Monday, September 29, 2014

Week 60: Mouthwash, vitamin C, and repentance​.

Hello everyone. It's been a great week this week. I have learned one of the greatest lessons of my life and I am so happy to have received the opportunity to know more fully how much Christ loves each of us individually and how ready and willing he is able to give us help if we humble ourselves, accept His help, and resolve to act upon it.
We taught the stop smoking 15 step program to brother Kidwell this week and he has cut back substantially. Sister Dietz has also stopped smoking as a result of illness. She was glad that the Lord has helped her through the sickness and took the opportunity to finally quit. She looked a lot better as a result as she came to church. She also asked us for ways to keep it that way. So we told her to pray, rely on the Lord and take lots of vitamin C within the recommended safety levels.
We also located all of the different churches here in Marshall. There are 20 different Christian churches including ours. We are taking the Zone Leader's advice and will eventually show the pastors the Mormons Next Door presentation to help the community understand us better and also ask them if they would like us to show it to their congregations. We also had the opportunity to see Brother Kidwell gain the willpower to crush his cigarettes that he had rolled himself. He has a lot of faith and has a strong desire to re-enter the temple in the future. We have started the process of volunteering at the Avera Hospital here in town. So we will finish the application on Tuesday and hopefully start volunteering next week.
Saturday was a very good day. I learned that Satan slowly works at us to move away from good habits and spiritual growth until we eventually become blinded to the truth and are unsure of our confidence. I learned that the only antidote for this poison is humility and trusting in the Lord. We need to accept His loving help after which "He doth immediately bless us." When I chose to honestly look at myself and how I was doing spiritually, I was shocked and I needed the Savior's help at overcoming weaknesses that I didn't recognize within myself. I was painfully made aware of these shortcomings. As soon as I tried with all my heart to call for deliverance, as soon as I was sincere, the spirit testified to me that I need not worry anymore. That God is in control and that he will help me. I am grateful for this experience. Satan slowly works people away through cunning devices and then leads them to believe there is no way back. But there is always a way back. We need to heed the Savior's call to "Come and be perfected". We can "take His yoke" upon us daily. As we do so, our "burdens will be made light." It is interesting to see the contrast between God and Satan. As we turn to God he doth "immediately bless us." (Mosiah 2:41) The Spirit immediately comes back into our lives as we constantly strive to do the right things, stay in the right habits, and accept God's will in all things.
Sunday was a great day. We were blessed to have five Less Active Members show up for church. One of them even agreed to give the invocation. (Opening Prayer). Many have told us how great they feel in returning to the church and how much they appreciate the opportunity to partake of the Sacrament again. It shows forth in their countenances. There is definitely a recognizable difference in how happy they are. The entire church block was focused on what is called the Call to Spiritual Nourishment. It was given by inspiration from the Sioux Falls South Dakota Stake to its members. 1. Read and ponder the scriptures daily 2. Have heartfelt kneeling prayers each day 3. Give Christ like Service 4. Live worthy of a Current Temple Recommend. It was a very inspiring meeting. The Branch also started a twelve week challenge to implement these four steps and further the work of salvation in the branch.
After Church we had an amazing lesson with the McDonalds. Brother McDonald testified of how the Sacrament has helped him and how thankful he was at receiving it again. His wife Karen once again felt the spirit as we testified of the role of the Sacrament. As we read from the Book of Mormon, she continued reading silently to herself as if she was searching and excited for more. She felt the spirit and was "hungering and thirsting after righteousness" she continually wanted to learn more. Thus we took the opportunity to testify of the Book of Mormon and being able to pray over anything to see if it is true. They both decided to pray to know if the verses we had read in 3 Nephi 18 about the Sacrament were true.
After the McDonald's, we saw Sister Heather Dougherty. We needed her help as a Graphic Design student to make a flyer for our Bible Study class we will be starting on October 8th. The flyer turned out great, but even better it gave her an assignment and developed a connection to the church again. We will be seeing her next week and her husband Sheriff has only had good experiences with our church since he has been investigating with previous missionaries. It's been such a relief to be able to rely on Christ and see Him accomplish His work. We are lucky enough to be a part of this great work. I am glad to be serving here. I'm excited for the future. I hope everything is going well back home. Have a great week and I love you all.
With love,
Elder Davis

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Week 59: He felt the spirit and immediately quit coffee and set a date to quit smoking.

