Tuesday, May 5, 2015

All of April's letters from Elder Pew and some photos!

April 6th, 2015

Dear family,
District Leader Training
This was a great week! We held a District Leader Conference for the mission this week and we had Elder W give a training on keeping apartments in order. The first thing he said is "President Slaughter and the Assistants are like the First Presidency. Elder W, Elder R, and I are the Presiding Bishopric. We take care of the temporal needs of the mission." It was hilarious. His whole training was funny, but he went like 15 minutes over. 
Monday we had a great lesson with J at the Bs. She is doing incredible. We taught her about family history and temples, but she already knew everything. We were going to show her familysearch.org, but she already had an account and found some relatives. She is working on Personal Progress, and she knew which prophet's teachings are found in 2 Nephi 9 without us telling her (and it's not Nephi if that's what you are thinking). She is great. We tried contacting her mom all week, but we didn't make contact.
Tuesday I was on exchanges with Elder W. It was a blast. He has made so much improvement. He is a very stable and steady missionary now. We got a call from the Balcones Heights sisters and told us they had an investigator that moved into our area, and that their day off was Tuesday, so we went and contacted them. They are a cool couple. They are really young and have two kids. They are trying to get back on their feet. and living in their friends apartment who is being generous. They were taught several times and we showed them "Because of Him" and they loved it. They have been reading a little bit in the Book of Mormon, so hopefully they progress well. We also shared the "Because He Lives" video with several people on the street on their smart phone, so that was cool.
Wednesday we had our District Leader Conference. I gave a training on conducting effective exchanges and giving correction. My main emphasis was that we often correct others too much. Much of the "correcting" should be taught by example. The missionary handbook makes it clear that is what it is suppose to be like. Also, there is a difference between correcting and suggestions. We should rarely give correction, especially in the TSAM because everyone is so obedient. That is vocally helping someone that is way off the path to and is doing something harmful to their effectiveness or salvation. Suggestions are merely things that could help them improve, but aren't life-altering and even many of those should be taught by example. So on exchanges we should do everything we can to be examples because that Spirit we bring is what will teach the other missionaries more powerfully than anything we can say. I talked about the three most important things we should be examples of are constant faith, consecration, and conversion. The three C's. President got up in MLC and used those same things and read letters he receives about exchanges and it was really cool to hear that they often said things like, "the things I learned weren't said. I was so impressed by their constant faith" or "their consecration." Those are also the things that should last after the mission too. We had a great meeting. We had a good lesson with P and he seems to get really excited about what we teach. He was so excited about Apostles, but he didn't come to General Conference. 
Thursday we did all the office work we needed to. We helped the As. They are such a good couple. They also told us they allowed this Medical student from Mexico live with them and so they brought them to Conference. We are also teaching a different friend in their home on Friday. They are such good member missionaries simply because they don't worry about being awkward or slow with things, they just be themselves. We brought H with us to a lesson with the Os. It was a good experience though to have H add his testimony and give him a chance to vocalize it. We figure that is all we can help him with at this point. 
Leadership Conference
Friday was MLC. It was incredible. Elder I and Elder I gave great trainings on how to help District Leaders. The LSTLs both gave trainings on exchanges and correction and it was cool to see they had some of the same thoughts that I had from the District Leader Conference. Sister R and her companion are STLs in Round Rock and they are the ASL missionaries. There was a deaf expo that they went to and had been preparing for for like 3 months. They taught like 26 lessons at the expo and got about another 30 referrals, and things have just exploded with that, so we had them speak to us for a bit on what happened and how we can help. It was inspiring. President Slaughter gave incredible trainings again. Elder H and I gave a training on the "Because He Lives" video and how to keep it going after Easter. We did a big scripture chain of what the Book of Mormon teaches about the resurrection (Mosiah 15:8-9, Mosiah 16:8-9, 2 Nephi 2:7, Alma 34:9, 2 Nephi 25:13, Helaman 14:15). It was a great MLC. I went on exchanges with Elder H right after. He is a younger Zone Leader and he is great. We had a bunch of things fall through but we had some really good discussions. We had a lesson with the M. They told us they were planning on going to the Davis' for Conference on Sunday. That was great.
