Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Week 81: Each new week can still be better and more exciting and rewarding than the last.

I have reflected recently on how each new week can still be better and more exciting and rewarding than the last. How each new day can bring more satisfaction, joy, and learning than the last. It has been wonderful seeing this in my life and I continue to feel deep joy and satisfaction with the work that is being done even though we have not had any investigator come to church in 4 1/2 months. I think the reason that it feels so great is that we are helping others improve their lives by inviting them to come unto Christ. I believe we all can have this profound joy as we express that love through service to others and sharing what we hold dear, the Gospel, with others. It can be as simple as a statement "I love Christ." or "I am so grateful for the happiness the Gospel brings to me." The best way is by letting our lights shine in an example to others. They cannot help but notice the wonderful spirit we carry and like a light on the top of a mountain it cannot be hid and everyone notices it. It should be this way in each of our lives. Each day and each week should be continually better as we improve while here on Earth. This is what God wants for us. Joy, peace, improvement, and ultimately Eternal Life. I think this hymn puts it quite well.
  1. Brightly beams our Father's mercy
    From his lighthouse evermore,
    But to us he gives the keeping
    Of the lights along the shore.
  2. (Chorus)
    Let the lower lights be burning;
    Send a gleam across the wave.
    Some poor fainting, struggling seaman
    You may rescue, you may save.
  3. Dark the night of sin has settled;
    Loud the angry billows roar.
    Eager eyes are watching, longing,
    For the lights along the shore.
  4. Trim your feeble lamp, my brother;
    Some poor sailor, tempest-tossed,
    Trying now to make the harbor,
    In the darkness may be lost.
The adventures for the week go as follows. On preparation day I was with Elder Hale. The elder serving in Glenrock Wyoming. We had a great time together as we both waited for our new companions. We decided to use the opportunity to take some pictures of the scenery while we had a car. I took him to a great spot for photographing the valley of Casper and also Casper Mountain. We got some great pictures. Later we decided to go to the wildlife museum here in Casper. We were not expecting how great that experience would be. They have taxidermy animals everywhere and from everywhere. They also have several world record animals there. I really like seeing the polar bear and the different types of fishes. Later we played basketball again, of course. It actually is getting very fun, but I am glad that we also have plans to do different things as well such as chair soccer.
My new companions name is Elder Rucker. He is great. He came from Luverne Minnesota and his home town is Mesa Arizona. He has also served with Elder Lete in Marshall. In fact he replaced me as Elder Lete's companion when I left to come here. It really is a small world. So far we are doing great. I am learning a lot from him, mostly about ways to be more organized in planning and in following up with people that we leave commitments with. So that we don't just follow up, but that we remember the exact chapters and commitments we have left people. We had a great weekly planning session on his first day here. He has been out 4 months less than I have so close to his 14 month mark.
So one day was spent figuring out where we were going to live. The Zone Leaders managed to get us our old apartment back and so we moved furniture in, unpacked, and still had time to go teaching with members later in the evening. It was a great success doing so when I was in a threesome that we decided to continue doing so to fellowship members and investigators who need the Gospel more strongly in their lives. Elder Rucker also has many good ideas for object lessons which will really help many of the people here.
We were out trying some less actives and we knocked on the Allred family's door. It turns out they recently moved away and as a result we talked with the man who just moved in. He invited us back to learn more. Later we also had a similar experience being prompted to knock a certain door and finding another person who has had contact with the church before, but was open to us coming back. It was a great feeling having the Lord bless us so abundantly.
Saturday was amazing. We had a wonderful lesson with Corrine. We taught the Plan of Salvation and great blessings came from it. She was able to feel the strong spirit that came as we testified of the Atonement, of temples, eternal families, and also the importance of being baptized. She accepted to be baptized if her mother allows it. She also said she'd come to church if her mother would let her. She also said that it answered many of the questions that she had.
Sunday was great. It was ward conference and we had the opportunity to sustain the leaders of the ward and of the church. It helped us get to know people a lot better. After church we had dinner with the Hardy family. they made some great Alfredo and steak. We also helped brother Hardy later in a mission preparation class that he was teaching. It went really well and we were able to give advice on what we wished we had done before our missions to prepare better emotionally and physically for our service.
Today should be very good. It will be Elder Rucker's first P-day in Casper. I also get to spend time reminiscing with Elder Lete. He got transferred here directly from Marshall just like I did. It was funny and I'm sure the members there laughed about it. That seems to be the pattern for missionaries that serve in Marshall, they get sent over here to Casper. It was great to be able to write. It was a great week and I look forward to many more great weeks serving the Lord.
Always remember "When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him. And the Redeemer shall come..unto them that turn from transgression" (Isaiah 59:19-20)

With love,

Elder Davis

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Week 80: Finally got stuck in a "blizzard" here in Wyoming.

So I am no longer going to be in a trio companionship. I will be serving with Elder Rucker. He will be here Wednesday. Currently I am with Elder Hale from the Glenrock Wyoming area. His companion will also be here Wednesday.

