Monday, October 16, 2017

Eye Single to His Glory

The week here was a good one. Zone Conferences started on Wednesday! It is crazy that it is already that time of the transfer again. This transfer has flown by. There is so much being talked about at zone conference. Not only are smartphones and online proselyting being rolled out, but also the way that we plan is being changed. We have a new goal setting and planning process that we use to plan for the people in our areas on a daily and weekly basis. It is a ton of information, but it is good! One of my favorite scriptures that has been talked about at Zone Conference is D&C 88:67. It says, "And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things." That principle amazes me. Keeping ourselves focused on the Lord and His work is not an easy thing to do. Life gets busy, hectic, stressful, hard, and crazy, but as we do our best to keep our eye single to His glory, He will fill us with light. And as we are filled with light, we will come to know His love, grace, mercy and the mysteries of His ways. And He won't hold back. We are the ones who hold ourselves back. I have seen that a lot on my mission and feel like I am finally coming to understand that He is truly always there. We have to take the extra effort to keep ourselves focused on Him. Nephi, in the Book of Mormon, is one of the best examples of that. He glories in the commandments of the Lord. He is always focused on pleasing the Lord and doing all he can to do His will. Because of that, he prospers, handles every challenge with patience and hope, and is ultimately filled with the joy that the Savior brings. It isn't always easy to stay focused on the Lord and His glory, but He will help us to do so as we try. 

The week here in Newberg was good. We had some good lessons this week. We have a couple of kids in a part member family that we are teaching that are preparing to be baptized on the 28th. They are doing really good! We also found a couple that we started teaching. They have really been prepared we feel. They used to live in a different part of Oregon, closer to the temple. The street that they lived on were all members of the church and they really liked them! We had a good lesson with them on Thursday about the Restoration, and we are going back this week to have another lesson. We are pretty excited about that. 

By the way, our pday next week won't be until Wednesday. Elder Oswald and I are going to the temple on Wednesday, so that will be our p-day. It should be good! 

Monday, October 9, 2017

This is the Lord's Work

The week here went really well! We had a lot of good lesson. To be honest, I don't really remember what we did  this week. We went on an exchange on Thursday down to Salem 1st. I was back in that area for the day. The exchange went well and we were able to see some tender mercies. I was actually able to spend a good amount of time with Elder Oswald this week. That was a lot of fun. We have been trying to figure out how to use Facebook effectively. It has gone well. The missionary department also came out with a new app for our area book planner, to replace the old one. So it has been a lot of new things coming at one time and trying to figure them out. On exchanges, Elder Oswald and Elder Sellaro found a young man from Zimbabwe. He took a Book of Mormon and read Helaman chapter 5. Yesterday, we met with him at the church and taught him the Restoration. He understood it all and committed to work towards baptism in November. We are going to send him to the YSA sisters, but it is really cool to see how the Lord will put prepared people in our path. We see little things like that every day. For example, on Saturday, Elder Oswald felt prompted that we should stop by a former investigators home. When we pulled up, we saw we had a couple of texts that we needed to respond to, so we took a couple of minutes to do so. As soon as we did, and opened up the door, we saw the guy that we were looking for walking out of his house and we were able to talk to him for a few minutes! That was really cool. This is the Lord's work with His Spirit guiding the work. We are blessed to witness those miracles every day. But we all see miracles every day, regardless of whether or not we are serving as full-time missionaries. We just have to look and see them. 

This week will be good. We have a really big lesson tonight after p-day, so that will be good. We also have Zone Conferences starting up this week, so it will be busy with that. It will be good though!

Monday, October 2, 2017

General Conference

 I thought Conference was really good. There were a lot of really good talks that I would like to listen to and read over. There were a lot of talks about being positive and looking towards the light and how the light would illuminate when you do so. I thought it was really cool that President Nelson and President Eyring both talked about the Book of Mormon. In their own ways, they both stood up there and sustained President Monson by talking about how they, too, took the challenge that the prophet extended and how it blessed both of their lives. I thought that was really cool. It amazes me that President Nelson is 93. It was definitely pretty cool that Elder Ardern talked. The story he told is one that he told us when he was out here, so that was pretty cool. I went in with a question  and it seemed like it was answered in a lot of different talks. I don't know if I have a favorite. I really liked Elder Hollands talk though, that was really good. 

On Sunday we watched the second session of conference with our Ward Mission Leader and his wife, along with 2 of our investigators and 2 of the more recent converts in the ward. That was really good! 

