredible again and words just can't explain it well enough. He's just amazing. 
Thank you for all the support. This work in true. "So as much as in me, I am ready to preach the gospel." Have a great week!
Elder Pew

p.s. Here is a list that President Slaughter made of the qualities of TSAMers. He did a great job and this was probably my favorite part of the zone conferences. It's amazing how he's helped to develop this culture in the mission, and there really aren't any missionaries who don't have these qualities, it's incredible.

Here they are:
1. Knows and trusts the promises of the Lord.
2. Quiet dignity mixed with a deep sense of urgency.
3. Always moving forward in constant, unshaken faith.
4. Line in the water at all times.
5. Preaches "by the way."
6. Seeks to "lift and build."
7. Is never offended.
8. Seeks to please God first.
9. Understands who he/she is and acts accordingly.
10. Relies on Preach My Gospel.
11. Looks outward; not focused on self.
12. Faithful to God and quick to observe.
Notice the emphasis is on faithfulness to God, not simply obedience. Obedience is the bottom-line.
13. Immovable testimony built on the four cornerstones (Joseph Smith, Book of Mormon, Priesthood keys, and Jesus Christ).
14. Blood of the Restoration flows in veins.
15. Proactive. Finds a problem; seeks a solution.
16. Trusts in the simplicity of the message; short and powerful.
17. Speaks with confidence and understanding.
18. Understands agency and uses it appropriately.
19. Has a deep sense of collective foreordination instead of competitive individualism.
20. Fully consecrated. All in! 

January 19th, 2015
Dear family,
It was a great week!
Monday night we had a lesson with the Ss again, a pastor and his wife.
Tuesday we started transfer planning. I was able to contribute a lot more since I know the missionaries a lot better now. It is inspiring to see President and how well he follows the Spirit as well as just uses judgment. Even transfer planning he is always moving in faith. We created a new zone since one zone is getting pretty big so that will be exciting. In the evening we just went crazy inviting everyone we knew to the baptism and for them to invite their friends and family. We had a lesson with this part-member family, but there isn't much there.
Wednesday we finished transfer planning and it went great. We had a good lesson with B and he's doing well. I went on splits with a member and we stopped by H. I told him that we already had a baptism set up and he was ready so he could tell us whenever if he wanted to be a part of it. He's such a good person. From the lesson I think I saw that one thing he thinks is that he has to receive some miraculous answer to join the church, even though he already knows it's true, so that is what our next lesson will be. 
Thursday we resumed zone conferences and we had a really good group. The trainings just got better each meeting. It was fun. We had to go straight to the office and work on a bunch of paperwork. We had a few hours to invite tons of people to the baptism.
Friday we had our last zone conference. It was great and it was relieving to be done. Elder T went out to dinner with President Slaughter, so it was just me and Elder H. We had to do a bunch of office work, but the Ns invited us over for dinner, so that was amazing. They are really good cooks and they really like us. It was fun. We taught P all four of the commandments he needs to know and follow for the baptism interview. He had been wanting to know about the commandments so we just laid them all out simply and powerfully and he really enjoyed it. He was excited for church and the baptism, but for some reason they didn't come to either. They are such a good family. We asked him if he was excited for his baptism and he said he is, he just wants to make sure he goes "all in" which is awesome. Basically I interpreted that as he doesn't see anything against joining, but he wants to be converted and be on fire so he never falls away. He's great.
Saturday we were able to work a lot of the day, but we didn't see a lot of success.
Sunday at church was good. H and J came and everyone was excited for the baptism. Everyone was really sad to see Elder T leave since he's been in this ward for almost 10 months, so hopefully they are okay with me and Elder H taking over. We spent a lot of time calling every area and telling them if they are getting transferred or staying. It was fun to talk to everyone.
The baptism was great. Such a good experience. The family was really excited. I was bummed that P and L weren't able to make it, but it was good. The ward supported them really well. He was so happy after his baptism and Sister P was crying. It was touching. She said the closing prayer and was crying and thanked the missionaries for finding them and never giving up on J. It was so awesome. It was a great way for Elder T to go out too. We finished up transfer calls and met with President. He made me say a prayer in Spanish that I think I butchered. Sorry it is a little short, we have a lot to do today!
I know this work is true and I am so so grateful to be a part of it. Thank you for your love and support!

Elder Pew