Monday, August 24, 2015

Week 108: I will always be grateful I chose to serve the Lord for these past two years.

Hey this is really weird. I never thought I would have to send the final email. It seems to be going by so fast. I look back and have learned a lot from the experiences I've had. I will always be grateful I chose to serve the Lord for these past two years. I have met a lot of people that have been a strong influence on me and have been able to have several spiritual experiences that have shaped me and molded me into a better person. I love the Lord and all he has done for me to help me become better. I am grateful for the many attributes and skills I have been able to develop over the past two years as I have served him full time. It has been a wonderful experience. It passed away "as if a dream" as Jacob in the Book of Mormon says. I have learned much about feasting upon the word of Christ. I have learned the value of a consecrated life to our savior. I have been helped group all my trials and adversities and I have been able to develop more of the things of eternity. I am so grateful for the experience of my mission. It has truly been a gift to me.

So a summary of the week’s activities: anything else that I miss and next week’s activities will have to be talked to in person. As I was sitting in sacrament meeting it was a weird thought to me that the next time I will partake of the sacrament will be in Idaho. It almost is a sense of denial. I have given myself fully to the work for these past two years and have felt that this was my life. From this experience I have gained many helpful habits. I am excited to come home and use the talents that the lord has given me to further his work back home. It also is hard to think that I am leaving because of how much this has been a blessing in my life. But the Lord has a plan for all of us and it is a plan that is perfect and extends far beyond what my expectations are. I love the lord and his work. I will continue to be an active part of his work as I am home. Thanks for all the support that I have received and all the prayers. They are greatly appreciated.

So the week went really well.
Monday: lesson with Steve. He really enjoyed the subject we shared about the Ten Commandments. We focused on the fourth commandment, keeping the Sabbath day holy. This was an obstacle we had been working in. We planned in weekly planning how to overcome it and received revelation in personal and companion study that morning as well. It was a very powerful lesson. He was able to realize keeping the Sabbath day holy and coming to church was an act of faith. We place our trust in God and not in the things if the world when we make it a point to go to church and partake of the sacrament. It is only by doing so that we are able to feel the fullness of God’s love, forgiveness of our sins, and peace from the spirit as we show God that we are willing to keep the covenants we have made with him. He committed to church and was there on Sunday. The other surprise was that the Mosbys also came to church making my final Sunday a great one with two investigators there. What made that lesson so good was we had one of Steve's good friends there. He was able to testify of his experience about keeping the Sabbath day holy. And the challenges he faces in doing so as he was investigating the church. In this instance it was the member who testified and astonished the investigator. It was the member who was able to help Steve overcome his concerns. Had we been there by ourselves, our words would have been little more than words and would not have had the impact the members testimony did.
Wednesday: taught the Ford family about the 10 commandments, showed their 8 year old daughter about the children's Book of Mormon. After we left we received a message that her daughter had been reading for an hour after we left.

Thursday was also great. We traveled to great falls in preparation for the mission tour meeting with Elder Martino. That night we went on exchanges with Elders from the Roe River Ward. It turned out to be a great night. I went with Elder Hendricks. We started out teaching a less active sister who we planned to teach the plan of salvation to. This was perfect because she had been reading in 2 Nephi 2 and had questions about Adam and Eve. It was a powerful lesson. We then went to another less active family who was mostly interested in socializing. Miracles do happen on exchanges. We got there and by the end they were both willing to study the scriptures daily and committed to do so where previously they had been a bit standoffish about it. The spirit is a powerful motivator, especially when combined with scripture.

After that lesson we had 15 minutes left and we prayed where we should go. We both felt we should visit a family. When we got there, however, things were different. Elder Hendricks felt that he should talk to a person leaning on a car. It turns out he and his friend were interested as we talked about the restoration. They felt it very strongly and were surprised by what they were feeling. They accepted a date immediately and then decided they would be at church on Sunday. It was a miracle. If we hadn't tried to see that family, we wouldn't have had that happen. The lord is mindful of his children.

Friday was great! We were able to receive a lot of helpful instruction from Elder Martino of the 70. The spirit was very strong. As we participated in the meeting, we were all edified together and learned a lot about how to get the work progressing in our areas. We also raised our monthly baptismal goals from 1 per month per companionship to 4 per month. It is definitely possible with the instruction that we received about using members to teach the lessons in the comfortable
and spirit filled setting of the member's home.

Well that was the week in a nutshell. Glad I got to write. It has been a great time to write these emails. I am excited to continue on in the next part of my life. I leave with one of my favorite scriptures.

Moroni 10:32-33
32 Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.

