Tuesday, March 31, 2015

End of February and all of March 2015 and some photos!

February 16th, 2015
Dear family,
It was a great week!
Monday night we helped the B family with family history for a bit and then taught them about enduring to the end.
Tuesday we got up early and left for Austin with the Sisters. We went to the Austin Zone Meeting and they asked me to give a training on setting daily, weekly, and monthly goals. It was a good meeting and then I went on exchanges up in Round Rock with Elder L and Elder M. It was a great exchange and we had great experiences. Elder L told me that after I explained in a zone meeting that something I've done to make my prayers more effective is to go into my bathroom closet and pray out loud and he said he has done that ever since. I don't think he realized how loud he was praying either, so I could hear the whole thing and he went through every person in his zone and prayed for them by name and their specific needs. It was incredible and I nearly cried. We have such faithful leaders in our mission.
Wednesday we came down to Austin for the Oak Hills Zone Meeting. It was funny to see the different personalities of each zone. It was a great meeting. The zone leaders there cover UT campus and ward, so that was a blast to serve in. They are in a trio, so I went with the new zone leader, Elder W. He is a great missionary and we had fun. There are so many people outside always so we talked to so many people. UT campus is right in downtown Austin and everyone we talked to was really receptive to talking with us. We taught a ton of lessons and it was just a completely different game. Knocking is really effective and like I said, there are millions of people outside, so you just choose someone to talk to. It was strange to see what college life is like for UT students and it's fast-paced. There were tons of fraternities and it was interesting.
Thursday we drove back for our zone meeting in North Zone. We had our interviews with President and I loved mine. President was just so loving and nice to me, even though I was already in a great mood. He's so incredible. We talked a little about what will happen in July since Elder H and I go home the same day. As we talked I realized I really do want to go back into the field and train a new missionary maybe for my last transfer in Brushy Creek or something. It was great. We had to catch up on all the office work we missed which took us to the evening and our lessons fell through but we met a couple of good people. 
Friday we went on exchanges with the Moving Elders. I went with Elder R. He is doing really well. He's only been out four transfers, but he's doing great things. It was fun to be back in San Pedro for a day. We stopped by a member and they didn't even realize I ever left. It was funny. We found this part-member family that moved in right before I left and caught them home and taught them. It is a single-mother and her son Trevor. Hopefully that continues, it was a great lesson. They got a media referral for this lady and we had an incredible lesson with her. She is a single-mother with two daughters and she lives with her mom. Unfortunately they weren't home, but I guess they taught all of the Saturday and they are on board too. She is dating a member and had already read the whole Book of Mormon and knows the church is true. It was a powerful lesson and she was crying for a lot of it. She totally seems like a member already, she will be a great member. She easily accepted baptism of course. I am really excited for San Pedro to teach her. It's so interesting to see the contrast of teaching someone who is ready and someone who isn't. It just goes so smoothly and they understand so well.
Saturday we were out trying to find almost all day, but didn't have any luck. We also had to work out our schedule for Tuesday because the church is taking 8 of our cars away, but they are random ones throughout the mission, so we have to shuffle cars around to areas that need them and put other missionaries on bikes. We had a lesson with the B family and we finally had their membership record number so we plugged that in and found about 20 names to take to the temple. Brother B was so excited about it, it was awesome. They should go in a week or two.
Sunday was great. Church was really good and the talks were some of the best I've heard. I don't know if I told you, but our Stake President got emergency called to preside over the Salt Lake Mission on March 1st since the mission president's wife died suddenly and the Spendlove family has the resources to just pick up and leave. H came to church and the Ns were there 10 minutes early. P got the Aaronic Priesthood and he was excited and is doing really well. I love that family. We had a great discussion with them about being in the world and not of the world. There is a great talk by Elder Hales that I showed them that talks about how being baptized into the church and keeping your covenants is how to be in the world but not of the world. J didn't come to church again, and we don't know what to do to help him because Sister P works every Sunday. We had another great lesson with the M family. The kids love us coming over and you can really tell Brother M wants to come back. E said she wants to be baptized at some point and Brother M said he would love to baptize her and E. They are probably the closest to getting baptized at this point. Our meeting with President was incredible as usual. "So as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel." Being a missionary is the most fulfilling thing any of us could ever do. Thank you for all the love and prayers!
Elder Pew

An elder sent this to his mom and she sent this portion of his letter to me (Elder Pew's mom)! So nice. "I was with Elder Pew, the more seasoned of the two Assistants, and Elder I was with Elder H. Since we cover two wards, we just split the area in half and worked in both for the day, and it was very effective! It was great to talk to Elder Pew about leadership and how I can improve my leadership capabilities and be a better leader overall. He talked a lot about how fellow missionaries had been doing, and how the area in specific had been going for me. It was great to have a good and uplifting conversation with him centered on the Gospel and on the work, it made me realize that I can do better at that when it's just me and Elder I out working. We definitely had some miracles that day though with people that we hadn't ever been able to catch at home, being at home, and just the lessons that we had going very well that evening. Elder Pew is a great teacher and is very good about using the scriptures in his teaching. He complimented my teaching which was all too kind of him, he knows how to lift others where they stand and he's a great example I learned a lot from."

