Monday, January 20, 2014

January 13th & 20th 2014 photos too!

January 13, 2014
Sorry, I was writing and the computer crashed.  we had a zone activity in M today so we were short on time as it is, but now I really don't have time.  

Preparation Day Fun 
Everything's going well, we had ten investigators in church this week and the branch is super excited.  I'm so very sorry this happened, but thanks for all your love and support. Your letters inspire me and help me feel loved.  I know this is the Lord's work and he is blessing me so much for participating in it.  

Thanks for the muffin, Granny! (She accidentally shipped her partially eaten muffin to Taran!)

I'm going to sign out now before the computer crashes.  I'll tell you about everything next week!

Love, Elder Pew

January 20, 2014
I owe you one after what happened last week.  Here we go!

Two awesome experiences from last week:

In our district class, I taught about teaching with the Spirit.  We did practices where we invited the investigator to get baptized, they had to say no, and we had to listen to the Spirit to discern what to say to them to help them accept the invitation.  Every time we do practices like this, we take the role of a real investigator that we have or have had.  In one of the practices, I was teaching Elder G.  He told me he did not want to get baptized yet because there was something he needed to fix in his life.  I felt very strongly that I should read him Alma 34:33 and explain that he needed to repent now.  When I told him to read the scripture, he literally started shaking.  He asked me, "So if I don't repent, I'll be condemned?"  I told him "that's right.  If you don't repent in this life, you will have lost your chance."  After the practice he told me that the investigator he was imitating was someone from one of his other areas, and that in a lesson with him, Elder G had used the exact same scripture, the investigator had asked the exact same question, and he had given him the EXACT same response that I did, and that from that day on, that investigator had progressed.  It was a powerful testimony to us all that the Holy Ghost knows all things and knows what God's children need to hear to accept and understand his Gospel.  But it doesn't stop there.  On Sunday, the Youth's Sunday school teacher had an emergency and had to leave after sacrament meeting, so I was left to teach the class.  I didn't even have the manual, so I just had to make up a topic on the spot.  I felt like I should teach "How can the Scriptures help me learn about Heavenly Father" and I did, using activities that I had used with the youth in S.  The teacher made it back for the last 5 minutes of the class, and handed me over the manual.  To my great surprise, the topic of the class that day was the exact same one I had just taught!  It was really quite an amazing experience.  

This week we had the activity on Monday, zone class on Tuesday, and interviews on Wednesday, so three days in a row of going to M.  I love interviews with President Wagner.  Everything he suggests works.  Wednesday night we went to visit C and V to teach about Eternal Marriage.  When we got there, they had just had an argument and C told us she didn't want to get married to V anymore.  We just pulled out the Family, a Proclamation to the World and read it through with them, stopping to explain every little important detail.  I feel like one of the main topics I have learned in this area is how the Gospel blesses families, the importance of different family roles and the importance of the family in the Plan of Salvation.  I was able to use a lot of the things I have learned in that lesson, and the next day they told us that everything was fine.  In fact, they got together all their papers that day and sent us to find out what else they need to get married on Friday morning.  Miracle!  This week they have to go to a little marriage prep training on Thursday that the government does here, then wait until C can get a new ID (she lost it) and next week they should get married and baptized.  The members have helped out there a lot--especially the Branch President and his wife.  Amazing.  

We've still been teaching V's parents, they went to church last Sunday and this Sunday his mom went alone (his dad was busy).  They also introduced us to their daughter, E, who told us yesterday that she has got an answer that the Book of Mormon is true.  She has a 10 year old son named J, and she really wants him to also grow up in the church.  We also met another one of their sons, J, who just got out of a rehabilitation center and  he's excited to learn and come closer to God.  
Elder Pew and his companion and wonderful families they know