33 And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.

With love,
Elder Jaden Davis

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Week 107: This week has had several miracles.

I am excited to email today. Before I start I would like to make a note that elder Peterson is right beside me playing a really good song entitled, "Homeward Bound" Must be trying to get the message across to me.

Anyway, this week has had several miracles. I will highlight upon four that are very significant and have led us to see the tender mercies of the Lord and marvel at the situations that he places us in to find those we are meant to touch as missionaries and lead to the truth.

Tuesday was significant as we discussed some of the things we could be doing to get the work moving here in Lewistown. We decided to act in faith and clean up our teaching pool by dropping those who were not progressing and as a result were using up precious time. It was painfully hard to make this decision since many of those that we were teaching have great potential if they choose to follow Jesus Christ. They recognize their need for Him and an improvement in their lives, but are not willing to act to get those blessings. The situation looked bleak at first, but faith "precedes the miracle".

After we made the decision we were on our way to a lesson where we felt that we wouldn't get very far. We had found this person earlier in the week and were heading back. He was a former investigator who didn't want to convert but was willing to talk any time. We decided to go anyway and it was a very good thing we did because miracle number one occurred as we were there. While we were talking with Henry, one of his neighbors, James, came up to ask him for some help. He noticed that we were, "Church people" and asked us if we did baptisms. He then asked us if he could be baptized. It was a miracle that the Lord placed us in that lesson and inspired James to come ask Henry for help. We came back later and he now has a baptismal date for September 19.

In an effort to find more people we decided to start implementing finding through less active and part member families. We were going through the Part Member family list on Wednesday when we decided to go see someone with only 15 minutes left in the day. We decided to go anyway and as a result were able to talk to Bridget. She didn't know who we were looking for, but she did say that she was interested in learning more because her brother is Mormon and works in North Dakota and doesn't get to talk to her much. So she asked us to come back and answer some of her questions. She even asked us if we could give her our phone number. That never happens and we were ecstatic.

Third miracle happened on Thursday. It was really hot out, but we still decided to bike instead of drive. Previous to this time we had been deciding on a place to go tracting for an hour before dinner. I looked at the map we had of Lewistown and decided to place my finger in a random location without looking. It turned out to be the place we needed to be. We ran into two people on the street who was interested in us coming back and sharing more about how the Gospel could bless them and their families. We were also heading back to where we left our bikes and a stranger came up to us and asked us if we could tell him more about what God was speaking today. So we testified of Prophets and the Book of Mormon. He invited us back.

Fourth miracle was on Friday. An appointment cancelled and we were left with a hole in our schedule. We both felt inspired to go see a referral we had gotten from Sister Welton. That referral turned out to be very interested in hearing our message and even promised to come to church. He did and liked it very much. He also wanted to learn more about our church and thinks it’s the one for him and fits with many of his belief system. Later that day we also taught James. He accepted a baptismal date and was so curious about what he needed to do to get baptized that he asked us and wouldn't let us go until we had reviewed the baptismal interview questions with him.

We also met with someone who was walking to the church to meet with us outside. There was a big storm that came through. Had she walked home in it she would have been soaked, but the rain calmed down for the time it took her to walk home.

As if that wasn't enough miracles, the Lord blessed us with one more. We were once again trying part member families and had 15 minutes left. The Lord led us to a home where the family once again did not live there. But a different part member family did live there who had moved from White Hall earlier. They were just thinking about contacting the missionaries earlier that day before we were led to knock on their door. We have a return appointment on Wednesday.

The Lord truly does care for each of us in our individual situations. He blessed us as we made a commitment to strive to be diligent even in difficult circumstances and thus we were able to see his power unfolded in a series of miracles. It was great. I issue a challenge to look for and record those personal miracles that the Lord gives to each of you. Look and you will find them.

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

-Albert Einstein

With love,

Elder Jaden Davis

Monday, August 10, 2015

Week 106: This week marked Elder Peterson's one year mark on August 6 and my two year mark on the 7th so we celebrated.

This week was also a great week.

This week marked Elder Peterson's one year mark on August 6 and my two year mark on the 7th so we celebrated. They were both excellent days and we had some great experiences. In our weekly planning session we were able to bounce ideas off of each other and use our tools we have been given in unity. Elder Peterson put in the plans for the people we discussed while I called and set up appointments and entered them into the area book planner app on the iPad. Later on the day we were blessed with the opportunity to find for some time.
One of our appointments fell through so we decided to go tract an area we had been wanting to tract earlier but had not gotten around to it. Once we got there we were able to talk to a few people about
the gospel. One of them we shared the “Because He Lives” video. She said that it made her day and we were able to talk with her about the Book of Mormon and how it could bless her life. Ultimately she agreed to let us come by again, but said that she didn't want to commit to anything. But the spirit was very strong in the lesson and it helped if only for that moment. It was definitely a seed that was planted. Hopefully as we come back she will be more interested in learning more and the spirit will touch her.