Saturday was incredible. We had to print off stewardships for transfer planning this week, so we didn't have any time to proselyte, but Conference was so good. Several of them stuck out, especially Elder Bednar and Elder Andersen of the 70 and Elder Ballard in Priesthood. That was perfect. J watched Saturday afternoon at the B's and loved it. The As brought their new roommate and she seemed to enjoy it.
Sunday was also incredible. Elder Holland and Elder Nelson's stuck out but they were all good. We went to the D' for afternoon session and the Ms came! We brought them cookies. I think Brother M enjoyed it and hopefully they stayed after for awhile. We stopped by the As just to see what we should do with M and they have already talked to her a ton about the church, and they brought her down so we showed the "Because He Lives" video and basically invited her to investigate. She will only be here for a month or so, but she has a great spirit about her. She would be a great kingdom builder in Mexico, especially since she is working on her PhD. We had a great meeting with President. We counseled together and decided it is time to bring in and train another Assistant and I am going to go back into the field. I'm not sure where, but it will be good. Elder C is my replacement and he will do really well. It will be sad to go, but I trust that there is somewhere I need to be for the remainder of my time. 
Elder Pew's district
We had such a great opportunity to witness one of the great characteristics of being part of Christ's true church. To hear prophets and Apostles speak. One thing I've learned on my mission is the need to be "quick to observe." We all heard things that we can improve and do better, and there is no point to the Conference if we don't quickly observe them. I hope each of us take the inspiration we received and act on it. It was also special to be representatives of Christ on Easter, to bear witness of Him. He does live. He "stands betwixt [us] and justice" and he made it possible for us to overcome both physical death as well as spiritual death. We can return to live in His presence as we accept Him and live His gospel. This is the church that contains the fulness of it and the authority to teach and administer the ordinances necessary to access His Atonement. Thank you for all you do!
Elder Pew
Elder Pew and his companion with a friend

April 13th, 2015

Dear family,
Monday we picked up Elder C and he's doing well. He's so teachable and humble. He's great. We had a lesson with this man we met several weeks ago street contacting and he missed the appointment but we saw him Monday night and he beckoned to us and wanted us to come in. It was a great lesson, but we haven't been able to get together again. His name is A.
Tuesday we started transfer planning. It is always incredible to see the love and inspiration from President Slaughter. It gets easier every time because I know all the missionaries so much better. It took awhile to find a place for me. It just so happened that the best place would be in Brushy Creek. I would be over 8 missionaries in the district and Elder T just happens to be there and he is in his first transfer but he's going to be really good. We finished out the planning for the day and I had no idea what to think about going to Brushy Creek. Lots of mixed emotions. We had a great evening. We had a lesson with P and again he was so excited to see us and loved everything we taught. He canceled our next lesson and missed church. Not sure how to help him. We had a lesson with J and S and talked about missionary work but unsurprisingly J is already doing tons of missionary work. She's great. We had a lesson with this lady named M about the Book of Mormon. She was another person we street contacted and she was really interested. She didn't come to church but was excited to start reading. 
Wednesday we finished transfer planning, and throughout the day I felt uneasy about going back to Brushy Creek. I don't want the mission to think that I just chose where to go and moved everyone out of the way so it could happen and Elder M, who is in Brushy Creek right now has been very clear about the fact that he doesn't want to leave Brushy Creek. I voiced these concerns with President Slaughter, but he didn't see a problem and really liked the idea of me going there, so that is where I am going! So I'm very excited and also nervous for how people react. I'm sure it will be good. My only goal is to baptize a family. That is my only desire. That night was the night Elder H left, but Elder C and I didn't have much luck besides the Indian couple we taught. 
Thursday we had zone meeting in the morning. It was great. Elder W and I sang our own words to "Oh Savior thou who Wearest a Crown" to the tune of "If you Could Hie to Kolob" and it went really well. I wish we recorded it. That will probably be our last chance to do that. We had to do a bunch of office work after that until dinner. We also didn't have much success that night, but we set up a bunch of lessons for the next few days.
Friday we had to go pick up Elder H in Austin and bring him back. We got more of the office work done and then headed out. We had dinner and a lesson with M at the As. We had a lesson with R and we just watched "Come, Join with Us" with him. He really liked that, so we'll see if he starts to open up some more. He's doing better. We also had a lesson with the Ms that was great. I had the son build a lego house while we opened to the scripture. We talked about the importance of having a strong foundation and that the way that we build that foundation is by hearing and doing the words of Christ. That is exactly what they need to know right now too. It went well.
