Monday, January 30, 2017

Insanely Awesome Week--Month!

I cannot believe that January is almost over. It has been an awesome month. Really it has been an awesome two months here in Stayton! We are halfway through our transfer already, which is amazing to me. I can't believe that we are almost done training. It will be really interesting to see if Elder Pinkston and I both stay. We both hope that we do because we have seen the work progress so much over these two months. One of the biggest keys for missionary work to progress in the ward is definitely desire. It comes down to recognizing the importance of gathering Heavenly Father's children and leading them back towards Jesus Christ. As missionaries we are set apart to do this work. But in reality, everyone is called in their own way to further the work.

Our week here was insane! In a very good way though. On Wednesday we had a worldwide missionary broadcast. It was an awesome experience. We were able to hear and sort of be a fly in the room of a Council of the missionary department. Elder Oaks, Elder Bednar, and Elder Anderson were all a part of this council. It was a very spiritual experience. One of the things that I noticed the most was the importance of repentance and of participating in the ordinance of the sacrament every Sunday. They also talked about the gospel of Jesus Christ and how The principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ are not separate and individual principles, but rather they build upon each other. When living these principles together, there is a real power that can come into our lives. It's not good enough to just have faith, but to allow that faith to lead you to act and repent, and then continuing to participate in the Sacrament.

That was not it though from the broadcast. They announced some huge changes to our schedule and to the key indicators that we focus on and report to the mission. Our pday schedule is going to be changed. We are going to start our pdays at 8 in the morning, rather than ten in the morning. We also used to plan in the evenings after getting home, but instead we will be planning in the mornings. Our personal study will remain for an hour prior to 10 AM. But we will have more flexibility of when we conduct our companionship study and our first 12 weeks training for Elder Pinkston. We aren't implementing these changes as a mission for a couple more weeks, until we have our zone conferences with President Tateoka. We are excited for it though!
Yesterday, we had Kennedy's baptism! It went very well. There were a lot of members from the ward there. And there were also a lot of nonmembers there as well. It was a very good experience. The spirit was very strong and it was awesome to see Kennedy make the commitment to follow Jesus Christ. The past couple of weeks have been so cool to see the gospel in action. It was also cool on Sunday, because the bishop asked Nicole to come up and bear her testimony in front of the ward. That was a really cool experience.

 Today in my personal study, I was reading in second Nephi. Somehow through a foot note, I ended up in Isaiah. The verse I read was Isaiah 49:23. It says: And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers: they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am the Lord: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me.

The thing that really impressed me was the word wait. This past week I have been studying a lot on faith and on agency. And so as I considered the word wait, I thought about both of those things. I came up with a little acronym that helps me to remember how I can wait for the Lord. I think of waiting as Willingly Acting In Trust. To wait for the Lord means that we need to constantly be exercising our agency in faith by being obedient to His commandments and following His gospel. The day that He comes again will be an amazing experience so long as we follow His example and are constantly moving forward to become more like Him. 

(I forgot to pull the plug after the baptism so Elder Pinkston had to scale the wall to pull it!)

Monday, January 23, 2017


The week here was super interesting. On pday last week, because it was MLK day, we played basketball with the priests and the Howard family. While we were playing, which we weren't really even playing that hard, Elder Pinkston got knocked in the head and got a concussion. That kind of slowed us down a little bit, but he is doing better now. Other than that, we had a bunch happen this week. Interviews with President Tateoka were on Friday, so that went well. I love talking with him and Sister Tateoka. They are awesome. They really want to help missionaries learn obedience so that when we go home we will be able to live the gospel no matter what is thrown our way. 

