And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!
- D&C 18:15
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It started with a bang. Tuesday we were doing service for a local community center. My companion was moving a large piece of glass with the help of another elder to the dump. Turns out, the glass was too heavy to be supported on the sides alone. It collapsed from the middle and shattered everywhere. Have you ever seen glass break? It's quite beautiful. Looking at broken glass isn't, cleaning broken glass isn't, but seeing it break is quite enjoyable. At any rate, we all looked at it, thinking, "that was sweet!" Until we realized Elder Y's pinky was leaking blood. I know , the pinky finger, why do we even call it a pinky? Isn't that enough to make anything pertaining to it sound harmless? "Ow, my pinky." "Ow, who cares?" That is extremely sarcastic. Elder Y was losing a lot of blood. We jumped over to an urgent care and waited for him to be admitted for a solid hour and a half. It wasn't very urgent. he couldn't feel it. It was more of pain waiting than actually getting his pinky almost sliced off. After he was admitted, it took a long time for him to come out. I couldn't help but glance over to the TV. Let's Make a Deal was on. A man from Provo won a motorcycle. He definitely was a return missionary. Then Jeopardy came on. My weakness. I was cruising through double jeopardy when Elder Y came out. He had three stitches. Hooray! I know that this is serious, but the circumstance just made it so nothing seemed very serious. Elder Y couldn't feel the pain, we spent an hour and a half waiting in an empty waiting room, Jeopardy was on, it was an odd day.
Wednesday was great. We were able to have dinner with the C family. They were baptized in the Old Settlers Ward in March, and then moved north out of the Ward in May. They came back to visit the Ward last week and were shocked to see me there. They demanded that we go out to dinner with them. I was so happy to know that they were doing great in their Ward, and they enjoyed the members there. It sounds like they are making plans to be sealed in the temple next spring, and I can't wait to join them. A family like that is why we do missionary work. We see the blessings of baptism and continual activity in the church. I received their contact information and can't wait to see them again.
We've been having a lot of fun with one of our favorite investigators, Marshall. Every day he surprises us. On Wednesday he told us he was done investigating the church through a text. On Thursday his less active mother told us he still was and he'll talk to us soon. On Friday he texted us asking to set up an appointment. On Saturday we taught him. On Sunday he came to church and invited us to a dinner he was having with some members of the Ward. What a guy. He has read almost a third of the Book of Mormon in two weeks, which is really impressive. Most people don't get through second Nephi.
Life is great. I am enjoying being in this area for so long. Many of the members are joking that I will get my records moved here and I'll get a calling in primary pretty soon. Ha ha, I wouldn't put it past some of these bishops to find a way to wrangle some of the loose kids in sacrament meeting.
Things are going great. We are fulfilling our missionary purpose and having fun while we're at it. My testimony is sound, my love is deep. I pray we all can walk towards the throne of God with confidence,
While my elementary school classmate is knocking home runs in New York, I am preaching the gospel in Round Rock. Texas was looking more like springtime Texas than it did August Texas recently. It rained every day this week, and we didn't get very much sunshine. Not that I'm complaining. Getting a break from the August heat is very much a blessing. It's the humidity that bites. I can deal with 105 degrees, that what I grew up with in Stockton, but that humidity get to any soul.
This week we had a great district activity. All of the missionaries nearby collected together and we did genealogy together. Learning about your family history is extremely important, especially if your religion believes in eternal families. I love that we as a church believe in performing proxy ordinances for those that have passed. It shows the importance of the acts. The greatest act of time, the Atonement, was a proxy action itself. Christ conquered sin and death, that we through him can conquer sin and death. The only way out of this life is through a proxy ordinance, it makes sense that those out of this life still need a proxy ordinance. There is so much to learn from Jesus Christ and his infinite atonement. It was a great sight to see missionaries searching through their family records and discovering their past, seeing what they can do to reserve names to take to the temple. I got to help many of them with how to attach sources, organize records, reserve temple ordinances, and read memories of their ancestors. Some of the greatest joys on earth can be found in our families. I know that there are family members that I have never met that I will be great friends with in the afterlife. There is so much good in getting to know your family, and serving them in any way possible.
On Friday I was able to trade companions for a day. I went on a companionship exchange with the Round Rock elders. Elder Yale went with Elder Boren, and I went with Elder A. What an outstanding missionary. He understands that the simple things get big things done. We don't have to over complicate, as entertaining as it is. Many times getting back to basics is the solution to many problems in sports, work, relationships, the gospel, and it works great in missionary work. We had an excellent day finding, teaching, and learning from one another. One of my favorite parts of being a missionary are the other missionaries. While scores and scores of people learn from us and the Savior's teachings, we as teachers learn from each other. We grow with each other. We become friends with each other. This is the Lord's work and glory, and we are thrusting in our sickles with might side by side. It's a great feeling.
