Monday, January 27, 2014

Week 25:I have to apologize

We have had several opportunities to serve this week. We were able to complete our tuberculosis screenings. We also have not had any negative effects from the flu shot we got so I am very grateful for that. The weather is once again going down. It has dropped to about 5 degrees and the wind is still going strong but is off and on. Yesterday it was 8 degrees and the wind was going constantly at about 35 miles per hour and had gusts of about 50. It almost pushed me into Elder Jacobs and I had to walk sideways with my head towards the wind and my feet towards Elder Jacobs to keep from being blown into him. Luckily, we are able to take breaks. There were also several stop signs that blew over in the wind. That was what amazed me. There also was a big sign in front of a hotel that had the name of the hotel on it that blew partially over and was only held in place by the cords on it. It is CRAZY windy here at times.
We got welcome news that Jerry's daughter Michelle has also chosen to be baptized on February 1st with her father. This is a very special occasion and I'm very grateful that I get to see it happen.

Jerry is still doing well. He had an experience this week that has made him firm in his conviction to follow the Lord until the end. He now understands what true repentance feels like and is a very changed person. As I've looked back on the past 6 months almost, I have wondered what has changed Jerry so much. It couldn't possibly be two 19-20 year old boys, so what was it? It was because he started to read the Book of Mormon. Even if he doesn't completely understand the words in the Book of Mormon, there is a power in that book that invites change into our lives and lets us realize what our Heavenly Father truly wants for us. He was able to feel this power. Getting him to read the Book of Mormon steadily wouldn't have been possible without some members of our branch fellowshipping him and sharing their personal experiences and testimonies of the Book of Mormon and its truthfulness.

We were able to get two new investigators this week named Randy Hall and Jessica Countryman. They are prepared to receive the message of the Restoration. Sister Countryman's ex-husband Charley Mirey is a recent convert in Miller, South Dakota who referred her to us. He has had conversations with her in the past about the church. They didn't feel comfortable in any of the churches they have been to so far and feel that something is missing. This is a great blessing from the Lord as Jerry is getting baptized and now we have new people to teach who also are looking at being baptized eventually. I feel abundantly blessed as I work hard in the Lord's vineyard. They live in Kimball, 20 miles away from Chamberlain.
We went on exchanges on Friday with the Zone Leaders in Pierre. I stayed in Chamberlain with Elder Slater. He conducted the baptismal interview for Jerry. It was exciting to be able to see the faith that Jerry has and his willingness to accept every principle and commandment we have taught him. I truly love him and know that God loves him as well. He is a wonderful person and I'm glad I've been able to meet with him and help him on his road to repentance and continued activity in Christ's true Church. He is the happiest now than he has ever been in his life and describes Church as a familiarity and sense of welcoming that he really likes and which he has not felt in other churches.

I have to apologize for the statement about we being the only church that uses the KJV (King James Version) bible. There are others. I jumped the gun on that one after I heard a retired protestant minister say it and I thought it was interesting. I thought it was proved by the bible study, but the next week lo and behold here comes someone reading the same words that are on the page of the bible I was using so I apologize.

Elder Jacobs has some raw unsalted peanuts that taste a lot like sugar snap peas. I decided to fry some of them in vegetable oil adding salt occasionally. The result tasted like popcorn which I thought was really weird. So I tried roasting them in the oven with the broiler. This turned out to be a big mistake because they burned really fast and tasted like burnt popcorn kernels. It was still good though and a great learning experience. We also used our crockpot for the first time this week making little smokies in barbeque sauce. They turned out great. We might explore more options for crock potting in the future.

Elder and Sister Schill (a senior couple in charge of housing) came to our house on Saturday to inspect our apartment. Luckily, we had cleaned it on p-day the week before so we really didn't have to worry too much.
Yesterday we had dinner with the Felicia family. We also were able to go back to the retired minster's home to visit and give them service as we did so. It was great. We didn't get 50 ties, but we did get something better. He gave us a new suit each. It has hardly ever been worn and is also a lighter color than black. The Lord is really blessing us. I know that he will bless anyone who puts their trust in him and places him before the world. I love each of you.

Elder Davis

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Week 24: Jerry has a firm baptismal date on February 1st!

