Monday, August 29, 2016

Exchanges, Instructing, Baptizing,...Busy!

We went on two different exchanges.
  • During our first exchange, my companion stayed in our area with a new missionary. I went with the District leader, to another area. We tracted, taught lessons, etc. It was good to learn from him. While we were driving, we got a call from my companion stating they were involved in an accident. Long story short, nothing was damaged. 
  • During our second exchange, we drove all the way to mission headquarters to go with the assistants. We met them at the stake center with the sisters serving in our area. The sisters were going to exchange with the "Sister Assistants" (Exactly like Sister Training Leaders, but just have exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders). I went one of the assistants and taught a lot of people. My companion went with the other assistant.
We have been asked to instruct in "Train the Trainer" (pretty much a zone conference with just trainers there), so I prepared an instruction of my own, and my companion prepared one, then we combined them together.

We had two baptismal services this week! At the first baptism, I saw a sister who was baptized in one of my former areas over a year ago. She was there with her significant other. My companion and I talked a lot with her. I also saw a sister of one of my high school friends, since their family has now moved from my hometown to Arkansas. I figured I would most likely see at least one member of their family at the baptism because the Sister Assistants cover their ward. I talked with her for a time. It was great! The second baptism was wonderful as well.

On Sunday, we attended church, then went to dinner.. The dinner was super good. We ate baked potatoes, corn on the cob, salad, steak, cookies, all of these were supersized. It was delicious. However, we ate a little more than we should of. It was good, though :D.

My new area is a city with lots of traffic. We have a large vehicle, used to carry boxes, missionaries, etc. to and from exchanges with the assistants, or other places. Being a zone leader means you are always busy. The few precious moments we aren't busy, we spend tracting or OTMing, which we have only done about an hour of this past week. It's super fun!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Old Testament Insights...

I have a reading recommendation. You should read the Bible, or the Doctrine and Covenants...or the Pearl of Great Price. All are great books. If you have not read them all the way through. I recommend doing so, especially the Old Testament..

The Old Testament is the most neglected book of scripture, but it is probably one of the most marvelous. It was given by God to us to bring about his work and his glory. It benefits us today. It's Christ-Centered. It reveals many things about his mission here on earth (both in the first and in the second coming...see especially the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and so on.). The Old Testament does have a lot missing from it, but if you think about it, it is still super intact despite all it's been through. We still get the account of Adam and Eve, we still see the Abrahamic covenant in there, we even see many prophecies of Joseph Smith and the restoration (see, Isaiah 29, Joel 2:28-32, Malachi, Deuteronomy 30, etc.). In fact, the fulness of the gospel can be found within the Old Testament. It may be very symbolic and very hard to understand, but as you study this, you will find many great things in there. For example, I found a great scripture about temple work in Isaiah 22:20-25.

Transfers went smoothly, My new companion and I left a little later than the other missionaries because we had a couple of things to do at the transfer point. We were extremely busy. We have senior missionaries that worked with us a lot these past four days. We helped them with a baptism.

As Zone Leaders, we also organized exchanges with missionaries in our zone. The Assistants also texted us and told us we're exchanging with them, so we're going to be traveling to the mission headquarters this coming week. We also had to collect indicators from our zone.

During transfers, everybody, including me, was surprised I was called to be a Zone Leader. One of my previous companions, when he heard that I was going to be a Zone Leader, exclaimed "That's my boy!" It was pretty funny.

We have a baptism scheduled for this week. The investigator getting baptized is super cool.

Have a great week! Read the Bible! It'll do wonders.

Transfers Bring a New Responsibility!

Transfer calls came. My companion is staying, and I'm going. It will probably my last area. I really don't want to leave my current area. It's been an amazing area. I'm going to miss it a lot, though I probably will come here again. since I'm going to be in the same zone and I will be serving as a Zone Leader. I'm replacing the Zone Leader who gave the training in the recent Zone Training mentioned last week. My new companion is a cool guy.