I'm excited to email again today. Each week seems to reveal to me new insights on things that I need to improve on, things that I have learned, and things that I continue to appreciate and strengthen my love for. Looking back on the week is perhaps one of the best times I have. It helps me see all the good that came from our efforts in the week. The best part is always on Sundays as we go to church where we can see the results of continually inviting others to come unto Christ. Also seeing Less Active members change as they rediscover the testimony that has developed within them at the time of their baptism. Also seeing the difference it makes to teach them and help them apply the Savior's teachings in their lives and feel the result of doing so. And to visually see the great improvement in how happy they are. It really has been a blessing to be a part of that.

At one point during the week we were studying Preach My Gospel and came across a story of a guy who offered to give the missionaries a ride. As they were doing so they taught him the Restoration and asked if they could meet again with him. He agreed and as a result was baptized. Well later that exact day as we were walking back to the apartment, that same scenario came to us as a bus driver offered to give us a ride back to our apartment. It was amazing. We invited him to learn more, but he declined. Although nothing seemed to come out of it, I was glad to experience and know that God was approving of our efforts to find people to teach here in Marshall.
So Elder Lete is really great at relating to people. An example of this came from our teaching Less Active member Bother Castillo. He is really into anime and Star Wars. So Elder Lete was able to explain things in the Gospel to him using the show Naruto and Dragon Ball Z, something I would never be able to explain at this point. So after Elder Lete did that Brother Castillo understood and had a greater desire to start living the Gospel. It truly goes to show that God gives us experiences in life before our missions to help prepare us to relate to and teach the people we will help in specific areas.
On Wednesday night we had a dinner appointment with Sister Paultene. She was a little busy so she ordered pizza for us. It was Papa Murphy’s. I was super excited about this because it was the first time in my entire mission that I have had papa Murphy’s pizza and it brought back memories of home. So it was great and tasted really good too.
Several of our visits with Less Active members have gone really well. Brother Kidwell initially opposed the Word of Wisdom, but when we read it with him, he felt the spirit and immediately quit coffee and set a date to quit smoking. Sister Roberts has seen a great change in her demeanor as she has returned to church and shared the Gospel with her friend Elizabeth whom she took with her to church. And Brother Castillo has accepted the challenge to pray daily and meet with us often. We promised a boost in self-confidence and a deeper relationship with God. On one night we had a great lesson with the Gregersons on the genealogy of the Old Testament. Well it was actually more of a timeline of the Abrahamic Covenant. She was super happy to have little "aha" moments every once in a while like when there were 8 souls saved on Noah's ark relating to baptism. It was fun to teach and resulted in a great discussion with a giant picture on the chalkboard of lineage.
On Saturday we received a call from Fey, a potential investigator, asking us if we could get anyone to help her transport a bed from the furniture store to her apartments across town. We called Brother Savage. This turned out to be inspired because not only did he help us, but he and his son were influential in fellow-shipping Fey's son Talon. They invited him to church and as a result, he came!!!
It was great because we were unexpectedly called upon to teach both Gospel Principles class and Primary so we weren't able to fellowship him ourselves. But the branch took over at that point. The Savage family invited him to sit with them during Sacrament meeting, they showed them where his class was because Brother Savage has a daughter in the class, and the young men got his phone number and he is invited to activities on Wednesday nights. It went very well and at the end he asked us where to go next and we told him it was over. We think he was willing to spend all day at church if that was the case. It turned out to be another great day as well because two less active members we have never met showed up and participated in Gospel Principles class. And on top of that, the Ivanov family gave talks. They have strong testimonies and have only been members for less than 2 years. The Spirit was very strong during their talks and we were able to use those feelings to powerfully testify later in the day to Brother McDonald.

Bother McDonald is less active and his wife has received the lessons several times before, but this time there was a spirit present that came through pure testimony of the Book of Mormon and studying the scriptures having the power to bring their family closer together. Right in the middle of the lesson, Brother Jones and his son Luke showed up for home teaching. They were able to testify to them both of the importance of prayer and finding out for themselves. Previously Brother McDonald's wife has been uninvolved and not listening, but as the lesson went on, she felt the Spirit and her heart was softened. We were very glad to have been able to be instruments in the Lord's hands to provide the situation where the spirit could be present and create the desire to change.
Now today we have a lot of fun activities planned. We are going to go over to the YMCA and see what we can do there in terms of recreational activities for P-day. We are also going to have another trip to Subway to try to possibly set up appointment to see the workers there. They keep asking us questions about what we do and other things, (Only possible because we go there every P-day for lunch before we go shopping).
Hope your week has gone as great as ours has. I love each of you. Continue to keep up the good work. We are all in this great Work of Salvation together. I am excited to hear from you about your experiences.