February 23rd, 2015
Dear family,
This was a fantastic week! So many good things happened as the Lord definitely showed that he is "able to do [His] own work" (2 Ne. 27:21). I'll get right into it
Monday we had a great lesson with P and helped him get started on his family history work and then we helped the S family for FHE to fill out their "Work of Salvation" plan that the ward just came out with. It was great. We had a lesson with the B's daughter again.
Tuesday we had a special zone conference to get the black boxes in our cars. They track everything about our driving. They keep us from driving aggressively and mark you down if you do. They talk to you if you are speeding or something and say "watch speed" but they aren't too sensitive, so you hardly notice they are there. We had to get 8 cars to the mission office and move 8 other cars around, so we spent the entire day with the Moving Elders frantically driving around the mission getting everyone the right car and dropping them off. We got back pretty late, but we had no other option because the Missionary Department told us last Friday and they needed to be there by Wednesday morning. 
Wednesday we drove down to the Border. We went to Eagle Pass's district meeting. It was all in Spanish which was really fun. I understood almost everything that was happening, I just couldn't speak. I went on exchanges with Carrizo Springs, the only English area on the Border. I went with Elder L and Elder M. They are both pretty young and are really impressive. Both of them were very teachable and just wanted to learn so much. We had a couple awesome lessons and Carrizo is a tiny place. It's literally like a five minute drive across the whole town. They have a lot going on though. I had one of the best moments of my mission. We taught this family of 5. A grandma, mom, and three daughters who had been taught a couple times and are progressing really well. We taught them baptism, so we listened to that Inside Out song "I like to Look for Rainbows" with the John the Baptist song. I felt the Spirit very strong as I sat there looking at this cute, humble family trying to follow God looking out over the big Carrizo Springs sky standing up. The church is true. God shows His love by reaching out to struggling families like this one and it was so powerful to be a part of that experience. I felt deep gratitude for the experiences I've had on my mission. We committed them to be baptized on March 14th. The Branch down there only has 25 people, so that will be a great addition. I also played my first game of proselyting basketball. We saw these two guys way down the street so we went to go talk to them and they immediately said "are you ready to lose?" and we tried talking about the church, but they just wanted to play us, so finally I asked if we beat them, would they listen to our message. They said yes, and we only had ten minutes, so we went ahead and played them in a game of 21 to 13 for the lack of time. They weren't even good, so I won pretty fast and set up a lesson for the next day. I explained to the Elders that is rare that that would be the right thing to do, but it was fun and we got a lesson from it. It was a great exchange. I've noticed how much better an exchange goes when both sides are very teachable and are there to learn. President Slaughter says the greatest leaders are the most teachable. It's so true. Elder Eyring gives a great talk about being teachable called "Listen Together," it's a BYU Devotional.
Thursday we drove back and had a great evening. We split with Brother L and D, and I went with Brother D. We were suppose to teach the Bs, but they canceled and right then Brother M texted and said that E got bit by a dog and was in the ER and asked on the ride over for us to come give her a blessing. So we went and did that instead and it was a great experience. Sister M was really grateful and it wasn't too serious. I also realized how queezy I am because I almost passed out just seeing like 5 stitches. It was a great visit.
Friday we helped P with some more family history and I think we got all three of us addicted to family history. We have about 15 names we've found and still haven't hit a line that someone else has done. We had exchanges and I went with Elder W and Elder I in the UTSA singles' ward. It wasn't as crazy as UT. Both Elders are doing well and I am great friends with both. We found a new lady who seemed pretty interested.
Saturday we were suppose to teach this 16 year-old who requested a Book of Mormon on mormon.org, but her mom wasn't going to be there and we wanted to teach the whole family so we rescheduled for Sunday but we brought this Young Women, S, to meet her and invite her to Stake Conference. It was great and J had already read like 7 pages of the Book of Mormon. S is excited with missionary work and has been trying so hard to find someone for us to teach, so it was so cool to see how the Lord blesses those who are honestly trying. It's clear that this whole experience is for Sarah and it's cool.