Transfer calls were certainly a surprise. I didn't even think I was ever leaving. I had asked the Mission President to stay here for the rest of my mission during last transfers. I thought it would happen and I would either be District leader again, or Trainer for my last two transfers. But, as Isaiah says, that the Lord's thoughts are higher than my thoughts, and his ways than my ways.

We had a guessing game for who would leave and stay. My companion guessed us all right. I was 100% wrong. 'Twas fun. Anyway, this week was awesome. We had two investigators come to church. One was not one of our investigators, but someone from Pennsylvania. She got baptized on Saturday in Pennsylvania :D. The other one came and stayed for a little bit, but had to leave for an emergency. He wants to meet with us on I will already be gone to my new area. :p. I'm a little bummed.

August is Here!

We met a lady while tracting who had a piglet as a pet. #onlyinoklahoma Anyway, we were able to hold the piglet. Its hair felt like rough cat fur, or smooth dog hair. Somewhere in between. The hair on his head was stiff. We talked with the lady. We taught her about prophets. She said she was trying to find a church to join. We talked with her, and she said she would come to church on Sunday. She didn't come. However, when we brought it up to Ward Council, the council members all listened intently. (We had to start sacrament meeting late because the missionary work this week was talked about A LOT in ward council). Afterwards, one of the Ward Council members came over to us and asked what she could do to help . I was talking to the Branch President about something, so my companion left the conversation and talked with her.

The talk I gave recently in sacrament meeting sparked an interest in the Branch President's mind about how I searched the scriptures a lot. He told me about a friend he had come by and they talked a little bit about a ton of subjects. One of those subjects was the church. His friend asked a question about Rev. 22:19 and Exodus 33:20 and the Branch President didn't know how to answer, so he asked me to write what my response would be. I haven't done it yet, because I don't know what I would write about. What I've been thinking is just to say "Search the Book of Mormon, ponder it's message and pray about it." I think that would be correct.

The branch is continually getting more excited about missionary work. There were numerous other events that happened in sacrament meeting that I can't write about. Let's just say it's cool.

We also visited a new investigator. He knew a lot about the church already, and he knows it to be true. He asked some really good questions. We answered them.

We had a good week in general. Everything was great. We had Zone Training and one of the Zone Leaders gave wonderful instruction...Probably his last. He goes home next transfer.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

July is Over...

Transfers happen on Thursdays every six weeks.. The new missionaries come from the MTC on Wednesday. Transfers are on Thursday. We drive to Tulsa. A van picks us up, and drives to one of five transfer points. Bentonville, Branson, Springfield, Joplin, Tulsa, and Springdale are all the transfer points. We're closest to Tulsa, so we drive to Tulsa. Transfer week is going to be a little different from here on out. Here's how it works:

Monday: We have District meeting. No P-Day (Preparation Day) on transfer week anymore.
Tuesday: We get transfer calls.
Wednesday: It's our P-Day (Preparation Day). Our day to pack.
Thursday: Transfers.
Friday-Sunday is the same as usual.

This week was awesome.

We had District Meeting in another City than usual because our Mission President was doing interviews. We had a personal interview with both President and his wife. They were both amazing spiritual experiences. I was able to see two of my previous companions. It was good to see them.

After interviews. my companion and I talked with a member. While we were talking to him, a guy we had never seen before came in. He talked with us and wanted to be taught. We went into another classroom with him and we taught him the Restoration. He is awesome. He plays the piano really well, he likes classical music, and he wants to be a chemical engineer after he graduates high school. He knew a lot already about our church because he was taught a long time ago. He actually remembered the first part to "Praise to the Man" on the piano, although he hadn't heard it in 4 years. He played it in a different key, but he knew the first part. He really liked what we had to say, and he promised us he'd read and pray about it. It was cool. :D.

Another day we had a wonderful day with our Branch Mission Leader.