Preparation day was hectic. I cleaned the apartment while Elder Jacobs fixed his bike tire. A bike is a great blessing and has helped us to get to places we weren't previously able to get to because of mileage limitations. But, with cold and windy conditions we haven't been able to use them as often anyway. It's been very gusty here. Constant winds of about 35 miles per hour and some days were gusty to about 55-60 miles per hour enough to push me off balance and blow Elder Jacobs name badge into the street. It was quickly recovered with no harm to it. I liked leaning back into the wind and having it hold us up. Sometimes we almost fall over because the wind stops or lessens and we were used to pushing back against it. It's been very warm these past two weeks with an average of about 40 degrees allowing us to bike on several occasions, but now it’s dropping back down. I have a silver bike with blue on it. I'll send a picture sometime. I think it is a trailblazer brand. It is steel and works really well.
On Tuesday we biked 3 miles uphill to the hospital to get TB tests and flu shots so we can volunteer there. They were free because we were volunteering. It took us about a half hour and the wind was at our backs. We thought it would be easier going downhill because it's downhill, but it took the same amount of time. This was because it was harder downhill than uphill because of the fierce winds. They were almost pushing us back up the hill in some of the lower slant areas. It was crazy! 40 miles per hour wind is not fun to bike against.
Jerry gave us a recipe to make a casserole with eggs, sausage, cheese, and tater tots. It was really good. We still have some left over from last week because it is very filling. I've made a personal resolution to at better than the same 5 meals I've been eating since I've been out on my mission. (Okay that was an exaggeration). But I've decided to eat more fruits and vegetables and less greasy foods such as cheeses pepperoni and quesadillas. Wraps are really good. We also made scones. I made a glaze which I dipped mine in and it turned out a lot like corn syrup.

Wednesday was the windiest day I have ever seen in my life no exaggeration this time. It was constantly blowing with gusts of 65 miles per hour that lasted several minutes stopped for about 5 minutes and then started up again. Thursday was the same way. It's surprising me how windy it is here, even windier than Idaho.
We went to a Bible study on Wednesday that really helped me focus on why I am out here in a mission. It was a mini apostasy right before my very eyes! I couldn't believe how much other churches don't know about the nature of God, where we go after this life, and what life will be like after. Everyone had different translations of the Bible that tried to simplify the King James Version language of Old English. In an attempt to simplify those things, things were added that overcomplicate the beauty and simplicity of the Old English King James Version of the Bible. We have been told that there is another New King James Bible, but that we are the only church that uses the Original King James Version of the Bible. Precious truths were lost. People don't know that we have a loving Father in Heaven. People don't know that we lived with God before this life. I didn't know how drastically different other churches were in doctrine until I came out here and I can tell you that I am very grateful for the knowledge that we have about God through the scriptures. I would never want to give that up because it has blessed my life so much. People even think Christ is a spirit even though it says plainly in Luke that he has a body of flesh and bones and is not a spirit. I have a renewed purpose to being out here.

Jerry has a firm baptismal date on February 1st! His interview is this Friday. I've seen miracles in his life unfold as he strives to live according to God's commandments. He has completely changed from being an inactive church goer who didn't read the Bible at all and smoked 2 packs of cigarettes per day to a soft spoken kind individual. He loves church and reads every day. He also has quit smoking and has greater hope for the future. I know the power of Christ's atonement. It really helps others no matter where they are at in life.
We also learned the power of pure testimony as we testified of the truth of the Book of Mormon to someone who thought the Bible was all he needed. They felt something and even if they don't change now, the seeds have been planted for future missionaries to come and reap. I am grateful that I got to be part of the sowing process in those individuals with an honest, short, sincere testimony. (See Alma 32).

We talked with a retired minister whose wife had fallen and broken her hip. He said the greatest service we could give him was what we were doing at that moment: visiting with him and his wife. They are retired and have no company to talk to and their family is really far away. I really like visiting with the Elderly because not only does it give me the chance to fulfill my baptismal covenants, but also they have great stories. His name is Sylvester and he is in his 80s and still skis in Idaho. He doesn't like ties anymore so he said we can have all 50 of his if we would like. We also see the importance of home teaching out here in South Dakota and everywhere. Being here and seeing how very important it is to visit less active members and members alike to help strengthen them has given me greater resolve to get my home teaching done every month when I return home because it is vital in the affairs of the Church. I challenge each of you reading this to do home teaching as often as possible. I know that it will really bless each of the people in the ward not just those you visit.
Yesterday was a great P-day. We received a text from President Barth saying, "It's a holiday today and only one person is on shift at the Big Bend Dam. Would you like to tour it?" It was great. President Barth works there as an operator for the dam. We were able to see many of the things that run hydroelectric power. The turbines were huge and the dam was very claustrophobic. I would never work there but it was interesting to see how all those things work. We were able to see how easy it is to get lost in that place with its many concrete corridors. I also tried almond milk. I really like it.

