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Monday, April 29, 2013

LiFe Is GoOd!

Thanks for your letters this week. I'll respond to them first. 
Congrats to TU! I'm happy to hear how well you are all doing. Keep up the good work! Rucking is so important. That's where the game is won.
Jacob, keep up the good work. 
Mom, you always say such nice things about me. I hope to one day be the missionary you think that I am. Kate, don’t die on your vegan month. I'm glad I don’t sound like I'm whining. I worry because it’s easy to take things wrong through a screen. Doing your best is the only way to do anything, you just feel much better about yourself. I haven't felt embarrassed or anything like that in a long time because I know I've given it all, my all. Missionary schedule is not as hard as people make it out to be. It's actually a blessing, 3-4 hours of study and 3 hours to eat. It's not that bad. 

Two more things before I break down the week.
1st! I'm leaving Los Feliz! :( :) :/ :?! I don’t want to go but I am excited for the changes. I will be heading down south to Warm Springs (the the mission office area) to be with Elder Johnson! (the same one who I was with in Central).  I'll be the district leader as well, so another new challenge. Word on the street is it’s a giant district and the APs are in it. I hope not! I will miss being up here by the temple, and all the Spanish speaking people (there are hardly any down there. I cover 1/3 of a stake now. There I will cover 3 stakes). I love this ward and the missionaries and the leadership here so much. I've grown so much from the all the good examples who surround me. But more good examples are to come. Elder Slik is coming with me down there to be my Zone Leader! So that's pretty cool. Different district but we still get to go on exchanges and stuff. I'll be able to tell you all more next week after I get down there. 

2nd! I want to talk about a few things that I heard this week in lessons. The first was a question "He's almost here, isn't He?" We were teaching the restoration to a 19 year old (the one with the new daughter) and that's what he asked. He could feel the urgency of it all and it was interesting to me. I think we taught it right because we didn't say anything about the Second Coming (we probably should have) but he could feel it. It really took me back. Now, I'm no doomsayer, but it is the Saturday evening of times. As I told him, He's trying His shoes and putting His coat on. Another one that really hit me hard was this in response to the question, "What does it mean to you if the Book of Mormon is true?" The man thought for a moment and looked me in the eyes and said "if the Book of Mormon is true, that means that this is Christ's church and that my family can be sealed in the temple for eternity." That hit me so hard. He wants to know. He wants it to be true and he knows it is. And it’s not true because he wants it to be. It’s true because it’s the word of God and the Holy Ghost has testified to his soul that it is so. I don't know if that makes sense but it was a very powerful moment in the lesson; to feel his desire and his love for his family. The other was when someone said "After you guys invited me to read and pray, I did and I felt this feeling in my chest and I know it’s true." I almost cried bc I was so happy. BOOM! Moroni's promise is real. And this woman received an unshakable witness. Because she did, she wants to be baptized. That moment, along with the others that supported it, changed her life. All that we teach is either true or it’s not and it all rests upon whether the Book of Mormon is true. If it was made up, then our church is a fraud. (See Jeffery R. Holland - Safety for the Soul)

Let me rant for a small moment. The Book of Mormon is true. Anyone who wants to know what I mean when I write that can read it for themselves and know that it was not made up by some uneducated farm boy, but translated by the power of God to be the evidence of the restoration of the priesthood and the true and living church. I didn't really understand that before my mission. The Book of Mormon is God's tool for missionary work and we as missionaries are living witnesses spread abroad to flood the whole earth with it. If the book is what it says it is, and I say it is, and what millions of others say it is, that means that Joseph Smith was a prophet, the first after more than a 1000 years of apostasy, which means that all the blessings we claim are available to all who come to know that it is true. AHHH!!! It's true. And because it’s true I know that the church is true and that the blessing of being part of an eternal family is mine to claim. Knowing, really knowing, that this book is scripture and that Joseph Smith was a prophet is such a blessing. If you can’t say "I know" and feel the spirit testify to you - read it. Again, and again, and again, till you can.  That's it. It's true and knowing for yourself that it is by the power of the Holy Ghost is the doorway to unimaginable happiness.  Sorry for the word vomit.