The week here in general was really good. On Wednesday, we went to the temple. Starting in October, we aren't going to be taking Investigators to the visitors center anymore, because we will now be allowed to go to the temple once every six months. So we took one last trip to the visitors center with a couple of our Investigators and it went really well! We watched the new "Days of Harmony" video about Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery translating the Book of Mormon. It went really well! The rest of the week was pretty good. Things are really busy here. We had a couple of meetings with President, which is always fun and productive. President announced to the mission that we are going to be an online proselyting and smartphone mission. That is what these Zone conferences will be about. So Elder Patterson and I have been able to start using Facebook in our proselyting and it has helped out a lot, we are excited to get more experienced with it. We also now have smartphones! It is crazy how the work moves forward. 

Monday, September 25, 2017

Meeting Goals

Things here are really busy, but it has been a really good week. It was sad to say goodbye to Elder Bills. He was great. He will be finishing his mission down in Salem, because he goes home in December. It is fun to have Elder Patterson up here with us though! Neither of us were expecting that to happen, so it was a pleasant surprise. This week it seemed like I didn't get to see Elder Oswald at all. It was transfer week, so there was a lot of stuff happening with new missionaries coming in, having the trainers meeting, and having a couple of other meetings. There is a lot of stuff that is going on in our mission right now and a lot of cool things happening soon. The Lord is really hastening His work out here. It is fun to be a part of it all. 

We did have some really cool miracles happen. Yesterday, we were able to teach the children of a part-member family. It was cool to see how the father of this family found his way back to activity because he wanted the best for his kids. He wanted them to be able to enjoy the companionship of the Holy Ghost and have clear direction in their life. So the kids have been coming to church with him for a few years, and finally the mother gave permission for the kids to be baptized! We had our first lesson with them this week and look forward to helping them progress towards baptism in October. 

We had another cool lesson yesterday. We met with a guy who, at first, didn't seem very interested. He has sort of been avoiding us for the past couple of weeks. We finally saw him yesterday and had a really good lesson. He had read from the Book of Mormon and the pamphlet that we gave him! He had a lot of really good questions and seems to be honestly seeking for the truth. He just wants what is best for his family. We spent a lot of time trying to stress how the Gospel of Jesus Christ blesses his family. We talked about the importance of having a modern-day prophet who receives revelation to guide us and keep us on the straight and narrow path. We are excited for him. 

We also saw the importance of goal-setting and how the Lord can help us with our righteous desires. At the beginning of the month, we set some pretty lofty goals that we truly felt would make us stretch. At the beginning of last week, it looked like some of those goals were not going to be able to happen. But throughout the week, the Lord really blessed us and last night we looked at our goals and we hit each one on the dot! That was really cool and was definitely a testimony builder to me. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

Another Great Week in Newberg!

The week here went really well. It flew by. I don't know what happened to it. On Monday, we went on a temple trip to the Portland Visitor's Center with Yana and our Ward Mission Leader and his wife. Yana really enjoyed the temple and learning more about the Book of Mormon. She committed to start reading it in English, even though that is harder for her. We sent her records over to the missionaries in the Netherlands, so they should be there waiting for her with a Bulgarian Book of Mormon when she gets back over there! It is pretty cool to see how the Gospel is truly being spread to all of the world. We are excited to keep in touch with Yana and see her progress from afar. 
Tuesday was Sister Francis' Baptism! That was really good! She is going to help a lot of people come into the Gospel. She has a light about her and she really treasures what she has been learning. The adversary was attacking her a lot this week with a bunch of stuff between her baptism and her confirmation on Sunday. But the confirmation yesterday was awesome! I am really grateful to have the opportunity to help in the small ways that we did. Elder Oswald and I feel like we didn't do anything to teach her, she was just prepared. 

We had some other miracles happen this week. We were able to find a ton of new investigators. It felt like the Lord was just putting them in our lap, even when we were having a rough day or things just seemed to be off. We also had an awesome lesson with Brandi and Jennifer. We talked about the Plan of Salvation and really focused on Our Life on Earth. We talked a lot about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and how that is the plan for us to find success in this life and eternal life. We focused on the importance of being baptized by proper authority. Brandi was hesitant because she doesn't want to give her mistakes to Christ and make Him suffer for it. So we tried to help her understand that He already did suffer for us. We just have to have faith, repent, and be baptized to allow Him to take it from us. At the end of the lesson we invited them both to be baptized and they both said yes! We were really excited about that! One of the things that the mission is trying to work on is inviting people to make commitments by teaching the doctrine and promised blessings from the scriptures. So it has been really cool to see the progression of those that we are teaching as we apply that principle. There are so many good scriptures in the Book of Mormon and Bible that teach the doctrine and promised blessings of the commandments that Heavenly Father has asked us to keep. 