My companion and I gave talks on Families and Temples in Sacrament Meeting. It took us a long time to write them because we didn't have that many experiences with temples, and it is a broad subject. I finally talked about the history of temples to the Israelites. My companion talked about the sealing power. The branch members congratulated us afterwards for the talks.

It was a wonderful week!

Week Preceding July 25...Birthday Celebration and More!

On my birthday...I actually forgot it was my birthday until 9 in the evening when other elders called me and sang Happy Birthday to me in four different languages. The Mission Mom also called and said that she would sing Happy Birthday to me however I wanted. I told her to do it in a country accent, and she did. She's super funny.

We did a lot of work on my birthday, and we went to a Pioneer Day Celebration in a nearby town. It was fun.

Other than my birthday, our most momentous day was Saturday. We went to Subway for dinner at Walmart. We met a family that was LDS just passing through from Dallas. We OTMed a lady at Subway, who took a picture of my companion and I eating our sandwiches. We also met a recently activated member, and someone who cuts my companion's hair.

We then attended a wedding of two of our investigators. Our Branch President married them. It was cool. There was popcorn at the reception, so it was great :j.

Something that I've been thinking about a lot this past week is how God makes everything possible. So, I've found a couple of cool scriptures about that. I've been sharing this lesson a lot because it has weighed on my mind a lot.

Genesis 18:13-14 Abraham and Sarah; 1 Samuel 17 David and Goliath; Matthew: 19:26; and 1 Nephi 17:50-51 Nephi building a ship.

There was more that I found from scriptures since the Restoration, but there is a lot, so I'll end there.

I have seen the hand of the Lord in my mission, and more particularly so this past week. I have seen people change, and I have seen myself change. It is super awesome :j.

Week Preceding July 18...A Crazy Storm!

We contacted a referral of someone in a nearby town. We shared with her a lesson on prophets, and gave her a Bible. She asked us to come back to teach her grandparents. It was super sweet. We also started inviting our members to read the scriptures more, pray more, etc. Since then, they've been able to begin to have missionary experiences cooler than we've had :D.

We had a zone training. They gave us these cool white boards that we are going to use for tracting. It talks about prophets and apostasy. It's cool :D We're practicing with them a lot.

One of our families we have been teaching came to church again this week! They are really progressing. They stayed for all three meetings! :D.....We had an extra hour so we indexed several names. I did a batch and my companion did a batch. We then went to a potential investigator's house. They weren't home, so we tried by a couple other people.

We also had a really crazy storm while driving home one day. We saw the big dark cloud coming toward us...We decided to race it back home :j.....Well, it suffices me to say that it beat us. The sky turned black and garbage was flying everywhere. We saw a semitruck that was blown over. I wasn't scared. I knew we would be safe. It was the worst storm we have had since I have been in this area. We were driving some sister missionaries to the church on our way home. When we got to the church, we asked the sisters to pray before continuing on to their home. My companion and I went into the church for a bit. Well, the sisters had a prompting to stay at the church until the storm died down. We waited for an hour, debating whether or not we had to hide in the lowest area of the church. The storm passed by and the sky didn't have a single cloud for the rest of the day. It was weird. When the storm had died down enough so that it was pretty much just rain, I told the sisters that they were probably safe now to go home. We left at the same time they did to visit a couple of people we had scheduled appointments with. We were, due to unforeseen circumstances, a little late. Well, a lot late.

Still haven't been able to take a picture of a tornado, but I must've been close this time ;j.

Missions are cool!

I get along great with my companion! He's super cool. He and I are an awesome team.

Week Preceding July 11

We had transfers!!!! Both my companion and I are staying This is going to be my last area where I get to stay for three transfers or more. I was super shocked about that.

I'm excited to stay for another transfer. We were able to teach quite a few lessons. Most of them were from tracting. We tracted in a neighborhood with much success. It was cool. We also tracted in another area...but we didn't have as much success there.

We were able to have nine less actives at church. That was super cool.

