Monday, November 28, 2011

Grateful for Blessings

Buenas tardes!                  28 Nov 2011
We asked for some pics of Elder Davis
consider for our annual picture
Christmas Cards.  Nice!
It is that time of the week again; the time for the weekly epistle from Elder Davis in Utah! This week was filled with the ups and downs that accompany missionary work. We had good things, but we have also been battling a lot of difficulties.
This week I was able to see a lot of missionaries that I haven’t see for quite awhile because of transfers. I got to see Elder Leguizamon this week. I hadn’t seen him for about 5 months. The weird thing is that he is actually headed up to be a zone leader in Price. (Where Chad just left!) So that is a pretty cool thing. There are a lot of missionaries that are getting ready to go home. It is strange to think that all of the missionaries that were only out a few months longer then me are getting ready to head home. 
Elder Davis and Elder Castro
     We had some frustrating moments with some people this week. One lady we tracted into was really nice and we continued to teach and talk to her and then we discovered why she wasn’t being taught. She said that she could believe in a modern prophet, but couldn’t believe in the Book of Mormon. It is just way out of whack. If someone can believe that Joseph Smith is a prophet, they should believe that the Book of Mormon is true. Sometimes people are just so frustrating and you just don’t know how to help them understand everything completely. We also had one of our investigators tell us that she prayed and she believes everything is true, but she is worried that later in her life she would pray again and that God would give her a different answer. So that was a tough bridge to cross. She just seemed to give us excuses along those lines the whole time. We couldn’t help her understand that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that He wouldn’t change His answer. But everyone has their ability to choose, which is extremely frustrating at times.
I had an experience this week that helped me realize how great this work really is, and how there will be opposition in all things. We were trying to contact a potential investigator that we haven’t seen for quite a while, and their neighbors were carrying in groceries. We offered to help them and they really didn’t let us help, but decided they would tell us how bad our religion was and all the faults that we have. It was a little difficult because we wanted to just tell her our side, but she was completely closed to everything we were trying to say. Eventually we came to the point where we just asked her to pray directly to God to know if what we are saying is true. After we left, I felt genuinely sorry for the lady we had just talked to and wanted to help her out so bad. As we were driving in the car, I just kept thinking on how much I need to help others understand the truth that we carry.
We then went to contact another potential investigator, and they actually let us in! It was the first time they let us in since we started trying a month and a half ago. We then proceeded to teach the first lesson to them. It went so amazing. They had such great questions and were really paying attention. We discussed how important it was to have a "restoration of all things". We even committed them to be baptized and they didn’t shoot it down, but said that they would continue to listen and learn. Later we had another lesson with them and they accepted to be baptized in January. It helped me realize how important this work is. We really are helping others come unto Christ; this gospel is helping others change for the better. The work is true and it will continue to move forward until it has reached every nation and tongue!
Thanksgiving was pretty interesting. We weren’t allowed to go door to door, so we only had one appointment during the day. Most of the day was just hanging out, trying not to be super bored. We had two dinners, one with an English family and one with a Hispanic family. We had a traditional dinner, and then we had tamales and arroz (rice) with the Hispanic family. We also made a trip to St. George for a Spanish DTM. It was nice to see all of the Spanish missionaries in the southern part of the mission. Most of them are now training new missionaries. Elder Castro and I were the only ones there that weren’t training a new missionary. We also had to speak in the Native American Branch this weekend. It was a big learning experience. We had to speak on gratitude and thanksgiving. I never knew that there were so many scriptures on giving thanks. It helped me realize how many things I have in my life to be thankful for.
NEWS FROM HOME:  I am glad to hear about good things from home. It was awesome to hear that the missionaries back there had a baptism in the ward! That is exciting! Baptisms always are special experiences. Mom, I am glad that you enjoyed the birthday present. It was something that I saw and I really liked and thought that you deserved something special for your birthday. Speaking of which, you are how old again?  (ha Ha HA, Chad!) Well I hope that your movie with Marilyn goes great. (Marilyn has been taking Tonja to movie on her birthday for the last 5 years or so!) 
Well I am loving my mission so much and am enjoying the time I have to help others. Hopefully you all had a great Thanksgiving and truly recognize how many things we have to be grateful for. I wish all you the best this week and during this time of the year!

