Monday, February 20, 2012

Miracles Continue, Grateful to Serve

Buenas tardes!                Feb 20 2012   SORRY, NO PICTURES THIS WEEK!

Well this week was full of its ups and downs. We have really been trying to do our best to go and just work as hard as we can, but I have been able to learn a lot about agency this week.
            The weather here definitely made things a lot more difficult. We had everything from rain, hail, and snow this week. We would go into a lesson with it being sunny and dry, and we would come out to it snowing or raining. It was difficult to stay prepared for the weather. We just kept pushing along and trying to do our best. I learned once again that it doesn't matter how much snow Cedar City gets every year, the people here just don't understand how to drive in it.  J
            This week we were able to find a really good family. On Monday morning we received a call from one of the Bishops here in one of the English wards and he said that there was a family that had just moved here from California and that they had agreed to meet with the missionaries. We didn't waste anytime in trying to contact them! We contacted them Monday evening.  They are super nice and let us right in. We were able to teach them the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and they really caught on to it and wanted to learn more. We set up an appointment for Wednesday. On returning to visit Manuel and Raquel, we just picked up right where we left off. We taught about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. They were so willing to read and pray for themselves. I feel that this family really is a tender mercy of the Lord. We invited Manuel to be baptized on the 17th of March and he accepted! They just keep progressing in such great lengths in only one week. We found them, taught them 3 lessons, invited them to be baptized, and they came to a branch party all in one week! The Lord truly is merciful to us and provides people for us to teach.
            Besides finding Manuel and Raquel, this week has been pretty frustrating. I said before that I learned a lot about agency this week, and it is through our investigators that I learned this. We have some investigators that are so ready to be baptized, but because of circumstances outside our power they can't be baptized. Some of the things are things that they can deal with or some of the things are because of their spouses. I have been doing a lot of soul searching this week to understand how I can be a better missionary or how I can better help my investigators. I have learned a lot about myself, but mostly on how we can't force anyone to act. Everything comes down to whether they want to do something or not. It is really frustrating to see someone you love so much to do something that you know they shouldn't, or see someone be so ready for baptism and can't get there. I don't think I have ever fasted or prayed so much in one week before this one. This next week we can either have 4 baptisms or 0. So we are looking forward to seeing what blessings and miracles God has in store for us.
            I can say that during my mission I have felt some of the craziest feelings here. I have never cried, prayed, or cared so much about others. I have never been more frustrated or stressed then I have on my mission. But all these things have come because I am really starting to understand how important these things are to everyone and I am seeing these people I teach as God would see them. They are each children of God and they have the same opportunity and need to receive the true gospel here on the earth. Happiness comes from the gospel. In Mosiah 2:41 it talks about the "blessed and happy state of those who keep the commandments". It doesn't say that we will be unhappy or angry, but we will be happy and blessed through our obedience to living the commandments and to follow Jesus Christ. I am sorry that I went off on that tangent, but it was something that I just needed to get off my chest, and I felt that I could do that through this email.
            We had a lot of meetings this week. We had the two district meetings as usual, but this week President Leonard was there. We had interviews with him, and I continue to gain respect for him each time I am around him. We also attended a Stake Conference for the Cedar Stake this week. The talks were all about the importance of the temple. It was really good and helped me to understand once again why we are doing missionary work and temple work. We had another meeting with President Leonard, but it was also with all the Stake Presidents and Bishops and anyone else who had a calling to deal with missionary work. It was something really good to hear from President Leonard and to gain the support of all the stake leaders. I was also able to meet President Powell. Mom, you had mentioned an Elder Powell serving in Kennewick, and that his father was a Stake President here in Cedar. Well I met him and we had a pretty good talk about how my parents had met his son and things like that. He is a really good guy and he appreciates and knows there are good members and people taking care of his son up there in Washington.
            Well I am grateful for all the support once again! I love each and everyone of you! I know that this work is so important, and I am very grateful to be able to serve my mission and to learn and grow. But most of all I know that Jesus Christ really did suffer for us that we could be made clean from our sins. He paid the price for all of us, so that we could come unto him and to participate in the Gospel that he can to the world. No one is exempt for his suffering. He really is the Savior and Redeemer of the world!

