Monday, June 23, 2014

Week 46: The most important thing we can do for members is to do our home teaching and love them.

We played ultimate Frisbee for P-day activity and it turned out great. I also managed to, “get my ears lowered, as Elder Briggs says by getting a haircut.

On Wednesday we spent most of our time searching out Less Active Members in Fosston and McIntosh MN. On our way there we stopped by Alonda Whitten's house again and taught a powerful Restoration message using the Restoration DVD. The spirit was very strong. It was great teaching her because we have to take it down to a "Kindergarten Level" as she says. This experience has taught me the power of simplicity. There is no better way to teach the Gospel than in simple testimony unadorned with fancy language just Pure, sweet, and direct. It has been some of the most powerful lessons that I have ever been in are the ones I didn't try to prove the Gospel was true, but merely testified of its truth and allowed the spirit to confirm what we taught. Wordy explanations often times are confusing and drawn out and get in the way of those precious moments of silence that allow investigators to think.
Later in the day we managed to find Suzandra Reinbold's house and talk with her. She was overjoyed to have us there and began to explain how she had never had anyone stop by her house before and how grateful she was that we were able to find it. She told us this again and again and offered at the end of the lessons one of the best prayers of gratitude that I have ever heard. My mission has taught me that the most important thing we can do for members is to do our home teaching and love them. This experience confirmed that. Home teaching is more than just a duty to get the numbers in for the month. It is an act of love. It is what the savior would do. It has repetitively been called the most important calling anyone ever has. It is how we can be the savior’s hands here on Earth. I encourage everyone reading this to strive to accomplish their home teaching as if the savior himself was with you doing so. I promise you that as you do so you will feel of its importance and find joy in serving the Lord. 
Thursday held a surprise for us. We were walking on the way to Val's nice day. And then the storm clouds came by and within 3 minutes we were completely drenched in torrential rain with rain drops bigger than I had ever seen. Of course we had no coats so we were soaked by the time we got inside. We had to laugh though because it felt really good on the warm summer day. But it stopped as quickly as it had come. It was really weird. I guess most of the storms and winds and hail have been passing around Bagley so we haven't seen the effects of flooding or tornados. We are very lucky.
Friday was very hectic. It felt as if we had gone through two days. In the morning President Niswander took us 20 miles north to find a less active member named Nancy Sundquist. We then traveled to Bemidji for district meeting. After that meeting we managed to call President Niswander again and take him to a lesson with us in Fosston with Alonda. After that we introduced the Niswanders to Deana. And finally we finished the day off strongly by teaching Mia about the Sabbath day and showing her a video by Elder Holland on that subject. It was a whirlwind of activity.
Saturday was an all-day service day. We helped President Niswander with his Geary house. We did the Fascia work. So Elder Briggs and I were on the roof helping to hang up the aluminum siding below the drip edge. I learned about eaves and gables. It was neat and was a lot of hard work out in the sun. It was a relief when the rain came for a short while.
Sunday was potluck and we made fry bread. I taught the lesson in Gospel Principles class for new members and investigators and Elder Briggs taught Sunday school. It was a great day and a lot happened. Mostly walking around and talking with people. I love serving here in Bagley, Minnesota is very beautiful. I look forward to a great P-day today.
With love,

Elder Davis

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Week 45:Transfer calls came and went.

Transfer calls came and went. Elder White was transferred to Brandon South Dakota. Elder Duvall went to my old area. Chamberlain SD. I asked him to say hi to everyone.
So Monday was spent running a lot of errands. Elder Duvall and Elder Wilde in Bemidji had a lot of stuff to move out and no car to do it with so we helped out with that. Now the Bemidji Elders have a car. The other car went to Cass Lake with Elder White and Elder Wendell.

Elder Wendell is from California and is being trained.

Elder Sullivan is from Saint George Utah and actually came into the mission field at the exact same time as me, Elder Wilde, and Elder Walker so it's a crazy District we have here now. But it is really fun. We plan on playing 3-ball later today which is a way of playing dodge ball with 6 missionaries and four balls. (We adapted the rules to fit our situation and make the game more fun).

Made Egg salad sandwiches for the first time on Tuesday and they were really good. I liked them because they were easy to make. I discovered my like for them at the Lighthouse soup kitchen one day as we were sitting there trying to contact some people.
Later in the day President Niswander fed us dinner and we helped him mow and weed whack his yard.