Live it, Love it, Preach it!  les amo!      de la vina del Senor!       ELDER D


Monday, November 21, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving one and all!!

Buenos dias mis queridos padres y amigos!                    21 Nov 2011

We had really awesome week! There are so many positive things that are happening here in our area, and we are super excited for the future here. We just keeping going out and working hard everyday and we have been seeing so many blessings from it. Just this past week we found two new investigators that are truly prepared to receive the Gospel. They are both 16 year old young women. One is Hispanic and one is Native. One of them attends seminary and reads from the Book of Mormon almost everyday. She just basically has never gotten baptized, even though she lives the life of a member already. She is preparing to get baptized on the 10th of December. The other one just moved up here to live with her dad. She lived most of her life in New Mexico with her mom, who is not a member. So her whole family here is members and she goes to church every week with them. So we always thought that she was a member already, but now we know that she isn't and she has a great desire to be baptized. She too is preparing to be baptized on the 10th of December. So there are some extremely positive things happening and we are happy to be here in this area.

This week has been a really big learning experience for me. I mean, everyday I am learning, but I learned a lot this last week.  I started to question how strong of a missionary I am, and why I was even a zone leader.  The next day as I was studying in the Book of Mormon, I came across a scripture in Moroni 8:16. It says, ".... Behold, I speak with boldness, having authority from God; I fear not what man can do; for perfect love casteth out all fear." This hit me so hard. I realized that I was really lacking boldness in my missionary work. I was letting things of the world get me down, and I wasn't presenting this message to the best of my abilities. Well I now have repented of that and am heading in the right direction. I am trying to emulate this everyday now. I am trying to be bold and go and do what the Lord has called me to do. I especially like the last part of the scripture, which talks about perfect love, or charity. I am really trying to develop that love. Charity is a struggle, but it is a commandment and something that is required for us to have to enter into God's kingdom.

This week has also been super eye opening to how well young men can be prepared to serve missions. I have seen this in young men as young as 12 and have seen it in young men that are 18 and leaving on their missions. Preparations starts long before the mission papers are started. This preparations starts long before these young men even receive the Priesthood. It starts when they are in the Primary. The song "I hope they call me on a mission" helps emphasize this. It comes through righteous living from the beginning. That is the true preparation. Righteous living from youth until death. I know now, that one does not need to graze in a different pastures, to know that the pasture that we have has the best grass we can obtain. I wish I would have discovered that in my youth, but I know it now and I am helping others come and be part of the Lord's flock. This is the greatest work I could be doing right now, and I am enjoying every moment that I have to do it.

This week was the end of the transfer, so that means changes too. But I am happy to say that nothing is happening or changing for me this transfer. Elder Castro and I are staying together in Cedar City. This is the first time in my whole mission that I have not had to change companions. I really love my companion and my area, and there is so much good to come in the next few months. So it will be a great next transfers. (I asked if the next transfer would be before or after Christmas and how hard it would be to be transferred a few days before Christmas.  Chad said the next transfer will be after the first of the year. So he will be in Cedar City for Christmas.)

Well Mom, you asked about a Spanish Thanksgiving. Basically it isn't really that different. I think maybe it is because we still live in the States, but they cook turkeys, but just cook it with chiles. It really is good, but it depends on the family too. Sometimes they cook different things, like goat. Oh, and goat really is good. So you should try it sometime Mom! (Not likely!!  - the Mom) 

Oh and sorry for not sending a picture. I will take one this week and send it home. My camera battery died, so there will be no pictures this week, next week I promise..Thanks for everything Mom, and everyone else. I am grateful for the chance to have all of your support! May God bless you this Thanksgiving season!

Live it, Love it, Preach it!

con muchismo amor,    ELDER D

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!

