Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Live by the SMA (Standard Mormon Answer)

There was a sign on a church here in Utah called the Rock Church. (Can you guess what they do there? Yep you guessed it. They listen to rock music about Christ). It said "Do you want to worship God without Religion?" It does not make sense, but I understand why we need to have a structure of Christ's church. We need to be shown what to do. We need to be kept in unity by being lead by a prophet. 

Funny story that happened this week. So I went on exchanges with another Elder and I went to his area and we knocked this door of this 17 year old who said he is going to be a pastor, but we started talking about how we have a living day prophet today and then he said, "So do we, we have the Pope and others who believe in Christ and are prophets." But the funny part is how he then decided that we were prophets and started calling us prophets instead of missionaries. 
He does not go to any set church, so I don't know how he is going to be a pastor if he does not even go to church. I guess that he has it all figured out though. 

Have you ever heard of SMA (standard Mormon answer) like the Atonement, church, or pray? There are some other ones, but I don't think we realize that if we would just follow what we say is the standard Mormon answer then we would be able to return to God. That is why it is a common answer. God repeats things a lot in the scriptures, but he said it in different ways. 

I had a general authority come up to me once and tell me what his mission president told him once. he said " If you read your Book of Mormon every day you will go to the Celestial Kingdom!" When he said that at first I was confused. It tells us we need to have a lot more in our life then just reading the Book of Mormon, so how can I go to the Celestial Kingdom by just reading the scriptures? Well if I am reading the scriptures I will start to do the other things I need to. Like go to church take the Sacrament, share the gospel and all of the other things it tells us we need to do in the scriptures.

Another thing I learned from a general authority. 
He asked all the stake presidents in our mission some questions. Do you have a planner? They all said yes and raised their phones. Then he asked how many of you set goals every day? 2 stake presidents raised there hands. 
He then goes on to tell us how he chastised them for not setting daily goals to have something to accomplish every day. 
He then proceeds to tell us after this story that we need to always set goals every day and the things in your day should be focused towards those goals. Especially after our missions. 
It talks about how to set goals in chapter 8 of PMG. Elder Clark, the general authority, told us that if we master chapter 8 we will triple our income in our life. It was written by experts that train CEOs and then the general authorities added the spiritual side to it. I thought that was so cool.

We had a baptism this week his name is Lamas, Fabio Alexandre Oliveira. He is a good kid. Age 17 and is actually from London and going back there on the 30th of Aug. He wants to serve a mission. That is so cool to see him change. He was baptized within 2 weeks of us meeting him. People are being prepared.

So this week we have lost several of the investigators we were teaching. 2 of them are moving out of our ward, and 3 others have gone back to Michigan to check on family or something. (Don't know the full reason why.) So we have more time to find new investigators now. If anyone wants to know what missionary life is it is all about ups and downs in the work. You can have 10 investigators in one day and the next only 4, but that is ok because we were able to help them feel the spirit and they will all get baptized, it is just a matter of when and where.

At the beginning of my mission, I used to have "My Baptisms", but I realize that I was just a very little part in their conversion, I brought the Spirit which did the converting and brought the feeling to their heart, I also am not the main reason that they started to investigate the church. That is because of the example that other members of our church gave, so realistically I have such a small part to play in their conversion and my job was easy compared to all the rest of it. we are just the harvesters. I now realized that these people that I help are God's investigators and God's Baptisms. So when I try my hardest and I know that I did and things don't go the way I expect them to that is because this is not my work, it is God's. He understands where they are going and what is happening to all of them. It makes discouragement gone. Plus it also helps in Pride. haha We can remember that for anything. This is God's world so the earthquake that happened in CA is not our fault, but God's and He knew that was going to happen and who was going to die and who was going to lose their home. Everything is God's plan. It is all apart of it, so of what do we have to fear? Jesus said "Fear not, believe only" (Luke 8:50).
We must fear not, that does not help us but belief does beyond what we can imagine, this is how we come close to God. Only believe and miracles will happen.

Transfers are this week on Wednesday. They come once again. haha.
I have learned that transfers is a very God driven thing. You are put with another missionary from revelation from God, or kept where you are. The people that are there in your area where you are assigned need to feel of your spirit and your testimony that are in that area where you serve. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Working Hard

I like that about the 100% and 100% in a companionship. We have actually talked about that because it is important that you are both working your hardest.
That is actually an issue in missionary life because we have junior and senior companions, but they both need to work side by side to see and equally as hard. The main difference would be because the senior companion is in charge of making decisions when there are two different opinions. 

So we had a baptism this week. Yay! We are going to have 3 more in the next week and should have 3 more in the following week as well. Also all of those baptisms are not solid but they are all working for it.

We had Elder Clark of the Seventy come to our mission this week. That was really cool! Our mission president is very humble and willing to change. Sometimes we as leaders or people think that the way we have done things is the best way. But Elder Clark came in and told us we are doing a lot of things wrong and our mission president at the end just said, "O.K. I know we have done it this way, but we are going to change it once again." Really cool to see him willing to change at the drop of a hat.