M has another daughter, named I, who lives in another town but is here often enough to have listened to us a few times.  She talked to her sister in law about the church and she got interested, and we've visited her a few times.  Her name is B and she is a single mom with 5 kids, L (12), B (10), A (8), J (6), and a 2 year old girl whose name escapes me.  While teaching her, we also met her sister, C, and her two kids, J (12) and G (11).  Lots of work!  This Sunday we had an all time high of 12 investigators in church:  V, M, C, V, L, J, J, B, L, C, G, and J.  They all stayed all three hours and loved it!  The members are all super pumped and are helping a ton, and everyone is asking us when C and V are getting married.  The Assistants called to congratulate us and to ask us to share our secrets with them so that they could put them in the Mission newsletter and share our ideas with the whole mission.  We've been so blessed lately, I feel like Ammon:

35 Now have we not reason to rejoice? Yea, I say unto you, there never were men that had so great reason to rejoice as we, since the world began; yea, and my joy is carried away, even unto boasting in my God; for he has all apowerball wisdom, and all understanding; he comprehendeth all things, and he is a cmercifulBeing, even unto salvation, to those who will repent and believe on his name.
 36 Now if this is aboasting, even so will I boast; for this is my life and my light, my joy and my salvation, and my redemption from everlasting wo. Yea, blessed is the name of my God, who has been mindful of this people, who are a bbranch of the tree of Israel, and has been clost from its body in a strange land; yea, I say, blessed be the name of my God, who has been mindful of us, dwanderers in a strange land. (Alma 26:35-36)
This is the Lord's work.  The Atonement is real.  Jesus is the Christ.  
I love you all and could not ever express how grateful I am for all you do for me.  I know it goes beyond the letters and packages--your prayers, fasting, thoughts, and temple attendance are also well appreciated.  The influence you had in me before coming out here has also made an unbelievable difference.  Your faith and goodness inspired and still inspire me to keep going on.  Have a great week everyone!
Elder Pew

Thursday, January 9, 2014

December 30th 2013 and January 6th, 2014

December 30, 2014
Singing at the Zone Mission Christmas Party, photos taken by the Mission President's wife

Nice back of the head shot, teaching a golden investigator.

Lunch, nice action shot!

Well, we already talked this week and I don't have a lot of time to write, so we'll get down to the basics: 

V, M, C, V, and M are still doing great.  M has read up to Alma 17 and can't put the Book of Mormon down.  We gave them a bunch of Church movies (The Restoration, Together Forever, Finding Faith in Christ, Joy to the World) and they watched them all and loved them.  We're going to have a family home evening with them tonight and watch The Testaments, even though it's rated R :).  (Family joke--the destruction part made Timo ask "what was that rated?")  They are more and more converted, united and happy every time we see them and they are working things out so that they can get married and get baptized.  They couldn't come to church this week because M suddenly had to be hospitalized Sunday morning, but she's fine now and they should be there this week.  

We found another golden family this week.  It's an older couple named T and G.  They contacted us on the street and told us that T works with a member who had invited him to church, but since he lives in another town he never could come.  We took their address and went to their house later.  They literally live in the middle of nowhere and are very poor, but very willing to follow Christ and recognized us as his servants from the start.  We took our ward mission leader to the lesson so he would know where they live so that he could take them on Sunday, and sure enough they came.  They shared with the branch president that missionaries had passed by their house before, but they had never come back, and that G had prayed that if ours was the true church, they would come back someday.  She told him that the prayer had been answered that Friday night when we went to visit them.  The members were all very helpful in making them feel welcome and have a good experience, and we're going to keep teaching them this week.  

I saw a really weird vehicle today--I don't know whether to call it a motor-trike with a roof or a 3 wheeled smart car, but whatever it was, I want one.

We've made it a tradition to eat chinese food every P-Day, and we've made friends with the Chinese people (yes they literally are EVERYWHERE) who work there.  They've been teaching us Chinese words and I'm really grateful they sent me to Mexico.  