Hola mis amados padres y amigos!    14 November 2011

     Another week has come and gone. Time is such an interesting thing. When we look towards the future, everything seems so distant. When we look to the past, things seem like they were just here. But when we focus on the here and now, things are neither future nor past. This is the most important time to use, the present. If we constantly look towards the future, we will never get anything done. If we constantly review the past, our mind is focused on how things used to be. Being focused on the present is sometimes difficult to do, but it is far more valuable then the other two alternatives. Time will continue to pass by, but it is how well we use our time that matters. (Being a bit philosophical, our Chad is!)
I keep moving along here in Cedar City. It is a pretty awesome place. We have been really striving to do our best every day and some times we see it working and other times we feel that it isn’t. However, it is once again a trial of our faith. The weather is still bi-polar in Utah. You think that I would be used to it by now, but it still just amazes me. Tuesday of last week, after it snowed for 3 days straight, it was warm enough for me to wear short sleeves all day. We haven’t had any more snow since last Monday, but I am sure that will change here this week.
We are really trying to find the elect here. We have found a lot of new people to teach lately. We are now trying to discover which ones are ready for the message of the Restoration.
We had interviews with President Leonard this week. It was a long day of meetings for Elder Castro and I. We were required to be in meetings from 10 until about 4 in the afternoon. So it was just a long time to be sitting and focusing! The interview with President went really well. I continue to gain more and more respect for him each and every time I am around him. Don’t worry Mom, I won’t try and tell you that I am getting sent home like I did last year. (Right!  The MOM did NOT think that was FUNNY at all!!)
This week has been full of a lot of zone leader things. We have had some pretty crazy experiences we have had to take care of. One of them required us to leave our house at about 10 in the evening to go have an intervention with a missionary. He was just struggling with anxiety and was questioning a lot of the rules and why we have them. He isn’t one for organized sports, so he has a hard time letting all of his anxiety out that way. We were looking for an alternative to help him. It was some pretty intense stuff. We learned a lot about this missionary in just a short hour or so. We are still looking for a way to help him, so the battle goes on. We also had another incident where we went to another missionary's apartment and one of them had purchased a pool table. So that was a big thing to take care of. I just don’t know why someone would want to buy a pool table, or something like that on a mission; especially since we hardly stay in the same place for longer then 3 months. So it was a pretty interesting week as a zone leader.
Elder Castro, Brisin, Elder Davis
Moving on to a happy note, we had a BAPTISM!!! It was for a 10 year old boy named Brisin. Since my nephew has the same name (his is spelled Bryson), it was pretty interesting to be saying that name while we were teaching him. His family is so crazy, but it has been a really good experience for him and for his less active mother. His grandfather was the one that got to baptize him, so that was a pretty special experience. This kid has a bright future ahead of him. I am happy to know him and his family. I will be doing the confirmation for him next weekend. It was postponed this week because we had a regional Stake Conference.
The Regional Conference was pretty crazy. It took in over 80 stakes in the southern half of Utah. There were four General Leadership that spoke, one from the Primary Presidency, one from the Sunday School presidency, Elder Callister of the Seventy, and Elder Nelson of the Twelve. It was pretty cool. Most of it was about marriage and family. So there wasn’t too much I could apply to myself right now.
We met this crazy guy this week. He is from San Diego and was just flat out nuts! He had been in gangs and all that throughout his whole life. He has done hardcore time in prison for over half of his life and he is only 33! He is in a wheelchair because he got shot by the police. His life is just a crazy story! The craziest part was that he wouldn’t even let us teach him anything. He let us into his house and then he just started going off on us, especially me, about religion and the Bible and all of this ridiculous stuff. I think he kind of singled me out because I was white and everyone else in the room was Hispanic. But it was alright with me, I tried to teach him about the Book of Mormon, but he still wasn’t having it.
NEWS FROM HOME:  (We mentioned to Chad that a ward member and former Mission President and person Chad did his senior project in their lawyer office, President Barber knows Chad’s mission president.)  Well that is cool about President Barber and how he knows President Leonard. The world really is a small place. I am glad to hear that the missionaries came over and were able to give some perspective on things. I can agree with the missionaries in what they say. It really is a great challenge to try and think of things in that way, but when we try to love as God would love us, we are becoming like Him. Charity is a commandment. It is something that I am still not very good at, but we can only try our best to improve everyday. But Heavenly Father wants all of His children to come back to him, which is why He has restored His church again to the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith. The evidence of this restoration is the Book of the Mormon. That is why we invite everyone to come and partake of the goodness that comes from the gospel of Jesus Christ. We don’t ask others to only believe our words, but to experiment and try it out for themselves. Through these things, can we return to our Heavenly Father!
I am grateful for your continuous love and support! At this time of the year, I am indeed grateful for everyone who is there supporting me! Thank you! Everyone!
Live it, Love it, Preach it!!  les agradezco con todo de mi corazon!

