Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!

Hey. Everything is going well. It is definitely starting to get colder, but it isn't too crazy yet. Tonight we have to be in early. We have to be in by 6. There is a trunk or treat at the church at 530 so we are going to do that for a little bit and then go back home and do weekly planning for the upcoming week. 

Our search for people is going alright, but this week was a little tougher than usual. We are doing a decent job at finding people but it has been a real struggle to help people progress. It is hard to see people accept us at first, but not truly recognize exactly how important the message that we share is. We know that our message is true and that the same church that Christ established is on the Earth again today, and we know how extremely important that is for our life on earth but also for our eternal progression, but it's pretty hard to help some people understand just how important it all is and what it really all means. It's been a pretty frustrating week in that sense, but we know that if we do all that we can and are being diligent then the Lord will bless us with prepared people. 

We studied the importance of the Book of Mormon today because we have a zone conference this week and President and Sister Tateoka asked us to study chapter 5 in Preach My Gospel. The Book of Mormon is so vital. Literally everything in the gospel relies on the Book of Mormon because it is the keystone of our religion and everything that we believe in is directly related to the book. We know that whoever reads it with a sincere heart and asks God in faith will receive a witness of its truthfulness. And if you gain that witness then you know that Joseph Smith was a prophet, that we have a prophet on the Earth today who gives us direct revelation for our specific day, and that this really is Christ's church once again established on the Earth today! Daily, sincere study is SO important so that we can always be increasing our testimonies. 

Another cool thing that I thought about during studies today was a quote by Ezra Taft Benson about how the 3 ways in which the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion.  One of those ways was that it is a witness of Christ. When you think about it, Christ is our cornerstone. Like it says in Helaman 5:12, we need to remember to build our foundation on Christ. Which as a church we do. But I never really thought about how the Book of Mormon was a keystone to our witness of Christ. As I thought about Christ in general and everything we know about Him, I started to recognize more about how the Book of Mormon truly gives us a more complete ability to see the true Character of Christ and his Atonement. One thing I have noticed is that a lot of people view the Atonement as simply the crucifixion and resurrection. But through the Book of Mormon we come to a more complete understanding of just exactly how HUGE the suffering in the Garden of Gethsemene was for each and every one of us. My thoughts are a lot easier to explain in my head than in the way that I typed them!! Sorry! I just think it is awesome how the Book of Mormon, when paired with the Bible, truly give us the complete view of who Christ is and how much He loves us. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Sifting the Wheat from the Tares

This week was good! It was a really interesting week. It was another week that felt like it was full of meetings. Transfers were on Tuesday and although Elder Hala'eua and I didn't get transferred, we did get a set of Spanish elders put here in Madras! They are living on the other side of town, but it is nice to have some other people here with us. They are serving here in Madras and in a town called Prineville, but they go to the Spanish branch down in Redmond so it is about a 45 minute drive for them each week for church (It's only about 26 miles to Redmond, but Oregons speed limits are super slow!) So we helped Elder and Sister Brandon move some of their stuff into their apartment on Tuesday. One of the Elders is from Augusta! I thought that was funny. 

This week was tough because we had to really work on sifting out the wheat from the tares. Back at the beginning of the year, the old stake President of the Redmond stake set a goal of 75 baptisms for the stake. He didn't know how or why, but that was the revelation that he received. So far, we are at 29 I think, so we need like 46 more before the New Year. Our zone is really motivated to get there, but we know that it will require diligence and finding prepared people that are ready to hear the gospel. Because of that, we had to drop quite a few people from this week. It is crazy because when you first meet with people, you think that they are SO ready and prepared, but then they don't follow through with commitments, which makes it impossible to gain a testimony of the Restored Gospel. We spent a lot of time with our friend Brother Watkins. He is a 61 year old man that has some struggles, but is honestly seeking the truth. We had a couple of lessons with him where the Spirit was really strong and he truly understood what we were discussing. There were some issues that arised that softened his desire to be baptized, so we invited him to pray in the lesson and ask God if what we were saying was true and if he still felt like he couldn't be baptized then we wouldn't move forward. He started to pray to himself (so Elder Hala and I started praying to ourselves!) and then a minute later looked up and said "see you tomorrow". It was super cool! He is an awesome man and I really hope that he continues to find his answers through study and prayer. 