After that lesson with Brandi and Jennifer, Elder Bills and I got together to make transfer calls! It was my first time doing that. It was fun. For transfer news, Elder Bills is leaving.. He has 2 more transfers left, so he is being transferred to the Creekside ward in Salem. I am going to miss him a lot! He is one of the most humble people I have ever met. He is a really good example. And he taught me everything that goes with this assignment! The new Assistant that will be up here with me is Elder Patterson from Salem 1st! It is pretty cool to be able to be back with him! He is going to finish training Elder Greenwood and I am going to finish training Elder Oswald, but it will be fun to be living with him again and be his part-time companion for this transfer. This next week will be really busy. There aren't any departing missionaries since they all left a month ago, so that will take some of the craziness out of the week. I am definitely a little nervous with Elder Bills leaving though. I am trying to make sure I know everything that I am supposed to do so that everything goes smoothly. It will be fun though. 

I had an opportunity to talk yesterday in Sacrament. I talked about conversion. It went well I think. I was pretty nervous for it, but after I got up there the Spirit really just guided what I said, so that was awesome. I am grateful for the gift of the Spirit to help us out. By the way, you can tell Gramps that I have shared his basketball story in a lot of the talks I have given in Sacrament out here and it is always appreciated..

Monday, September 11, 2017

Many Tender Mercies

Things out here have been going pretty well! There have been a couple of really smokey days because all of the fires, but the past couple of days haven't been too bad. A couple of weeks ago when we were coming back from the zone conference in Bend, Elder Bills and I got stuck on the highway for 45 minutes because of the fires. It is pretty crazy the way things have been out here. Zone Conferences were really good. We are officially done with them for the transfer. Elder Bills and I talked about "How to Begin Teaching" from Preach My Gospel chapter 10. It went well. 

Overall things are going well with our area. The people that we have been finding are starting to progress and keep commitments, which is awesome. The week was full of tender mercies. Our Saturday was pretty good. I will try to explain the story of our crazy Saturday. Firstly, we had a lesson with a lady that we met at 840 at night earlier in the week. It was really dark and kind of an awkward encounter, but she said that she would meet us at the church on Saturday for a lesson. Unfortunately a lot of times in missionary work people don't show up for their lessons. Because of the weirdness of the way we met her, we weren't totally sure if she'd be there. 1130 rolled around and she was there! That was the first tender mercy of the day. We did a church tour and then had a quick lesson. She committed herself to read the Book of Mormon before we even could. She was telling herself that she wasn't interested, but I think she was more than she realized. That lesson was over at noon. Here is where the dilemma started to kick in. At 1230, we had a planned lesson with Camille. We had to finish teaching Camille all of the principles before her baptism, which is tomorrow, so it was a really big lesson to have. We also had a lesson planned with Brother Chuck, a man we met a few weeks ago who doesn't currently have a stable living condition so sometimes it is hard to meet him. After our lesson with Angela, we saw that we missed a call from Brother Chuck, so we called him. He answered the phone and said "I'm on my bike on my way, can't talk, see you soon" and hung up. It was 12 so we were really confused because our lesson was for 130. We decided that we would call Camille and see if we could push the lesson up to 1215, but it didn't work out because she wanted to go pick us up lunch, so she wanted to see if we could do 1 oclock. So, we felt like we should go wait for Brother Chuck by the tree we meet him at. We got there and waited for a few minutes. He didn't show up. We felt prompted to go and try and contact a lady a few streets away named Teresa. Our thought was we would go contact her, then on the way driving to Camille's drive by the tree to see if Brother Chuck showed up early. When we went to Teresa's, rather than parking in the trailer park, Jaden (the member who was driving us) parked on the street. Once we parked, we saw a bike in front of a car and a man in the car. We walked over to go talk to him and... it was Brother Chuck! It was crazy to see how Heavenly Father knew we were kind of in a mess and had a lot to get done, so He took us straight to Chuck. It was amazing. We shared a Mormon Message "Our True Identity" with him and he started to cry. He was definitely feeling the Spirit. It was really cool. After talking to Brother Chuck, we still had a few minutes before Camille's and we were able to find a new investigator in that time. 