Sunday was our Stake Conference and it was the best day of my mission! We had Elder Snow and Keele from the Seventy there for the reorganization. H came, the Ns sat with us, and J came with S and LOVED it. She is so prepared. Just as I suspected, Bishop Neuberger (our bishop) got called to be the new Stake President, so now we need a new Bishop. The meeting was great and afterwards T (from San Pedro) came up to talk to me. He is doing so well! It was amazing to see how much he has progressed. He is past Alma 40 in the Book of Mormon already and is excited to go to the temple. He is incredible. After church we taught J and her mom and her sister J who is 7. We had S and her older brother T who is preparing for a mission. J didn't think her mom was interested, but we were glad we were persistent in meeting with her too, because she was very open and was actually taught like 20 years ago. They are a great family! When I asked J what she saw in the picture of the First Vision she said "well that must be Joseph Smith, and that's God and Christ and they came and answered about which church to join?" It was incredible. It's amazing to see how much children inherently know. We committed them to be baptized, but the mom works a crazy schedule and it will be really hard to meet with all of them and for her (Sister O) to come to church, so eventually she will need to quit her job. J is totally excited and ready to be baptized, it was a miracle. S was so excited, it was just great. We had a lesson with the Ms and they are still coming along. E is really opening up, but Brother and Sister M like us coming over, but aren't really committing or acting, so they need some prayers. We stopped by the A family, the one we met forever ago and we had given them a Book of Mormon before they left on a trip two weeks ago. We were following up and Brother A let us right in and told us that they had read the first few pages of the Book of Mormon and he was blown away. We gave him one that the youth had written a testimony in and apparently whatever they wrote hit him really hard. Another sign that the Lord consecrates our efforts for our gain, something simple like that made a powerful effect on them. We had to leave but he wanted us to come back as soon as possible, so we are going on Tuesday and we are really excited. It's a family of 5 with we think 3 baptismal age people. Our meeting with President was really good. We talked a lot about the Stake Conference and the unwritten order of the church. Things you can only learn through observation, revelation, and experience. At Stake Conference there was a powerful difference between all of the testimonies and talks from the first few speakers and then from the Seventy and President and Sister Slaughter because theirs were so focused on the doctrine and they were powerful. President Slaughter is incredible.
I am so grateful for my mission. This is absolutely the best thing for me. I am so grateful to be in the Texas San Antonio Mission. There is something so special about it that probably everyone says about their mission but you would have to be here to experience. The gospel is true and we witnessed this week that it is a living church. Thank you for all the love and support!
Elder Pew

March 2nd, 2015
Dear family,
This was a very eventful week. I'm going to go by investigators this week.
1. H- We taught him on Monday and basically established expectations that we help people prepare for baptism, so when we come over, that is what we are going to do. He understands he doesn't need to meet with us just to come to church. So we won't be going by him as much and we can spend more time elsewhere and keep the ward working with H We had a great discussion with the Elders Quorum President who has been very helpful with him and he will lead out those interactions until he's ready to be baptized. 
2. J- We taught J after mutual with the Laurels and she is doing so well! She has read all of 1 Nephi and really wants to get baptized. We were suppose to meet with her mom alone on Friday, but she canceled and then our lesson with the whole family Saturday. We taught just J and her younger sister J again. We set her with the 21st and she is really excited, but her mom told her that might be too soon. We are trying really hard to help Sister O and to meet the older sister as well, but we didn't have much luck this week. S took her to church again and she loves the Young Women. Apparently she answered all the questions in Young Womens. S is almost as excited as J for her baptism. 
3. Ms- Went out of town for the cheer competition, but we dropped them off cookies before they left, hopefully they got them and we pick right back up where we left off. 
4. Brother W- We talked to this man several weeks ago and he said he was interested but he's been busy until this week and we finally sat down and taught him and he was really open and excited to read the Book of Mormon and come to church, but he didn't come. He is by himself and about 50 and is a good guy. We have another lesson with him tonight.
5. B family- New family that we met street contacting by our ward mission leader's house in a really nice gated community. We had a really great lesson with them. Brother B is really interested and he started by asking what makes us different. He said all Mormons have this glow and they all seem to be what all Christians should be. We told him we were going to teach him what makes us different and the Restoration was perfect. We were able to teach very clearly, simply, and boldly is that we are different because we are literally part of Christ's church. The only one with the true authority. They have three kids who are very well behaved and it went really well. He canceled the return appointment though and said they need to "talk about it as a family" and he would contact us after he had studied a bit more, so hopefully he studies the right sources. 
6. J- Still hasn't come to church but we had a good visit and he still wants to come to the church, he just wants his wife to be able to come with.
7.The N are doing so well! We tried to take them to walk around the temple but A got sick, but they were really bummed and really wanted to reschedule. So we are going Tuesday morning. . We talked about how a testimony is really built on four things: Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and Priesthood keys. P thanked us because he said he keeps thinking about what he would say if he went up to the podium. He leaves Thursday for Austin for about a month, so we will have to take him to do baptisms after because we didn't get a new Bishop yet this week.
We had transfer planning Tuesday and Wednesday and it was so great. It is one of my favorite things for sure about being here. It's incredible to watch President and how much he loves each missionary and it's a great time to learn how revelation works and councils. We actually finished early, but we didn't feel good about it, and after doing some of the office work Thursday and Friday we started changing a couple other things and finally we felt the confirming revelation that it was changed to what it needed to be. It is really cool how that works. We reassigned two zone leaders as district leaders, the first of many in the next three transfers since we are losing something like 15 zone leaders and 15 district leaders, so by reassigning zone leaders they can train up new district leaders to replace them and help the young zone leaders. It will be really good. We called everyone Sunday night to let them know if they are staying or going, and it is fun to talk to all the missionaries. It will be a good transfer. 
I am so grateful for the chance to be serving the Lord. There is nothing as rewarding. The more we forget about ourselves the happier we will be. Thank you for your examples of living the gospel. 