Saturday we finished the office work for the weekend and headed out. We had a lesson with J and S and we had J and S teach us since they both understand the gospel so well. They did a great job and we are just waiting for her mom still. We might have an FHE with her at the B's again tonight. We talked to this lady who thought she was Jesus in the flesh, but besides that, not a lot happened.
Sunday at church everyone figured someone was leaving since in this ward a trio means someone is going home, so they all found out I was leaving. This ward is so incredible. I am going to miss it. We didn't have any investigators at church, but Paul came back into town for church, so that was great to see them. They are doing so well. We are eating with them Tuesday so I will see them again. We had an incredible lesson with the A family. They are so awesome. They had been out of town but just got back and they let us right in. We read 2 Nephi 32 with them and they were just eating it up. They are all in. They had been reading on their own too. I'm sad to leave them, and I'm sure they will get baptized soon. We did transfer calls that night and it went well. Everything is worked out for transfers. It was sad for it to be a last meeting at President's house, but it was great. 
This is the true church. I know this is the way of salvation. Thanks for all you do!
Elder Pew
A fellow missionary made this for him when he was on splits with him!

April 20th, 2015
Dear family,
This was a crazy week, but it has been such a great experience. I know I'm already a better person this week than I was last week. 
Monday we taught that Indian couple again. They are such good people. We made it simple and just invited them to read the Book of Mormon. That was mostly it.
Tuesday we got the departing missionaries. We had a great lesson with the A family. I am so sad to leave that family. I hope they get baptized. They are so great.
Wednesday morning we dropped off the departing missionaries at the airport. We had our district leader meeting which was strange knowing that I was going to be one of them. It was good for me though to have some time to think about what I want to accomplish with them. We picked up the new missionaries which was an interesting group because all three of the Elders had already been out for a few transfers but either got reassigned or were coming back. We took them to the Alamo
At the Alamo
and the Slaughters left for a meeting in Dallas, so we were on our own. We still took them to the Mission Home and did our best to replicate the presentation the Slaughters give. The Pressers were there and the kids, so it was only us. It went well.
Thursday morning we took them to transfer meeting. I bore my testimony in the transfer meeting in San Antonio and I actually got really emotional. I was reading from Alma 26 with my own words a little too.
And now, these are the words of [Elder Pew] to his brethren, which say thus: My brothers and my brethren and [Sisters], behold I say unto you, how great reason have we to rejoice; for could we have supposed when we started from the land of [Utah] that God would have granted unto us such great blessings? 
Behold, I answer for you; for our brethren, the [Texans], were in darkness, yea, even in the darkest abyss, but behold, how many of them are brought to behold the marvelous light of God! And this is the blessing which hath been bestowed upon us, that we have been made instruments in the hands... 
Behold, the field was ripe, and blessed are ye, for ye did thrust in the sickle , and did reap with your might, yea, all the day long did ye labor; and behold the number of your sheaves ! And they shall be gathered into the garners, that they are not wasted. 
I just started thinking about how great the Lord had been to me and our mission and it made me emotional for one of the first times on my mission as I shared with our mission my feelings and testimony. I was overpowered by the Spirit and it was probably the most powerful speech I've ever given. There were so many people wiping tears away afterwards which is the first time I've ever noticed that. I was grateful for that experience. Once we finished announcing the San Antonio transfers everyone knew I was going up to Austin and everyone was asking where I was going, but I didn't tell anyone. The Austin transfer meeting was really good. We did alright for not having President Slaughter with us. When they read my name going to Brushy Creek there was an audible gasp in the chapel. It was crazy. After the meeting Elder T and I got everything together and headed out. Elder T is great.
New companion and Elder Pew
He has a lot of excitement and he's a powerful teacher. He has a lot of potential. He'll be great. I'll just give you a rundown of the people we are working with. 
1. M- Single mom with four sons. Three live with her right now and are 9, 7, and 1. They hadn't taught her yet and she hadn't been to church. Right when I met her I felt great charity for her and I had a good feeling about this family. We invited them to church and she said that she needed to come back and she came to church! She liked it and her sons seemed to like Primary too. We are teaching her tomorrow night. It will be great. The ward did a great job of helping her feel welcome.
