Monday, September 19, 2016

New Companion in Katy

This email is from September 5, 2016

Last week was a hard week for sure. There's days where I have no fear and can talk to anyone and feel like I could go stand on top of a soapbox and preach in downtown Houston like the missionaries in the old days, and then there are other days where it is hard to open my mouth. That will always be the struggle on the mission, because Satan is really good at getting us to not open our mouths.

So on Tuesday we got our transfer news and I found out that my new companion is Elders Sellers from Colorado. It was sad to see Elder Curtis head off to Louetta, but Elder Sellers is great! He's spent the last 11 months of his mission in the country in Waller and Sealy, so he's in a little bit of shock being in an area with lots of people, but he's adjusting well. He has desires to learn Hebrew and will be involved with the gathering of Israel in Jerusalem, so it's interesting to learn about the prophecies that involve the gathering of the 12 tribes of Israel. He's very knowledgeable with the scriptures, so if anyone tries to Bible bash with us they might find themselves engaged in theological warfare, figuratively speaking of course.(As a disclaimer, we don't seek opportunities to tear down the faith of others, but if someone challenges our beliefs, you had better believe that we will do the best we can to defend the truth.)

Heading into this week, we had a goal to visit all of the "unknown" households in the ward so we can clean out the ward list and make it accurate and updated. We also have some focus families in the ward that we are helping either get sealed in the temple or return back to being active in the church. It certainly is a challenge gaining the members' trust and guiding them back to the Iron Rod when some of them have been less active for a long time. The sad thing is that many people allow themselves to become inactive because someone said something insensitive or offended them. We try to explain to them that the Church itself is perfect, but the members are not. We help them center their testimony on Christ rather than something someone said or did that wasn't right or whatever. Because if we truly have a good relationship with Christ, we will do all we can to go to church and partake of the sacrament so that we can evaluate our lives and see how we can do better going forward. If we have the mentality of enduring to the end and being faithful rather than worrying about someone who may have offended us, we will be a lot happier and at peace with where we are.

Before my mission I always thought that being a missionary only meant teaching and helping investigators along the path to conversion. But the more I think about it, the more I realize how much we need to be focusing on "building the kingdom" in whatever wards we serve in. This includes finding those inside and outside the church without testimonies and strengthening them so they can partake of all of the blessings the church has to offer. It's a remarkable thing to be a part of for sure, not only helping an investigator along the path of conversion, but helping those who have already made that baptismal covenant to set their sights on the temple and help them arrive there and get sealed as a family for time and all eternity. It certainly isn't easy, but it has been very fulfilling and rewarding work.

This week we found 3 new investigators that definitely have some potential, and tonight we have a family home evening with a member who is bringing her 2 friends, so we hope to add them to our growing teaching pool as well. It has been kind tough these past few weeks with finding some solid new investigators, teaching them the Restoration, and then not being able to get back in with them because they are "busy." It seems to happen every single time. It's sad and frustrating because you know they have felt the spirit and want to have an eternal family, but are too worried about what their family or friends might say if they changed religions. But so it is in missionary work, we lovingly invite and do all we can to help them feel the spirit and receive answers to their prayers, but people still have their own free agency that allows them to either act on the feelings of the spirit or to ignore them, unfortunately.

But overall, things are going well. I love being a missionary, I love serving the Lord, and even though it's the hardest thing I've ever done I know I'll be able to reflect on this experience as one that I'll cherish and hold sacred. My only advice to those who are either considering a mission or are unsure about whether or not to go, is to take it to the Lord in prayer. He knows what He wants you to be, and that you can become someone great in His eyes. Even though a mission is very difficult and requires great sacrifice, it is a great opportunity and blessing that God has afforded to many who are able and willing. It is 2 whole years where you can completely forget yourself and serve others with everything you have. In so doing you will find that God can change you, He will change you into the very person you want to become. It's an experience that can shape and influence the course of the rest of your life for the better if you let it. So please, take my advice and not only consider a mission, but serve a mission. Take a leap of faith. Regardless of the obstacles, God will help you overcome them because He loves you and wants you to succeed. 

I want to give my testimony that the work 75,000 missionaries are engaged in is God's work here on the earth in preparation for the Second Coming. I know that Jesus is the Christ. He suffered all of our pains, afflictions, and heartache so that He could know how to help us bear and overcome them. He suffered for our sins, and made it possible through Him that we might return and live in His presence if we will only repent and try our very best. He died on the cross, and was resurrected 3 days later so that all of us could one day be resurrected and stand before Him to be judged of our deeds. I know that Joseph Smith did see God the Father and His son Jesus Christ, and was called to be a prophet to restore what was lost. He was able to translate the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God, and by reading it men can grow closer to God. That is all, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Elder Curtis and I getting ready for rain

Knocking on doors in Katy, Texas

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