Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Another Baptism, Loving the Work!

Good morning to all!                  23 January 2012
           This week we had a Zone Conference in St. George. It is still weird for me to go down there for these things because of having served in St. George. The Zone Conference was about going back to the basics and understanding our purpose as missionaries. I think this will help our mission as a whole and we will be able to continue moving forward.
      The night after Zone Conference I had a pretty awesome experience. We had an extra companion for the night, Elder Ayala. His companion was in a different area, so we got the privilege of having him with us. The appointment in our area was pretty terrible, but the one lesson that we had for Elder Ayala's area was amazing. Some background for the story is that Elder Ayala has only been out for 4 weeks in the field. He is struggling to learn English, but has a great heart. This lesson we had was with a girl that is here studying from Peru, thus the lesson was in Spanish. It was going so great and we kept talking about the things that she needs to do in her life to come closer to Jesus Christ, and then Elder Ayala invites her to be baptized. She just kind of looks at him and says, "Ya, I was actually thinking about that a lot today. I want to do it!" When Elder Ayala heard this, he just lit up like a little kid on Christmas Day. It was so nice to see that joy and excitement that comes when a missionary is first out on his mission and is experiencing all of these things for the first time. I feel I still have excitement for the work and inviting people to be baptized, but I don’t have that same joy I would if I was first out. It is good to remember how great it is to be a servant of the Lord and how sacred this work really is. It was a good reminder to me that I can learn things from missionaries that do not have much experience in the mission.
       One miracle we had this week was with a lady named Mary Lou. She said she had been reading in the Book of Mormon this week and every time that she read, she got this feeling that she needed to be baptized. We were shocked at this statement and excited at the same time. We talked with her about the Holy Ghost and how that gives us feelings and how He gives us these thoughts to act upon. So she actually came to church this week and during Sacrament Meeting, she was just crying because of the messages that were being shared. I am so grateful for the Spirit and how that can change the hearts of anyone! We are hoping that we can set a baptismal date with her this week.
Went inside with rain, came out to a blizzard!
Update on the Weather – after the Winter storm hit the Northwest, we asked Chad if he was also THAWING OUT? Well we are not really thawing out down here in Utah. We are just catching the start of the storm. It hit here on Saturday pretty hard. We stopped by the church to make some copies. It was raining when we went in but when we came out, it was a blizzard. SEE ATTACHED PICTURE. So that was just the beginning, today it is still cold and it is supposed to snow. Hopefully it doesn’t get too bad, but whatever the weather, the work will go on.
      I feel that I am still becoming more bold in my missionary work. I feel I have turned the corner and am really understanding what I am supposed to do as a missionary and why this is so important. I feel that sometimes I have come off as rude to some people, but why present something that is some important with lightness of heart? This is eternal salvation! It isn’t something to be taken lightly, and for that reason, I am out working hard and helping others to understand how they can gain eternal life. I wrote last week about Kathy's baptism, well we had her confirmation yesterday. She is such an awesome convert! She is reading the Book of Mormon every night and is really taking these changes in stride. I look forward to big things from her in the future. We finally had another lesson with Cris after 2 weeks. Even after two weeks, I still have so much love for that man. I feel that he is so close to the point that he needs to reach. He has a testimony, but he just needs it to be confirmed by the Holy Ghost. Once he prays specifically for these things, he will be ready. I just want the best for him so bad.
      This week ended on a weird note. We have just been "dropping" a lot of people this week. If they aren’t sincere or want to do anything, we are leaving them to find people who are really prepared for this message. I think it will be an act of faith, but we are ready for the work that lies ahead of us.
      NEWS FROM HOME: Chad has been asking his father for information on his mission in Hawaii.  He has been hesitant because Chad’s experiences seem to be extraordinary.  Well Mom, tell Pops that his experiences on his mission aren’t less then mine. I just want to know what has happened on his mission and how I can learn from those things. He is hearing about my mission, so I want to hear about his too. Oh, and Mom, that goes for you too! Well I am glad that you had a good visit with Bethany and Nick. Nick is a good guy, he just has to break the barrier and it will be good from there. When I worked with him, it took a few days, but we finally broke the ice and he would talk to me. (I mentioned that Bethany said she misses Chad and can’t wait to try and corrupt him again!)  Well tell Bethany that she can try and corrupt me, but I don’t think it will be that easy anymore. Oh and I did get your package Mom. I sent home the sweaters just because they were sleeveless and I don’t really wear those that much. And I really like the new one that you sent me, but we aren’t allowed to wear in sweaters that have designs on them. They need to be solid, conservative colors. So I like it, but can’t wear it. Sorry for the inconvenience. Thank you for the white shirts and the ties. I appreciate them both. Thank you for the emails and the support. I am extremely grateful to have that support from you and everyone at home! Have a good week and remember that the Lord is always there for us!      Live it, Love it, Preach it!   de la vina del Senor!    ELDER D

