Friday, February 13, 2015

January 26th, February 2nd & 9th, 2015 and some photos

January 26th, 2015
Dear family,
Mayhem is kinda what this week felt like, but it was a great week! I am so grateful for the great learning experiences I've had this week and on my mission, especially seeing some great missionaries go home has made me grateful I still have tons of time left. 
Monday night was great. We had a first lesson with these two younger people. Neither of them were very religious, agnostic at best. We basically talked about prayer and the Book of Mormon and how they would help them know there is a God. We finished the night filling up with gas and Elder T cried a little bit because it was his last night to work. He was a great example of enduring to the end, and it was sad to see it end.
Tuesday we got up really early and drove up to Austin and picked up all the departing missionaries. It was a fun drive. It was Elder H's first time going to Austin. By the way he is from Gilbert Arizona and I think you can see what he looks like in J's baptism picture, we haven't had time to take a picture together yet. He is a really great missionary. He's helped me step up my planning especially and he is very driven. Anyways, we dropped off the departing missionaries and finished up everything we needed to logistically for the transfer (getting vans, luggage, locks, air mattresses, etc. in the right places at the right times). We had a really good evening. We had a lesson with the Gs. We had a lesson with P that was amazing. We taught him about eternal families and he really likes the idea. He's really determined to become converted so that he doesn't fall away. He is so cool. He was really excited for his baptism. We also had a lesson with the M family.
Wednesday morning we took the departing missionaries to the airport. It was sad to leave Elder T and we only cried a little bit. He will do great things though. We had the new district leader and trainer meeting and President told us he couldn't come so the LSTLs ran the trainer meeting and we trained the district leaders. It went really well. We picked up the new missionaries from the airport, and it's so cool how you can tell who the leaders will be so quickly. The gift of discernment is amazing. We had one new missionary named Elder N who is a convert to the church and he is going to be an incredible missionary. He blew me away. We took them to the temple and then to the church for lunch. We had to pick up the Mexico MTC missionaries and we took them all straight to the Alamo. It was a little chilly so it wasn't as busy, but it was a great experience. I went with a couple different people and we passed out about 5. Every time I absolutely love sharing the Book of Mormon with people and I still don't think I will ever be able to express my feelings for it with words. We took the new missionaries to the Slaughters for dinner and they were zonked. We tried to have some discussions with them, but they were totally zoned out so we left at 9. It was a good group. 16 total.
Thursday we got up really early again and took the new missionaries to transfer meeting. They were really excited to hear who their trainers were. I conducted the San Antonio transfer meeting and announced the transfer changes in Austin. It is fun to conduct. Probably my favorite thing ever is when everyone starts singing "Called to Serve" really loud right before we come in with the new missionaries and then we walk through the door and everyone stands as we enter. It is such a humbling experience. It was raining really hard after the meeting which made the chaos of luggage more chaotic, but everyone cooperated really well. We had 31 missionaries going to Austin which is a big group and only 18 areas were unaffected by transfers. It was fun to drive with a big group of missionaries. I took the 15 seater and Elder H took the other van. We had a pretty slow evening, but we did teach J about the priesthood and got him really excited for that. 
Friday we planned our next transfer with the Sisters and then made the org card, so we were in the office until the evening. We met some cool new people and families, and we have been trying by a lot of part-member families, but we didn't have any luck teaching that night.
Saturday we were able to work for a lot of the day which felt great. We have one less-active guy who has a non-member girlfriend that seems like she could be interested, so hopefully that one pans out. We had a lesson with H on agency and revelation. Basically the goal of the lesson was to help him see he didn't need a miraculous experience to know to be baptized. He can choose. I think we helped him see he needed to change the attitude of his prayers to "this is my decision ____, help me to know if this isn't what I'm suppose to do." If he is willing to decide like that, he will be baptized.
Sunday was great. Church is always good. H came again, and P came just to Gospel Principles. I think he just wants to make sure he really believes it, and he's reading the Book of Mormon, so it should be a fast process. A returning less-active lady brought her friend who is really interested which was awesome so we are teaching him in her home on Tuesday, but he will be in a different area. A recent-convert family moved into the ward this week too, so we had a lesson with them after church. They are really solid. I was so impressed with them. They were baptized in November and we are helping them with family history on Wednesday because they are excited to go to the temple. That was exciting to see their excitement for the gospel. Our meeting with President was amazing! We planned out the things we needed to, and then we ended up talking about the difference between remission of sins and forgiveness, the gift of the Holy Ghost being the vehicle for the blessings of the Atonement, and the gathering of Israel. It was great. He just has so much knowledge. I love being able to work with him. Also, if you are wondering, forgiveness and remission of sins are usually used synonymously (I can explain that further if you want later). 
Anyways, I'm just full of gratitude for the chance I have to serve the Lord. Thank you for your love and support. I know everything we share is true. This is the way. Have a great week!