This week was awesome! I learned so much. I learned so much from the scriptures, from my companion, and from everyone else! I ate great food and met some awesome people. 

Monday we ate with the Schwenke's and I read a letter that Mom sent and I almost cried! They all did too. It was so sweet Mom. Thanks, you're the best. 

Tuesday was a sick day. I was on exchanges with Elder Slik all day. I love him so much. He is such a focused and spiritual missionary that is a great example to me. He is focused on the work and focused on his purpose. He has taught me so, so much. And we have a blast together. We taught 4 lessons which was also so sick, four solid lessons with interested investigators. 1st lesson was with a man named Junior - We talked about repentance and how if the church has been restored then he can be baptized for the remission of his sins. He liked it a lot. He has done some things that he shouldn't have and wants to be forgiven and right his wrongs with God. He said if he comes to know that the church is true he will make the covenant of baptism so that he can be cleansed from his sins. It’s all so well connected, the church is true. Next lesson was with a man named Walter. It was a great lesson as well. We also talked about baptism there too. Walter is going through a lot right now but he reads the Book of Mormon to take away the stress of life. The 3rd lesson was with David we talked about the Restoration. It was a great lesson. Sorry just no time. 4th was with Braulio - he was the one who talked about a testimony of the Book ofMormon -> temple. It was a great, fun day. 

Wednesday we had a great district meeting. We also taught English class which was my last one, but I lovedddd it. I am going to miss being able to help people in that way. Sis Stephens said, getting a little emotional when she did, that while I was teaching she saw me as a university institute president giving a devotional. It made me feel so good. 

Thursday we ate bfast with the Stephens and then got our apartments checked. Then we visited a couple member families and shared with them the new ward family mission plans. They all loved it. We also talked with Aliaha's dad. He's a great guy who cares about 2 things - God and his daughters. He tries so hard to be a good father and a good son. It’s inspiring. He is in a tough situation where he can’t really help himself but he wants to. Man. There are such good people in this world and sometimes you find them in situations that don’t really do their character justice. We also saw some incredibly happy families today and as Elder Guzman and I talked about it we realized it was because they were doing their best to live the gospel and no matter what was happening (both families were going through a lottttt of crap) they were joyful and a pleasure to be around. I want to be like that. I am slowly becoming so, I can feel it. There is an inner and outward peace that comes from doing what's right and living the commandments. Dinner was the best hamburgers I've ever had. Sooo good. I shared a spiritual thought and the family all broke out into tears. The wife had had a dream the night before about that scripture and I had helped her understand it. It was crazy. Then we had a lesson with Juan Pablo. It was a good one, tough bc he needs a lot of help but good. I’ll have to talk more about it later. In 2 years. Promise.

Friday was bomb. We planned then had dinner with our new neighbors, Colby and Brandon. They are so awesome. We helped them move in the other day and now Brandon's gf calls us "my Mormons" which is an honor. We ate and laughed and shared a great time with them. We all got to be great friends really fast. They aren’t open to the gospel right now but one day they will know it’s true. Hopefully being friends with the elders next door will help them. 

Saturday so much happened. We did service for a member moving tonnnsssss of rocks. I crushed my finger pretty bad. I’m fine. Then we ate w/ Hno Velasco and got our transfer doctrine [information about their upcoming transfers]. It’s crazy. I’ll miss this district. Then there was a baptism of the sisters at the church. Then we ate dinner as a district afterwards.

Sunday was also awesome. Two talks were rebuking people for not going to the temple enough, it was pretty harsh, but deserved. Bishop said a lot of great things about me and Elder Slik which made me feel awesome. I love feeling appreciated; that all the work I’ve been doing and trying to do is noticed even if it didn’t all happen like I wanted it to. Then we visited members for the rest of the night and had a great lesson with Argelia (the Book of Mormon answer woman and the one who we taught the commandments to in Feb.). She's changed so much and it’s been awesome to help her change, see her change, and teach her why, the where, and how. 
Life is so good.

As I start being district leader, any tips and ideas and knowledge you have to share would be super appreciated. I feel honored and humbled and not worthy. But I’ll do my best and that’s all the Lord asks of me.
I love you all so much

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