Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Rest of May Letters and some photos!

May11, 2015
Here was President's email today about Mothers, I thought it was incredible:
Dear Sisters and dear Elders of the great Texas San Antonio Mission:


I have very much enjoyed speaking with you in interviews recently. Thank you for your deep desires to be consecrated disciples! Yesterday in Eagle Pass 2nd Branch, Sister Slaughter and I had the opportunity to speak. Below are some of the thoughts I reviewed in my talk, also taken from my letter to you on 12 May 2014.


I hope you enjoyed a very memorable Mother’s Day.  Many of you have faithful mothers in the gospel; some of you have mothers who struggle; and some of you have lost mothers to death or disease.  One sister asked me, “How can I honor my mother when she is against everything the Church teaches?”  In answer, “The only true way to honor your parents–whether they are faithful, wayward, searching, or deceased–is to honor the Lord.  When you truly honor the Lord, you honor your parents in unimaginable ways.”


We celebrate Mother’s Day in the Church.  We center our sacrament meetings around mothers.  The primary children often sing “Mother I Love You.”  A young woman might stand to express the gratitude she feels for her mother: “I am thankful that my mother is always there.  She feeds me; drives me to school; cleans my room; buys me clothes; and helps me with my homework.”  A father might stand to talk about the importance of mothers and tell stories about the good old days and the fond memories of his mother; or he may even brag on his own wife, the mother of his children.


But,” I think to myself, “couldn’t I hear these same stories among the Presbyterians, the Baptists and the Lutherans?  Couldn’t I even hear these exact expressions of gratitude among the Buddists, the Sikhs and even the agnostics?”  The answer is “yes, of course.”  Mothers come from all different backgrounds; they have different personalities and perspectives; and they each play a significant role in the divine design of our Heavenly Father.  Remember that “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” is not just to Mormon mothers but to all mothers of the world.


So now let me ask you a question.  If you were asked to speak on mothers, what would you say?  I know your answer; because you are such a faithful missionary, you would remember this important Preach My Gospel principle: “Whatever your initial approach, refer quickly and simply to the Restoration of the gospel, for this is our unique message to the world” (PMG, 159; see also 6).


Now some may ask, “What in the world does the Restoration have to do with mothers?”  In answer, “EVERYTHING!”  If we are to see mothers in their proper perspective, then we must see mothers through the lenses of the Restoration.  When we see mothers in the light of the Restoration, we see them like no other people can.


Let me list a few perspectives of mothers which have come to us through the Restoration:


1.  Motherhood is meant to continue after death (D&C 131).  The religions of the world teach that motherhood is an unnecessary part of eternity, and that the family is dissolved at death.


I had a friend, a mother not a member of our faith, who was asked this question by her daughter: “Mom when we get to heaven, will you still know me?” My friend told her daughter that we would not have any need to know each other in heaven, since we would be angels, praising God day and night. When I asked my friend how her daughter took the news, she told me that it really bothered her daughter, even sent her into depression. I told her that it would bother me too. Who invented such a cruel doctrine? Surely not the Lord. In each of God’s children is planted the yearning to be with family and friends in heaven, for “that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there” (D&C 130:2).


2.  The eternal promises of the temple, which scripture refers to as the Abrahamic Covenant, include the “continuation of seed forever” (D&C 132).


Only in the restored church will you find this restored doctrine, once known among the seed of Abraham, then lost, now known once again among his seed.


3.  Each woman was “predesignated” before the foundation of the world to become mothers.  Even before having children, the faithful daughters of the covenant, are already considered “mothers.”  Eve was known as the “mother of all living” (Genesis 3:20) before the Fall.  Rebekah

was blessed as “the mother of thousands of millions” (Genesis 24:60) before she ever even met Isaac.


Each and every woman who is faithful to the Lord and His commandments will receive the blessing of motherhood, even those who never had the opportunity in this life to marry or to bare children. No faithful woman will be excluded.


4.  Each of God’s children “is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents” (Family Proclamation).  Did you notice how clearly the Brethren speak to the world?  This profound, yet simple restored truth is unknown among the religionists of our day. The world speaks of us as being the “creations” of God, and a few may even speak metaphorically of us being sons and daughters of God, but only in the restored gospel are we taught that we are the literal spirit offspring of heavenly parents.


5.  “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose” (Family Proclamation). The world is growing ever more confused on this point; there is absolute clarity in the gospel. A mother was female before birth, is female here on earth, and will continue to be female forever after. You cannot vote to change this.


