Monday, September 30, 2013

Week 8: Follow promptings!

So, Elder Scheringer is being called to be District Leader and Elder Cannon is leaving for Grand Forks North Dakota. It will be sad to see him go.

So I've lost a lot of weight!!! I've come up with the best weight loss program ever....

Live the Word of Wisdom and become a missionary in the South Dakota Rapid City Mission. We walk everywhere to save miles for Zone conferences because they are so far away. Pierre is about 200 miles round trip. We walk up hills and down hills and all around. I'd estimate that we walk at least 5-7 miles depending on the day. It’s getting much easier though, we can walk a mile in about 15 minutes including hills and our backpacks. Also, exercising in the morning helps as well.

So I heard that conference priesthood session was going to be broadcast into homes for the first time ever. That will make it much easier, but doesn't change much here because you need a dish or the internet to view conference anyway. It's not on the radio or TV... Another culture shock for me :)

We committed Angelic to pray about 3 dates to be baptized and she seems like she really wants to. She is progressing. We help a lot with their house, and I've compared their house remolding to their spiritual progression because it is looking a lot better both ways.

So the wind is picking up. In lower Brule on Wednesday, no one answered and our appointments fell through, but it was because the wind speeds were 30-50 miles per hour all day long. It felt like I was back home. It's really going to be uncomfortable in the winter though because it’s so open, the wind has nothing to block it, and we are out all day long instead of a few hours. But our limit is -20 with wind chill so no big deal for me because that frequently happens in Idaho. How do you tell wind chill? We have no idea.

On Thursday we helped brother Guest put in his new door. None of us knew how to do so it was interesting, but according to Brother Guest, "It's just common sense right?" He reminds Elder Paskett and I of Tim Allen in Home Improvement because he says," its easy honey. All you have to do is..." very complicated explanation. He also uses whatever tools are lying around if he doesn't have the right ones. Everything works out though. His uncle who does doors for a living said it was the best job he'd ever seen and that it looked like a professional had done it. I also found out what "green treated" wood meant. Also got into a Book of Mormon bashing contest with our District Leader to help us find scriptures and also for fun during our lunches.

One of our new investigators, Laurel, answered us with "I'm going to pray about this because I feel the importance of prayer." When we asked her about if she believed God could appear to Joseph Smith, she said, "yes, but you have to be careful because it could have been the other way too, Satan tricking him." We rejoiced at this because it gave us the opportunity to testify of the importance of prayer and not taking our word for it. It was great. She promptly committed to do so.

Sunday was interesting. We asked President Anderson if we could go to another worship service. He said as long as it didn't interfere with our other meetings. We did so today at the Zion's Lutheran Church. It was very different and felt off. It was very hyped up and showy. It felt like a show. It was also very scripted. I could follow along in a program what the preacher was going to say, except the sermon, and with the prayer. Afterwards when we went to our Church, I felt peaceful, wanted, and like I belonged there. It really helped cement my testimony more. It also taught me that the spirit works through the still small voice. It was like a brick wall hit me so powerful, yet peaceful the difference was.

Follow promptings. They are very important. The Guests left sacrament meeting because of their kids being loud. Sister Felicia received a prompting to visit them after church. She did. The Guests told us that if they hadn't visited them, they would have stopped trying to come to church for 2 years. I am very grateful for promptings and am also very grateful for the involvement of the ward. Get involved in missionary work as much as possible. We need members to help us because we can't do the work alone. I know that the Lord helps missionaries and members. They are not exclusive. By helping the missionaries, you help your close friends. I have seen this so many times so far and will continue to see it. I love it here and am grateful for the opportunity to serve the Lord.