Recently my mind has been pondering about a few scriptures. I'd like to share some of them and my thoughts about them. "O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments--then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea (1 Nephi 18:20, Isaiah 48:20)." "Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams (1 Samuel 15:22)." It interests me that my mind is drawn to these passages. They are both about obedience and they are both in the Old Testament. Both of them lament not the committing of sin, but the denial of obedience. To Isaiah and Samuel, we see that the glory of the lord is not in the trial or hardship that we put into obedience, but the need for his laws to be kept. I also enjoy the imagery in the first quote. Peace is like a reach. It flows, it is not still. It rushes and goes forth. Many times we see peacefulness as idleness, when Isaiah describes peace as momentous. The imagery in Samuel's reproof to Saul is strong as well. In this case, Samuel is using a physical substance in contrast to a mental response. "To hearken that the fat of rams." Self-mastery and humility are tools we have to fulfill the word of the lord. We perform his deeds in the order and desire he has given us, not what we think is best.
My mind is everywhere today. We had a wild week filled with ups and downs, but no matter what, I love being a missionary. I thank my God for this chance I have to work with him. Every experience is worth it.
1. Elder A and I on exchanges 2. Things that happen when it rains in Texas
What an eventful week! I have to say that being a missionary makes
every moment count. I once asked one of my favorite companions what
made him work so hard, to which he said, "I don't want to waste the
Wow. Such power, such honesty. That is a missionary who understands
that this time is sacred and special. He is not the only missionary
that has told me that before. I am glad that I serve around so many
One of the key indicators for my personal success is how much I find
joy in the success of other people. Recently I've been able to keep
close watch over the missionaries serving around me, and they are
doing amazing things with the Lord's time. Feeling the joy of others
inspires me to have my own joy, and believe me I do. There is always
something to be happy about.
For instance, at the beginning of this week, I thought I would melt.
It was so blessed hot outside. We took a bit of time in the afternoon
to get out of the car and walk, and after two hours of work, we got
back into the car, and I realized that all the pass along cards in my
front pocket melted together. I have no idea how I did it on a bike
last year, but I'm glad that I am off of the bike for now.
On Saturday, however, we got caught in one of the most torrential
downpours of my mission. It matched the time when a tropical storm
ripped through Texas in the Fall of last year. It was like watching
sheets of water hit the ground. Quite spectacular. Even though we got
a good soak in, it felt better than getting sweat and dirt mixed
together on my face. It has been raining nonstop for the past two and
a half days. I love it. I feel like one of the kids in Holes, when it
finally rains, except I don't wear orange jumpsuits, or own a shovel,
or am on parole. Other than that, I feel like Holes.
we received two self referrals this week. One of them was for a
Nigerian Lady, E I, and a recent UT grad, M.
Eallows us to call her Maria. Thank you so much, Maria.
Maria is actually a member of the church who has moved into the Ward
for next few months or so. She wanted to know where the local church
was. We were glad to tell her and then get to know the family she is
staying with. Maria has been a temple worker in Aba Nigeria for the
past 11 years. She is a very faithful woman. We asked her sister and
brother in-law if we could teach them, and they said, "of course!"
Maria and her sister came to church this Sunday and loved it. They
said that they could hardly understand anyone's English accents, but
they still felt the spirit. That's what is is all about. So glad to
M. Referred himself after a great time of thought. He says that
he has been drawn to the church throughout his life, but has never met
with the missionaries. He's been reading the Book of Mormon on his own
and loved all three ours of church. He came in a sport coat and white
shirt with dress pants. He fit right in! M is a great man and I
hope that he accepts the invitation to be baptized soon.
This week I ate in a home that my brother ate at many times before.
When he was serving his mission in Texas, he would go to the Mitchells
from time to time and have dinner with their family. Now here I was,
looking at the same wallpaper, probably the same table, talking to the
same family that I have grown to love serving in my own Ward. It was
such an out of body experience to think, "My brother was here 10 years
ago. He sat in this room. He talked to these people." It would be even
wilder of an experience if half of the Stony Point Ward didn't already
know my other Brother.
Things are going great out in Round Rock. I officially cover three
townships though, due to the amount of wards we cover. Yesterday I was
in Pflugerville sacrament meeting, drove to Round Rock, and then
finished the night in Georgetown municipality. For being in three
fairly densely populated wards, it's a fun thought.
I want to finish my email by sharing one of my favorite stories about
the early church.