Elder Hammond performed the baptism this last weekend. It went really well. Lots of miracles are happening. We went over the baptism interview questions with her and she told us on Monday night that she thought tithing was only for those that could afford it. So she said she could not pay it. We taught the principle of faith, but she was not understanding. She was really scared about not being able to be baptized. She had invited a lot of people to it and the program was already made. We were thinking about it and we thought it was a good thing because she needed to know that she needs to rely on God more. She never really gave up that much and everything was really easy. So we committed her to pray about it and the next night we get a call from her and she said that she prayed about it and she said yes I am willing to pay tithing!!! Miracles every day in the Utah Salt Lake City South Mission! We were really happy for her.

We are also teaching a kid from London that is going to be baptized this Saturday. He is excited and will be the only member in his family.

Another miracle, we were going to this person's house in the apartments and she was not home so we were driving off and we saw this lady that was really struggling carrying up water to her apartment (it was on the third floor) so we pulled over and helped her take up the water and afterwards she asked us who we were. We told her missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She asked if we had headquarters of our church in the Vatican. We told her no and then she proceeds to ask us lots of questions, one of them was, "Do you know anything about these Mormons that live here?" We then told her that we were Mormons. She looked confused so we explained the Book of Mormon and then gave her a copy and taught the restoration in 2 minutes. So not really a lesson, but she was interested. She told us that she was from the Philippines and had moved to Nevada and the people were not very nice, but she had lived here in Utah for about 1 month and she thought this was the nicest place on Earth. We have not been able to go back yet, but she is a person that God has prepared and brought here to Utah so she can become LDS. I believe that happens a lot. Right now we are teaching someone from Japan and London and soon a Philippine.

I have also baptized 2 people from South Korea. The Lord prepares those people and then brings them to Utah to be able to come in contact with the church.

I am doing fantastic.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

I Love Mission Life!

This week was very interesting. For example, last night we get a call from one of the district leaders in our zone that is supposed to report numbers on Sunday night. That means they need to call each companionship to get their numbers. This district leader could not get a hold of one of the companionships and it was about 9:35 at night. We are supposed to be home at 9:30 at the latest. so naturally we are a little worried and we tell the district leader that we will take care of it. We drive to the missionaries' house and look for them there. They are not home. We talk to the landlady and she said that they are always home by 9:30 -- by this time it is about 10:00 at night. We are supposed to report numbers to the APs at this time so we tell them that we have an issue with a companionship and we are trying to resolve it. We are sitting here in their house and waiting and waiting. This is not normal for this companionship. They are great missionaries. So we try calling them again and again. We talk and decide if it gets to be 10:30 we are going to call the mission president. At about 10:25 they come in. Now I want you to remember that missionaries normally really respect their leaders and the rules and when they saw our car outside they must have known how serious the issue was. (We are out of our apartment at the time that we are normally supposed to be in bed.) We sit down and talk to them and the first thing they say is "We are sorry, we know this is unacceptable to do this." (We are thinking yes we know that, but what were you doing?)  The senior companion is actually training so the trainee really does not understand yet what is happening. Very interesting how the senior companion took full responsibility and the junior companion did not fully understand why he was doing that. (This showed me that they really do love each other.) We get their numbers from them and they look so scared. 
I have never really been in a situation where I am the leader and am expected to correct behavior like this and also to have them so willing to do anything we ask of them. They told us the reason they were out so late (They got caught talking to lots of people and they left their phone in the suit jacket inside so they could not hear it. They also did not realize what time it was until they looked and noticed how dark it was.)

They were looking for a punishment and I did not really want to give them a punishment at all. I was just glad that everything was alright. We had no way of contacting them and no way of making sure they were ok. We asked them if they will do it again and they said no. We told them that we were not going to punish them. (Part of the reason is because they already realize how bad it was.) We then tell them good news that we have 2 of our investigators moving into their area and are getting baptized on Aug 23rd. We then leave with a prayer and a hug and tell them we are glad they are safe and that they know not to do this again.

The amazing part is the whole situation could have been completely different if they came in with a whole list of excuses and reasons why they were right, but they did not and it ended up being a good learning opportunity for them. They realized that us as their leaders don't want to punish them, especially when it was a mistake. They just learned that we love them and care for them.

I am glad that I get to be in this leadership responsibility because I get to show my love of missionaries so much more than in any other situations. 

Other good story.
We had an amazing lesson with one of our investigator families. This was Monday night and we were going to eat dinner at their house but before that we get a text from the Dad and he tells us of his favorite scripture from the reading assignment we gave him. It was Alma 7:14. Read that verse. It is a good one that is talking about baptism. Then we run into the mom and son at Walmart. We just talk a little bit about stuff.