With Love,

Elder Davis

Monday, September 23, 2013

Week 7: My jail days are over

This week has been interesting. The whole week I have been exhausted, but I have also felt peace in my life. It's interesting to see how even though I'm exhausted I can still be happy. The unthinkable happened on Tuesday: We receive a media referral from Very interesting. They are in Platte South Dakota, but we don't have an address and haven't been able to make contact yet. We'll keep trying though because they requested a missionary visit.
We met with Jerry this week and he really is starting to progress. He has questions about things we give him to read and went from 3 verses per day to 3 chapters. This was all because of a member who bore testimony there. He has felt the spirit as he has read and is accepting everything we teach him. He is striving to quit smoking. The next step for him is to come to church where he can feel the spirit even stronger.
My jail days are over for now because Steven was released. He plans to take his girlfriend to the temple and has really changed. We will stay in contact with him via email. If you have the chance, you should watch the documentary Between Heaven and Earth. It is a great tool for explaining temples. Has great quotes from those not of our faith. We used it to teach the Guests and now their desire to be married has grown and Angelic wants to get sealed. On Thursday, I was interviewed over the phone by President Anderson who wanted to know how I was doing in the 12 week program for new missionaries.
We went to Lower Brule (the reservation) on Thursday. We were led to houses while tracking and found two new investigators. Ronald breeds pit bulls and taught us as well about native beliefs. I like discussing others' faiths and relating their beliefs to ours. It is much better than, "Bible bashing". Sioux beliefs coincide closely with ours. The white buffalo calf is their messenger and resides within them much like the Holy Ghost resides within us. They pray to God, their word is Tunkashila. (I definitely spelt that wrong). Prayer is central in their lives and we were able to testify that it is central to ours as well and that God does answer prayers.
A man called out to us as Mormons and said he respected what we were doing. He compared what we were doing to an experience he had in the desert. There was a broken down car with an overheated engine. He offered water and they said no so he left the water with them anyways, said he was coming back and if they didn't use it he would pick them back up. He came back and the jugs were still full. That's a lot like missionary work. We ask to share a message, but are rejected, but we try to help people come closer to Christ.
Made a flyer for general conference. It says, "Come hear a living prophet's voice." It will hopefully catch people's attention and draw them to the Gospel. Had a Pow Wow on Saturday that we went to for an hour. It was a lot of fun and we were able to talk with one of our potential investigators named Brent Charger. The rest of the day consisted of painting Brother Guest's deck. We are planning on getting members to help more in his service rather than just us to help fellowship him back to church and reactivate him into the ward with his wife Angelic. I've also come to the conclusion that all missionaries paint something for service at least once in their mission.
On Sunday, we had the lesson in Priesthood/Relief Society/Sunday school. branches are really interesting. Anyway, It went well and was actually on the talk I gave for my farewell. Also had a Baptist yell at us out a door that we weren't Christian and that it is through faith and grace alone that we are saved. Also that we can't add or take away from the Bible. Revelations as a source for that. It annoys me that people don't think we are Christian especially when we meet their definition of what a Christian is. I also am trying not to Bible Bash as it is called because it takes away the spirit very quickly.
I love you all
Elder Davis

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Week 6: You are essential in missionary work!

This week was interesting. We made "pure wine of the grape" aka grape juice with a blender it was really good. We then added sprite to it.
We went to the Akta Lakota museum today. It consisted of a lot of history and native American artifacts, games, and beliefs. It was interesting to see how much of their beliefs coincide with Book of Mormon events.
I was thinking about making a smoothie with all sorts of fruit juices, but I'll have to figure that out how to do it. good thing I have 2 years to do so.
When we do service for others, we get into "normal" clothes. It felt very weird to me. Church clothes are my normal clothes now and are very comfortable. I also am looking around town and mistaking words for things for example in the library during service I looked at the Book of Knowledge thinking it was the Book of Mormon.
I also felt how much a member is necessary in missionary work. We went to see Jerry with President Barth. As Pres. Barth testified of the atonement the spirit was very strong. Stronger than if we had been the only ones telling Jerry about it. Jerry especially needs fellowship's to help with his progression. That one visit made him want to read the Book of Mormon and keep commitments after we had been pounding him for weeks he finally did it after that one lesson. You are essential in missionary work.
We met with a Jehovah's witness named Todd. He asked us about what we believe in war and that our answer was not a message of love. We'll have to really listen to the spirit if he decides to take the missionary discussions.
On Wednesday we left for Pierre to stay overnight there with the zone leaders Elder Luis and Lowe. This was in preparation for the Quad Zone Conference in Rapid City on Thursday. Elder Snow of the Church Historical was there to address and teach us. We learned much on how to involve members and strengthen investigators.
FRIDAY THE 13TH!!!!!!!
This is very funny. Our day was very funny. We locked ourselves out of our apartment. Brother Guest helped us break back in. I really appreciate honesty. It is better for us that a person who is trying to be polite but is not interested says so right at the start instead of saying come back later. 5 times later they say no and it was a big waste of time. It would just be more polite to be outright about it so we don't waste time.
Several highlights of the week. Mary Joe asked us if Mormons could have animals.  Ran into a potential named Toad who wants us to cast evil spirits out of his house.  Its finally cooled down.  It was sudden.  An overnight change from 80-90 degrees to suddenly 60. It feels more like Idaho now as the weather is getting drier and colder. I like it.  Talked in Sacrament meeting about the Atonement.  Made some orange juice. Blenders are my best friend right now. I'm experimenting which could be very dangerous. Just kidding on the dangerous part.
The funniest door slam/ approach was on Sunday. There was a house with a football party going on. As we approached the door, someone yelled, "OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. ITS THE MORRRRRMONS!!! As we knocked they asked," come to join the party or just to get a beer and then shut the door on us. I couldn't keep a straight face.
Well, I love you all and will contact you more next week on preparation day. Tell Enoch congratulations for me.
With love,
Elder Davis