2. E- Lives with a recent convert named B (not the one I baptized last time) and he is pretty interested. He's been to church a couple times and wants to learn more. We taught him the Restoration and he understood well. He seems ready. His only holdup will be that he works on Sundays for the next four week, but he really wants to come to church which is great.
3. M- Young women. Friends with the Ss. Taught her in their home. She knows all about the church and studies with the Ss from time to time and reads on her own. She seems to be one who is waiting for some powerful answer instead of just choosing what she thinks is best. It is just a matter of time for her.
4. O- Nice guy who has brain trauma. He likes what we have taught so far. He's really nice.
5. The Fs and E- Both going out of town but were really excited to see me. They seem like we will just pick up right where we left off.
6. E, J, and others- Still don't seem to be ready. It is a little sad, but they are good people.
Church was crazy. Everyone was so excited to see me and Sister S was probably the most excited. She was telling everyone that I was the one that got her back to church. It was cool to see their excitement and luckily none of them have thought that I came back just to have a good time or something. I have never been so motivated to work so hard in my life. I just want to give everything I've got to this area and Elder T. He's doing well but it has been hard just being companions with someone so new again. I'm used to Zone Leader or Assistant companions, so I've been praying constantly to just be the example he needs me to be and to give him the experiences he needs to be a leader. He's going to be good but sometimes I need to not worry about getting him all the way there this week. It will take time. My district is incredible. We will have a great time. I have been surprised by the weight of the load I've felt here. It felt very heavy the first few nights, and I've come to understand in a small way the burden the Savior felt and I've grown closer to Him because of this time. You would think that being an Assistant would be a bigger load, but I've come to see how important District Leaders are and how important it is to stand alone. I've been used to being surrounded by other missionaries at the top. The Lead Sister Training Leaders and the Zone Leaders and those at MLC, but out here I have really had to put more on my shoulders to help them out. I am very grateful for this opportunity because it has been helping me to give absolutely everything I have because I have to. There is no one else that can do it and it has already made me grow a lot. I am excited to continue to serve here in such a great area. I'm so grateful for my mission. The Lord truly is good to us. Thank you all for your love and your examples!
Elder Pew

April 27th, 2015
Dear family,
I think I've regained the knowledge of the area I had forgot. I will just go through our investigators again.
1. E- We taught him twice this week and we taught him about baptism and invited him to be baptized May 23rd. He accepted but he works that day, so it will have to be another day that week or sometime around then. He is a really nice guy. Elder T was freaking out since it was the first person that has accepted a baptismal invitation on his mission. He even called President because he was so excited. We taught him on Sunday and brought some more fellowship and read with him in the Book of Mormon. He's doing well and is on track. He is worried his parents won't support him, but he said he's pretty committed. Being roommates with a recent-convert will help him for sure. 
2. M- She came to church and we also taught her twice. She told us of this awesome experience reading the Book of Mormon when she was not feeling well and she read in Alma 17 when it says to "be of good comfort" and "bear with patience thy afflictions" and it was exactly what she needed. That was incredible, but she still says the Book of Mormon is just another book. Oh well. 
3. O- We weren't able to meet with him. We might need to move on from him if he isn't ready.
4. A- who has been taught once and we read Moroni 6 and invited him to church but he didn't come. He is cool though. He lives on his own and is about 50. 
5. G family- Didn't come to church and we stopped by. She still responds over text and had to work until 2 in the morning on Sunday so that is partly why. Hopefully we can just start teaching her son this week.
6. Fs and E get back this week so hopefully we can set something up and hopefully they progress.
7. D & S- We met this couple trying to go by a part-member family but we accidentally went by the wrong apartment and the couple we met was super nice and were in a hurry but they let us in and were interested in the Book of Mormon. We talked about it and gave it to them. They were pretty interested but are busy until the summer, but we are going to stay in contact and hopefully start teaching them as soon as possible. We talked to sooo many people this week, it felt good to have so much time.
Friday night and Saturday was an open house for the new church building they built in Cedar Park as part of our Stake. They set up the church with tons of information about the church and made it a great missionary opportunity. It didn't have the biggest turn out but there was a good number of non-members that came. Our whole zone had to be there the entire time so that was pretty long and there wasn't always stuff for us to do, but it was good. I hope it yields some positive results. 