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

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Chad's version of Lehi's Tree of Life Vision

Saludos a todos!                   13 Feb 2012
         Well another week here in Cedar City has come and gone. It is so crazy how fast the weeks fly by when you are trying to just work all the time. This week was really fast and pretty solid. We continue to be blessed by finding new potential people to visit and hopefully it will turn into good things here quickly. We were able to find 4 new investigators this week, and they are all really interested and have a great desire to learn more, so that is a great blessing. We are planning to invite them to be baptized before the week is over. We have had some pretty good lessons this week as well. There aren't too many that actually stand out to me, but we are still teaching and helping many come unto Christ.
          I finally had a chance to see Cris again. We haven't seen him for a little while, but it was a good thing to see him. I just have so much love for that man, and I just want what is best for him. The hardest part is that he knows that everything is true and has a testimony and desires to be baptized, but he has just one thing holding him back, his wife. It is a tough situation, but he is positive that it will be resolved soon and that he will be able to enter into the waters of baptism. I just hope I will be able to see it.
           We have another investigator and her daughter that are so prepared and ready to be baptized, but she just needs to get married first. It is tough because her "husband" has already said he would marry her, but he just keeps dragging his feet. We are going to try and start teaching her husband, Omar, this week and we will see how it goes from there. I am not going to lie, I have been pretty frustrated this week. It is tough to see other missionaries baptize who you know aren't doing all that they should, but they are still blessed with success. And then I feel like we are being obedient to the mission rules, we are being bold with our presentation of our message, and we are finding people that are genuine in their desire, but it just hasn't been translating into baptisms. So for that I have been frustrated and have been racking my brain trying to figure out what I can do better or what I can change to be able to receive these blessings from the Lord. We will see what these changes I have come up with will do for my area.
Brian Head Ski Resort near Cedar
            This week Elder Pedersen and I also visited the far outreaches of our zone. We took a trip to Enterprise, Utah to do a baptismal interview for the missionaries that are serving out there. It reminded me a lot of eastern Washington. It was a bunch of farmland and sagebrush. We also took a trip up to a place called Brian Head, Utah. (see picture) It is a ski resort that is like 30 miles away from Cedar, and it is pretty cool. There was no snow in Cedar City, but there was a lot up there. The road is pretty crazy, but it is steep. That is the thing that gets you. You climb about 5000 feet in about 12 miles.
       I also met a returned missionary that served in the Kennewick Mission. He served in the Spanish Branch in Pasco for 7 months and in Basin City/Connell for 7 months. His name is Gordon Garrett. He said that he knew the Lybbert family really well. It was pretty interesting to talk to someone who served where I am from and to talk about people that we both know.
          Today I am going to end with a little experience we had last night. We basically had a real life experience with Lehi's dream. So yesterday it went from rain to snow to immense fog. So we were with one of our fellowshippers and we were driving back from an appointment. We were in some crazy fog (mist of darkness) and could hardly see, and there was these people who were traveling from out of state and were lost (forbidden paths). So we told them that we could help them get to their goal, a hotel (the tree of life), by following us. So in a way we kind of acted as the iron rod. Anyways they were pulling a trailer and were on this little road, so there was one trial right there, to get the truck and trailer turned around and facing in the right direction. Throughout that whole time there was so much murmuring and bickering. It felt like we really were in the mist of darkness as Lehi describes it. Eventually we got them turned around and we led them back to the right road (the straight and narrow). It still wasn't easy once we were on the road. They continually were slowing down and not keeping up and we had to keep waiting for them to follow us. But with time and some reassurance, we were able to help them follow the road and to reach the hotel (the tree of life). Maybe this experience sounds a little weird and doesn't make sense, but it was definitely a learning opportunity for me. I completely understood Lehi's dream from start to finish. We (the missionaries) understood how easy it was to get to their goal, but they (the people who were lost) were completely disoriented and didn't know where they were going or how easy it really was to get to the hotel. I have a whole new understanding of that dream now.
Tow-Mater Car and Mini Tow-Mater, Cute!
A hammock?  Island Hopping?  ZZZZZZ
     Just so you all know, we had transfers last night, but there isn't anything changing. Elder Pedersen and I will be staying together for another transfer. So I will get to see some more snow here in Cedar. (They have a winter storm watch going on right now.) NEWS FROM HOME: (after nearly a year and a half...) Well I am glad to hear that Keith and Emma finally made it out on their own again. I think it will be something positive for them and it will strengthen their own relationship, but their relationships with their kids. I love you all and am so grateful for your support!      Have a great week! 