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Blessings of Hard Work, Being Led By the Spirit

Buenas tardes a todos!           17 January 2012
           Well this is coming a little late, but it will still be the same meaning. I am impressed with everything that has been happening lately. Last week I talked about a lot of potential that we had, but now it is more than just potential. I have been once again reminded how much the Spirit really helps me as a missionary. My Spanish is pretty good and I don't really doubt it too much anymore, but I still don't speak as fast as the natives do. But when I am in a lesson and the Spirit is there, my Spanish just becomes so much faster and more fluent. It is weird because I will just go on these huge rants, and then afterwards I will just sit back and be like "wow, that was totally by the Spirit!"   J          We had our monthly trip to St. George for Zone Leader Council. It was weird to be there without Elder Castro. It was  good to see other missionaries and talk about the goals and plans for the mission. The biggest thing that hit me was that I was the second oldest missionary in that meeting. There was only one other missionary that has been out longer then I have been. My mission is really just passing by way too quickly.
          This week we definitely had some trials of our faith, but the Lord blessed with enough to keep us going. We would be having just a terrible day with no lessons and no positive things, and then we would find a new person to teach or we would be blessed with a miracle in the zone. The biggest thing was that we found a super amazing family to teach this week. We were going through the records of all the people that were taught before by other missionaries, and we came across this name and felt we needed to visit them. We are really happy that we did! On our first visit, we talked with a lady named Selene. She said we could come back on Saturday and talk to her and her mother. Well Saturday rolls around and we have an amazing lesson with Selene and her mother, Alma. The Spirit was there the whole time, and as we taught we were fighting back tears. Then we came to the Joseph Smith story and the First Vision. Well there were tears shed in this moment, but they were by Selene and Alma. We then invited them both to be baptized and they both accepted. Craziest part was that the next day was Sunday and they both showed up to Church. They are progressing very rapidly. We another lesson today with Selene. She has an extreme desire to help her family become more united in the Gospel. We are going to start teaching her daughter tomorrow, and her boyfriend/husband this weekend. The Lord has truly helped us to find this amazing family and be able to help them come unto the truth that the Lord has restored to the earth.
          Another miracle this week was our number of investigators that came to church. Before this area I have never had more than 5 in one week at church. This weekend we had a grand total of 9! There is still more that are supposed to come this next week as well. We have been working extremely hard lately, and I feel that we have been given these blessings and miracles because of our hard work.
          One thing I have really been starting to notice is the way I am starting to see others. Before in my mission, I just saw people as someone I could teach or someone who could come to church, or get baptized. Now, my mindset is changing a lot. I am trying to think about people as Heavenly Father would. So when I meet new people, I can seem them getting baptized or even farther ahead than that, having callings in the church or going to the temple. I am seeing people in this way, and it is amazing to be able to feel such love for them from the first time that I meet them. I am starting to really grow in charity for the people here in Cedar City and in southern Utah.
          I won't make you wait until next week to let you know about the baptism that we had last night. The baptism was for Kathy. It was amazing how determined she was to be baptized, she wouldn't let anything stand in front of her and her baptism, and that became a reality last night. It was such an overwhelming feeling to see someone that I had taught, take another step closer to gaining eternal life! That feeling is one of a kind, and it can't really be described. Someone needs to be able to feel it for themselves to truly understand what a great feeling it is to see someone enter into the waters of baptism and make that sacred covenant with our Father in Heaven.  I am loving this work and it is the greatest thing I have ever done! I couldn't picture what better thing I could be doing at this point in my life. "This is God's work, and God's work will not be frustrated." -Elder M. Russell Ballard.
          NEWS FROM HOME: That is pretty cool about the missionary moments for the ward. I hope that there is only good things being said about me. (The mom had the opportunity to give an update on Chad's Mission in Church. Of course only GOOD THINGS were said!)   I am grateful for everything and the support that I am getting for all of you! Remember that you are important in the eyes of God.