On Thursday Elder Briggs and I brainstormed ideas for and area vision that we wanted to get accomplished for this month. In addition to personal goals, we came up with several great ways we could help the area of Bagley MN have success in missionary work. 1. Get one less active member to come to church consistently. 2. Help all our investigators have the opportunity to progress towards baptism and confirmation through consistent follow up on commitments. 3. Help Mia Sargent have the opportunity to go to the temple and perform baptisms for the dead for her deceased ancestors. Mia is super excited about family history work.

President Niswander fed us fish again on Friday as we helped him put up a trampoline for his grandkids. This time it was croppy. We also got a recipe from sister Niswander about red velvet cake and also tasted and received a jar of her homemade Rhubarb berry jam which includes: rhubarb, blueberries, and raspberries.

On Saturday Mia surprised us as we were walking in the southwest part of town by popping out of a restaurant and saying, "come in and eat at our baby shower." So the shower was for a relative of Mia's and we were able to see Alvin and Leslie there after not seeing them for a month because of them spending time in Minneapolis, (Wow I just realized it is easier to say and or type the cities instead of the entire name of the town.)

So again it has rained like crazy here all week. It really is quite wonderful though because the rain makes everything look very green, greener than I have ever seen in my life, and because it keeps it from being too hot and humid.

So today is once again P-day and I really like this day because of the wind down from the week. It gives me the energy to serve with all my might the next days until P-day comes again. So today we started P-day off with the opportunity of waxing the car. It was a lot of fun, but also a lot of hard work because the wax didn't come off easily after it dried. But we can definitely see the difference it makes on the car.

It's been a great week. We have seen a lot of success with new people who need the Gospel in their lives. I am grateful to serve here. Because of all the hard work we have been doing, the people here in Bagley mean a lot to us. I am excited.

With love,
Elder Davis

Monday, June 9, 2014

Week 44: I just posted last weeks and this weeks letters. Be sure to read Week 43 and Week 44.

This week we had several surprises. A car sped by us as we were talking to Sister Sargent outside and the driver yelled out "hi brothers come see me after you are done with her." I thought she was a Jehovah's Witness mistaking us as one too, but it turns out she was sister Wetstein. She is a member who wasn't even in our branch roster. We helped her move some things out of a house that was being foreclosed on and we also got her information and where she lives so we can meet with her later.
When we headed out to Thief River Falls we biked around all day on some racing bikes that sister Ose had bought for the missionaries to use. This whole week has been full of biking and I am very exhausted. I am glad for the day of P-day to rest from all the physical labor that we have been doing this whole week. In fact I have worked harder this transfer than I ever have on my mission and the results have been amazing.
Thursday we did service all day long at a place called Farm by the Lake. It involved sanding picnic tables with a palm sander and also varnishing them afterwards. The whole process of 4 tables took us from 11:00am to 6:00pm. We also did a little weeding.
Friday included a trip to Fargo to have Zone Training Meeting. It was a long day. We stopped in Two Inlets Minnesota to go to a catholic grotto which had some very beautiful statues. It was late by the time we got back so we went right to bed.
Saturday was also exhausting and involved biking to Ebro, 16 miles round trip again. While we were there we were able to have Lunch with a family we are teaching and get introduced to several members of their immediate family. It was a lot of fun.
Transfers came in and Elder Duvall is going to Chamberlain!!! I am so excited for him because it is a really great area with amazing members. Elder White is now leaving us and heading to Brandon SD. Elder Walker is our new District Leader. I am looking forward to the upcoming transfer.
On Sunday, Tristan Osmonson was baptized. He is 8 years old and really was excited. Sister Niswander made a nice big homemade 3 layer red velvet cake for his baptism and it was delicious. She also told us that she is wanting to have us and Mia over for dinner sometime. A lot of exciting things are going on here. Have a great week all of you.
With love,
Elder Davis

Week 43:I am excited for the week.