les amo!    ELDER D

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Happy November!

Hola mis queridos padres y amigos!!       7 Nov 2011 

     This week was a little bit different. It wasn’t the greatest week, but there was definitely a lot of good things that happened.  I think it may have been a little different because we had a slow start to our week because of Halloween. Since there are so many people dressed up in costumes and all of that, we were not permitted to leave our apartments. So we had a very long three hours of nothing just sitting at home in our apartment. Not a fun night. No mischief or anything!
Well the weather here has been pretty crazy. It has been back and forth with rain and snow the whole week. It will get cold and snow in the evening, and then the next day it will warm up and melt it all. But we had a big storm on Friday and it calmed down on Saturday, but it came back last night and hasn’t stopped snowing since. It is crazy because if it was snowing like this up in Washington, everyone would probably be hoping for a snow day. Here, everyone didn’t even blink an eye for that. There is still school and everything is still in full swing here in Cedar City.
This week I experienced my first Zone Leader Council, aka, ZLC. It was a different kind of meeting that is for sure. I saw a whole different side of the leadership and what was discussed. I still think that my love for President Leonard grows every time I am around him. It was a cool thing to escape the cold weather of Cedar and head down to sunny St. George for the day.
I have just a few little experiences to share with all of you this week. One is from our investigator named Cris. He has been learning about the Church for quite awhile now, but he hasn’t really been focused until now. Before, he was basically having the missionaries over to be nice. That has completely changed now. He came to church this last week and then from then on it has been a new attitude. We gave him a "Gospel Principles" manual at church and when we came back on Wednesday, he had been reading it and had a ton of questions. He is now learning at such an immense rate. I have never had some so intrigued to learn and to grow. We are now just trying to work out all the little details for his baptism.
I also went on exchanges with Elder Cancel this week. I stayed in my usual area, but Elder Cancel doesn’t speak Spanish, so I was basically by myself for the night. It wasn’t bad, but I just really had to rely on the Spirit and trust in the Spanish that I have and know. I feel that my Spanish really took a blow from when I was in Price and never used it. It is definitely starting to come back and that will continue to happen. I just want to keep it when I go home too. That is going to be the biggest struggle.
NEWS FROM HOME:  I am glad to hear that the bathroom is basically all put back together. It will be exciting to see that all changed. I guess that is just what happens when you leave for such a long time. I will come back to not even understanding how to get back to my own house because of all the road changes, I will not even know my own bathroom, and even my mom will be different. That is going to be interesting to see and experience. Mom, I am glad that you are feeling happier with the job and the health. Both seem very exciting for you and it makes me happy to know that you are happy!
Well I am pretty good on clothes and everything. I am going to buy some smaller gloves then the ones I have, and I don’t think I will need any more sweaters. For the most part, we just put on our jackets and use those. But I am glad to know that you are still concerned for my well being. Oh and that is crazy to think that Bro. DeMille just has family almost everywhere I serve. We will see if I will be able to meet any of his family. I am so grateful to all of your support!

Live it, Love it, Preach it!  les amo!   ELDER D

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Lessons Learned......the weather is getting COLDER!