Elder Pew

March 9th, 2015
Dear family,
This was a great and crazy week, although not as crazy as most transfer weeks. Here is the rundown:
Monday we had a lesson with R. He's doing really well. We had a great lesson and read 2 Nephi 31 and he totally understood the need to be baptized. He said, "well I guess I've accepted Christ, and I've been repenting, so I guess my next step is baptism." We set him for the 28th but he missed church due to a family emergency. He's great.
Tuesday morning we were up really early to drive to Austin to pick up the departing missionaries. There were only 3 in Austin, so it wasn't too bad. We dropped them off and finished the other office work we needed to and went out to work. We took the N to the temple just to walk around the grounds. They dressed up all nice anyways and it was really misty that day and it was beautiful. We tried to have them be reverent and think about the importance of the temple for their family, but P just kept asking questions so that didn't work but we answered his questions and it was powerful. They are super excited to go to the temple. They took us to Kneader's for lunch and it was so much fun. They are such good people. They got mini scriptures for Jack, it was pretty awesome. We had a lesson with this atheist guy named A. He has a friend on a mission, so he was curious. We told him if he was willing to "give up all of his sins to know God," he would know of His existence and His love. He was open and that's why we were able to be very open about that. We had a really good lesson with the O family. We had dinner with a less-active family, the Ss, and we asked Brother S if he could come to the lesson and so we brought him. He said he wasn't going to say anything, but he ended up testifying throughout the lesson. We helped Sister O a lot and she said she thinks J is getting baptized too soon, but she wants to "feel how she feels" so we told her how, through the Book of Mormon and coming to church and she said she wants to feel comfortable at church, so we set up a church tour, but then she canceled on us and didn't come to church, but J is doing great. Prayers for Sister O would be great. The departing missionaries stayed at our apartment and Elder H was one of them, so it was good to talk to him.
Wednesday morning we took the departing missionaries to the airport. We had a training meeting for the new District Leaders and it went well. The Area Leaders helped us this time with the incoming missionaries. We had a really great group. Lots of future leaders. One is Elder J. He is from South Africa and he said he knew some Louws and Futters, but I didn't know any first names, so if you send me some info on those families that would be great. He's from Johannesburg and he's really cool. He's in the zone, which will be cool. We drove them to the temple and the Alamo and it was a blast. They were all super tired by the end of the night. We found out it was suppose to snow in the morning which would have been crazy since it was good weather on Thursday, but President didn't feel good about it so we called everyone and postponed transfer meeting two hours later for safety. 
Thursday morning we didn't have to get up as early and we studied with the new missionaries. It was awesome. We each bore our testimonies and abrazo-ed and it was a great start to the day. Transfer meetings went really well. It was a smooth process. It was a pretty easy transfer to figure out logistically this time. We got back really late though, and it was 8:45 by the time we were back, but we decided to stop by R and we had a great lesson with him and his sister that happened to be there. It was a nice little miracle. We set up a lesson for the next day.
Friday we had a meeting with President and the Sisters for the upcoming Zone Conferences. We are going to do them on teaching skills. It will be good and I'm a little nervous because the way we are going to do it is split off into groups and then we are going to just practice practice practice and evaluate and practice again trying to help the missionaries lift their vision on how to help people really understand what we are offering them. It will be exciting. We did our office work and then had a lesson with R and Brother L. It went great. We taught the Plan of Salvation and he understood it really well. He's great. We finally got in and taught the A family. We testified of the resurrection and life after death. They were really grateful we came. Hopefully their when lives calm down so we can teach them more. We really want to show them the "Because of Him" Easter video from last year. It's perfect. 
Saturday we had a great lesson with the M family. We talked about the importance of reading the Book of Mormon and it went really well. We committed them to read daily.
Sunday we got a new bishop. It is Brother S, the 1st Counselor. Brother B and T are the counselors. H came to church and so did J and the Ns. All of our lessons fell through, but we helped with Mission Prep class for the stake. We taught the Restoration and helped the youth practice teaching too. It was a good experience. They have no idea what great experiences await them on their missions. We had two companionships of ZLs and STLs come to our meeting with President just to give them the experience and it was a blast. We had some great doctrinal discussions and I loved it. President and Sister Slaughter are incredible. 
Something that I've noticed recently in my studies that I've been obsessed with is how the Book of Mormon invites us to live consecrated lives, not just to believe. That is part of the power of the Book of Mormon. It's not just enough to believe. We must give up all that we are and have to God and that is the only way to have true happiness. Here are just three examples:
2 Nephi 25:29-"And now behold, I say unto you that the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might , mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out." (my current favorite verse)
Omni 1:26- "And now, my beloved brethren, I would that ye shouldcome unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption. Yea, come unto him, and offer your whole souls as anoffering unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth ye will be saved."
Moroni 10:32- "Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, anddeny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God."
I know living a consecrated life is the way to a truly happy life. This is the true church. Thank you for all that you do!
Elder Pew

President Slaughter and Elder Pew at a zone conference in Austin taken by Elder Pew's Aunt!