When the 23-year-old Heber J. Grant was instaled as president
of the Tooele Stake, he told the Saints he believed the
gospel was true. President Joseph F. Smith, a counselor in
the First Presidency, inquired, "Heber, you said you believe the
gospel with al your heart, … but you did not bear your
testimony that you know it is true. Don't you know absolutely
that this gospel is true?" Heber answered, "I do not." Joseph
F. Smith then turned to John Taylor, the President of the
Church, and said, "I am in favor of undoing this afternoon
what we did this morning. I do not think any man should
preside over a stake who has not a perfect and abiding
knowledge of the divinity of this work." President Taylor
replied, "Joseph, Joseph, Joseph, [Heber] knows it just as well as
you do. The only thing that he does not know is that he
does know it." Within a few weeks that testimony was realized,
and young Heber J. Grant shed tears of gratitude for the
perfect, abiding, and absolute testimony that came into his
It is a grand thing to know—and to know that you know and
that the light has not been borrowed from another.
Elder Richard Hall
1. Elder Nebeker and I. He was one of my four trainers, and an
2. Toe Juice. The most amazing thing on earth
There is always good to be found in the work of salvation. Today we were at the HEB, buying our groceries, enjoying the P-day, when a man came up to us. He wanted to let us know how grateful he is for us. He says that every time he sees us on the bikes or tracting down a street, he feels motivated, inspired. It is touching for me to see a man that I never met and not even believe in what I do so grateful to see what I do. He was to the point of tears. It was a special moment to see what a missionary tool our example can be.
We had a wild week, as usual. You just can't have it easy when you are covering three wards. The difference between two wards and three wards is more than you would imagine. Sundays are always fun. We go to meeting at 7:00, attend the first hour of 8:30 church, then drive 7 miles to the other building to get to 10:00 service, then stick around until 5:00. I love it. My dad was never home on Sundays. It seemed that he always skipped around from meeting to meeting, making friends, feeling the spirit. As a child, I didn't understand why someone would want to go to more than the mandatory 3 hours of church, but it makes perfect sense now. It is so easy to feel the spirit, and to receive revelation at church. Much easier than sitting at home. We contemplate, we worship, we strive to be like Christ, we take the sacrament, we see old friends, we make new ones, we sing beautiful songs. We do it together. It's hard a to do it alone. Attending 10 hours of church of week is a blessing, not a burden. I wish I could do it every week of my mission.
We found a new investigator this week. Or really, he found us. F gave us a call asking where our church building was. We told him when and then asked to meet with him. He was more than happy to. He recently moved here from New York. He found out about the church through the smash-hit Broadway musical, "The Book of Mormon". He got interested about the church and talked to missionaries on Mormon.org. He wanted to join the church, but his parents, who are strongly against any religion, forced him not to. He attended church for the longest time, waiting to become a member. Well, now that he is far from his parents, and far from their pressure, he is going to meet with missionaries. He already knows just about everything about the church. His situation is a little more interesting than others, so we will see how it will turn out, but it's another person we get to meet with, and another member in the making.
This week two of my favorite families in Old Settlers Ward moved. One of the families moved in the same week I got into the Ward! That usually doesn't happen. It was strange to put a couch into their UHAUL that I helped take out of a UHAUL for them. Usually missionaries are the transient +members, being transferred from area to area, swapping out companions and switching wards here and there, but my stay in Old Settlers Ward has felt a little too permanent. The bishop and his counselors have threatened me with a calling, sending me to nursery, and asking for my tithing. Honestly, It's starting to look like it.
Recently my mind has been brought to think about prayer, and the prayer of faith. I made a study for the prayer of faith and what it means to pray with faith. Here is an insert from it What is the prayer of faith? How do we pray with faith? To strengthen our prayers, let's strengthen our faith in prayer, by learning more about prayer. Knowledge and faith grow together. What is prayer? Calling upon the name of the Lord (BD, Prayer) Is there different kinds of prayer? Yes. There are vocal prayers (3 Nephi 19) and prayers of the heart (3 Nephi 20:1) There are songs of the righteous that are prayers (D&C 25:12) even group prayer is a type of prayer (3 Nephi 18:21) It's a communication with our Heavenly Father. We always pray in the name of Jesus Christ (3 Nephi 18:19) How often should we pray? Luke 21:36 Thessalonians 2:11 2 Nephi 32:8-9 3 Nephi 18:19 D&C 10:5 D&C 93:49 Pray ALWAYS! That phrase shows up in the standard works over 18 times What are some reasons that it tells us to pray always? That we may not enter into temptation (prayer cleanses us, prayer protects us) That whatsoever we shall ask it shall be given to us That God may consecrate our performance To be counted worthy Do we always get what we want when we pray? D&C 50:29-30 Attributes of the prayer of faith. 1 Nephi 1:5-6, Ether 3:5,6,9 Enos 1:11-12 We pray for the welfare of others. The lord visits us and gives us revelation. this is why it is so important to teach with the spirit, and to pray for the spirit
Faith is essential. Faith brings miracles. Faith brings obedience. Faith brings the ability to use the atonement.