Hola Padres!                  31 October 2011

         This letter is late in the afternoon because we took a little vacation this morning since it is a holiday. We went to a place called
Bryce Canyon. It was pretty awesome. It is something that you definitely have to experience for yourself. I hope that the pictures that I send will do it justice. I also sent some home from last week with the baptisms and all that. I hope you enjoy.
         This week has passed by pretty quickly. I can hardly believe that it is November already! The last few weeks I have learned a lot about being physically tired vs. being spiritually tired. I thought I really understood what being tired was before I left. I have had some extreme weeks of sports practices and have been pushed to my absolute ends, but being on a mission I have learned that those feelings barely compare to those of being spiritually tired. If you exert one or the other yes, you may feel tired. But when you exert both of those all day long for the whole week, you truly know what tired feels like. There is something about having the Spirit there and continually using that just drains your body.
         We had some pretty crazy weather again. We went to sleep on Tuesday with it raining pretty hard, then on Wednesday when we woke up to go run, we saw about 3 inches of snow on the ground. We prepared for the cold that day. We went to a meeting and when we came out, the snow was completely melted and it was just brutally cold with the wind blowing. I guess that is just something I will have to look forward to during the long winter here in Cedar City.
         Last week I mentioned a potential investigator named Carlos. Well this week he became an investigator. He actually read what we had left him and he had gained a ton of knowledge from it. We touched up on all the points of the Restoration again for him and it went really well. He seems to have a genuine interest on learning more. We have an appointment with him this evening to give him a "church tour" so he will feel more comfortable when he can come to church.
         I went on exchanges with the Assistants to the Mission President this week. I actually went back down to St. George and was with Elder Hultgren. It was pretty amazing. We had some really awesome lessons with people that I didn't know at all. I just went by what the Spirit directed me to say, and it went amazing. That is one thing that I have really grown a testimony of lately, that no matter where you go, the Spirit is still the same! After I got back from being on the Dixie Campus, Elder Castro and I had an awesome lesson with Cris. He has been having some struggles while his dad is in the hospital in Mexico. He originally thought his father was going to pass away, so we prepared a lesson about the Atonement to help him. We read an article called "The Atonement Heals All Pain" from April's General Conference. As much as this lesson was for Cris, it definitely helped me see a lot of things in my own life. In this talk, it says how the pains and struggles in our life do one of two things. One, help us come closer to our Heavenly father; or two, push away from Him, but it depends on what we do. I thought so much on how I felt when my father was in the hospital and how I felt when he had cancer. I can see now, that this struggle was a big learning step for me. I learned how fragile life really is and how I could not continue to take it for granted. It was pretty tough to pass through this just a few months prior to my mission, but now I look at it as a great tool. I can really talk to investigators and members who are passing through really tough times and talk about how I was able to learn and grow from my struggles.
         This weekend I also gave a talk in the Spanish branch. It was pretty short, because I was the last speaker and only had about 5 minutes. I didn't mind too much! (A good friend, Brad Romm, gave his "farewell" talk in church this last Sunday before leaving on his mission to the Philippines.) It is crazy that Brad gave his farewell and Jared (Scrimsher) gave his homecoming all in one meeting. It is crazy to think that Jared is already home. (He served a mission in East Los Angeles, Spanish Speaking.) It feels like he just left. It feels like I just left and now I have been out for 14 months! Time just continues to fly by! I really liked what Brad shared about how he had worked really hard to become a physical giant, but he would gladly give it up to become a spiritual giant. He has the attitude that will take him to the point to becoming that spiritual giant. That is the first step, to decide who and what you want to become, and then it can happen. It is so weird that Brad is headed out on his mission. It is a crazy thought to think that we are all old enough to be out on missions and serving the Lord. I echo what Brad said about RMs though. They are really those people that you want to be around them and the missionaries who are serving. That played a big part in why I chose to serve a mission. It was because I looked at them and saw how they were able to carry themselves in such a bold, strong, and dignified manner, that the choice was easy to make. I wanted to possess those characteristics so I knew that I had to make a change and serve my mission as well. I love every moment I have to be able to be part of the Lord's army.

Live it, Love it, Preach it!  les amo!    ELDER D