Monday, February 24, 2014

Transfer 15, Week 4, Lakes Zone, Desert Breeze Ward‏

Dear Family,
Well... First off... Guess what! 
Elder Gonzales is with Elder Till and I! His companion had to go home for medical purposes and so president put him with us! So great! We get to be 'companions' after all! 
Well, the start of this week was pretty slow. We had Zone Conference on Wednesday and Elder Till and I were assigned to do a role play on how to teach the Book of Mormon. I was stressed out (not too much) but it ended up going really well! The spirit definitely helped us out as we taught! 
Then on Friday Elder Till and I decided to clean our car out really well and organize it. We also decided to organize our room and just have a fresh start. I was thinking how great it is to the mind to just move things around and have a change. In literally 5 minutes from when that thought entered my mind I got a call informing me that Elder Gonzales will be in our companionship. He is great and I think he will be the thing that can get this ward going! Elder Gonzales has helped to break up the slump we have been in and I am sure we will be able to find more people to teach. 
This past week, while Elder Till and I were tracting, I found a new appreciation for talking to people. To try to love them and go out to find those who are ready. It prepared me well for Elder Gonzales because he is always super energetic and THAT is what we need :) 
The theme for this month is "Christlike Attributes" (chapter 6 in Preach my Gospel). Zone Conference went very well and I'm super excited about what I've learned. President Ahlander and his wife shared an experience they had with Elder Andersen when he came down this past year to our mission. He asked them if they have been sharing Sister Ahlanders fathers teachings (Elder Neal A. Maxwell). They said that they were not. He told them it would be a good idea for them to share more of his teachings with the missionaries here. So in Zone Conference we watched a talk about Hope by Elder Maxwell. This was right after he had gone through a treatment of chemo, and yet he talked about hope. It was a great lesson to me. 
Well things are going well here! We are going to start riding bikes so we can talk to more people! I'm excited to see what the upcoming weeks hold in store for work in this area! 
I love you all!
Elder John 

"Real hope keeps us “anxiously engaged” in good causes even when these appear to be losing causes on the mortal scoreboard (see D&C 58:27). Likewise, real hope is much more than wishful musing. It stiffens, not slackens, the spiritual spine. Hope is serene, not giddy, eager without being naive, and pleasantly steady without being smug. Hope is realistic anticipation which takes the form of a determination—not only to survive adversity but, moreover, to “endure … well” to the end (D&C 121:8)."- Elder Maxwell

Monday, February 17, 2014

Transfer 15, Week 3, Lakes Zone, Desert Breeze Ward

Dear Family,
This week went pretty well! It was a pretty slow week however we had some good experiences. 
This week we had Zone Training Meeting (we give a training to the zone on Tuesday morning for a few hours). This month we are in Chapter 6 of Preach My Gospel: Christlike Attributes. We discussed how we need to 'become a Christlike missionary and not just do missionary things'. It was a very good meeting, very spiritual. We emphasized the importance of us (the missionaries) being rooted in the Gospel, so that while we are here we can effect people in good ways, and when we go home we will be rooted in the Gospel when trials and hardships come. People shared some good insights and stories that really helped emphasize the importance of being rooted in the Gospel when trials come. We shared some clips from a video done by Elder Holland called 'For Times of Trouble'. So Great! He said that the 'path of discipleship always leads through Gethsemane... and ends somewhere near Calvary.' We need to be prepared to walk through trials and hardships (not nearly as much as the savior suffered). His concluding point really stuck with me! We need to be careful, while we are going through trials, of making the assumption that because we are suffering that must mean God does not love us. If we do that, what is that saying about the Saviors Atonement? His suffering was so much greater than ours; does that mean that God doesn't love the Savior? It was a really good lesson for me and I think it has helped prepare me to react in a positive way toward future trials. 

This past Thursday we did a few role plays during companionship study on how to teach the Book of Mormon. We used some of the pictures in the front of the soft-bound copy. While we were talking and finding good ways to explain and teach I found that there were a lot more blank pages in the back of the book than I previously had thought! 
So... later that day were knocking doors and we hit a long line of "no's". But the last house we knocked on let us right in! I was afraid he might be a preacher or something and just wanted to bash. However, he was very nice and we answered a few of his questions/misconceptions about the church. He was very interested in the Book of Mormon and its history. As we were talking he said, 'Is there somewhere I can write this down?' And we said, 'Yes!' He took notes while we talked (we didn't want to tell him that all of this is in a pamphlet. We figured he would learn better if he wrote it himself) and Elder Till even drew a timeline of the Bible and Book of Mormon. It was really cool! It taught me how God really does prepare us for the day, if we are willing to put some effort and prepare ourselves. The mans name is Armour and he is very nice. He didn't come to church this Sunday but hopefully we can get in touch with him and start some more lessons. 