Elder Pew

February 2nd, 2015
Dear family, 
This was a fantastic week! I can't remember if I told you last week, but Elder Nelson came with Elder Foster and Elder Wright to speak to us on Saturday. It was amazing and I will tell you more details later.
Monday we didn't have much going on. We stopped by H and gave him a bunch of scripture verses. 
Tuesday we had District Meeting. Elder W is our district leader now which is such a neat experience and he did an amazing job. He knows the gospel really really well. He is a study junky and everyone in the district really got a lot out of it. We had a meeting with the Area Leaders to define what their responsibilities are. They are basically going to be traveling assistants who will be focused on helping the Spanish in the mission improve. They will be a good addition. We had a lesson with the Gs and they are slowly progressing, but it is really hard to know how to help people like them. I've wondered my whole mission how to help low-commitment people break their cycle and stay committed. I still don't know the secret, so if somebody does, I would love to know it.
Wednesday we had a chance to weekly plan and do some other work we needed to in the office. We had a great lesson with P about following the prophet and he was excited for his baptism and loved church last week. They made us these delicious hamburgers too. I love that family. We had a lesson with the recent convert that just moved into our ward, the B family. Wife is a member, husband is a convert of two months. They are really solid. We helped them get started on their family history on familysearch. It was really neat. We went back as far as he knew and we hit a line that had already been done. He is going to go in and put the rest that he knows and tonight we are hopefully going to help him find some more names. It was a great example of being involved in all aspects of the work of salvation. We were helping retain a new member, reactivate a less-active one, do work for the dead, and teach the gospel all at once. Lots of people see missionaries only being a part of conversion (baptism), but that is not our only focus and purpose. We are involved in all five aspects and each member should be too. It's not the high priest's responsibility to do family history, or the elder's quorum to reactivate. We should all do all of them. 
Thursday we went on exchanges. I was with Elder W. He's a really good missionary and he's pretty young. He has only been out 13 months but he will be a great zone leader. He is a great teacher and very urgent. I felt bad because all of our lessons canceled and I could tell he was slightly nervous, but one of my goals is to be very approachable. We had some good discussions.
Friday I was on exchanges with Elder N. It was kinda chaotic since Elder H planned the day on his previous exchange, but it was fun to be with Elder N. He's the new zone leader here in our zone, so it's fun to have Elder W as my district leader and Elder N as my zone leader. We had a lesson with P and reviewed the interview questions. He is ready and excited. We set up his interview with Elder W for Saturday.
Saturday we had a lesson with Sister M's friend in her home. She is so awesome. She invited him to come to church and he came and loved it and they have been reading scriptures together this week too. The lesson was great and he committed to baptism, but wouldn't accept a date. He came to church again though and liked it and we had another lesson Sunday that he also enjoyed. Elder Nelson was suppose to come at 3:30 so we told the mission to be there before 3, and then President told us he was going to be early, so we had everyone there by about 2:45 . It was amazing to see the reverence that our mission has for the chapel and for a member of the Twelve. We ran around helping President until Elder Nelson pulled in and we came and sat down. There is nothing like being in the presence of one of the Brethren. They are such inspiring men. I was so impressed with how genuine he was. He would sit on the edge of his seat so he could see the person's face that was talking. Then he would stand and thank them afterwards. He, Elder Foster, and Elder Wright talked about the importance of family history and it was impressed upon me how important that is. Elder Foster explained how those who have passed on are doing everything to prepare their descendants and lead us to them so their temple work can be completed. It really clicked how the hearts of the fathers will turn to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers. It's amazing and sometimes we forget that it is all the same work. It was also neat to watch the unwritten order of the church and how President Slaughter treated a presiding authority (also you should always stand when they enter the room and stand after they stand when the meeting is over and wait until they leave to move). P had his interview right after and passed with flying colors. It was great.
Sunday was a great day. P came to all three hours of church and so did J. P had some more interactions with ward members which is great. We had a great lesson with the M family. They are part-member and the 9 year old isn't baptized. I think it will just a little time, so that is a family that you should pray for. Also, we fasted today that H would decide to get baptized on the 21st of this month, if it is the Lord's time. 
This week I am especially certain that we have living prophets and Apostles. They hold all the keys of the kingdom. We will never go astray if we follow their counsel. This is the true church. Thank you for all that you do and for your faith!
Elder Pew

February 9th, 2015
Dear family,
This was a fantastic week! So many great things happened, hopefully I can put it all into words.
Monday we had a great lesson with P. He said some things that couldn't have made me happier. He was really excited to invite his family to his baptism and he just loves the church. He opened up to us a lot more and he said that "the high standards of the church are just so important to our family, and staying strong. We just hold them in such high regard." We also helped the B family again with family history and now we have his membership number so we can request the ordinances. We are excited for them.