We had a temple trip scheduled with our friends Aishia and Brian for a couple of weeks now. A couple days before the trip, we found out that the member that was going to go with us had to work. That was a bummer, but we thought maybe we would be allowed to go up with just Aishia and Brian. We asked the zone leaders Friday morning and they got back to us on Friday night around 10 and said that we had to have a member. We were kind of stuck. Brother Graham was going to be busy the next day, but we texted him and asked what he thought we should do. He called us around 1030 and told us that Sister Graham would go up with us. That was such a miracle! Literally 11 hours before we were taking this trip, she volunteered to come. It was a great example to us of being a willing servant of the Lord. It was really cool and the temple trip turned out to be awesome! They really enjoyed it. The Portland temple has an Atrium in it that anyone can go in, so they really enjoyed the Spirit that was present in there. 
Sunday evening was Nicole's baptism! It went almost flawlessly! It was cool because in our morning meeting with Brother Graham, we got a text from President asking when the baptism was because they wanted to attend, so he and Sister Tateoka came to the baptism which was amazing! The Spirit at the baptism was really strong! We invited Aishia to come watch, and she told us afterwards that between the temple trip, church, and the baptism she was really starting to recognize the Spirit. 

Nicole's journey has been amazing. Since the 18th or 19th of December when we met her, she read the entire Book of Mormon. She finished the day before her baptism. It was such a testimony builder to me about how the Book of Mormon can truly change us. She made a comment to us that the Book of Mormon has really changed her and she is so happy for it. Now she is baptized, has the gift of the Holy Ghost, will be working towards going to the temple soon  and doing baptisms for the dead, and continue on her progression in the gospel. It has been so amazing to witness. 

One thing that I am noticing is huge for all of us is real intent. Moroni 10:4-5 says:

4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

Real intent is so important. When we pray, when we read our scriptures, when we seek revelation at church, it is SO important that we act on the answers that we receive. If we don't, then those answers are going to come less and less frequently. It is definitely something that I am working on a ton right now and hopefully I will continue to improve at it. Heavenly Father wants to help us be happy but if we won't take His advice, then why would He want to give us any. 

Here's a picture of the Pinewood Derby we helped with. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Awesome Week!

This week was awesome! It's crazy because I feel like through out the week I can think of so many things that I want to say in my email home but then when I get to Monday, it all seems to disappear from my mind! 

We are starting to prepare for our baptism this week! We are pretty excited about it. Nicole is really ready to be baptized. She made a goal to read the entire Book of Mormon by her baptism and she is almost there. It is pretty amazing! This week we were able to go to the temple for the visitors center! We went with the Lortie family and they drove us and Nicole. The Spirit at the temple and the visitors center is so strong. Nicole really enjoyed it at as well. It was cool for me too because I was able to see one of the sisters from my MTC district so that was awesome! Being able to feel of the Spirit there was really a refresher. 

It's still been pretty cold still. But it's starting to warm up which has been nice. 

This week a theme of my studies seemed to be fear. We talked about it with Brother Graham a little bit. He said that fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. It made me think about how often we allow fear to override our faith. I remember in the MTC our branch president talked about how Satan uses fear, while Heavenly Father uses faith. Its not always easy to rely on our faith during uncomfortable times, but I know that if we always stay focused on the Savior then we will be okay. It's a lot easier said than done though. When you think about Nephi and his brothers going to get the plates from Laban, an angel literally told them that they would be okay and Laman and Lemuel still questioned how it would be possible and were afraid of Laban's armies. Of course, Nephi had faith, trusted in the Lord, and it all worked out. That's what is important for us to remember. If we are living the Gospel of Jesus Christ by exercising faith, repenting daily, taking of the sacrament, listening for the promptings of the Holy Ghost, and striving to do our best, then we can have confidence that everything will be okay. 

We have interviews with President on Friday, so I am excited for that!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Lots of Good Things Happening

 This week was interesting. It started snowing on Saturday, so we were not allowed to use our cars on Saturday and Sunday. And then we got a call telling us that church was cancelled because of the snow/ice! (There was only about three inches, but it was pretty icy). I totally ate it in the snow yesterday! It kind of stunk because I'm not feeling the greatest and I was soaking wet, but I'm alive so it's okay. That was kind of a bummer because we really wanted some of our friends to be able to make it to church. We had a good week though. We do have 2 baptisms coming up. We have one on the 22nd, Nicole, and one on the 29th, Kennedy. Kennedy is the younger girl. She is a pretty smart girl. Her mom reminds me of Ginger. It has been really cool to see them begin to embrace the gospel again as a family and the impact that it is having. We met Nicole about 3 weeks ago. She is the most prepared person that I have met so far on my mission. She is already about halfway through the Book of Mormon and has accepted everything in stride. She is the one that bore her testimony last week on her second Sunday at church! We are really excited for her baptism coming up in a couple of weeks. We planned a temple trip to go visit the visitor's center the day before her baptism, so that will be awesome! We have a temple trip planned with a couple that we are teaching for this weekend as well. We are really excited for them to be able to feel the Spirit that comes from just being on the temple grounds. 