So there were several great lessons this week. One great experience was with Brother Terry Young. We were able to give him a blessing and he really appreciated it and felt the spirit very strongly.
District meeting was also very good this week. We took pictures and also were able to share treats afterwards. Elder Abarca made some really good desert with a really sweet and sugary milk frosting. The sisters also made cake. We talked about how we could best help make Christ the center of our missions.

Finally got stuck in a "blizzard" here in Wyoming. Elder Wiseman and I were out working in the Casper 1st area because Elder Ramkisson his companion was being transferred and was also sick at the same time. So we were able to experience some of the snow hitting our faces. It was great though because we were able to get some good work done and he was able to prepare for when he trains a new missionary.
Last night we ran into the Dickerson family. We didn't have a dinner appointment so they took us to dinner at a Mexican restaurant. It was very good. We also were able to teach Devyn and his wife. It was a very powerful short lesson because they had a movie they needed to get to later in the night.

It was fun being in a threesome for a while but I am very excited to be back in a duo companionship. I have learned a lot and I am grateful for the help I received from the ward. I am glad I got the chance to email today and I'm glad for all the support I am getting.

With love,
Elder Davis

Monday, February 9, 2015

Week 79: "The only thing harder than living the Gospel is not having the blessings of the Gospel in your life."

The weather here has been so nice. Aside from all the wind it has been around 50 degrees the entire week. So even with the wind it is still really warm. It was warm enough last P-day for us to go play touch football out in a park. The wind has been exceedingly strong though. It has blown me off balance a few times.

I have been focusing on meeting the members in the Casper 8th ward and going on splits as often as possible to keep the work moving forward. And it has been. There have been several surprises as I have done all that is within my power and relied upon the Lord to do the rest. It proves that the Lord is able to qualify the called. I have felt His sustaining influence as I have done my best to put my will with his. Suggestions of things to do and people to see come to me and I have been able to accomplish a lot more than what I have originally planned as I have listened to promptings on who to see and who to plan for. As I have done my best to fill time with productive activities the Lord has guided me to those that need to hear his message of peace and hope. I would not be able to do this great work without him and without the help of the ward members. They have been very supportive and there wasn't a day last week that I didn't end up going on splits.
After P-day on Monday I went with Nate Burtagnole, the Bishop's son, to see Brother Terry Young. He was excited to meet with us, but got sick on Sunday and wasn't able to make it to church, but we will be seeing him again later this week. We also were able to teach the Reardon family about real intent using an Alma 32 lesson on reading the book of Mormon being the only way to receive the Fruit or blessings of knowing the Gospel is true. There was a powerful spirit present so either they will choose to act on what they felt was true or they will choose to ignore those promptings and dwindle in unbelief. If they choose the latter it will sadden me, but there is nothing that I can do for them that we haven't already done. They must choose for themselves.

On Tuesday Brother Sorensen and I went to see the Hunt Family. We taught them about hope and the blessings it brings into our lives. Melvin has a goal to get back into spiritual things, but will need a big push. He didn't end up showing at church like he said he would, so we will follow up with him later today and ask him why. We also saw Sister Chapman and taught her about the importance of the Sacrament in remembering Christ daily and getting peace from doing so. We shared 3 Nephi 18 with her and showed how when we partake of the Sacrament we are testifying to the Father that we will always remember His son Jesus Christ. Right as we were finishing up her grandson came and asked a few questions. It was great being upheld by the spirit to answer questions I would not have known how to answer otherwise. It was a fulfillment of the promise that the Lord will give us the words to speak in the very moment that we need them. He saw that they made a lot of sense, but still was unable to believe them. But he was very respectful and this experience taught me to do all that I can and then let them make the choice.
We had a great Zone Conference this week on Thursday. President Anderson trained us on how to teach and help people towards true and lasting conversion. Sister Anderson trained on what we could do to make the best choices. She based the training off of Elder Oak's talk Good, Better, Best. The Assistants trained on Family History work and how we could use it to better convert Investigators, Retain Converts, and reactivate members who have strayed off the path. They showed us a great way to do easy Family History Work even if we think it has all been done. I was able to use this training later in the day when we had dinner with Sister Brauchie. I was able to find a name possible to take to the temple within 5 minutes. Here is a video that shows how to do this. https://familysearch.org/campaign/reservationopportunity-vp?cid=ld-tc-1017 and this next video is an example of how family history can impact a family.

We also got great training on how to use visuals combined with scriptures to help investigators understand the principles taught and invite the spirit to teach in the Master's way. I was able to use a lot of these suggestions to have a great lesson with a New Investigator later on in the week. One of the power statements that President Anderson said has stayed with me. I'd like to share it. "The only thing harder than living the Gospel is not having the blessings of the Gospel in your life." I have found this statement to be very true as I have visited several families throughout my mission.
Saturday felt like two days just because we were able to get so much done. It went by really quickly though just like it usually does at this time in my mission. Days are shorter, but they feel ever the more satisfying as I do all I can to help the people around me come unto Christ. I went on splits with the Ward Mission Leader Spencer Larson. We had a very spiritually uplifting message with Charles, the new investigator I mentioned earlier. He responded well and his heart was softened by the message we shared. He agreed to eventually be baptized. He readily accepted the challenge to read from the Book of Mormon and pray about whether or not it is true.