As always I love each of you.

Elder Davis

Monday, January 13, 2014

Week 23: We shoveled a lot of snow.

A lot has happened this week that has made it feel like the longest week of my mission looking back, but it also has gone by super-fast. An insight I learned this week involves how great a privilege it is to be living here in mortality and experiencing all the trials, joys, and lessons of life. It is such a privilege and has helped me persevere through difficult moments. Looking back at those moments makes me more grateful for the peace that comes from enduring. It also has helped me learn more about myself, Heavenly Father, and spiritual development that would not have occurred otherwise. One of the biggest goals for this area is to start having weekly coordination meetings because we've only had one since Elder Jacobs got here and we haven't had a branch council since Elder Pasket was here. We decided this in weekly planning and it was reinforced in Zone Training Meeting.

Jerry is doing wonderful. We taught him the 10 commandments, Sabbath day holy, and chastity. He understood them well. Had some questions about the Sabbath day, but was willing to keep it holy. He came to sacrament meeting again. He talked with his daughter Michelle about Baptism and they might be baptized together on the first of February. Michelle is in Winner.
In accordance with instruction, I got a bike this week. It has proved to be a great blessing because it has opened new ways of travel to areas that we didn't go very often because of mileage limitations. It was great to be able to use it in the warm heat wave we are having here in Chamberlain.

So on Monday I bowled an 86 and a 113. Tuesday I made orange Julius. We helped out with the cub scouts of the community. An EMT came and taught them a lot about first aid. She gave us a funny look when talking about frostbite. On Wednesday we shoveled a lot of snow. On Thursday we tried to meet at a ministerial society, but there wasn't anyone there so they must have changed the day or time. Sister Kundell's mother fell and broke her hip at the nursing home and we were able to give her a blessing with President Barth. On Friday we had Zone Training Meeting in Pierre and then to Mission for a baptismal interview and exchange with the Elders in Winner. I was with Elder Perkins. We had a great time meeting people on the Rosebud reservation.

The best experience came from last night. We knocked on a potential investigator's door right as he was coming out. He expressed concerns to us about having nightmares about dying. We were able to testify to him of Alma 40:11-12( Now, concerning the astate of the soul between bdeath and the resurrection—Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are ctaken dhome to that God who gave them life.
12 And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of ahappiness, which is called bparadise, a state of rest, a state of cpeace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow).

We have a return appointment for Friday where we will teach him more about the Gospel. The lessons I've learned this week about perseverance have truly blessed me and this area. I'm hoping to develop a more patient attitude to get over little frustrations. This will help bring greater joy into my life and lessen the chances of discouragement because the Lord has blessed us in His own time, not when we think it is necessary. I love it here and look forward to further miracles.
With great love,

Elder Davis

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Week 22: The wind chill got to -60 degrees!

The day in Pierre consisted of bowling with the Zone leaders Elder Slater and Elder Goodwin and also the Sister missionaries. We got an oil change in the car and ate at Subway.
On New Years' Eve nothing changed really. We were still out working until 9 and then we were in bed by 10:30. We were so tired it wouldn't have been possible to stay up even if we had wanted to.

We helped at the senior citizens' center this week moving furniture out of the building in order for a remodeling crew to be able to change the old building into a more modern one. We also had a wonderful lesson with Jerry on tithing. I feared this lesson since the time that we met Jerry and he started progressing. I was afraid it would push him away from the Gospel, but it actually has strengthened his faith. He will live the law of tithing.
We finally were able to get back out to the reservation on Saturday. It had been over a month since we had gone and I was very excited to go. We ran into a drunken family. One person came out and started talking with us and his friend pulled him back inside saying, "Don't listen to him. He just tore up a Bible just so he could have a cigarette. Get back inside here it’s too cold outside." The door was then shut. They were both very drunk to the point of swaying. Another house was great. We met Enore who went to BYU-Provo for school. She was involved in Church activities for a while, but never was baptized.

Sunday was very interesting. Church was cancelled due to cold weather. We had to stay inside all day because the wind chill got to -60 degrees! It was a first for me anywhere. I made some homemade bread for the first time ever and it turned out all right, but I don't think I let it rise long enough. A lot of the day was spent reading Our Search for Happiness, the Book of Mormon, and Jesus the Christ. All of these books are very good.

Today has gotten worse with the wind chill, but that's okay because its preparation day and most of what we do is inside anyway. We have a dinner appointment with the Guests that will help us stay productive in this weather.