Live it, Love it, Preach it!    con muchismo amor,     ELDER D

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Transfers . . . Cedar City welcomes a new companion!

Buenos dia mis amigos y padres!        9 January 2012

Well I hope this week has been as good for you as it has been for me. I am still enjoying my time here in Cedar City. It is a really good area and it has been pretty good for me to learn and grow. This week was pretty solid with a lot of positive things happening. We are looking forward to the future with a lot of optimism. There are some things that are still difficult, but that is part of a mission and part of life.
I will start off with talking about my new companion, Elder Pedersen. I originally said it was Elder Pederson, but it is with an E, not an O. He is from Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is pretty cool. He is very diligent and is a very hard worker, so we won’t have any problems there. It was pretty difficult to get used to his accent though. Now I am starting to understand it all, but he has a different accent, and he speaks really really fast. If I am not paying attention to everything he is saying, I won’t understand it. I like to make fun of his accent and try and imitate him. He always just laughs and shakes his head at me. 
It has been an adjustment to have a different companion. I was with Elder Castro for 3 months, so we were just accustomed to each other. We both had the same knowledge of the area, the people we were teaching and visiting. Now it is hard for me to try and explain everything about the area to Elder Pedersen. I feel like I am repeating myself, but I just to have patience with him and everything will turn out okay. We are pretty similar in personality. We are both pretty sarcastic, so that is something that we are trying to work on together. It may be a struggle because we are so much alike!
There is just so many things this week that happened. With transfers and having half of the zone leave for somewhere else, I have been a little overwhelmed with everything. Another thing is that Elder Pedersen has never been a district leader or zone leader before, so I am having to teach him everything that we are supposed to do in leadership. He is learning pretty quickly and he seems to understanding the point of it all.
We did have a huge miracle this week! There is a lady named Kathy that we have been trying to visit since the first part of November. We never were able to catch up with her consistently. We would usually see her about once every 2-3 weeks. We went over just to see if she had gotten home from her holiday vacation to Arizona, and we caught her at home. The miracle part is she invited us in, and then started talking about how she had been thinking a lot about this upcoming year and what she needed to do to grow and become her best self. Ultimately she said that she came to the conclusion that she needed to get baptized! Well I was super excited and amazed, and then she said that she wanted to do it on the 16th of January! So that gave us like a week and a half to teach her everything that we need to before she can get baptized. I was like, alright, we can make that happen. We met with her every day for the last 3 days and we will still meet with her every day just so she can make her goal of being baptized on the 16th. The Lord truly is preparing the hearts of the people who will receive the Gospel.  We are still striving to find the "elect". Elder Pedersen has high hopes, so I am fine with that.
The crazy thing here has been the weather. Since Christmas, it has been in about the 50s or 60s. So we have going around with short sleeves during the day, and just sweaters or jackets in the evening. Well that all changed on Saturday. We went into a meeting when it was about 40 outside, and then an hour and a half later we walked outside to snow just dumping down. It hasn’t been snowing today or yesterday, but it is super windy and super cold. I don’t think it has gotten over 35 since Saturday. Burrrrr!
Another cool little story about the power of testimony. I had forgotten how powerful testimonies can be in Sacrament meeting. I hadn’t borne my testimony in a Sacrament meeting in about 3 or 4 months, so I felt I needed to do it. I didn’t say anything too crazy, but I just shared my story on how I gained my testimony. Then after the meeting I was standing by the door, and everyone just kept coming up to me and saying thank you. It wasn’t because my testimony was special or different, but it was just able to touch the hearts of the people at that time. That is why it is so essential to testify in our lessons. The people can feel the power of our testimonies. We need to be willing to share it at any moment or any time. The craziest part came after the meeting. The Stake President for that stake, President Orton, came up and was talking to me about my story a little bit, and he asked about my father. (I had shared a little bit about how my father was diagnosed with cancer about 4 months before my mission.) Then he gave me a really nice compliment. He said "I have been around and met a lot of missionaries, and you are one of the best I have seen. You have a great spirit about you." Well I don’t really feel worthy to receive a compliment like that, but he is a really good guy, and very genuine, so I guess I will just take it. He showed me that he was really personable and was truly a disciple of Christ.
NEWS FROM HOME: Well Mom, I am glad that you had a good chat with Sandi. I am glad that you are enjoying the friendship of others and that is what life is about.  I am glad that Pops got out and went to a basketball game. How did it turn out? (Burbank Won against Connell!) I I am glad that people are still asking about me, it shows that they really care. I am glad to have the support of everyone back at home! 
Well I love you all, and wish you the best of luck in this new year!