Friday was a great day. The best part was being able to teach Steve a lesson. It was the first discussion with him and we brought a member friend who had previously given him a copy of the Book of Mormon. The lesson went really well. He had already been reading from the Book of Mormon before we got there and agreed to be baptized when he found out that it was true. He has a lot of real intent and understands the purpose of our visits. It is from this and other visits that I have learned the power of not just teaching a lesson, but teaching to the people and their needs, adapting the lesson to have significance in their lives. I have also found the how to begin teaching points in preach my gospel chapter 10 to be an effective way of drawing out their testimonies and questions and concerns. It really makes it easier to adapt to their circumstances if at first we get to know what their expectations are and how they need to be taught.

Another powerful lesson was with a less active named Alvin. He knows the church is true, but wants to overcome things that have been weighing him down. This time as we taught the restoration it was different. Instead of merely asking a few questions and lecturing, we were able to adapt. We helped him see that God loves him no matter what and want him to be a strong example for his family and that it is possible to change ingrained habits through the study of the scriptures and church attendance. We showed him the relevance of receiving personal revelation in his life and being an example for his family by being a righteous priesthood holder.

We talked about how the savior gave the priesthood to his apostles to cast out demons and have power over unclean spirits and how that he could have power over his weakness if he built upon the foundation stone of Jesus Christ. We taught how that sometimes we are in a state of darkness just as the world was before the time of Joseph smith, but that if we do as he did, ask of God sincerely and with real intent we can be brought back to the true fold of God and the light of the gospel. We told how the Book of Mormon was key to building that faith and keeping it strengthened. We committed him to daily reading of the scriptures, not to know if it was true, but to provide protection for himself and his family. That lesson was completely guided by the spirit. It would not have gone that way if Elder Peterson were so concerned about teaching a lesson and leaving that we were not able to feel the still small prompting a of the spirit. From these two lessons I have learned the importance of not rushing through principles to teach, but applying principles as we listen to the needs of those we teach. The latter is much more satisfying and effective. It has been a great week.

Earlier today Elder Peterson taught me how to put spin on a bowling ball. It was much more effective that way than simply chucking the ball down the alley and missing the pins altogether. But we had a lot of fun. Hope everyone is doing well. I love each of you. I am thankful to be able to write to you.

With love,
Elder Jaden Davis

Monday, August 3, 2015

Week 105: There is a lot to report on and several miracles to report.

Hello everyone,

This was a great week. There is a lot to report on and several miracles to report so bear with me.

I am excited to once again email and report on the experience of this week and some of the miracles that we have been seeing. It is great to reflect back on the last few weeks and it all seems like one drawn out day that is going by super quickly. As I near the end of my mission experience I am truly grateful for the lessons the lord has been teaching me and the many memories and friends that will stay with me the rest of my life.

Upon entering the mission I left my camera in the van they used for transfers. I was not able to find it anywhere until last Tuesday. We had permission to go to the temple in Billings Montana for our preparation day. So while we were there the thought came to stop by the mission office and ask them if they had managed to find it or were still looking for it. So we did and as I was describing what the camera looked like, an office sister went over to an envelope and brought out my camera. It was a joyful experience. Because I now had my camera I could take pictures again without using the iPad for that purpose. So I was excitedly going through the pictures that night reminiscing on how much I've changed and also the many different things that I have been able to accomplish on my mission. It was a great reminder of the need to be a missionary with real intent, one who doesn't just go through the motions, but relies on the lord to accomplish his work. As this is accomplished a change occurs and life takes on greater meaning. I look back and am able to see more clearly the reason why certain things happened the way they did even though at the time I was confused by different events that happened such as transfers or a change of companions, or even being led to certain people. It reminded me that the purpose of this life is not just to get through each day, but to improve each day and to learn from those experiences. As I learned this viewpoint and as I was able to accept the lord was in control I have been able to grow much faster and become much more successful than if I had not experienced the things that I have.