Well I think that sums up the good points of the week! 
I love you all!
Elder John 

In the Old Testament and in modern Jewish culture there are small, rectangular boxes placed on the doorpost of many Jewish homes. This is appropriately called a Mezuzah, meaning "door post". Contained inside this box are small pieces of parchment that contain Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 11:13-21, and Numbers 15:37-41 (in that order). This is called the "Shema", it is recited in the morning and in the evening in Jewish homes. 
"The symbolic words of the commandment teach a beautiful lesson. The doorpost symbolizes the portals through which man moves to interact with his fellowmen. As one sets forth from or returns to home, his conscious desire should be to do the will of God." 
Let us learn a lesson from these words and examples that we should always be mindful of God in our comings and goings. :)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Transfer 15, Week 2, Lakes Zone, Desert Breeze Ward‏

Dear Family,
Wow! Its been a great week! This week was one of those weeks that really just tests you! It was so slow! Not much seemed to be going on and it seemed like we didn't have very much success... HOWEVER, it turned out very well! 
A part member family came to Stake Conference and they were very immpressed with Elder Holland. The family, the Langstons, are great! The non-member husband is very upfront and very straightforward. He just tells it like it is. Well, Elder Hollands talk really impressed him because Elder Holland just said it like it is! We had a lesson with the Langstons on Tuesday evening. Brother Jolley, our WML, came with us and it was one of the coolest lessons I've been in! We sit down and talk about some stuff and we discuss Elder Hollands talks. Then, Bro Langston says, "So do you want to hear my story? Do you want to know where I'm at?" To which we tried not to jump out of our seats as we said, 'Uh... ya that would be fine'. So he told us that we was a Jehovah's Witness and that throughout his life he has had some great LDS friends and some good experiences with missionaries. He said that he has put it off for a long time and after hearing Elder Hollands talk he is ready to listen and accept the truth. He said that he's had this good feeling these past few days.  He also talked about how much he loves his family and that he wants to be sealed to them. (Bro Langston is a very serious guy and he is taking this very seriously) He then said, "Whats next?".  We told him how he can have that 'good feeling' forever, as long as he lives worthy of it. We invited him to pray whether of not he should be baptized on the 22nd of February or the 1st of March. He accepted to read from the Book of Mormon and to read the Restoration pamphlet before we come back. (our next appointment is for tomorrow the 11th of February). 
They didn't come to church this week but we hope that they will continue to grow in the gospel! 

Also, Sunday afternoon (yesterday) we were able to meet with Steve and Kristi. Kristi did not have a chance to read the stuff we asked her to because they were on a vacation in Layton Utah, but she said she still has it and will read it. She is very nice and is asking a lot of questions about life! The only bad thing is that we cant meet with them too often because of their work schedules. We have another lesson/dinner set up or next Thursday. 

We met with Sister Worku this week. We are trying to get a feel for how she is coming along with he commitment to be baptized because she is pretty flaky and hasn't come to church in a while! So we asked her how she feels about baptism and we asked her some other questions. I was looking at elder Till while he asked a quesiton and then I look over and she is crying (not the good kind of crying). It took her a while to get composed again and she said that she's having a really hard time because she just stays home all of the time, she's homesick for Africa, and she never does anything for herself. So Sunday, when the Worku's didnt come to church, we gave our relief society president, Sister Stevens, the green light to go and make a surprise visit to take her out with some of the other women in the ward. We hope she is doing well. 
This week we have been having some fun drama with missionaries and housing... so that is fun to deal with :)