I haven't been the best at taking pictures for the past couple of weeks, but here are some good ones taken six or less weeks ago :D

Me with one of my previous companions.

Me with my current companion.

Monday, August 22, 2016

The End of June...and Into July!

We weren't able to see the investigators this week as usual, for good reasons, of course. One had doctor's appointments throughout the week. One had a death in his extended family, so we felt like it would be good to have them mourn their family and then talk to them again this week. Then, the last one that we've been visiting recently we felt like we have been a little too pushy on him, and so we also are giving him time to think things through.

Anyway, we received quite a few referrals from a cool senior couple in our branch, and we are helping them share the Restored gospel with their friends. We also met another lady who we are beginning to teach.

We talked with a less active about the Sacrament and he came to church. So that's good.

Nevertheless, we did quite a bit this week. We went to a nearby town and talked to a part-member family that had a recent death in the family. While we were there, they told us that after we leave they discuss about what we talk to them about.. It's pretty awesome. I really like them. Anyway, we received another referral by one of the awesome families in the branch. They live in another nearby town and they love to share the gospel. We've received four referrals from them so far. It was sweet.

I went on an exchange with the Zone Leaders. I went with one of the Zone Leaders to another town, while my companion and the other Zone Leader stayed in our current area. The Zone Leader that I was with and I realized that we don't have a lot of time left in the mission. We came out at the same time. We talked about our mission experiences. It was cool. He is one of the coolest missionaries in the mission.

The Month of June - Third Week!

I did not realize it was Father's Day until our branch president announced it over the pulpit. We had a wonderful sacrament meeting. The branch president's daughters spoke about fathers, and another youth spoke about her first trip to the temple. The branch president then gave a wonderful talk on Heavenly Father and fathers in general. It was good. We had dinner with the branch president's family and gave a special dinner message on fathers. We showed them a new video. It was awesome.

This week was great. Our trip to the Oklahoma City Temple was awesome. We carpooled with elders who live in a nearby area. It was a fun drive. We arrived at the temple before most everyone else. A few of us went around the temple grounds and took pictures while we waited to go inside.

I spent a long time in the Celestial Room reading the scriptures. I found some really cool stuff. I was able to see some people I know from one of my previous areas. It was really good to see them.

After we left the temple, my companion and I talked with the bus driver about his beliefs and ours. We then went to the church right across the street from the temple and had a meeting with the temple president. After that, my companion was gave a copy of the Book of Mormon to the bus driver. It was awesome.

In addition to attending the temple, we had a good week. We almost filled up our progress record, we received a couple of referrals that seem so promising. It was awesome. And we were able to have a less active come to church. It was cool.

I love my current area. Transfers are coming up, and I really hope I'm staying. I told our Mission President I would be happy to stay here for the rest of my mission, so we'll see if he'll keep me here.

The Month of June...Second Week!

This week was absolutely wonderful. My companion and I each received a blessing from our branch president. It was a special experience. The next day, my companion and I tracted two doors. With both of those doors, we had lessons. These two individuals accepted a return appointment. One, especially, was curious about our church. We went back two times that week. As we talked, my companion tried to bring up the Book of Mormon and tried to explain it. The man still looked confused. I expounded on my companion's words. The man accepted a Book of Mormon. My companion told me later that I can explain the Book of Mormon better than he does.

Another day, we went and tracted another door. A woman answered, and my companion, instead of explaining the Book of Mormon, indicated that I could explain it better. I expounded on it, and the Bible, as the Book of Mormon is comparable to the Bible. She accepted a Book of Mormon and promised us she would read it.