With love,
Elder Davis

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Week 58: Without the sacrament and the Savior we would have no chance of returning to our Father in Heaven.

Hello from Elder Davis!

We are starting the preparation phases for a Bible Enrichment Class held at the Church. We will start this class on October 8 and hopefully this will help us meet people in the community and allow them to feel the spirit of the church building and meet some of the members here in Marshall. We are super excited about this idea because neither one of us has actually done this before and it will be fun. We are going to base the lessons off of the New Testament Bible videos and will incorporate some of the information from the seminary manual on the New Testament.

We also found out how long it took to bike to the church. There are bike routes and trails all around Marshall so it is a lot easier to get around to places. We hope to be able to use these to learn the area better and also to save miles. It might be close to time we don't bike though because the weather is starting to cool down.

The food shelf continues to be a great contacting opportunity. We ran into a lady who had lived in Iowa next to the Elders. She has had some discussions with them before and hopefully will call us later. On one of our lunch appointments, sister Dennison made us egg rolls and pad Thai. It was very good. We also were able to teach her about the importance of scripture study. We left her with a quote from President Packer, "A study of the Doctrines of the Gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior." She liked this because she majored in Philosophy and Psychology. We also have started texting a thought of the day to sister Gregerson who then posts it on Facebook. In this way we are able to help her spread the Gospel online. It is a great idea that she came up with.

We also helped the Gregersons mount a TV to their wall and ate dinner at their house. They asked us to try contacting some less-actives in the Granite Falls area so we did so before we ate. We also helped Sister Gregerson by giving her some suggestions on how to improve her studies and make them interesting to her.

Friday was Zone Training Meeting again. It was a great meeting. We had to take a big detour because US highway 14 was under construction and there was no detour. When we got there it was nice to see who had been transferred into our zone. Elder Perkins just got transferred to Huron so he is now in our zone. We had a great talk. The subject of ZTM was on how sacrament meeting was important. There was a lot of insight. President Joseph Fielding Smith said, "Sacrament meeting is the most sacred, the most holy, of all the meetings of the Church." Sacrament meeting is also the only meeting in the entire block of meetings that we get the opportunity to attend as families. By partaking of the Sacrament EACH WEEK we are renewing our covenants and being cleansed. Elder Oaks has pointed out that none of us has remained clean after we have been baptized we have all sinned since then. Thus without the sacrament and the Savior we would have no chance of returning to our Father in Heaven.

The best part of this week was church. We learned much about Sacrifice and how it helps us love people. We also had the opportunity of teaching the lesson in Elder's Quorum again. There were a lot of things that I needed to learn from church and I am glad that I was able to receive revelation on how to work better as a missionary and also how to improve myself and rely on Christ.

We met later in the day with Brother McDonald. He had doubts about whether the church was true. We showed him Preach my Gospel and he was very interested in it. He also listens to a lot of other preachers and watches many religious videos including his recent, "God's not Dead", "Heaven is for Real", and "Son of God".

It's been a great week. I love continuing to learn. I hope you have a great week as well.

With love,

Elder Davis

Monday, September 8, 2014

Week 57: Everyone can learn something from every day if they look hard enough

Hello again,

I've learned a lot from this week. It seems like I do more and more each week. I think it’s because as Elder Lete says, "Everyone can learn something from every day if they look hard enough, not just missionaries." Something that helps me with this is writing in a journal every day. I have been searching for ways to improve my entries and setting goals on making them more spiritual instead of a routine list of events that occurred in the day. So I came up with the following suggestions.