I'm very glad to have shared some experiences I've had the past week. Hope you have a great week this next week as well. There is a lot of potential and the work here is really picking up.
With love,

Elder Davis

Monday, February 2, 2015

Week 78: The spirit whispered to me "There is no use in crying over spilled milk."

We went on exchanges on Monday with Elder Ramkisoon. It was a great exchange with different focuses for each of us. I focused on improving my morning studies. I have also gotten from the exchange to be more organized in my planner and also being neater in writing my journals so I can enjoy them for years to come. I have really begun to realize the importance of my studies in the morning they are really helping to bring peace to my day and also bring me confidence in later lessons where I am able to use something I learned from my studies earlier in the day. I've noticed that when we have the spirit with us in lessons and in the planning sessions and also in the studies we have, that the lessons go smoothly because the Holy Ghost is able to draw upon the knowledge that we have treasured up already within our hearts and cause it to have great effect upon the hearts and minds of our investigators because they needed to hear that particular scripture or thought that comes. There is no greater feeling than testifying of something that earlier in the day helped you or has great meaning for you. I love my studies for this reason. I promise that each of you can have similar experiences as you ask the Lord in prayer to guide your studies of the scriptures every day by the spirit.

So this whole situation with a tri companionship was a little frustrating until the Lord taught me a very important lesson. I was doing service with the 3rd ward Elders at Joshua's Storehouse which is a local food bank. As I was doing so I was reflecting upon the situation I am in and also about the recent call I received from the mission office that they were closing down the apartment I was staying at. I was more frustrated until I looked down at my feet. On the ground there was a puddle of milk that had spilled. Instantly the spirit whispered to me "There is no use in crying over spilled milk." It was very humbling and helped me to focus on the most important things instead of things out of my control. It was an amazing gift that Heavenly Father gave to me. Since then I have found joy in every day as long as I have tried my hardest, despite much opposition and stress.
Wednesday was really weird. It was raining. In JANUARY! I don't ever remember it doing this elsewhere. So Last winter was the coldest in my life and this winter so far has been the warmest in my life, but that is just like this mission a mission of extremes. I really love it though. I continue to learn a lot every day.

Friday we helped a family move out of the 2nd ward who were heading over to Salt Lake. Later in the day we also had dinner with the Lutz family. It was great being able to see them again. They were in our area before the boundary change. They made us the famous "Brad Lutz Burgers". It included a lot of garlic and hamburger mixed with lamb. They were very delicious and very big so I was only able to eat one of them.
On Saturday morning we cleaned out the rest of the apartment to prepare it for when Elder Samson from the mission office will come and pick up the furniture. Later I went on splits with Brother Kirt Sine to teach one of our most progressing Investigators. Her name is Corrine. She is searching for meaning in her life. Her friend extended the invitation to meet with us back in October, but she rejected it until 3 weeks ago where out of the blue Corrine asked if she could still meet with us. She is friends with Sister Kiley O'neal and they both go to high school as seniors together. When we came back we asked her if she had read from the Book of Mormon and she told us that she hadn't read a lot because she was focusing on the importance of reading a little bit every day. We were shocked and very happy. Our joy was even better when she told us that she had been noticing the difference it was making in her life. She said she would eventually, given time, be baptized and also come to church.

This hymn expresses this week best
2. Service ever was their watchcry;
Love became their guiding star;
Courage, their unfailing beacon,
Radiating near and far.
Ev'ry day some burden lifted,
Ev'ry day some heart to cheer,
Ev'ry day some hope the brighter,
Blessed, honored Pioneer!
("They the Builders of the Nation" Hymn 36)

I am continually being blessed. The Lord continues to uphold and bless me. I have seen the truth of this quote that I found.
"[There is] one key for success on your mission. I’d like to talk to you about desperation.”
“When we are desperate everything changes. Our vision changes, we are suddenly able to see things we’ve never seen before, our ability to do increases. We are suddenly able to do whatever it takes. ...My dear elders and sisters, I pray that on your mission you will have many moments of complete and overwhelming and even anguishing desperation. Why? Because then, and only then, will you desperately ask, desperately seek and desperately knock. Then, and only then, will you find the courage and determination to follow through with exactness everything the Lord needs you to do in order to serve a valiant vibrant, worthy and very successful mission for Him.”
--Sister Wendy Watson Nelson

I have been experiencing that desperation, but is has helped me to become a better person and rely upon God more in my life. I am grateful for the experiences I am having. I am seeking to improve a little every day. I am continuing to change. I am truly grateful for the tender mercies of the Lord in my life. I wish these blessing upon all. I am glad I got to share these things with you.
With love,

Elder Davis