Finally, during exchanges we visited a home we had tracted before. My companion and I went back and talked to the gentleman who lived there.. We introduced the Book of Mormon, and gave him an assigned chapter to read (Alma 40). He was not interested in the least bit about joining our church, or saying a prayer with us, so we were just going to start with the Plan of Salvation because of some events he had listed in his life. We went back another day and talked with him. When we entered his home, my companion and I took one look at him, and we both realized his countenance had changed. We also saw the Book of Mormon in the middle of his table. We discussed the Plan of Salvation with him. He asked many questions regarding the chapter he read. As we answered them, he asked one particular difficult question such as "What is hell?", "Who goes to hell?", etc. I sensed, when my companion started to answer the question that he was trying to explain that hell was Outer Darkness. Before he said five words, I interrupted him, saying that Hell as mentioned in the scriptures is Spirit Prison for those who had rebelled against God (for that is, usually, the definition in the scriptures). Our investigator was delighted with my answer, and by the end of an incredibly spiritual lesson, he declared, "Why doesn't everybody join this Mormon church?" We gave him the assignment to start reading the Book of Mormon from start to finish, and he actually prayed with us this time. The rest of the day was super great.

My companion is one of my best companions yet. He wants to do what's right, and he actually helps with my desire to share the gospel and to find people who are prepared. He is an amazing guy.

My understanding of the gospel comes from my love of the scriptures, as well as a gift from God. I love the Book of Mormon. I love the Bible. I read them both every day. As I read the Book of Mormon, I crave to read the Bible, and as I read the Bible, I crave to read the Book of Mormon. They are wonderful instruments, and I find many answers in their pages. As I read them (along with reading the Ensign, for it is scripture, too...especially the General Conference ones), I gain a greater understanding of many of the doctrines. I love studying the scriptures, and I study them as much as I can. In the evening time, I read the Bible. In the morning, I read the Book of Mormon. It's crazy how much you can get out of those books. I love this gospel, and this church. I love being a missionary, and I don't want it to end, but, alas, it must.

The Month of June...The First Week...

FIRST WEEK!  We had zone conference!!!!! It was super cool. We got our cars inspected by a guy who was over all the mission cars in the world. He toured the mission, updating our TiWis (a black box in our car that tells us when we're speeding, turning too fast, etc....keeps us safe. A lot of missionaries don't like it, but I don't care about it. Doesn't talk to me much. Every once in a while it tells me to check my speed, but that's it :j), He also inspected our cars.

Zone Conference was absolutely wonderful. Our mission president's wife talked about the temple, because we're going to the temple this week as a mission. I will get to attend the Oklahoma City Temple. I'm super excited. The elders from a nearby area are riding with us, and I get to be the driver. It's gonna be super crazy. Our mission president's wife also showed a video on Sacrifice because we sacrificed a lot to go on the mission because we don't have an available temple in our mission, so we cannot go all the time. It was cool.

After the zone conference, we drove back to our area to have dinner with an amazing member.

The next day, the traveling assistants had an exchange with us. In our mission, we have two sets of assistants. One has their own area near the mission office. They work very closely with our mission president, and they have a model area that they exchange with different zone leaders in. The other set, which exchanged with us on Saturday, are the traveling assistants. They also work with our mission president, but they don't have an area of their own. They travel around the mission and conduct exchanges with many missionaries. Every 24 hours, they are with a different set of missionaries. They live out of a car. It's super crazy. Anyway, my companion and I split up and went on exchanges with them. I went with one of the "traveling assistants" to a nearby town. We conducted a lesson with an individual, then we tracted. We were able to hand out 5 Books of Mormon (or is it Book of Mormons?) to people. It was awesome. We had dinner at a pizza place with the branch clerk and his family. The chicken alfredo pizza was delicious.

Then the traveling assistants stayed for church. We also had a baptism of an 8-year-old, so we had to fill up a ton of buckets to fill the font....jk, the font fills up on it's own. It looks like a hot tub. The baptism was successful, as baptisms 95% of the time are. We then got in our service clothes, and helped the branch mission leader put a dock in someone's pond.

We had very wonderful lessons with our investigators. Our area is super cool!

As I was reading the Bible, I found a cool Psalm. 65:5-7 :D