So when we went over to their house they start dinner and we have a plan to watch Elder Holland's talk "Lord I Believe." Before we start dinner the Mom asks her son, "Would you tell the missionaries what you told me at the store after they left" (little background information the boy is a little autistic so he does not talk very much when we come over). The boy said, "Ever since you started coming over to my house I feel God and Jesus in my life more then I ever had." That was so cool! So we have dinner and after we watch the talk. We ask them what they feel. They say, "He really knows what he is talking about, a very firm conviction that he has about Christ and this church." We say yes he does and he is an apostle. One to bear testimony of the truth. We ask them what they feel. Answer: "Happy and peaceful." They then ask some questions about church and such. We then ask them to be baptized and they look at us and all of them said yes! They are so excited to join this church. The Spirit was so strong there you could touch it. I was crying a lot, and they were tearing up as well. Even Elder Hammond, who I have never seen cry was starting to. Such a spirit driven lesson. One of the best on my mission.

I love being a missionary. So many things happen each day. I love it. 

We have 10 people on date for baptism. The most I have ever had on my whole mission. They are not all solid, but all of them want to work towards being baptized. Yay! I love mission life. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Mission Leadership Training, Zone Conference

[Elder J. Walker became an uncle over the weekend to a nephew Charles born on August 1, 2014 at 5:41 PM].

When Charles was born I was eating pizza at a member's house. Haha. I am glad he is so healthy. That is really good. The baby looks really cute. It will be strange to come back home and find a new member of our family.

This week has been full of miracles all over. We had 5 investigators come to church. and we have about 4 people on date to be baptized. Exciting! This area is on fire. Lots of work is happening and I love it all. We had MLC this week, That is mission leadership training. It was really neat to be able to be in a council with all of the other zone leaders and the sister training leaders. Something I learned is that the work of the Lord is hastening, but it is not because we are doing anything differently, but because God decided to make it go faster. He compared it to this analogy: 
When you are young your Dad takes you for a walk in the city and it is your first time. As a child you see things that are unfamiliar and it is loud with city life all around you. You walk really close to your dad and hold his hand as you see this unfamiliar world, but then after a few weeks of this the child gets used to the path and lets go of his father's hand and does not stay as close to his father, but then the father takes him on a different route and a different part of the city. He also has quickened his pace so the child has to walk a lot quicker. Now what we need to do is to hold onto the father's hand and not to let go. 
This is like today. God is changing how he does missionary work and some people don't like that. They tell him, "We have done missionary work like this for years and I am not wanting to change" (I get this a lot for members, "We think you are too pushy to ask in the first lesson for them to be baptized, we never did that on my mission"). They are not holding onto the father's hand and if we do not, we will be left behind. This is what our mission president told us. the work is going to speed up. and the Lord is preparing the way with PMG, Younger missionaries, more missionaries, Facebook, . . . the work is going faster and faster.

We had a baptism this week. Toni, she is 10 years old and I was able to confirm her a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. That was a special experience for us. I love this work. There are so many people that are just waiting for the gospel in their lives. God is preparing a lot of people out there. I have a lot of faith in that. There are people in all of the world that are craving the gospel and the peace that comes from it and all we have to do is to follow the Spirit and find them. The Spirit knows exactly where we should be and what we should be doing all the time and if we listen to the voice and our feelings that we get from God then we will be led to those people out there. 

My companion is great. One of the best! He is a hard worker and understands how to follow Christ. Good example to us all. 

We also had a zone conference. Those are always fun. They are from 9am to 4pm. We get so many revelations in those meetings from the spirit.
I am excited to see you at our upcoming zone conferences. In preparation for our learning together, will each of you please read and ponder the following scriptures? Specifically, pay attention to what these verses teach us about the worth of a human soul. Come prepared to discuss your insights.
Genesis 1:27
John 3:16-17
Hebrews 12:2
Mosiah 28:3-4
D&C 18:10-13
Moses 1:38
Read those verses. We read them and then talked about them at zone conference. They are really good. Just think about it. God created this world for us so we are worth more then the whole world. That includes everything on it. God's purpose is "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life for man." His whole purpose is for us to become like him. Jesus Christ suffered just for us. He did not have to do that. He had agency just like the rest of us, but because He loved us all, He chose to. That is incredible and I need to see that worth in every person.  

We had a guy the other day and he was putting boxes into his car and we went over and asked if we could help. He said no. Then we told him what we do as missionaries and he said he was not interested and started to walk away from us. Than Elder Hammond said when can we come by. He looked at us and said without even thinking about it, "2nd week past never" and walked away. Elder Hammond then yells back, "OK we will come by at that time." 
Kinda Funny.

Also a lot of people ask me if my mom is on Missionary Moms on Facebook. I tell them I don't know, but apparently it is a group where people post pictures of missionaries when they see them so there mom can see their sons or daughters that are serving missions more. At least that is what they made me think. Check it out, maybe there will be pictures of me.