Thursday we moved into a new apartment that actually isn't in our area but it's in McNeil and isn't too far away. The washer flooded after we finished moving in so that was an adventure. 
Wednesday was my first district meeting and it was a blast. I focused on prioritized planning and preaching by the way and I made it very flexible so I could really help the district with the things it needed. They had some questions on how to find new investigators through current investigators so we practiced that for awhile which went well and then we talked about what makes a good street contact and then I just asked what they needed to work on and then I gave a demonstration and then we practiced. It went fairly well. I am excited to work with this district. It's me and Elder T, the Sign Language Sisters and Sister Training Leaders Sister W and R (yes the one from Lone Peak), Elder D and O (our zone leaders and the ones we live with), and Elder B and J (the one from South Africa). It should be a good transfer. 
Thank you for all that you do and your examples. This is the true gospel of Christ on the earth. It is the way to true joy. I love you all!
Elder Pew

May 4th, 2015
Dear family,
This was a busy week and it flew by! We had some good things happen, although no family yet. 
Monday we showed up at O's house perfect timing. He was needing help moving some furniture so we did that and had a lesson. We basically read with him and he realized he needs to read more often. It was kind of a make or break lesson, and we haven't heard from him since, so he might be done taking lessons. 
Tuesday I went on exchanges in Walsh Ranch. We were on bikes so that was fun. I was with Elder B. He is great. He's only been out 5 months but he will be a great leader. He is so teachable. We had fun. We found this family from Colombia move some furniture and they were pretty Catholic but we asked if we could show them "Because He Lives" and it was powerful. They are such a good family. We talked to them about the Book of Mormon and the dad wasn't really interested right now, but the wife was actually curious and asked us some questions.
Wednesday we had a lesson with M. We read from Mosiah 4 and it was good. She is slowly coming along. We had Brother H come out with us and he is great. Such a good member. We actually taught a lesson to a partially Hispanic family that mostly speaks Spanish but they live in Austin and it was a short first-lesson. 
Thursday we had zone meetings with interviews. It was really awesome. President gave a great training on finding balance and seeing the big picture in the scriptures. Basically he tore apart the classic response we get down here "all I have to do is confess with my lips and I'm saved." He talked about how we are saved by the merits, mercy, and grace of Christ and taught the difference between grace and mercy and how the gospel is how we access that power. It was great. My interview was pretty short as usual. I gave a training on using the Book of Mormon more, so of course I enjoyed that. I ran through a couple scriptures that show the power and importance of the Book of Mormon (1 Nephi 13:40, 2 Nephi 25:18, 2 Nephi 33:10, 2 Nephi 29:9) and then we did a bunch of role plays. 
Friday we had a great lesson with E and explained the Plan of Salvation. He said he had actually been wondering about that and what happens after this life. He is great. We met this new guy named D. He was outside his house and we went up and talked to him and he is 19 and just moved back in with his family because he had a rough year away from home. He got caught in the wrong crowd and he said he "woke up to God." He has made a ton of changes in the last two months and we taught a bit of the Restoration and the Book of Mormon and how this will help him make those changes. He seems really solid. He had to reschedule our return appointment. We might have to pass him off to the YSA Sisters if the rest of his family isn't interested, but it was a great experience.
Saturday we were out all day and we had 5 lessons fall through. We worked until 9 and we didn't see any successes, but it was a great day to test our faith. Those are the true tests to see if you will still serve the Lord faithfully even when nothing seems to happen. I think it was hard on Elder T. 
Sunday was great. Church was fantastic despite no investigators coming. We had a lesson with M and watched "Come, Join with Us" We had a really open conversation with her and she expressed her concerns being able to balance church and everything else in life, and tithing. I think they both come down to her not being sure if she wants to do this forever yet. I asked if she saw herself getting baptized someday and she said she thought when she was on her own and could not be swayed either way she would be able to see what she really wanted. I'm glad she understands the long-term impact of her joining, hopefully we can help her develop enough faith to do it. Her fellowshipping family is incredible. They help her a lot. We also had a great lesson with E. We talked about prayer and commitment and he seems totally on board. He is probably getting baptized May 17th or 24th. It should be great. 
Thank you for all that you do and your examples! This is the Lord's work!
Elder Pew