March 16th, 2015
Dear family,
I guess the fact that we have lots to do doesn't really separate this week from any other, but that's how I feel. We did plan our transfer and we planned way less exchanges and meetings, so we should have quite a bit more time in our area. That will be good. Zone conferences start this week with the emphasis on teaching. 
Monday night we had a great evening. We had a visit with the A family to discuss their work of salvation plan and they told us they have a friend in our ward boundaries they feel is ready for the gospel, and we didn't even have to ask. They set up a dinner with them for Friday, so that was pretty fast. Recent converts are so good about sharing the gospel. We had a lesson with R and read Moroni 6 with him. He liked it. We taught a new guy named C who is a YSA that we met street contacting. He canceled the return appointment, so we are going to try by again. 
Tuesday we had MLC. We went to the temple again, except we had 8 more missionaries than they would let us take, so we uninvited ourselves, the LSTLs, and Area Leaders and set up an extra temple trip for Saturday with just us. It was perfect because we had the Area Leaders with us and we were able to practice and role play our role plays for zone conference. It helped us all to get on the same page and be more prepared when missionaries do unexpected things or just to help them see a better way to teach. The MLC portion was incredible. I gave a training called "the teachable TSAM" about how that needs to be our culture in the mission and President Slaughter always says that the culture of the mission starts with the MLC. I specifically talked about how to be teachable and to prepare to get the most possible out of exchanges and meetings. I talked about why we need to be teachable, because the Lord needs His leaders to be moldable and our progression perfectly parallels our increase in knowledge. I got the idea from a talk by Elder Eyring "Listen Together." I listed four practical things we can do to improve our teachability and they really help a lot. It works if you are in a class when you know the teacher will know much less than you and you can still learn. First, you can pray for those you will learn from. I mentioned specifically praying to recognize the other missionary as a servant of the Lord and that you will be open to learning. Second, learn and study the gospel. We can prepare for the exchanges or meetings by studying and going in with specific things we want to learn. As we prepare to receive revelation our hearts will be opened and the Spirit will teach us what we need (Helaman 6:36). Third, repent and conform to the teachings of the church. We must be willing to change based on the things we learn. We should set goals to improve based on what we learn. We should listen to even the faintest prompting and obey showing the Lord that we are willing to follow and He is more likely to bless us with more (Alma 12:9-10). Fourth, we should serve those we will learn from. On exchanges we should serve those we are with and in meetings we can ask "what are they trying to accomplish?" and "how can I help them get there?" It really changes the meeting so much for you. I only had 15 minutes so I had to go through it quickly, but I hope it helps the mission be very teachable when they go on exchanges with their Sister Training Leader, District Leader, Zone Leader, or whatever. Our evening was slow, we had a bunch of lessons cancel on us.
Wednesday we had District Meeting and it was great. Elder W continues to do well. We had to do our office work for the week and our evening was again slow because we had so many lessons cancel, so we tried our best to move in faith although we didn't see any immediate results.
Thursday we had the trainer/trainee meeting and our van had to go into the shop because the transmission is being strange, so we took a spare Corolla that we've been driving around ever since. The meeting went really well. We had an amazing group of new missionaries. Elder A is doing well. Lots of leaders. I gave the same training on being faithful to God, and I thought it went better than the last one, which obviously it should have. We had Brother F with us for the evening and we had a lesson with H. Mostly to invite him to a baptism this week, but we went ahead and read Alma 42 also. Brother F was really good. He just straight up asked H what is keeping him from baptism in a very loving way, and H didn't really tell him, but Brother F was very helpful. 
Friday we got to weekly plan which was great. We had Brother L with us and we had a great lesson with R. We taught about prophets and set him with the 5th for baptism. He accepted and is reading the Book of Mormon on his own. He likes Brother L. We set up a church tour for Saturday at 4, but later we found out there was a baptism at 3, so we invited him to that with a church tour after. 
Saturday was amazing. We went to the temple in the morning. It was a great session and I saw the last of the three videos that I hadn't seen, so I've seen them all now. It was great to talk to President in the Celestial Room. We went to their house for brunch with the other missionaries and it was a great time. We had R follow us to the church and he was late getting ready and of course the highway was closed that day, so we showed up 30 minutes late for the baptism, but luckily it hadn't happened yet. He enjoyed it and it was a great baptism. We took him around the church afterwards and Brother A came to that. They got along super well. We had dinner with the M family and E was there again. We shared an Easter thought and E will come along eventually. We found a new family called the P family at 8:40 sitting outside their apartment. It is a grandma who is raising three grandkids. It went really well and we taught the Plan of Salvation. They understood well, but weren't there for the return appointment on Sunday. Oh well.
Sunday we had a great time at church. Bishop Smith is great. The P family were sick again and the Ns didn't make it, but R and J came. R loved church and ward was incredible with him. There are so many kingdom-builders in this ward. We had a lesson with B and V again, but he hadn't read and isn't necessarily looking to convert, but he is interested in reading the Book of Mormon so we read 3 Nephi 11 with him and left him the rest of 3 Nephi to read. We'll see where they go. We taught the P family. They are a lot like the Bs where they aren't very proactive, but they believe it's true. It was a great Sunday. 