One thing that I studied this week was conversion. Life is sort of like walking on one of those flat escalators in the airport. But it is like walking against the flow of the escalator. Conversion takes effort! You have to give constant effort towards becoming more and more converted to the Savior, and ultimately fulfilling your divine destiny. But the moment that we stop doing the little things and stop putting the effort in, we go backwards. It is really easy to go backwards. We have to make sure that we are constantly focusing on giving effort too becoming more converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and doing His Father's will. We can't get complacent or we will go back really quickly! 

Another thing that I really liked in my studies was when I was reading in Ether about weaknesses. The Lord gives us weaknesses so that we can be humble and grow (Ether 12:27).. But it is up to us to recognize our weaknesses and go to our Father in Heaven for help to overcome those weaknesses. If we do that, then those weaknesses will become strengths. In Ether 12:37, Christ tells Moroni that because he was able to see his weakness (which in turn led to repentance, asking for strength and divine help, basically just being humble), he was going to be blessed with "sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father". This made me think about my weaknesses and what I need to do and change to be more humble before the Lord and have an opportunity to receive that same blessing as Moroni. 
Transfers are tomorrow. Elder Pinkston and I will be here another 6 weeks at least (no surprise because training is 3 months). I found out that Elder Hala will be in our zone which will be cool. Our ward mission leader is excited that we will be here longer.

We also got a ton of big news on Thursday. Firstly, we are now able to view our emails throughout the week! We just can't respond to them until p-day. That was kind of surprising, but still pretty cool to hear! So if anyone ever gets bored and wants to send me a quick email of randomness, that would be sweet! We are also now having interviews with President Tateoka once every transfer rather than about every 2 or 3 transfers, so that will be awesome to get to talk with him more and more. We also found out that we are having a worldwide missionary broadcast on the 25th, so I am really excited for that!  And they added two new books to our approved missionary library here in the mission: The Power of Everyday Missionaries & Miracle of Forgiveness. 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year!

This week was crazy busy. I honestly cannot believe that it is already Monday again. We spent a lot of time preparing for a project that we ran during the third hour of church yesterday. We helped all of the members ages 12 and up create tabbed Books of Mormon. In doing so we also invited each of the members that were present during that 3rd hour activity to hand these Books of Mormon out to someone that they know. We are hoping that this will provide us with opportunities to teach some more people, specifically people that the members know. It is a lot easier for someone to come to church when they have friends there. We only had one of the friends that we are teaching attend sacrament this week, which was a pretty big bummer. But what made up for it was the fact that the one who did attend church went up and bore her testimony during Sacrament meeting!! That was really cool. It was only her second time at church, so it was awesome to see. She is on date to be baptized on January 22nd, so we are looking forward to helping her continue to live the gospel and see the change that it can have. 

This morning I was studying in Ether and reading about the Brother of Jared. I was in chapter 2 and reading about how the Lord had guided the Brother of Jared and the Jaredites to his valley where they camped. This guidance and direction was all because the Brother of Jared continued to pray and seek direction from the Lord. Unfortunately, when they got to this valley, they ended up staying there for four years! Four years of no progression. All of this was because he had stopped continually seeking guidance from the Lord! He had stopped praying and because of that, they were just hanging out there for four years. It made me think of how easy it is to get complacent. To miss days of scripture study, or prayers, or attending church, or living the commandments. It's easy to kind of just relax, get comfortable, and not progress. But that isn't the purpose of life! We are here to improve each day. To try and become more like Christ and our Heavenly Father. There's no time for being complacent or relaxing! I have come to firmly believe that you can only be going in one of two directions. You are either moving closer to Christ, closer to Heavenly Father, and closer to eternal happiness, or you are going in the wrong direction. The beauty is that it is up to us to choose which way we are going and to choose not to get complacent!