So at Stake Conference, President Teshima (the Stake President) set a goal to baptize 100 people this year! People are very excited about it and President Teshima asked us to come to the Stake Council Meeting (including High Council, Stake Relief Society, Stake Young Womens, and the Stake Presidency) and present a plan on what the missionaries are going to do to achieve the goal and what we need members to do. Everyone is super energized and we have a bunch of ideas! For the missionary aspect we made sure that it was general enough for the new missionaries that come in, so they know that 'In the Lakes Zone we do this...'. Everyone loved the presentation and we are working hard to get things going!
President Teshima has told us that we are going to do our baptisms on Saturdays at 1pm. So when we set someone for baptism there is no question as to when it will be. This will also allow the members to always know that there is a baptism at 1pm at the Stake Center. 
So this past weekend we had 5 baptisms in the Stake and this upcoming weekend we have 5 baptisms set! We are super excited! When we told President Teshima about 10 baptisms this month in the Stake he said, 'That's what we need to do!" 
So far this year, after February, we'll have 13 baptisms! We are excited! 

Well I think that's all for this week! I love you all! 
Elder John 
"Ultimately, it may be more important how we are persuaded rather than how we persuade. For, whole changing our mind is important in learning, the opening of our hearts is critical to our salvation." -Cory W. Leonard 
"A quality person will not compromise his principles regardless of the size or intensity of the foe or the situation"- Marvin J. Ashton

Monday, February 3, 2014

Transfer 15, Week 1, Lakes Zone, Desert Breeze Ward‏

Dear Family,
Wow! This week was awesome! Probably the most spiritual week of my mission! 
So first off, I'm not sick anymore! So that's a huge blessing!

So to get down to business, this week was very great! We finished our visits for the Elder Holland visit and with a combination between us and the ward we were able to visit every member in the ward! On our visits this last Thursday we decided to follow up on one of the people that we dropped the flyer off to last week. Its a part member couple and he has not been active since he was 13 years old. Kristi, his girlfriend, goes off and on to a christian church. We have stopped by for a few months now and we were able to teach parts of the Restoration to her but all the other times he has just talked to us outside the gate of their apartment. So this Thursday we follow up with the invitation to stake conference we made last week. He opens the gate and asks us to come in. We have an awkward conversation for a few minutes and then Kristi all of the sudden asks us what we think Godliness is. We told her of the Christlike Attributes and some other aspects that could make a person Godly. Then she asked us if someone that doesn't believe in God could still be Godly. So we told her that you could still poses qualities and not be sure of the source. THEN she asked what the meaning of life was. She told us that she bought this christian self-help book that talked about it. Then Elder Till brought out Alma 34:32 "For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors." Then she said, 'Thats all I need to know! you just told me in one sentence what I need to know. I don't need to read this book' (referring to the book she bought).Then she said to her boyfriend, 'Can I tell them?' He said yes and she told us how each time we have knocked on their door they have been about to break up. Every time! Then this last time we dropped the flyer off, they were in a fight, and then they both read this flyer about bringing your families to church. She said that all of this is a sign that she needs to listen to what we have to say. We also talked about their (Steve and Kristi's) difference of opinions concerning religion (he believe in science and she believes in basic christian beliefs). We acted as mediators while they were trying to find common ground. (by the way, science totally makes sense with the Gospel. We just had to help him understand how his views correspond to her beliefs). So we committed her to read the Restoration and Plan of Salvation pamphlets, read 'The Family: A Proclamation to the World', and watch "Lord, I believe" by Elder Jeffery R. Holland. She Said she would and that she would pray whether or not this was true. It was awesome! MIRACLES ARE REAL!

Also, this past weekend Elder Jeffery R. Holland and Elder Jim L. Wright came to our Stake Conference! It was so great!  We Got a picture with him!!! So awesome! In the Saturday night session we got to sit on the stand because there were not enough seats for investigators (that was kinda a hassle) and Sunday morning we revoked our reserved seating so that the investigators who came late could all sit in the chapel. but it was so great! He told some great stories to help investigators and it was very missionary minded! 

Well I better go! I love you all and I hope you have a blessed week!
Elder John 

Miracles are real! If I were to define a miracle I would say that it is something that we cannot understand but that works out for our good. Miracles happen everyday and we should try to be aware of them, even if we cannot comprehend them. Elder James E. Talmage said, 'To deny the actuality of miracles on the grounds that, because one cannot comprehend the means, the reported results are fictitious, is to arrogate to the human mind the attribute of omniscience. By Implying that what man cannot comprehend cannot be, and that therefore he is able to comprehend all that is.' Let us know be so prideful as to believe that we know more than God. Look for miracles and you will find them.