We could go on and on about what the Restoration has done to help us see mothers in their true eternal perspective and identity.  The world does good to honor and love their mothers.  You, however, have the ability, through the Restoration, to help the world see things they have never seen before.


This message of the Restoration is either true or it is not” (PMG, 39).  It is not only true; it is amazing!  With it I can see!  Without it I am blind.


May we all be the missionaries our mothers hope we are.


I love you!  I trust you!  All in!

Elder Pew's letter:
Dear family,
It was great to talk to you all. I am grateful to have a family that is so supportive and are such good examples of living the gospel. Obviously especially for mom and all that she has taught us about the gospel and her example of serving others and putting God first. She has definitely shaped our lives and the people we will become. This was such a good week! I'm going to go through investigators:
1. E- This was the only setback of the week. We had planned on him getting baptized either the 17th or the 24th, but we were having a hard time pinning down a date for sure and time, which was stressing me out a little especially because it can be used as such a good finding tool, but we had a great lesson Friday and he came to church Sunday, but his talk with his parents that night did not go well. They were pretty upset with him and even called B and gave him an earful. We still met with him Sunday night and it was just us and him at the church because we were going to have his interview right after. He said they really want him to study out both churches before he makes a decision. He will still come to church and be taught and I asked if he thinks this is the true church and he said yes, so I'm not worried. The only thing that makes me sad is that Elder T won't be here for it if he gets transferred. I think B will help him too.
2. M- We ended up teaching her twice this week and she came to church. We went over the interview questions and from that I concluded that she knows if there is any true church this is it, she is just working on strengthening her faith in God and I asked her what helps her with that the most and she said reading and discussing scriptures. That was really good to know, so we have some direction on how to help. I think she is still progressing pretty well. 
3. Gs- We finally worked out a time to meet at the church before scouts so we could teach them and they could start scouting. We had a good lesson and her son C enjoyed scouts. Hopefully we can do it every week and we can prepare him to be baptized. They didn't come to church because she works on Sundays, but she is trying to get those off.
4. E- She is the roommate of another recent-convert, J. She joined and never had to new member lessons, so we came over Tuesday and we knew the roommate was there so we invited her to join us and she at first acted like she wasn't interested at all, but she ended up sitting down for almost the whole lesson. J started crying and said that with the trials she is going through sometimes it's hard for her to believe God has a plan for her. Her roommate was very comforting and when we read some scriptures she totally agreed and was trying to help us. I think she is ready for the gospel and it would help J a ton if someone was there to help her in the church. 
5. S- PM family that are basically only home on Wednesday and Thursday and we finally caught them on Wednesday. They were heading out but we asked if we could share something with them and the wife who isn't a member and from Ukraine told us to stay and teach something. We just explained the Book of Mormon and how it is the evidence of the Restoration. We read a few verses with her and it went well. She isn't necessarily super interested because she has some misconceptions, but she is willing to learn and as she does I think she will open up a ton. 
6. J and A- We street contacted these four college age students and they started asking us a ton of questions but they were just curious because they didn't know much about the church. We ended up teaching them for about 20 minutes just answering questions and sharing the Book of Mormon with them. They seemed really interested, but we've had trouble getting in contact since then. 
7. G family- This is a grandmother with her daughter and her five kids and another son who is 14 and not a member that just moved in. They are all returning members and two of the daughters kids have just been baptized, so we are going to try and work with him. It was great!
8. F family- That is the family we found at 8:55 on Saturday night that we set up another lesson with this next week, so hopefully that goes well.
Other good experiences:
Tuesday was MLC and it was at the institute building at UT campus. It was really good. It was kinda nice to not be in charge. We talked a ton about the importance of the Book of Mormon so I was kinda like, "why didn't we do this when I was an Assistant?" But it was all really good and then President looked and me and mouthed that I had 4 minutes to speak. So I got up and shared my thoughts about how to use the Book of Mormon better and it was fun. I love MLC.
Wednesday we had District Meeting which was really fun. I've noticed that we all need to work on using scriptures better, but it's largely because we don't know any scriptures and so I created an activity for us to work on that. Every day one person in the district is in charge of sending out two scriptures that they would actually use but have never used in a lesson to the rest of the District. Then every companionship keeps track of how many times they used those scriptures that day and we are having a competition. The idea is that the best way to remember more scriptures is to  use them and practice using them. Our district was really excited to do it and they are pretty competitive so it will be fun.
Thursday was the Spanish conference and that was pretty fun, although I was definitely behind the other missionaries in speaking, but in grammar I was pretty far along. 
Saturday B took us down to the temple to do baptisms for the dead with the Ns. It was incredible. I wasn't too excited that it was at 5 which meant we would lose a lot of our Saturday, but it was absolutely worth it. They are doing so well. Brother L, the As, the Bs, Bishop , and Elder H and C were there. They had me do some of the baptizing and it was incredible. Me, P, and A were some of the first ones done so we got to just talk in the baptistry. It was some of the happiest I have ever been. P totally understands the importance of temple work and he even tried to remember the temple names he did because it was such a big deal to him to help them out. Sister N was asking about her temple dress and what the requirements are because I think she's going to make her own. I am SO excited to go to the temple with them in a year! As we drove back I pondered on the experience and I thought that if nothing else good happened on my mission (which millions of things have) it was worth it to see the joy and the light that P and A have living and even loving the gospel. I am seriously considering working for them at the carnivals for at least some period of time next summer. It would be a great experience. 
Well there is no doubt that this is the true church and that nothing will bring us more joy than living the gospel. This is what life is all about. Thanks for everything!
Elder Pew