On Sunday we had a great experience.  We went to visit the former Branch president of C,and we brought our Sunday School President, a 24 year old returned missionary.  He shared with him a scripture that really called my attention:

And thus they have been acalled to this holy calling on account of their faith, while others would reject the Spirit of God on account of the hardness of their hearts and bblindness of their minds, while, if it had not been for this they might have had as great cprivilege as their brethren.
 Or in fine, in the first place they were on the asame standing with their brethren; thus this holy calling being prepared from the foundation of the world for such as would not harden their hearts, being in and through the atonement of the Only Begotten Son, who was prepared— (Alma 13:4-5)
This is, to me, one of the saddest scriptures in the Book of Mormon.  We all have the same potential--to become like God--but some people, because of the hardness of their hearts and the blindness of their minds, don't ever fulfill it.  The member called them "Sleeping Giants", people who could be great if they would just wake up and realize the potential they have.  Let's all take a moment to recognize who we are--children of God, and heirs to His Throne.  We were valiant Spirits in his presence before the world was and were sent to build his kingdom upon the earth, and we have been provided all we need to acheive it--the Atonement of Christ.  When the task seems to be too much or when we feel like we have failed, the atonement of the Only Begotten Son, who was prepared, is the hope we have to help us wake up our Sleeping Giants and become who we were meant to be.  
I love you all and thank you for all your support.  This is God's work and it is His Church.  He is our Father and he loves us.  Jesus is the Christ.  Have a great week!
Elder Pew
January 6th, 2014
Great to hear from all of you.  I loved absolutely every one of your letters.  I love you a lot!

Let's get straight to the good stuff.  We had a good week, all the investigators are still progressing, and yesterday was one of the most miraculous days of my life.  

We had 9 investigators in church:  M, C, V, M, I (another one of M's daughters), her two kids N and M (I don't know his real name, everyone just calls him monkey), their cousin L, and G, the first counselor's wife. We had never really sat down to teach I and her family, but her kids had listened to us a few times with their grandma and invited their mom and their cousin to church with them.  The members were really great with all of them and they all seem to have had a good experience.  Testimony meeting was great, very powerful.  Oh, remember the inactive former branch president we visited last Sunday?  The member that came with us to that visit, M, promised them that if they didn't go to church he would go get them, and so halfway through sacrament meeting when they still hadn't got there, he left and brought them.  The whole family of 6 came, and there was a new excitement in the building when the members saw that brother in church again. In priesthood meeting the Elder's Quorum president, after giving him a long, warm welcome at the beginning of the class, started teaching about baptism and asked him how he felt the day he was baptized.  He didn't want to respond, but the teacher was persistent and that brother started crying as he explained the feeling of peace and forgiveness he had felt the day he was baptized.  The love of his fellow members and the presence of the Holy Ghost were able to penetrate his heart and remind him of the testimony he still had buried deep inside.  I really hope he keeps coming. 

Later that evening, we went to visit V's parents, who he had introduced us to a few days before.  Their names are L and R, and they felt the Spirit really strong and accepted everything we taught.  It also helps that their son is a completely different person now than he was 4 weeks ago when he met us.  They accepted a baptismal date for February 22nd.  

Afterwards, we visited V and C and taught them the Word of Wisdom. Without going into too many personal details, we invited them to take all the harmful substances that they had in their home and throw them away in that very moment.  C did so first, then V, and then M started crying uncontrollably, went into her room, and pulled out something else that she felt like she should also throw in the garbage.  Some day I`ll tell you the full story.  It was on of the most amazing moments of my mission--watching the Atonement go to work in their lives to lead them to repent, give up things that are harmful to them.  I couldn't help but think about what happened here in this same continent 2100 years ago, when the Anti-Nephi-Lehites buried their weapons of war in the earth as a sign that they had abandoned their sins forever.  That is true repentance: Burying our sins and covenanting (through baptism or the Sacrament) to never take them up again.  I am so grateful for the opportunity I have been given to represent the Savior in helping the children of our Heavenly Father to repent and come unto Him.  As their lives change, mine does also and, as Ammon described, my joy is full.  The Atonement is real.  I am living evidence of it and I have witnessed it in the lives of many others.  Trust in this truth.  

Sad news about Sister Stauffer (our neighbor passed away unexpectedly, her oldest son and Taran were good friends).  She was a great person and a great example for all of us.  I remembered this scripture while reading what had happened, I would like to dedicate it to the Stauffer family:

But there is a aresurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of bdeath is swallowed up in Christ.
 He is the alight and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened; yea, and also a life which is endless, that there can be no more death.
Have a great week everyone!  Know that I love you all!
Elder Pew