There is no doubt this is the true church. When we live the gospel to its fullest we will be happy. I am so grateful for my mission, to learn that again and again and again. Thank you for your examples!
Elder Pew
Leadership Training Photo

March 23rd, 2015
Dear family,
This was a great week and I had some pretty bad luck. First, because we had so many exchanges this week I only ended up sleeping in a bed 3 times this week, the rest were on the couch or the floor. Then I was shaving on Saturday and I realized I hadn’t cleaned out my shaver in a while so I decided to take it apart and when I pushed the button to do that, it fell out of my hand and bounced on the counter into the sink, broke, and then the three razors fell off and down the drain in the only sink without a stopper thing. So I need to buy a new one today unfortunately. Then this morning we came outside to play tennis and couldn’t find our car and we realized it had been towed because we forgot to move the parking pass from our van that is in the shop for transmission issues into our extra car, so that’s also why $220 were taken out of my account. So that was rough, but besides that it was a good week full of excitement.
Monday was great. We went to this cool high-tech driving range that has all these big targets you try to hit and the further away they are, the more points you get for P day. It was fun. We had a lesson with the M and they opened up a lot to us. We asked them if they were close to coming back and they again said that they don’t like to be pushed, but Sister M said she has thought about it, which is a huge change from what she said three months ago. They are getting really close. We are going to try really hard to get them to come to Conference at the church with a pot-luck afterwards so they can meet all the members. We had a lesson with J at the B’s home and it went really well. The Bs are incredible. They would fit in with our ward so well and their son got his call to New York South and he leaves July 8th, which is strange. He reminds me of me. We are still waiting on J’s mom.
Tuesday we started Zone Conference. The first hour is President, then we introduce the role-plays that we do, and then we split into 8 groups in different classrooms and we have 3 25 minute sessions practice teaching for understanding. Basically what we want them to get out of it is that what we teach is not necessarily what they understand. We need to shift our focus from OUR teaching to THEIR understanding. Just because we have taught something doesn’t mean they understand so we must ask questions to make sure and then clarify things that they don’t understand. I was a little nervous for that part, but they went well and everyone loved it. Afterwards we played a scripture mastery type game for the 21 chapters in the Book of Mormon we have been studying. Here they are if you are wondering: 2 Ne 2, 9, 31, Mosiah 2, 3, 4, 5, 15, 16, Jacob 4, Alma 5, 7, 11, 12, 40, 41, 42, Helaman 14, 3 Ne 27, Ether 12, Moroni 7. They are incredible. Afterwards President finished with a training on how the Book of Mormon was put together and it was incredible. He knows the Book of Mormon so well. He talked about how one reason it is the most correct book on earth is that the four main writers (not prophets, the ones who actually wrote what we have) were all personal witnesses of Jesus Christ, and so was the prophet who translated it. It was powerful. We went on exchanges and I was with Elder O in Round Rock. We had a great time and had some great opportunities to teach and practice what we learned at Zone Conference. I realized that the most important thing about the zone conference is we need to shift our focus from ourselves to them. At first we might have some clunky awkward sentences and things, but it’s so important we actually help them understand what we are offering them. We had 8 missionaries in the apartment because Elder H went with Elder O’s other two companions and they live with Elder Ts and his companion who went on an exchange with Elder L, an area leader, so we had 8. It was a blast.
Wendesday we had another zone conference in Austin and afterwards I went on exchanges in Capital with Elder Jensen and Wynne. It went well. They still mostly knock, so I talked to them a little bit at the end about the difference between finding people to teach (which is easy in their area knocking), and finding people to baptize (maybe I’m wrong and knocking is the answer, but I think it would have to do with member involvement). They teach so many lessons knocking because everyone is open, but they don’t go anywhere. We also had 8 missionaries again in the apartment.
Thursday we drove back with the Sisters in time for District Meeting. It was a good meeting. We had to do our office work that afternoon. We had a lesson with R and Brother B. It went really well and we taught him the Word of Wisdom. He has to quit coffee and tea, but he’s willing to give it up. He wasn’t feeling good this weekend, so he didn’t come to church, but he’s progressing really well. We had a first lesson with these two single guys and they were pretty interested but we passed them off to Sister Powell and her companion who cover the Singles Ward here. For some reason every new person we find is a single person. We had two more first lessons with Singles that we passed off to them and have another potential one. Sister Powell is doing really well.