The temple was a great experience for me. I was able to feel of the savior’s love for all people and also the sense of urgency to do the lords work with the time I have left. I left refreshed and grateful that I was able to make the trip. It was a total of 2 1/2 hours of driving. This was quite the blessing and gave me time to reflect on certain questions that I wished to answer. As we got ever closer, the spirit testified that what we were doing was a great thing and would bless the lives of another. Sometimes, travel does actually help with the experience of worshiping in the temple because of the time to ponder and reflect on the sacredness of the temple and the many sacrifices it takes for people to get there sometimes. We are a truly blessed generation to have so many temples readily available.
Wednesday was the first district meeting I had in Lewistown. Our district leader, Elder Taukinukufili asked us all to prepare role play discussion practicing various principles of keeping commitments and follow up. It was very interesting because we held the meeting over the phone.  We weren't able to skype this time, but this upcoming district meeting tomorrow will be all together as a district, all four of us. It is us and them that form a district, but more on that later.  I was assigned the topic of bearing frequent testimony. It was wonderful studying for that and learning the blessings that come from testifying frequently and how to testify. It helped me realize that I needed to do more testifying instead of just at the end of the lesson. I was also surprised how much testimony is in the Book of Mormon and the many ways that the prophets use to bear record or testify of things. Often they were simple statements of belief such as, "I do know that Jesus is the Christ, the savior and redeemer of the world.
It was made manifest into me by his Holy Spirit." As I have tried implementing this in my own teaching I have noticed the power of the Holy Ghost come more often into the room to "carry our words to the hearts" of the listeners so that we "both rejoice and are edified together." Wednesday evening we went on team ups (another way of saying splits) with our Ward mission leader and another member. I went with Brother Bent, our Ward mission leader, to the home of the Wood family. Since the last time we had met with them they had a different spirit about them. Brother Wood asked us for a blessing and we gave him one. The last lesson we had with them was so powerful the spirit filled the room and touched every one of us so that we could not deny that the things that were being taught about the sacrament and the importance of this sacred ordinance in our lives could not be disputed. It had a humbling effect upon us all. This time after the blessing he was much more polite, much more willing to commit, and even asked us to write down the chapter in the Book of Mormon that he should read. I know that eventually he will return to church. Friday was a great day as well. Lewistown has a nice trail system that runs through town for bikers, walkers, and joggers.

So every morning we have decided to go jogging on that trail gradually increasing the distance that we go. It is very motivating to try to get across the entire trail that loops back into town and is about 3 miles long. So far we have only made it halfway and about two miles, but each day we go a little farther. Anyways, on Friday we helped out at the local senior center. We helped them serve food and clean up after the meal. Service has really softened the hearts of the people here. I heard that the work had stopped earlier and that two elders decided to spend time every other day picking up garbage around town. As a result the people were friendlier and more open to the invitation to hear the restored gospel. So we are looking for ways to serve in the community.
After our service we had an appointment with Sister Brown. We are able to share the talk by Elder Bednar, "therefore they hushed their fears" it really helped her and I learned later from Elder Peterson over the phone that she came to church as a result. (Okay to explain this we are on exchanges right now. We had interviews in Great Falls on Saturday with President Wadsworth. While there we exchanged with have because it is a three hour drive from here to Lewistown. So we went on exchanges and are still on exchanges and will get back tomorrow when we meet up in Great Falls again for district meeting.) The rest of Friday we taught Sister Bell and the spirit prompted us to testify of the Book of Mormon and the importance in bringing us closer to God and gaining a relationship with him. We shared the introduction paragraph where Joseph Smith promises that a man will get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts than by any other book. It was a powerful testimony and she immediately commuted to read the Book of Mormon that night and asked us to follow up with her in it. Now that never happens unless someone is sincere and we were very happy about that. Her ultimate goal is to return to activity and be sealed to her family. On Saturday we drove the two hours to Great Falls Montana to meet up with the zone leaders and President and Sister Wadsworth for interviews. It was a great interview and the spirit was strong there as we discussed principles that would help me as I prepared for the transition back to life off the mission. He talked to me a little about the upcoming program for returning missionaries called my plan and told me to be on the lookout for it. I am excited for it because it will give me the tools that I need to not worry about the transition to home while still being able to focus on the work and prepare for life after the mission. I am looking forward to experiencing this program.  After interviews we left for the two hour drive from Great Falls to Have. That night we were able to talk to a lot of non-members who came to the ward activity car show. We also were able to teach an investigator nicknamed "auntie" who is very interested in joining the church. Finally after two months of trying to get her to come to church she finally fulfilled her commitment as we came the next morning to wake her up and follow her to the church building. She loved it, felt the spirit from the testimonies, and decided she wanted to come back next week. There were many miracles this week. They are blessings made possible only through the love of our father in heaven for us. I am grateful to be serving him in this great work and look forward to greater experiences in the future.

With love,
Elder Jaden Davis