1. Start writing earlier before I need to go to bed so that I am not rushed in recording the information 
    for the day.
2. Pray beforehand and ask specifically for the help in recording the important impressions, events, and other thoughts that the Lord knows will benefit me at a later date. That way I am confident that I have recorded everything that I needed to and that it will be preserved. It was important to many of the Nephite prophets that their records be preserved to come forth at a later date and help those who were at that time dwindling in unbelief (See book of Enos).
3. Write the impressions that come to my mind throughout the day in my planner (or somewhere else) so that I will remember them and be able to refer to them later on at night.
These three simple suggestions have dramatically improved the way that I feel about keeping journals. I look forward to writing in them every night now. They also serve as a way to help me review with the Lord in prayer the events of the day and what I did. It helps keep us accountable to him for the impressions that he has sent us throughout the day.
This morning I made pancakes on the griddle that we found in our apartment. It has helped and made it easier to have good breakfasts in the mornings. I added some frozen blueberries and it was a great treat.
We took the car in on Wednesday to fix the damage that previous Elders had caused. It was there until Friday so we had to walk everywhere for a while. As a result of all the walking, I resolved to protect my planner this transfer by making planner covers to protect it from rain, sweat and other things that all my other planners had received. Hopefully now they won't be completely worn out by the end of the transfer. As a result of all the walking we did, we ran into a lady who had stopped her car and parked it on the side of the road. As we walked up she looked a little distressed so we were about to ask her if we could help when she called out for our help. She needed us to get some grasshoppers that had somehow made it into her car. We did so and she was very thankful. (She apparently was deathly afraid of bugs). So afterwards she asked us what we did. Elder Lete replied, "We're missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints." Then something miraculous happened. Her face lit up and she smiled and was very happy. (This doesn't happen all that often when we say we are missionaries. We often get another response.) She then said, "You see. God sent two angels to help me. Where is your church?" It was great.
Thursday was our crazy day when we saw all of our Less Active people that we are teaching. Well we had appointments for all of them. One of them forgot and didn't even answer the door. But we taught them all the Word of Wisdom with different responses from each. One of them denied having a problem. The second one admitted it freely and then asked for our help in overcoming the issue with smoking. The third one we were at his house for dinner. The conversation over dinner somehow turned to coffee. We later brought up in the Lesson the Word of Wisdom and he flipped out on how some people interpret the commandment differently than others do. We finally just had to testify that he could know for himself through prayer. He was upset because he loves coffee, but he felt the truth of what we were saying and knew that he had to start living it.
On Friday we got our car back and also had exchanges. Elder Smith stayed with me in Marshall this time. We searched for a lot of people who weren't coming to church and receiving the blessings of the Sacrament in their lives. As we searched for one, we ran into Sheriff. He was investigating the church when the sister missionaries were serving here. He agreed to have us come back on Sunday after church.
Saturday consisted of fixing my bike (aka flat tire) and also trying to find people to teach. We ended up in the farmer's market looking around and got to sample some pretty crazy jams. Strawberry-Pineapple, mango-jalapeno, and several others were there. Elder Smith tried the Mountain Dew Jelly, but I didn't even want to risk it...
Later in the day Elder Lete and I saw Brother Jim McDonald. He hasn't come to church since we've been here and we were trying to touch base with him. We also had dinner at the Lembke family's home and were able to get a list of people from them to pray for.
Sunday was a great day. The Sacrament meeting was great. The testimonies were very strong and refreshing and we also had great meetings afterwards. We were also able to talk with President Burgess about what we had done throughout the week and asked for his suggestions on who we could reach out to. As we have followed his direction we have received much success because as branch president, he holds the keys of missionary work in the Marshall Branch area. We met again with Sheriff and answered some of his questions about the church. He agreed to come to church every other week when he is not working at his job. We started biking again and it feels great to be able to use a bike to get to places. I'm glad I was able to get it fixed with the help of Elder Smith's wrenches and screwdrivers.
I always appreciate the opportunity I have to email. I'm glad that some of my experiences have helped and I hope they will continue to do so. I am grateful to be serving a mission. It's been and continues to be the best experience in my life despite challenges that arise. I am glad that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ all these trials can be resolved. I wish you all a great week.
With love,
Elder Davis

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Week 56: Labor Day Monday was very nice.