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Week 5: My first exchange

It’s hard to think I've been here almost a month now. It feels like it’s only been a week or so. After emailing Tuesday, there was a rain shower. It was only sprinkling, but we went back to the apartment to put our stuff away. As we were there, I prayed to know if I should bring my jacket outside with me. I really didn't want to because it’s the weirdest thing here; it was still really warm and humid even though it was a cold sprinkling rain. Anyway, I prayed to know if I should and I had an answer to put an umbrella into my bag. I didn't know why since for most of the day it was only a slight drizzle and was quite a relief from the heat. The answer came through.
In South Dakota, rainstorms are weird. The weather here during storms changes more than it does in Idaho. When it was drizzling, all of a sudden within a second we were being dumped on with huge rain drops. I am grateful for the power of prayer because that umbrella kept us pretty dry in that weather. On our way back for the night we met Bruce coming out of a restaurant. We talked with him and his wife is a member. He knows it’s true and agreed to take lessons. We plan on inviting him to be baptized the next time we see him. He lives in Kansas, but works up here so he'll be here for a while.
Wednesday was my first exchange. Our district leader Elder Cannon went with me in Chamberlain while his companion Elder Young went with Elder Paskett out to Lower Brule. We met with Steven, a potential we had tracked into trying to find someone else from 2 years ago who evidently had moved. The Lord works in mysterious ways. We met with two people from South Africa Ludvig and Victus who thought we were wolves in sheep's clothing. We asked them to pray and helped resolve their concerns. Unfortunately, they researched anti-Mormon literature on the internet and threw the Book of Mormons out of their house. I'm still praying for them and we'll stop by later to check up on them.
Friday was our first zone training meeting. There was a special spirit there as we travelled to Pierre and met with other missionaries. We received instruction on how to better involve the Ward in missionary work. Believe me, without the branch, our work is impossible. Everyone is a missionary. Look up on LDS.ORG work of salvation broadcast and watch the short videos. They are very inspiring and teach how faith plays a role and how members and missionaries need to be united. We also received a book on how to adjust to mission life and reduce stress that has helped quite a bit especially in sleeping better. Later that night we visited a home. A movie was playing downstairs in the basement and sounded very violent. I can't believe how fast the spirit left as I entered and heard the movie. It was very shocking, probably more so than ever because I'm used to feeling it constantly as a missionary.
I don't know how I was ever able to watch movies with that much yelling and gunshots, and other action without feeling very uncomfortable. It shed a new light on how much violence is very bad. A lot of times you hear people say, Oh it's just violence in this movie, but it really damages your spirit and it was only after knowing the spirit so well in my life that I was able to recognize the sudden change. It made me very sick in the stomach until the spirit returned after we left. Needless to say it was a very brief visit.
Lastly, last night we met with Aaron. He is very logical. He's been searching, but we weren't able to get through to him. Nothing he's said though ever caused me to doubt the answer I received from my Father in Heaven that this work is true and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is His kingdom once again established on the Earth.
With love,
Elder Davis