At the temple with a couple who Elder Pew taught 

At the temple with the member who drove them to the temple.

May 18th 2015
Dear family,
This was another great week with some great things that happened. 
Monday we started teaching the Rs which is a less-active family but they want their 8 year old to get baptized and we were asked to help prepare her.  It was good practice for teaching simply and for understanding since they have kids. They are a good family,
Tuesday was crazy. We had a lesson with E in the afternoon at Sister S's house and it went pretty well, but all of her clocks were wrong so she showed up like 25 minutes late and we had a lesson right after so we had to make it really short. I'm not sure how interested she is is, but we set up service with her again, so hopefully that softens her some more. We went straight from that to a first lesson with a lady named T and her husband. We brought B and it was an intense lesson. They knew the Bible really well and at first I thought T was just going to hear us out and not try and question us, but she started to like 10 minutes in so we did our best to answer her questions by referring to the Book of Mormon, and she actually opened up by the end and said she was willing to give it a shot, but I'm not sure what to think, so we might try again this week and see what happens this time. We had another lesson with the F family and they have missed church the past few weeks, but we had a good lesson.
Wednesday we had District Meeting and it went well. Our District has really grown close and they are doing so well. I love serving them. They are all so willing to just dive in and try things and to seek improvement. Right afterwards we exchanged with the Zone Leaders and I went with Elder O, so that was our fourth exchange together. He is great. We had a slow day in McNeil, but they had a great day in Brushy Creek. C came to scouts again, but Sister G still works on Sundays unfortunately. They also had another lesson with the G/Ls the returning members that moved in with a 14-year old son who isn't a member. Apparently he's willing to learn more. They all came to church except the son. 
Thursday we went on exchanges and I was with Elder J in Brushy Creek. We had an awesome day. He is a really good missionary and he's almost ready to be senior companion. He has a lot of potential. We had a lesson with the Ms and we read in Leviticus again, but he let us share a message so we watched the "Because He Lives" video with them. It was better than normal. We also stopped by the Bs and they had a bunch of family over so we started talking to this one guy from Oklahoma and we asked if he had time we could teach him right there, and he said yes and then Sister B asked if she could invite the rest of her family to join, so this nice young family joined as well. It was sweet! We only had like 15 minutes so we just taught about the Book of Mormon and it went really well and they were both interested. They were leaving the next day so we got their information to send off to Oklahoma. We had a lesson with J and her roommate E and we brought S. It went really well and we taught them the Gospel of Jesus Christ. E was totally involved the whole time so at the end we invited her to actually investigate and she kinda pretended like she had to think about it, but she is totally interested. She is pretty cool but she's almost playing "hard to get" which is funny. She said she has been telling J she will come to church, but they weren't able to make it Sunday.
Friday we weekly planned and we had a lesson with E and he is doing alright. He is definitely not as excited because of what his parents said, but we read 1 Nephi 8 and it went really well. That chapter was perfect for what he needs. We talked about how important it is to consistently read from the scriptures. He understood well and knows he needs to read the Book of Mormon if he wants to know if this is the true church.
Saturday we didn't have any set lessons and we went out and worked really hard all day and didn't see any luck. It's been interesting to me that Saturdays are suppose to be the most effective day, but over my mission I feel like it's the day I've had the least success. Oh well. 
Sunday was great. I love this ward. I don't know if anything special happened, but I just noticed more how kind everyone is and how selfless everyone is. That has been the biggest change. Everyone seems to be so much less worried about themselves and have turned outward to help whoever they can. The G, L, F, Rs, M, Rick, and Cs were all there, and we were missing the Bs, J, Gs, E, and S but it was awesome to see such a big number of people who are coming back to activity at church that we had a part in. We had another lesson with E and we brought Brother R. E couldn't come to church because his parents made him go to Catholic church with them. We talked about having modern-day prophets and he is doing alright considering the opposition he is facing. He told us he's definitely going to have to wait on baptism, but he said he'd like to come to church if he could, so we told him he is always welcome. He said he wants to receive that witness that this is true and that is what is motivating him to continue. I'm worried because this isn't the easy thing to do he will slowly start leaning towards the Catholic church if he doesn't really read the Book of Mormon, but it's totally expected for him to be going through what is he is based on his situation. A lot of the first lessons we had fell through, but I'm sure we will get some next week. Have a great week!
Elder Pew