Later on Saturday, we were walking in the evening in the rain (First time it had rained in a while). And a white car pulls up and a girl hops out and runs over to us and starts asking us a bunch of questions about the church. She is from Bulgaria and was in Oregon for the summer for an internship. We talked to her for a while about the church and the Book of Mormon and stuff. We found out that she goes back to the Netherlands on Wednesday. We also found out that she had seen the Oregon Temple but had never visited it. So we set up a Visitor's Center trip for tonight! 

This week will be really good. Another busy one too. We have Camille's baptism tomorrow night. We also have transfers this week, so we are going to have to do some stuff for that. It should be another busy one. 

Monday, September 4, 2017

Loving Newberg

The week was really good. It was insanely busy, but it was really fun. It's crazy to me that we were in Bend a week ago. It felt like so much longer than that. It was really good to be able to go over there for Zone Conference. On the drive over, Elder Bills and I were trying to prepare a role play that we had to do as part of the meeting. We were role playing how to extend the invitation of inviting someone to church using scriptures to teach the doctrine and promised blessings of church attendance. We were really struggling with how we wanted to do it. For some reason it just didn't feel right. We eventually felt like we needed to change the invitation to baptism. After we made that determination, the role play came much quicker. We were able to find doctrine in the scriptures and promised blessings in the scriptures that supported exactly what we wanted to do. The next day, as we were in the meeting, we realized that we were assigned to role play the invitation to be baptized! It was a pretty huge tender mercy that the Spirit helped guide us to the correct invitation as we were practicing on the car ride over. 

Bend was really smokey! There are a lot of fires over there right now, so the air was thick with smoke. It was fun to be on that side of the mountains again though. It reminds me so much of Northern Arizona! After Zone Conference, we went on an exchange until the next morning. I stayed in Bend with Elder Donaldson (he went to Mountain View) and his trainee Elder Rasmussen. It was a lot of fun. They are great missionaries. It is really cool to see how prepared the missionaries that are coming out into the field are. 

Thursday was MLC! It was a busy day, but a lot of fun. Friday was another Zone Conference. This was for our zone and the neighboring zone. It went really well too! Toward the end of the meeting, President started talking a bunch about goals. It was totally by the Spirit and it was really cool to be able to hear and listen to. The Zone Conferences have been mainly about teaching skills. President and Sister Tateoka are training about using the scriptures to teach the doctrine and promised blessings of the invitations that we extend to people. Elder Packer said that true doctrine, understood correctly, will change behavior quicker than a study of behavior can change behavior. I think it is really cool and it has been awesome to learn about. Elder Bills and I have been training on how to begin teaching. It has gone well too. We have two more zone conferences this week. It should be fun. 

The weekend was really good. Elder Oswald and I have been seeing a lot of miracles. On Saturday, we had a couple lessons planned that evening. We prepared a really solid lesson plan for this group of teenagers. It was mainly about the Atonement of Jesus Christ and how He can strengthen us through our trials. As we were walking to that lesson at the park, we saw a girl on her phone. We felt prompted to give her a picture of Christ and ask, "when can we come back to talk?" She said, surprisingly, in an hour! So we proceeded to the park. The kids that we prepared that lesson for were not there. But as we went back and had that lesson with that girl, we realized that the lesson that we prepared for the other kids, was in reality made for River! It had exactly everything she needed to hear. She saw us showing up to see her as a sign that God was reaching out to her. We are going back tonight to teach the Restoration.

We also met a guy, Brother Chuck, who is an interesting fellow. He is a funny guy but seems like he wants to change. He said that he would prepare to be baptized in August, so we are excited to try and work toward that with him. The work is going well here. We are finding a lot of people. Heavenly Father is blessing us with people to teach. It has been a struggle to help these people actually progress. But we found a bunch of new investigators this week and are excited about all of them. Things are starting to pick up! One thing that has been helping us is we are making a really concerted effort to treasure up the word throughout the day. We are picking one principle from the lessons, such as God is Our Loving Heavenly Father, and keeping all of our conversation focused on that throughout the day and trying to practice teaching the principle very simply. It has helped both of us a lot. I am having a blast here in Newberg! I am hoping that Elder Oswald and I will stay together to finish his training next transfer!