Tuesday we got up early to go to Kyle for the trainer/trainee meeting. There were 16 companionships and they are doing great. President asked me to give a training on being faithful to God rather than faithful to rules. I had to throw it together Tuesday morning, but it went well. Really obedience is simply a baseline for all that we do, it's the minimum. The missionary handbook even says so (pg 1). Everyone says exact obedience brings miracles, but if you read what the scriptures say, you see that obedience brings blessings (Mosiah 2:41, D&C 130:20, D&C 132:5, etc) and faith is what brings miracles (Ether12:12, Moro. 7:33, etc.). I compared the missionary handbook to the law of Moses and went through what the scriptures teach on that (Gal. 2:16; 2 Ne 25:24-25, 29-30; Mosiah 13:28-32; and Alma 25:16) and you see that salvation does not come by the law, but by Christ. Yet, we still keep the commandments because they serve to strengthen our faith which is what makes us alive in Christ. Obedience is simply one evidence we are faithful to God. Laman and Lemuel were obedient and not faithful, and they didn't see the miracle of getting the plates. Consecration is another big part of being faithful. We must give up all that we have and be consecrated in order to have sufficient faith. Being faithful requires we live principles, not rules. I also focused on how being faithful requires doing things for the right reasons. There are a lot of reasons to serve, but if we really want to be obedient, the first great commandment is to love God with all of our hearts, might, mind, and strength, so that should be our motive. Elder Nelson also counseled us to only marry someone who loves God much more than they love you. Serving out of love rather than for earthly or heavenly reward, out of duty, or anything else. Elder Oaks gave a great talk on that and Elder Osguthorpe did as well. It is something that applies to our whole lives too. We went on exchanges and they were great. I was in New Braunfels which might be the most beautiful area in the mission. It's so scenic. We had some great lessons and we found a new family of four that is super solid. I am really excited for those Elders to teach them. 
Wednesday we another lesson with P and he was even more impressive. He said that "there is something inside me, that just pulls me to do what's right. It's something I've always had." He is incredible and I feel like us and the N family are really good friends too. We had district meeting and Elder W is doing well. He has been impressive. I went on exchanges with Elder T and we had a great day. We are just so similar. I've almost convinced him to go to BYU. We had a really powerful lesson with a part-member family. They aren't interested but we just astonished them. I know they felt the Spirit, but they just don't want to change yet.
Thursday we ended up in the office almost all day because of how far behind we were from the rest of the week. We prepared for MLC on Friday and we didn't have any lessons in the evening.
Friday was MLC. It was one of the best ones I've been to. President gave a training on discernment like I asked for and it was incredible. Surprisingly (not really) it's not reading minds and it comes from the light (Spirit) already within you. A few of us sang that arrangement of "Come, Thou Fount" arranged by Sally DeFord and it was powerful. The Lead Sister Training Leaders gave a great training about who we are. It really hit me about the difference between choosing God and God choosing you. We must choose God always, but God also chooses His children to be His leaders. It was powerful. President got up and answered any questions and we got into some incredible discussions and President shared his experience of when they lowered the age for missionaries and he realized they were going to be called. It was really neat. 
Saturday was P's baptism. It was a great service. A's parents flew in from California to be there and Paul's father-in-law member was suppose to baptize him, but when we got there he was like, "well, he's not here yet, and Elder Pew I'd rather have you do it." It was hard to know what to say since I'm pretty against missionaries baptizing investigators since it ties them to the church better if it's not a missionary, but I couldn't say no and at that point I was the only one who could have an extra pair of clothes that could be brought, so I had the moving Elders bring extra clothes and towel while I changed into a jumpsuit. So I surprisingly had the opportunity to baptize him which I'm so grateful for. He came out of the water and just stood there. I didn't know what to do, but he was really happy. I went to change and the bundle the moving Elders left didn't have a towel (of course), so I had to use paper towels to dry, but besides that the baptism was incredible. He bore his testimony and he's just so advanced for a convert. He even said that he knew the church was true. Sister N offered a sweet prayer to close and thanked God for the missionaries and their diligence in teaching their family.
The ward did a good job of supporting and his confirmation went well too. I am so excited for them! 
Sunday was great. J came to church again and H of course. We had a great lesson with J after church on the gospel of Jesus Christ and he is loving the church, he just needs to commit. We are working with him though. We had a lesson with a new family. They live across the street from a member in this really nice gated community. We found them a month ago when they were just outside and we talked to the wife and it turns out they are interested. We had a great lesson with them and there three kids. The father travels a ton for work so we have a return appointment in two weeks, but we are really excited for that. We let their neighbors know too and they are also excited. We had another lesson with the M family, and we talked about the importance of commandments. I think they are close to committed to really investigating. They are a good family. We also had a short lesson with J and Sister P got moved back to work, so Joseph missed church, but he's doing pretty well. 
This work is true and I know that P's baptism was a true baptism. Even a great person like him can receive so much more by being a part of Christ's true church. Thank you for everything!
Elder Pew