We talked about the Book of Mormon a ton this week during trainings and studies. It is amazing how simple the concept is. If you read the Book of Mormon and pray about it, Heavenly Father WILL let you know that it is true, through the Holy Ghost. If. You receive that witness, then you KNOW that Joseph Smith is a true prophet and that this really is the Lord's Kingdom on the Earth today preparing the way for His Second Coming. All that you have to do is read and ask with sincerity and with the intent to act on the answers that you receive. I think that that is something that we should ALL do, whether we are members or not, frequently. The Book of Mormon really is the keystone of our religion and it really is true! I don't know all of the stories by heart, don't have a million scriptures memorized, but I know that it is true and I am so grateful for that

Monday, October 17, 2016

Great Week!

There was a really big storm that hit the coast these past few days. We haven't gotten too much of it because Mount Jefferson sort of blocks us from everything. It slows the storm down a ton. We did have some crazy winds and a little bit of rain over the weekend. I can't imagine how it is in the valley and closer over to the coast though! 

That is crazy to see all of the changes that are taking place at home in the Stake! It sounds like both stakes are going to be in good hands. The fact that those leaders are called through revelation makes it comforting to know that they are called of God. That's cool that dad got to meet with the general authorities. It sounds like they were really good people. It's pretty amazing to see the Spirit that is always around people like that. It's definitely something that I want to work towards. There are some missionaries that just have that Spirit with them every time you see them. I was on exchanges with Elder Christensen a couple of weeks ago and he was like that. That is how I imagine Chris was on his mission. 

That is a great thought on repentance. That's something that I have been learning too ever since entering the MTC. Repentance is something that we need to embrace every day because it is a way that we can come closer to Christ and get to know Him more every day. His Atonement was made for each one of us so that we could all progress from wherever we are. A lot of people think of repentance as something you only do when you have big sins, but it is literally for every one of us to improve. I love what President Winters said. There are no breaks! Serving the Lord is a lifetime work. It's who we become and it's our lifestyle.

This week was pretty good. It was really busy though. I feel like we spent more time in the car than anything. We left Tuesday afternoon for Newberg because we had a tech training and me getting my iPad on Wednesday. We had Elder Smith and Elder Pratt with us because they had to go too and they're in our district and it's a 3.5 hour drive so we needed to save miles. It was fun though. We stayed at the APs apartment on Tuesday night, but their power was out that entire night so on Wednesday morning President and Sister Tateoka let the 6 of us use the showers in their home and Sister Tateoka even made us breakfast! It was awesome! I finally got my iPad Wednesday. It's great to be able to plan and use it to help study. It is a lot more effective than I ever thought it would be. 

We had some really good lessons this week. We met a couple who are married with 3 kids that were really interested in finding truth. The Spirit was so strong during our visit with them. They are honest seekers of truth. I can't wait to meet with them again next week. This week I read a talk from last year's October conference called What Lack I Yet. It talks about asking Heavenly Father in Prayer what we can individually do to improve and then ponder and listen for what the Spirit prompts you to do. For me, I was prompted that I need to get up and walk around for a second before I pray. I've done it the past couple of days and have seen the difference in my morning prayers and in how it invited the Spirit in the mornings for me. I would challenge you all to read that talk and take that challenge! The Spirit really helps you know what you need to do to improve. 

Elder Halaeua and I are both going to be in Madras for this next transfer! Our next transfer I think is the very last week of November. I love Madras so I am excited to be staying.

Monday, October 10, 2016

A Wedding and Two Baptisms

The week for us was a really crazy one. I honestly can't even remember everything that we did. The wedding and the Baptism were both really good though! It is really cool to see how the Atonement can work in everyone's lives. As long as we are trying our best and striving to follow Christ, then we can all be changed and become more like him every day. We helped out a lot with setting up and taking down for the wedding. It was really cool to see how the Relief Society rallied around each other and did an awesome job of making sure that there was enough food and everything. Some of that stuff was kind of last minute, but that is just a testimony builder of the truthfulness of the church, because most people don't work the way they did to make sure everything went perfectly. The Baptism was really good too! There were probably 25-30 people there, which was awesome. It is really cool to see how the ward really came together to support Shane and Cortni. We have a lot of younger couples (Staci and Tiffany's age) that are all awesome in being supportive and accomplishing all that they are asked to do. 

On Sunday, the confirmations were done. But it was also really cool because the four kids were all given blessings after church so that they could be put on the records of the church. It is really cool to see Shane and Cortni have a desire to go to the temple and be sealed for eternity in a year. It is also really cool because Shane can't wait to baptize Eva, the oldest, next year in June. He always talks about being able to baptize them and how he can't wait for that. 