Friday I went on exchanges to Randolph. I was with Elder T. He is from Mexico City and didn’t speak English when he came. He has a thick accent, but his English is really good. He has only been out a year and is very sharp. He’s going to be a great leader in the mission and the church. Their apartment got bed-bugs the day before, so we were working out of an extra apartment in Converse and he forgot the area book with all the addresses, so a lot of our plans got ruined so I was taking him to all the people I taught when I was there. We had a lesson with Brother W’s dad and a couple other people. They were all really happy to see me, especially A, the less-active guy me and Elder H found. He’s made tons of progress and he’s working towards the Aaronic Priesthood and was speaking at their baptism the next day. It’s amazing to see the change in people. We had an awesome day and came back to the extra apartment that was empty of course, so we just slept on the floors. It was awesome. I was really grateful for that day because I have always considered Randolph to be the hardest area I was in and I had felt like I didn’t do too much good there, but as we stopped by people it was neat to see that I did affect people’s lives and I realized we were teaching tons of different people in Randolph. We worked hard and it was cool to look back after a few months and realize how much we did in the area even if we couldn’t tell at the time.
Saturday we exchanged back and we had the full day to work. We had a couple lessons fall through and then S brought J to the church for a lesson before the Sonterra Sisters had a baptism. J still really wants to be baptized, and she loved the service, but her mom says it’s too soon. They are moving on Saturday though and we got like 8 people to help with the move and hopefully that will soften her heart to see the selflessness of the members. I would like to teach J about fasting this week and then we can all fast this Sunday for fast Sunday that her mom will give her permission to be baptized. She is so ready. After the baptism we had a few other lessons fall through, but we are meeting tons of people.
Sunday was great. Only J came to church because of R’s health and H was busy, but Sister P came. Her Visiting Teachers told us that J isn't doing well. It is super sad. Sister P seems to be doing well though and she is really strong to be doing what she’s doing. The Ns are still in Austin with a carnival and don’t get back until the April. We had a lesson with the Ms again and brought Brother D because he knows Brother M from their childhood. We had a great Easter lesson and E has been reading her picture Book of Mormon. She is such a good kid. Brother and Sister M are making great progress. We promised them cookies if they read this week. They are such a good family. Our meeting with President was great. He’s so incredible.  
Thank you all for your love and your examples, it means a lot to me. There is nothing better than being a missionary. Have a great week!
Elder Pew

March 30th, 2015

Dear family,
The subject line (The Cows Have Spoken) comes from Sister F at zone conference (she is one of the LSTLs and is the one I gave a blessing to back in Brushy Creek if you remember). The zone conference on the border was in all Spanish and so the game about the 21 chapters in the Book of Mormon was fun and us leaders played since I had to translate everything into English in my head, so I thought it would be hard, but we crushed the districts on the border. Elder H was the judge and he made a really bad call and ripped us off one time and so all of us kinda moaned about it and it sounded like cows, and then Sister F said that. It was funny. This was an eventful week. If you haven’t had a chance to watch the new Easter video, I recommend it. I like “Because of Him” from last year more, but this one is still good.
Monday was crazy because of the car getting towed. We had a lesson with R and we brought Brother B again. R told us that his family was giving him a hard time about converting and then he said it was confusing why we switched rooms so much at church, so he said he’s going to try a different church. I think it was for several reasons, but the main one is probably the family opposition. It may have been hard on his health to walk around so much at church. He said he still wants to read from the Book of Mormon and he isn’t done, he is just slowing down and taking a break. We told him about General Conference and he was very willing to watch that, so hopefully that helps him. That was sad but it was cool to see how the Lord blesses us when we don’t have wavering faith. We knew the Lord had a plan and we saw some great things happen.
Tuesday we had zone conference again. It went really well. We changed a couple things, but it was mostly just having President Slaughter talk more, so of course it was an improvement. We had two incredible lessons after Zone Conference. We had Brother M with us, and we taught this new guy we met street contacting named P and J. P is a former boxer and competes in jiu-jitsu and he is very receptive. He understood the Restoration well and Brother M was perfect. He bore a great testimony and invited him to sit with him at church. We had a lesson with J at the church before mutual and S was there too. We taught Sabbath and fasting and it was so powerful. We all fasted that Sister O would have a soft heart on Sunday. The Spirit was strong in the lesson as we talked about fasting for a miracle. We talked about how true faith is trusting in the Lord even if we don’t see what we want. It comes from the phrase in Daniel 3 “But if not…” We must have faith that the Lord is ABLE to do a miracle, but if not, we must continue to follow Him. Brother M got choked up and thanked J for her example. It was powerful. We are going by Sister O tomorrow.
Wednesday we had zone conference and then I was on exchanges in Helotes. It is a cool area just west of San Antonio. For some reason no one was home, so we didn't get to talk to a lot of people, but it was still a good exchange. Great Elders. When I was gone, Elder H and Elder S taught the A family. The one we found forever ago and they haven't had time to meet. We decided earlier this week to stop going by them and to move on with faith. They were outside of their apartment so they decided to talk to them and they had a powerful lesson. It was cool to see that Lord was almost testing us and see if we would have faith to move on with this family even if they seemed so golden, and right when we proved we were willing to submit to His will and move on, he plopped them back into our laps, also after trying our faith with R kinda dropping us. 
Thursday we weekly planned which was great since this next week we are going to be so busy inviting everyone to conference and trying to watch the new Easter video with them. We received two media referrals but one wasn't in our area, but that was still cool. The Area Leaders spent the night with us because we left super early to go to the border Friday.