I love each of you so much. Thanks for all you do for me and I am grateful for the blessings of the Lord in my life. I know he can bless yours as well.
Elder Davis


Friday, January 3, 2014

Week 21: I know how much of a blessing it is to be able to go to member's homes

This was a great week. On Preparation day we played basketball. We decided to test our cooking skills before Christmas so we made some peanut butter balls covered in chocolate almond bark. Today I am typing this in Pierre South Dakota with the zone leader’s right next to us. We came here for an oil change in our car and we are going to have a great time bowling and exploring some of the museums they have here in Pierre. This is made better by the fact that we actually have other missionaries with us on Preparation day. This is a first in my mission so far besides travelling to Rapid City so I am super excited for the rest of the afternoon.
On Christmas Eve we had a great opportunity. Elder Jacobs had 3 calls to make so I was left to either study or find something else useful to do for the 4 hours we had 3 for the calls and 1 for Lunch. I decided to make some bon-bons. They turned out great. We used cream cheese frosting, lemon cake, and white chocolate almond bark. After they were made we distributed them to various investigating families in Chamberlain and also to the members who let us use their computers for Skyping home on Christmas. That night we had a lesson with the Barth family. They made crepes for us and we also were able to teach their less active daughter and non-member mother who normally are in Rapid City, but came back for Christmas. Hopefully we sparked something in them through the spirit that was there as we taught because President Barth said that it was the most interested Sister Barth's mother had been about the Gospel. We had the opportunity to come back the next day while I called home to my parents. Elder Jacobs took this time to share several inspirational Mormon messages that brought the spirit into the room and helped soften the hearts of those who were listening. Upon HER request, Elder Jacobs gave Sister Barth's mother the website for more of the videos. President Anderson has also given the sister missionaries in Rapid City her address.

On Christmas we had the opportunity to visit with some elderly people in the nursing home who did not have family or friends coming to visit them. We also have applied there for volunteer service as clergy to help the community as best we can. President Anderson has agreed to allow this and also we have seen that as we serve the community more and more, people are opening up to us. We also had dinner with a retired preacher from the United Church of Christ named Sylvester who was delighted that we still used and understood the "old" King James Version of the Bible. It was a wonderful meal and we had a great discussion on the differences between the Bibles that exist. Apparently we are the only church that still uses the "Old" King James Version of the Bible. Everyone else uses a modernized version replacing thee, thy, thine, thou, yea, and other Old English words with you, yours, and other words that sometimes change the meaning of the verses.
We taught Jerry this week about modern day prophets. We showed videos from Special Witnesses of Christ. He understood quite well and only had a few questions about how God calls a prophet. We answered the questions and he accepted the invitation to sustain church leaders and follow the prophet. We taught the Guests about the importance of studying the scriptures daily in order to build our foundations on Christ (Helaman 5:12). We also shared the video Joy to the World with them because they had never read Luke chapter 2 or known about the signs in the Americas of Christ's Birth. We are being blessed by the Lord as we show our diligence in following the guidance from President Anderson and Preach my Gospel.

We had another in person district meeting on Friday in Winner South Dakota. Afterwards we finished the requirements for volunteering at the hospital which included a lot of paperwork and submitting permission for a background check. One of the strangest things that happened this week was on Saturday when we drove to Kimball South Dakota. There was a crazy wind going on. It was blowing in gusts of 40 miles per hour and was constantly around 35. It was also about 40 degrees outside which was what we were grateful for. Later that evening, it got to about 50 to 60 miles per hour and the temperature was dropping by 10 degrees every hour. We heard that the wind-chill was down to about -40 degrees later that night as we were inside sleeping.
We spoke in Church on Sunday. Elder Jacobs spoke about Alma's conversion and I spoke about fortifying ourselves against temptations much like the Nephites did against the Lamanites in Alma chapters 49 and 50. JJ Smith and Sarah agreed that they could have a lesson at the Felicia's home Sunday evenings and experience their family home evenings. This will help a lot in inviting the spirit into their lives so that they don't have to learn of Christ in a noisy and distracting environment. They will be able to see for themselves the benefits of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in family life.

I love everyone and am grateful for the opportunity to use email to communicate the spiritual insights I receive from week to week. It was great speaking with you on Christmas and being able to see and hear you. I know that what we teach as missionaries is true and will bless lives. It doesn't just have to be non-member and less active lives. Members are in need of support as well. I know how much of a blessing it is to be able to go to member's homes and share a message with them to strengthen them. Thanks for all the gifts and support that is given to us as missionaries. We have truly been blessed to be serving the Lord and He loves us and is taking care of us.
With great Love,

Elder Davis