   Live it, Love it, Preach it!   les vayan bien!   ELDER D

Monday, February 6, 2012

Strong Testimonies of New Converts

Good Afternoon!                 6 February 2012
(No pictures this week...)
       Well first and foremost, I would like to wish a Happy Anniversary to Moms and Pops! I know that it isn’t until later in the week, but I won’t be able to do anything else for it then to just say it through the email.
        This week was pretty good just like most of them. We had a lot of meetings and a lot of things to do throughout the week, but we still managed to get some actual missionary work done as well. We have been having a lot of success with inviting people to be baptized and them accepting it. The only thing now is that we have to translate that into baptisms. It should be interesting to see how the rest of the month plays out. We have a bunch of people preparing for baptism on the 25th of February, so we will put in the work and hope for the best. We also had to make our monthly trip down to St. George for our meeting with President Leonard. It was good, as most missionary meetings are, but we had to learn a lot and have been given a lot of responsibility. I feel I have been understanding more fully my responsibility as a zone leader and how I can better help the missionaries that serve in my zone. My stay in St. George ended up a little longer. I went on exchanges with the Assistants to the President.  I loved being in St. George and the feeling that it has. I am not hoping to get transferred, but if I do, I want to go back to St. George. Well this exchange was in English again, so it turned out to be a little difficult for me to teach in English, but it worked out. It is nice to know no matter where you go or what language you are teaching in, the Gospel and Spirit is still the same.
      It was really nice weather down in St. George when I was there. It was about 65-70 and a light breeze, but it definitely wasn’t like that in Cedar when we came back. I came back to Cedar with 6 inches of snow on the ground and it was about 25 degrees outside. Let's just say that I wasn't too thrilled to be back in Cedar City! (Elder D is a summer boy at heart!) The snow is starting to melt and we are looking at warmer weather for this coming week.
           I had to do a lot of baptismal interviews this week. The people I interviewed were so amazing and prepared for the Gospel. I interviewed this kid named Myles. He is from Oakland, California, but is here to play football for SUU. During his interview I could just tell how much he loved the Gospel, and how much it had changed him for the better. So I asked him if there was anything else he wanted to say before I asked him the last question, and he just sat there for a minute and thought about what was on his mind. He just looked at me and basically bore his testimony to me about how happy he was to be part of the TRUE church of Christ here on the earth and how much he had changed because of the Gospel. It was so amazing to hear him say that. It took me back to when I first got my personal testimony and how much happiness and peace I felt in my life as I continued to live all of the commandments of God and to apply the Gospel to my life. I think I had kind of forgotten how big of a change I had to make in my life and the difference between when I lived the Gospel and when I didn’t. It was pretty cool because he invited us to come to his baptism.  We didn’t want to let him down on his invitation; so we went to his baptism and what a great experience that was! He had invited so many people and had so much support, his baptismal service had to be held in the chapel, and it was completely full! I seriously think that the whole SUU football team was there for him. A baptismal service is something special already, but this one just blew me away. Everything was pretty normal and Spiritual, but the service took a turn when Myles himself came up to share his testimony. He shared basically the same testimony that he shared with me the day before. He invited everyone there to give the Gospel a shot and to try it for themselves. I honestly don’t think that there was a dry eye in the whole chapel. He testified with such power and with his heart. I seriously grew a great love for this man that I had only known for a day. He is going to be a great example to everyone, whether it is on the football field or in a church. Just through this whole experience with Myles and the changes that he made, I started to think about the Gospel as a whole and the blessings that we can receive by living it. I can testify that the Gospel is happiness! Some people may think that we have too many "rules", but in all reality, they are not just "rules" of the LDS Church, but commandments that God has given to us. Some may think that we are restricted by these commandments, but I think that these commandments give us true freedom. I would much rather have the confidence of God on my side because I am doing what He expects of me, then to do what the world promotes as "fun" or "happiness". The Gospel provides long-term happiness that will last for time and all eternity, but the world and the Adversary only offers temporal happiness. I will take eternal happiness over temporal anytime!
         NEWS FROM HOME – we want to make sure Chad has a nice new bedroom ready for when he comes home:  Well Mom, to be honest I don’t really care about my bed. I mean I have always loved my waterbed and I was looking forward to sleeping in it again, but I have become accustomed to a regular bed. So I would be able to do with whatever. I know it would be easier to move a regular bed, and it will be easier for you two in the long run. So you can decide and I will be able to adjust to it. Well thank you so much for all that you do for me! I love you all so much and am grateful for the support that I have here.
Vivalo, amalo, predicalo!    con amor,    ELDER D

Thursday, February 2, 2012

English or Spanish? How do I do BOTH?