Friday we left at 5:30 to go to the border zone conference. We took the mission van so all of us could fit. It was really fun. We made it to Del Rio just before 8:45. The entire zone conference was in Spanish and it was cool. It is interesting to see how my Spanish has changed on my mission. Before I knew all the grammar but I couldn't understand what people were saying, and now I can listen and understand really well, but I've forgotten all the grammar. I understood almost the entire zone conference. I didn't do as much since I can't really speak Spanish. I took the tier 2 test (there are three tiers of Spanish in our mission) and scored 62% and 70% is passing, so they gave me a certificate anyways. If Senorita sent me my packet I think I could easily pass tier 2. Every area on the border got an exchange with one of us, so that was fun. I was with Elder B and Elder D in El Indio in Eagle Pass. The Border is sweet. It is about half Spanish and half English, so we mostly only ended up talking to English speakers.
Saturday morning we did a huge Spanish study because that is the Area Leaders responsibility to help with Spanish and there were seven of us in the apartment. I went with Elder H who is in his third transfer and we worked at our level and the zone leaders and Elder P our area leader switched off helping us with our Spanish. It was fun and it's interesting to see that I'm about at the level of a third transfer Spanish called missionary. We drove up to Del Rio to pick up the other missionaries and drove back to San Antonio. We got back around 4:30 and when we went to drop the area leaders off at their cars in our apartment, Elder H and L's car was gone. They misunderstood the guest parking signs and they got towed! It was insane. We had to go pick up another VSF form and all the banks were closed so we looked up UPS stores and there was only one store that hadn't closed so we could get our paper notarized. We had to leave immediately because it closed at 6. Once we got close, we started driving on the road leading to Fort Sam and we realized that the store was on Fort Sam Houston, so that wasn't going to work. We had no idea what to do and then Elder H realized he knew someone from the Spanish branch in the area that could notarize things. So he called the Elders over that area and asked for the number to the member he knew. They didn't answer the phone so we drove to their apartment because he remembered where they lived. They moved and so he got another number of a family friend that he thought would know if they moved and sure enough they gave us the new address and we stopped by. The wife with the notary wasn't home, but the husband was, and he knew of one place locally that could notarize documents. We went there and by then it was about 6:45 and it said it closed at 6 but luckily they were still open so we finally got the document notarized and went over to the car impound. It was crazy and hilarious. We were just laughing the whole time especially because we were so lucky it happened to be Elder H who had all these family connections we could use. There was terrible traffic and construction on the highway home, so we got back around 8:15. We stopped by the O family because they had moved earlier in the day to a different apartment in our complex and we got a bunch of members to go and help. J said Sister O was very thankful, so hopefully it helps soften her heart.
Church was great. H came and sat next to me and it was fast and testimony meeting and he asked me what exactly a testimony is (which is sad that we as members make that really confusing) so I told him it just consists of declaring what you know to be true and usually is based on Joseph Smith being a prophet, the Book of Mormon being true, Christ being our Savior, and the priesthood being restored, and I could tell he was debating getting up. I told him the ward would love it if he did. He turned to me and asked another question about 5 minutes later and I knew he was seriously considering it. I leaned over and told him it could be real short and simple and I would get up too if he wanted. He said he just needed to think about what he would say. Finally he got up and bore his testimony and he did great. He is such a member. P randomly texted us and it was so incredible. This is what he said: "Good morning Elders! We have not seen you guys for quite some time now. The truth is we miss spending time with yall in our home. Thank you for teaching us so much about the gospel and our Heavenly Father. Your service inspires us continually. Thank you for carrying out so diligently the Lords work her on earth. We will not be at church this morning. We flew to California to witness our niece's baptism. And A's brother is giving his home coming talk today. I just wanted you to know that we miss you guys, and the Deerfield ward. See you soon, the N family." It made me so happy. They are awesome. We had an incredible lesson with the A family. We taught them the Restoration and they understood. We talked about how they would need to commit and that it takes sacrifice to follow God. We asked why they want to give this a shot and they said everytime they had a bad day we stopped by and it was a sign to them. It was incredible. They just need to be solid enough to start reading the Book of Mormon and come to church. We went from that to a lesson with the M and we brought Brother D again. It went super well. We just wanted to get them excited for Conference because that will be a huge step for them if we can get them to watch it. Brother D is having a get together at his house after the afternoon session on Sunday so we had him invite them to his house. The kids were really excited about it and we promised them more cookies at the D house if they read the Book of Mormon every day. Sister M works on Sunday, but Brother M plans to bring the kids. He grew up with Brother D, so he's the only one in the ward they feel comfortable with. We are so excited. They are progressing so well! Our meeting with President was great. We had Elder L and I with their companions come down for the meeting because we are doing a district leader meeting this week and we want them to see that we value them a lot as former zone leaders. It will be great. It was an awesome week. 
We definitely learned that the Lord is so good to us. We truly do receive a witness AFTER a trial of our faith. He has miracles waiting to happen, we just need to keep going. This is the Lord's work. Thank you for everything you do!
Elder Pew