Live it, Love it, Preach it!  les amo muchismo!     hagan su mejor!     ELDER D

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Happy New Year 2012

Buenos dias!                                                                     02 Jan 2012

          Another week has come and gone, but I am not complaining. I hope that everything went well for the New Year celebrations. This week had some highs and lows.  We had some major struggles because of the holidays and everyone traveling. We did have some good things happen, but to be blunt the week didn't go how we had planned.
          To start off with some good news, I actually talked to Antonio (Ricardo) this week. It was a very pleasant surprise. He is doing extremely well and is moving forward in his life. I am still just so shocked on all the changes that he has made.  The gospel has blessed him so much in his life. He went from being an alcoholic to now helping others overcome from their addictions. He has a calling to work with the "12 Step Addiction Recovery Program" and he has also helped to create and open a recovery home in St. George. He is the director of operations for that home. He has received the Aaronic Priesthood and will receive the Melchizedek Priesthood on March 3rd. Then he will be preparing to go to the temple soon. I am just so happy to see how far he has come and grateful that I was able to help him a little.  My joy is full to see this happening to him. He is happier than ever and enjoying life. I love how the gospel can bless anyone's life, if they just put it to the test.
          Some good things this week - we have a few more baptismal dates with some investigators. Pedro is still progressing really well, but we just have to get him married and to church. Those are the only two things standing in his way of being baptized. We have the whole month of January to work on that. We also have another couple that we are working with. Their names are Jesus and Angelica. They are really awesome and have a great desire to learn and follow Jesus Christ. There are a lot of good things happening, but we were faced with a lot of struggles this week as well.
          Cris was supposed to get baptized on Saturday, but to make a long story short; he didn't get baptized. We are both really bummed about it. We have gotten very close to Cris and genuinely love him and want him to just get baptized, because he is completely ready, but he continues to procrastinate his baptism. He seems to come up with excuses the week before the baptism, so we set up another date and then the week of his baptism he throws another one. The main obstacle is his wife. She is Catholic and she hasn't decided to get baptized or to commit herself to just our church, so Cris feels that if he gets baptized and she doesn't want to, that it will just cause problems in their relationship. It is just extremely frustrating when you know someone is so prepared and would be a great member of the church, and they just shy away from it all. We had a lesson with him the night before he was supposed to be baptized, and he was ready to be interviewed, but it was so INTENSE!  I have played in numerous sports events and things like that, but I have never been more nervous in my life, then when we were in that lesson with Cris and Maria. My hands were just shaking and I couldn't control it. I just feel such genuine love for this man, that I want him to enter through the door that leads to numerous more blessings, but he is denying himself of those things. But we are going to continue working with him, and to help him and his wife to be ready for baptism. I am hoping that it will be soon.
          New Years was good. We were permitted to watch the movie "Up!" It was good to just relax for the night, but it felt super weird to be watching a movie and not out knocking on doors or teaching lessons. It is crazy to think that we are now in the year of 2012. What is even worse to think about it that I go home this year. Time is just moving by faster and faster. I am still stuck in between were it is good that time moves fast, but sad because my mission is fading quicker and quicker.           Transfers come at the end of this week.  We will actually be apart of them this time. Elder Castro and I were both hoping to get to stay with each other for another transfer, but the Lord has other plans. I am going to be staying here in Cedar City and will be training a new Zone Leader. His name is Elder Pederson. He is from Argentina. I have only met him one time, but I will learn more about him in the next 6 weeks. It is crazy to think that there are only two Argentinians in the mission and I will have served with both of them.
          NEWS FROM HOME: (Chad's cousin Zach, got engaged this week!) It is really crazy to hear about Zach and Lily. That is pretty cool though. It just seems that this last month was just a month of engagements or marriages. (Rumor has it that Sarah Rude is getting married! She just graduated last year! Oh My!)  I have heard of so many people getting engaged or getting married. 'Tis the season I suppose. I hope that this finds you in high spirits and enjoying the new year. This new year is a time to grow and change, so let's use it to the best of our capabilities.

Live it, Love it, Preach it!    
de la vina del Senor!