Buenos dias a todos!      January 30, 2012
It is that time of the week again! Wow, the time just keeps flying by! This week was pretty frustrating. We had struggles up and down every day. We were not anywhere near our goals for the whole week, until Saturday.  I think that I looked at our struggles in the wrong way for most of the week. I was wondering why we were struggling and everyone was been so sketchy, but I finally learned that it was to test us. Through trials and tribulations we are able to learn and grown. That is exactly what I was able to do this week.
       Well last week we had a mini blizzard. I went into our house on Monday to get ready to go back out and work, and not even an hour later we had 3 inches of snow covering everything. So that was a pretty interesting challenge to deal with during that night. The weird thing is that the next day it was cold, but sunny, so most of the snow melted away within two days. This week we have been having really nice days in the upper 30s to mid 40s. Today I am not even wearing long sleeves or a sweater because it is so nice outside. 
        We had some chances to go on exchanges this week, and as always, they were pretty interesting. One was with Elder Carlisle who is from Georgia.  He has only been in the mission for a month and is having some struggles with his companion, who is about to go home. I was able to help him understand a bunch of things and how he can help his companionship.  I also went on another exchange with Elder Smithpeter. He is here serving on the campus of Southern Utah University. The cool thing is that Elder Smithpeter is from Washington as well. He lives just outside of Spokane, so not too far from the Tri-Cities. It was pretty tough for me to try and speak and teach in English the whole time. I can still speak English pretty good, when the conversation is basic, but as soon as it gets more complex or it gets into a gospel conversation, I am completely lost. I didn’t realize how bad my English had gotten in just 4 short months. Well if it wasn’t bad enough to lose my English, I guess I am getting an accent. I was talking with our landlord this morning, Bro. Westfall, and he was like, "Wow Elder Davis, has anyone ever told you that you have a Spanish accent?" So I guess my Spanish really is taking over my English! Is it bad if I use my Spanish-English dictionary to look up English words?
       Every week for the past month or so I have been talking about boldness or being more bold. This week isn’t any different.  I was able to learn once again how important it is to be bold. I feel it is one way to find out who the "elect" are for us to teach. We have changed our way of door approaches or contacts in the street; we are just completely bold with everyone from the get go. We let them know that our purpose as missionaries is to help them repent of their sins and to be baptized. I really feel that it is something that may come off as pushy or whatever, but I don’t want to have the condemnation on my head in the last days of someone saying that I didn’t present the message in a clear and simple way or that they didn’t have the opportunity to listen and learn. I have finally and completely learned that I am not here for my personal benefit, but that I am here to bring souls unto Christ and so that these souls can know what they need to do to find "peace in this life and eternal salvation in the life to come."(Book of Mormon Introduction.)
       Earlier I referred to Saturday. Saturday completely changed our whole week around. We had been struggling with lessons and consistency with our investigators, but Saturday just gave us so many amazing opportunities. We made a commitment to talk to anyone that came into our path and that is exactly what we did! We had 13 lessons in one day! There are some areas in our mission that don’t even teach that in a week. We know that it was not by our own power, but it was by the help of the Lord of the vineyard. We were just the instruments that the Lord used to bring about a greater work. We are so committed to making everyday into a day like Saturday.   We are looking towards a really big February not only in our own area, but in the zone here as well!
        NEWS FROM HOME – we mentioned that we met an Elder Powell from Cedar City, Utah serving here in the Kennewick Washington Mission, his dad is a stake president.  That is pretty cool that you were able to meet a missionary from Cedar. I know that there is about 7 Stakes here in Cedar City, but I have heard the name before, but don’t know exactly who he is.  If I ever meet his dad, I will be sure to let him know. I have been still hearing from Elder Scrimsher every now and then. I emailed him last week and I got a reply this week.  (He is serving in Panama.)  Update on Chad’s niece and nephew, who live with us – ages 3 and 5 - Well it sure sounds like the kids are growing up so fast! I don’t even know if I will be able to talk with them, because their English will be better then mine. They are going to be so different from when I left, that is for sure.  (I asked if he had any needs – being the humble missionary, he said he was doing fine!)  Well as for needs right now I am good. I don’t really have any.  My shoes are still good, and I don’t think I will need any new ones before I come home. They can last 7 more months, even if I have to duct tape them. J Well thank you for everything once again! I hope that you all stay safe with all the crazy weather up there!

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