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Week 4: Elder Pathway - "the pathway back to our Father in Heaven"

Sorry for not mailing yesterday, the Library was closed for Labor Day and there are no other computers we are allowed to use. So anyway.
Monday night we committed Jerry to baptism on the 12th of october. He expressed a deep need for fellowshipping which we are trying to involve members in as much as possible.
Tuesday: First time I have ever forgotten my name badge (it won't happen again) It was so hot 110 with almost no wind. After an hour we had to go back to change shirts. I left the badge on my other shirt. Had to turn around after nearly being at our destination. There's a lot of walking here because Chamberlain is a very small town. Smaller even then Blackfoot or even better, Firth.
So I earned myself a nickname based on the way that I teach. Each lesson I teach, I use "the pathway back to our Father in Heaven" so I got the nickname of Elder Pathway. Has a nice ring to it don't you think? It's true though, the pathway is strait and narrow. It's the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Strait by the way means difficult or needed. The Gospel is both so I thought it was interesting they used strait not straight.
Wednesday: Another reaffirming thought that we can be placed in the right place at the right time. Tracted in a small subdivision of Chamberlain called Oakoma. Like Rose is to Blackfoot. We got frustrated so we were heading back to Chamberlain when we passed by the post office right as Devin was heading there. He previously had told the Elders NO WAY I'M EVER GOING TO LISTEN TO YOUR MESSAGE. Recently, though, he had some very humbling circumstances that led him right to us. He prayed for the first time and felt very giddy. I know hw recognized the Holy Ghost and is trying to repent. I also am striving to avoid the dreaded, "how can I do this for two years?" day that Elder Paskett said will eventually come. I don't think it will as long as I maintain a possitive attitude and keep relying on the atonement.
Thursday: Weekly Planning! I actually like it this time as I truly felt concerned for our Investigators and how we can help them. I love missionary work and know that It doesn't have to be only two years, anyone can be a missionary. I challenge all of you to talk about the Book of Mormon with friends and give them a copy. Yes, they should be non-members. Also learned why we don't listen to screaming, rock, or other musics. Even two seconds of that chases away the spirit and I felt it leave big time as we briefly passed an area with blaring music.
Friday: I learned today that when we teach something that has personal meaning and relevance to us and to the investigators, the lessons are very powerful as the spirit fills the room. This was done with Don and Terrance. Two possible investigators who seemed really interested and definitely felt the spirit as we testified of Jesus Christ as our savior and the atonement.
Saturday: Interesting how we plan to see people and then run into them on the street. I know God is helping prepare people to receive our message. Also the opposite is true. When we meet with people who just want to prove us wrong, the spiritis gone. One such person was Ron. He was willing to listen, but also was more interested in converting us. It was hard not to get angry because He would ask questions and not let us answer fully. It's also frustrating because people believe that we can't add or take away from the Bible because of Revelations and Dueteronomy. I wanted to leave Him with 2 Nephi where it talks about people saying we need no more Bible but felt it was wrong timing to do so.
Sunday. Did a 24 hour fast. The food was fine, but going without water here was the toughest thing. All of our appointments fell through, but we did receive several promising opportunities set up for Wednesday on exchanges.
Monday: P-DAY!!! Made a paper chessboard. Played with Elder Paskett who also likes chess. We have plans to make a giant chessboard using Dasani bottles as pawns and other stuff for the other pieces. It will be a fun P-day activity since there's not much to do here in Chamberlain. It's a lot like Blackfoot, but with a lot more hills we have to walk up.
After P-day, Tracted and got three potential investigators. Ludvig, he's from South Africa, said no at first, but then we ran into him on the street and he asked us if we believed in Christ. He said he'd been thinking that he couldn't deny us the chance if we believed in Christ so he said to come back.
Todd is a Jehovah's witness and will be very interesting.
Finally, Tom Thompson who walks his dog every night. We met him street contacting. Gave him a Book of Mormon and he is actually reading. It will be very interesting to see what happens.
I love you all and this week has strenghened my love for others. Also, After a week of 100 degree weather with 3 days being 110, 98 degrees feels amazing. Never thought I'd say that. Love you
Elder Davis