Friday was also a really cool day. We had Zone training meeting down in Redmond and then New Missionary Training right after that, so we didn't have a ton of time to proselyte, but in the afternoon we saw some really cool miracles and met a lot of people who were interested in learning more! 

I studied Alma 5 today and it was awesome to read. It really makes you put things into perspective of how you are doing and how you can more fully follow Christ. It talked about deciding whom you are going to follow and how Christ is always going to be the Shepherd calling out your name. It also talked a lot about being able to stand before God and how great the joy will be if you are righteous, and how terrible it will be if you are not. It is all about repentance and becoming clean through the Atonement of Christ! One thing that I think Elder Bednar talked about was "knowing Christ" not knowing about Him. That is one thing that I really want to continue to work on. 

I am grateful that Christ was perfect in all that he did and that he never gave in to temptation of any kind. He is the perfect example in every aspect and I come to realize that more and more every day. In the MTC we saw a talk by Elder Bednar called the Character of Christ, It is so important for us to act rather than be acted upon. At the end of the day, we all have the opportunity to act and to choose for ourselves, but it is up to us to be diligent in making correct choices and keeping the commandments. When we are being casual about making those choices and acting in accordance with God's will is when we begin to slip backwards, even if just a little. 

This week will be interesting. We have District meeting down in Redmond tomorrow and then drive all the way out to Newberg on Wednesday for our Tech meeting so that I can get my iPad on Wednesday. I can't wait for that! Then we have transfer calls on Saturday or Sunday. I am pretty sure that Elder Halaeua and I will both be here still.

Monday, October 3, 2016

This week went by super fast. It seems like every week does. That picture that Dad got from Bishop Earnest is because we were eating at his parents! The Earnest family has been around the Madras area for a very long time. Multiple Stake Presidents, Bishops, etc.  They are an awesome family. Their daughter is married to Brother Lark, he is the one who sent the picture to Bishop Earnest. Brother Lark and Sister Lark are really cool. They are probably Tiff and Mike's age. He is the Young Men's President in the ward and is a big BYU fan. We are actually having dinner with the Lark's tonight! 

General Conference was awesome. We actually watched it up here in Madras. We asked Bishop Neff if we could set it up and he was okay with that, so Elder Hala and I set it up! It was actually a pretty big miracle that we figured it out. We were planning on trying to stream it from bishop's computer through the projector onto the screen that we found in the library. But as you know the wireless never works reliably.. So by some chance we hit a button for the satellite audio in the building and figured that there was some way that we could stream the video satellite as well. We got it to finally work literally about four minutes before the first session of conference! So that was definitely a miracle. Conference was awesome though. I think that my favorite talk was the one by J. Devn Cornish. on Saturday morning. He talked about not comparing ourselves to others, but rather asking Heavenly Father what he thinks about us. He also talked a lot about repentance. And one of my favorite parts of his talk was when he talked about how Heavenly Father truly wants us all to make it back to him and he is not going to be looking for excuses to kick us out. I also liked Elder Uceda's talk at that same session. He talked about how prayer is a sacred moment and we shouldn't take it for granted. His talk helped me to realize that prayer is a very special opportunity that we all can have to be able to more fully know how to listen to the Spirit. If we are praying by the Spirit, then we will be able to learn how to listen to the Spirit in other aspects of our life. Overall, Conference was just sweet. I can't wait until next week when I get my iPad because I really want to go back and study some of these talks!It is amazing to see how much of President Monson  has dedicated his life to serving the Lord. Definitely someone that we all should strive to be more like. 

At conference we had a couple of our friends show up. A man that we just started teaching, Chuck, came. Chuck is a man who we met on the street a week or so ago. He was riding his motorized scooter thing and we were able to speed walk to keep up with him and gave him a Book of Mormon. We went by his house this week and found that he was a lot more ready to hear the gospel than we thought and so we invited him to be baptized and he said yes! It was really cool. He ended up going to two of the sessions on Saturday, which was great. 

This week we also had the opportunity to provide service to a lady who runs a ranch. We helped her with vaccinating her cows... Essentially, it was our job to funnel the cows to the chute and then get them up into the spot where she could lock them up and get them vaccinated. It was pretty fun!  

This week will be super busy. Tonight and tomorrow, we are going on exchanges again with the Zone Leaders. So I will be with Elder Christensen up here in Madras so that'll be fun. Then Thursday we have the Wedding for the couple that is getting baptized on Saturday! It is going to be a jam packed week. And then the next week we are going down to Newberg for the iPad.