Hello again.
Time seems to fly by here in the mission field. It keeps speeding up the closer I get to the end and the harder I work in an area. I am blessed to have the opportunities that have come from a mission and I appreciate very much the things I am able to do here for Christ and for the people here.
On Monday we spent the day at the Gregerson family's home to help them do some things and learn how to make white chicken chili. It was a lot of fun and it ultimately ended with a campfire roasting star-bursts and marshmallows and, of course, finally my one year mark shirt with a tie.
So on Tuesday we had a unique contacting experience while we were getting lunch at Subway, the two people working had seen us going there often to get Subway as a result of the gift cards we each had received from the members. It came to be a great conversation about the Gospel and how one of them actually has met with missionaries before. We also have made a resolve to be ready for when people ask us what we do as missionaries to teach about missionary work in Preach my Gospel lesson 5. The reason is so that the spirit has a chance to touch their hearts and help them recognize us as servants of the Lord. We then ask if we can share more with them. It has turned out to be successful so far. People appreciate what we do and then also have a seed planted in their heart for a future date if they aren't interested right away.
On Tuesday we met with a less active lady named Sister Roberts. She has been taking piano lessons at a local store here in Marshall and was working on playing some of the hymns. Elder Lete complimented her and said that if she would play a song and come to church we would come by and sing for her. Well, she went above and beyond. She came to church and brought a friend along with her! It's really exciting to see what the spirit can do for people even if we don't say anything. People can feel the spirit and resolve to do things that they receive inspiration on without us having to even say a word sometimes. It is a really amazing thing to have a chance to be a part of.
Later in the day we had the opportunity to travel to Montevideo Minnesota. It is very beautiful there. There are a lot of trees. There are hills, and there is a river running through it. It is a combination of all three of my areas so far. Chamberlain with its hills and river, Bagley with its many trees and small town feel, and Marshall because well it is part of my area here. It was nice to go there and meet some of the people there including the Davidson family who invited us back over for dinner later in the week.
On Wednesday we finally had the time to offer service at the Food Shelf again. We were able to help many people and Elder Lete actually had someone ask about what we do as missionaries so it was a very productive use of our time. We also saw that the person in charge of the food shelf put our picture up on one of the fridges that people can get food from which shows our participation in the community and will open up several possibilities to get in with people and teach them.
Thursday was a day seeing less active members here in Marshall. All of them came to church except Brother Allen who actually might have several health issues that keep him from church, but we read the ensign with him which is what previous Elders and Sisters have said to try doing with him. It went really well. We also saw Sister Dietz. We taught her about the importance of the sacrament and the benefits from taking it each week to renew our covenants we make at baptism and "retain a remission of our sins" or in other words stay clean from the sins of the world. It quite literally serves as a great protection from evils and spiritually recharges our week. We were excited when we saw her finally have the strength to get to church.
Later that day we had dinner with the Zumwalt family. When we arrived, the kids were having a football game and challenged Elder Lete and I against all of them. So we agreed after making the joke that they wouldn't want to tackle us in our dress clothing and changing the rule to 2 hand touch. Later we had a lesson with sister Gregerson and I practiced the piano a little bit on the hymns made easy. I'm still practicing, but getting better than when I first started practicing last week.
We had a great district meeting on Friday where we talked about some ways that we could have success. Afterwards Elder Smith cut Elder Rucker's hair for him.
We knew we were going to have a unique day on Saturday when we had lunch planned with the Ivanov family at 2 and then Dinner with the Davidson family in Montevideo at 5, so most of the morning was free to stay outside uninterrupted by Lunch. The Ivanov family is so nice, they are amazing and super missionary oriented. They always tell us that if we need anyone to come with us to the lessons we have, they would not only come, but would love to come. They also have great testimonies and a burning desire to share them with those around them without us even asking about it.
On Sunday we saw Sister Eichten who we gave a blessing to. She was very grateful for it and had never received one. Later in the day we also taught the Family Home Evening lesson for the Gregersons and ate nachos.
Labor Day Monday was very nice. The branch had a brunch planned in Redwood Falls at Alexandria Ramsey Park. It was very successful. Now the Elders in Redwood Falls belong to our mission and the area itself however, is not a part of our mission, but the Minneapolis Minnesota Mission. But they never send missionaries there and the city is actually part of the Marshall branch's boundaries. So the Minneapolis Minnesota mission "gifted" Redwood Falls to our mission. So technically we went outside our mission boundaries, but didn't actually do so because it has been annexed into our mission.
After the Bruch we were able to go hiking with some of the members and I was happy to have the opportunity to walk around and enjoy nature. We also ate lunch with the Gregersons and had a great discussion with them, the Redwood Elders and the Elders from Pipestone about how we can get the work here in the area moving and how to involve the members more. It was a great day.
There was a lot that happened this week and I have learned a lot about myself and continue to do so. I have also recently gotten interested into doing family history work because I need to know how to teach it to several people. So I explored around the website for a while and found some training to go through that help with doing family history work. This was also the subject of the combined Priesthood, Relief Society and young Men and Women meeting on Sunday. So I was really excited. It is a lot of fun and I encourage you to get involved in doing the family history work. Read Elder Bednar's talk "The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn" It is very helpful and there is a promise given to us as we do family history work that is of great worth to each of us.
I love all of you. I am grateful to serve here in Marshall. This mission has been the best thing that has ever happened to me and the best choice I have ever made. Continue to learn and grow in the Gospel for that is the central purpose of our lives.
With love,
Elder Davis