May 25th, 2015

Dear family,This was a great week! I'm just going to go through our investigators.
1. E- He's doing much better. We had two great lessons this week and he came to church. We read Alma 32 and talked about having a "spiritual load" and how that is important. He enjoyed church and read on his own one time, so that was great. He goes out of town this week, but hopefully he picks up where he left off.
2. M- She's slowed down a bit. We had a lesson about the true nature of God and it went well. She came to church, but I don't think she's really studying on her own although she is busy with school right now.
3. E- Didn't teach her this week because she wasn't able to join in the one lesson we had with J. We dropped off some cookies though later in the week, so hopefully that makes her happy.
4. Gs- C came to scouts, and they were able to go to church, but Sister G woke up late. We set up a lesson for tonight and her husband has really been warming up to us. He is supposedly going to join us for the lesson tonight, so that would be a huge breakthrough to teach him. Sister G is doing very well. I think she's excited to come back.
5. Rs- Taught them the Plan of Salvation, they enjoyed it and the daughter is pretty excited for baptism. There isn't much more we need to teach her. She just needs to meet with Bishop. 
6. E- We did service for her this week and pulled her weeds and she was really grateful. We set up a lesson for next week and we had Sister S invite her to church and she came, so that was pretty great. She didn’t stay for all three hours, and I’m not sure if she’s really interested in converting, but it was good for her to come to church. The talks were incredible. I love this ward so much. The people here are such good members. Both talks were focused on being converted to the word of God and not being swayed by others’ opinions. It was perfect for E and E.
7. F- We finally got in when the whole family was there. It was fun to talk to them and then we showed the “Because He Lives” video. I just straight up asked them if they were willing to really try learning and coming to church. They said yes, sort of, but then listed off why it’s so hard. They are busy with soccer and work, they were offended and can’t forgive, they don’t know people, etc. It was so sad to hear. Basically they said that they aren’t willing to put the church and the Lord as a priority. I don’t think we will go by very many more times, but I feel a little obligated because they told me that I am the only connection they have to the church right now. Basically if they ever come back it will have to start with me somewhere. It was definitely one of the saddest experiences because of how much I love them, but it didn’t affect my faith at all. I know there are families ready for the gospel somewhere in the area.
In other really big news, Elder Allen and Evans of the Seventy came to our mission on Wednesday because the time has finally arrived to get iPads in our mission. The conference was amazing. They barely talked about how we will use the iPads, so I don’t really know other than to use videos, study, plan, and the area book will be on them. The title of the conference was “Disciples in the Digital Age.” They focused on one of the main reasons the Brethren feel inspired to give us more technology is so that we can learn how to use it righteously during these two years of our missions. Instead of sheltering us from the evil in the world, they want to teach us how to walk right past any temptation. They talked about how we have no temptation to buy liquor when we go to the store even though we walk right past it. It’s because we have learned how to not be phased by that temptation and use the goodness of the store for righteous reasons. That is how our use of technology should be. The main focus is for it to be righteous, measured, and appropriate; now and always. It was incredible to see the vision that the Brethren have. It’s not really even about “getting with the times” or simply to show more videos, it’s about saving this generation. I loved it. So I think I get a loaned iPad at transfer meeting to give back at the end of the transfer since I’m a part of the MLC. It was be interesting to see where this goes.
Also, we got transfer calls. Unsurprisingly Elder T is leaving and I’m staying. Sometimes I worry if I’ll be able to figure out things to do since I’ve met everyone, but I know the Lord provides a way. Elder T is sad to leave, but I’m sure he’s going to a Spanish area, so it will be all good.
Thanks for your examples and your love!
Elder Pew