So I have found out this week that the mosquitos here are crazy big, but not as aggressive. In Idaho you put on bug spray and the mosquitos keep coming. Here you put on bug spray and they leave you alone.
On Tuesday and Wednesday Elder Walker and I were on exchanges. He is from Idaho Falls and is really funny. He also likes Doctor Who so we get along really well.
I also managed to notice this week that the hardest part of planning used to be filling our days with productive things to do, but now since we have a really great weekly planning session and we have been working so hard, the hardest part of nightly planning is finding enough time to do the things we need and would like to do that day. It was quite the interesting phenomenon. The Lord is truly blessing us.
Thursday was crazy and involved the whole day serving others. We started out by scrubbing down the stainless steel counters and food warmers in the Bagley Senior Center. As a reward we were able to eat the fry bread tacos that they made. As a result of the whole day being a day of service, I decided to study the importance of service in order to gain a better testimony that what we were doing was pleasing unto the Lord. The result was as follows. I came to know that the reason we serve God is not only to help others when they are in need, not only to fulfill our baptismal covenant requirement to serve others, but to develop charity in our lives. Moroni has said that without charity we are nothing and now I know why we emphasize so much on serving others in the church. I also have come to know why serving a mission allows us to be changed and become more Christ like. Because with a full time service towards others we ourselves grow in charity and in faith and in hope which allows us to work on our weaknesses and come closer to Christ with no distractions in our lives.
After the senior center we booked it over to the new library site with our bikes to help put together some shelving units to hold the books. This ended up taking most of the day and the rest was spent in doing our weekly planning session where we receive inspiration each week as to the needs of our investigators and what the Lord would have us focus on as far as goals for the week and where we need to be on what day.
Many of the Less Active Members here have moved away. So when we seek them out we are trying our hardest to determine where they could be so that we can help President Niswander in his efforts to organize the branch roster. Because this is so high on his priority list we do a lot of searching for these people, but I have noticed that the more we follow the direction of our priesthood leaders in the branch, the more success we end up having so this does not bother me in the least. In fact I look forward to the challenges that lie ahead in this great undertaking despite all the paperwork that is involved and all the planning and preparation. It is all worth it in the end when it makes things easier and faster to perform throughout the week, such as separating the names of members on the branch directory into the towns that they live in and then re-alphabetizing them. But when we plan each day we don't have to look for several minutes to find people in a particular city, we can just look at the new papers that we have spent so much time creating. We have already seen the improvement in doing so.
Friday night had a HUGE thunderstorm with lightning every 5 seconds that lit up the sky. We had to come in an hour early because of it. The weird thing about it though was that there wasn't much thunder, but there sure was a lot of pounding rain. I've never seen the sky light up purple before right above our heads in clouds everywhere. I think it was the biggest storm I have ever been in. It was great to lie in bed at night and fall asleep to the pounding of the rain and also to see the great storm.
On Saturday we met with a new investigator named Jim. He is a retired Lutheran Native American Preacher who was really interested in the missing books from the Bible and is reading the Book of Mormon at the fastest rate I have ever seen anyone read it. He took one week to get into at least 2 Nephi 2. We know he was reading it because he described in detail Lehi's vision, asked questions about the brass plates, said it makes sense that we would have not known joy without misery and even commented on the great and abominable church. He believes the Book of Mormon is the word of God and was even telling us about how the Ojibwe tribe believes that Jesus Christ came to the America which of course is outlined in 3 Nephi 11. We are so excited for him.
A significant part of the week included fast and testimony meeting where I was able to bear my testimony on how the Holy Ghost testifies of the truths of what we already know as we share the Gospel with others a second witness to what we have already received. That is why we as missionaries gain so much of a testimony while serving. Because we constantly are testifying to the truths we hold dear and are constantly feeling the reaffirming witness that everything we have been taught in the Gospel is true. And the best part is that not only missionaries, but also everyone else who does so can receive the same blessings.
After church we had a wonderful lesson with Mia about Temples and Family History where we showed the video "Between Heaven and Earth" and also showed her She was very excited to go do baptisms for the dead for her deceased family members that she cares about very much.
I am excited for the week. It has gone by so fast. My mission is flying by and I can't believe that I am 10 months out on my mission. This past month and a half that I've had with Elder Briggs has gone by faster than any other time in my life. Yet when I look back it feels like all these things have happened forever ago. I love serving the Lord. I feel it is a great gift to do so. I love it here. BAGLEY IS AWESOME!!!!
I love you all so much.
With love,
Elder Davis