Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Leaving the Ninety and Nine

From Elder Paul Freeman, dated December 12, 2007

Dear Mom,

You always send the best letters. Thanks a bunch for everything. I love to hear about everything that's going on at home. The pictures are super cool too.

This past week has been pretty eventfull. Mostly, President *** wants us to get a better handle on everything that's going on up in the High Desert. One of our Samoan Wards covers practically the whole mission. From F*** to V*** we have members and investigators. The problem is the Ward meets in R***, and its difficult for the Samoan speaking members out in V*** and H*** to make the sojourn every week.

So, sad to say that a few are even turning to other churches that hold services in Samoan. President was [not] too pleased to hear a report like that at interviews. He told us to go up there on Sunday and visit the Samoan Sunday school class they hold weekly. Come to find out, the members' records are in English wards and they are required to attend sacrament in those words and travel to the other building for the class and back again for priesthood and relief society. The numbers in that class are very small, and its becoming our concern that we're losing members.

So, our plan is to visit as frequently as possible while the bishopric is doing everything they can, which is a lot. It turns out last year they tried to get a branch started, but was denied. I presume people weren't happy about that and have begun not to care so much about coming to church. But, we'll be visiting as much as we can, while trying to balance with all the work we have down here in the valley. I'll keep you posted as things develop, but for now I gotta share my minutes with my comp.

Thanks again for everything and I love you all.

-Elder Freeman

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Best Mission in the Whole World

From Elder BJ Bernards, dated October 4, 2007

Hello Everybody!

I am so happy to report this week on what has happened. So many good things are looking up for this area, for the District, and for the whole N--- O--- mission. I feel this is the best mission in the whole world. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. The people are fun, and challenging, and easy going, and friendly, and lazy, and lots of other things. I can't just generalize any of them because they are all unique children of God. So I am learning and growing in Love with them.

I had Interviews with President N--- last Monday night at 8 pm. Before we turned in we were trying to find a referral given to us by a member. We passed a house where we had met a couple. Wo wo wo let me back up a little here, here is some info on them. The couples names were J--- and C---. J--- was a member but stopped going when he moved out of home. C--- had met with the missionaries previously but had somehow fallen off the map. We had Greeted them not knowing they had visited with missionaries before or who they were. We set up an appointment to visit them in a couple of days, but when we went back they weren't there. We have tried to see them some other times but were never able to.

So as we passed by their trailer that night, we looked at each other and said "why not?" and tried their door again. They were home and C--- at first greeted us suspiciously at first, but I love it how the spirit, and love soften peoples hearts. She let us in and we met J--- formally, and we talked about helping them with their floor in their trailer. They are in the middle of remodeling, and living in the mess that makes. I could relate to that! Ha! I love it!

So the conversation eventually turned into us giving a formal sit down lesson with them and C--- told us how she liked having the missionaries over so they could talk about things. She noticed how they didn't fight or argue as much when we came. I told her that was the spirit and we will bring it with us every time we come, but she could have it for herself. We taught her how to ask God if the church was true and challenged her to do it right then. She looked nervous, but wanted to comply, she did it! It was awesome. The whole time we taught I felt this "readiness" about her, and felt like we should give her a date to prepare to be baptized. She looked real nervous, but after looking at her husband, and negotiating a good date with plenty of time to learn and grow, she accepted. Awesome!

We flew back home, and bragged to president, and to the assistants. Not for our skills, or our talents, or our succeses. But for the amount of love that the Lord is pouring out upon the heads of the people here in NP, N---.

M--- B--- is reading for the first time. She read 5 chapters after 3rd Nephi 11 and didn't even notice. She finds it profound and full of testimonies of the God she Loves. She is concerned about her family's welfare, and for strength and protection to keep them out of the world. She totally needs the Gospel in her life. Every time we are over there we feel the Spirit. One of my favorite things to do is point out the spirit and help them recognize it. She'll be baptized no problem.

We got to teach a 8 year old named M--- H---. The H---'s have been having family struggles for the past 3 years. With 3 very independent teenagers running around, one handicapped daughter, and Bro H--- working days at a time at the Railroad. They have been under a lot of stress. But we have been able to have many good visits with them and bring the spirit in there, which pulls the family together, and you get to feel the unique love that Heavenly Father has for families.

Any way, we tried to keep her interested and involved in the lesson instead of just having us talk at her, and every one look at her. She loves attention but doesn't like all the attention. I felt the same way when I was being taught about baptism. So the lesson went alright. But I didn't feel the spirit really strong until the Holy Ghost led me to testify about how much God loves her and is with her and will guide her through life. I could see her feel the spirit. That sweet innocent soul who has seen her family pull apart, and her Dad gone all the time, and her mother cry way to much, and her Bro's and Sis's fight and yell in the spirit of contention, even though she doesn't understand it all, her celestial soul keeps a smile, but she started to cry as the Love of the Lord poured through us into her and her family. It was so great, and such a sweet experience.

One of my favorites.

We have been teaching A---, who is at a cross roads of sorts. I can tell when a person will either drop off, or repent and change. He will have spiritual experiences and be challenged to act upon them but if he doesn't the spirit withdraws and the adversary sets in. But we met him last night with our ward mission leader, whose name is Bro H--- who is incredible friendly, and warm, and genuine, and a good friend to anybody. A--- is lonely, and sad, so it turned out really well. The spirit was there as we testified of general conference and invited him to it. He said he could make it. We'll see if he acts upon it.

A good less active friend of ours, Bro W--- came to church last Sunday and he stood up and bore his testimony. I was the most happy I have been in a long time. I could see how the Lord has reached out to him in soo many ways. It was awesome cause he loves home teaching and is teaching a semi active family named S--- who work at the Salvation Army church and don't like the ward very much, but are responding really well to him, and his companion Bro H---. They have a foster son named A--- who we have taught a lesson to, he is not a member but will be one soon. Bro W--- will bring them up with him as he rises.

We got another set of missionaries here!!! They're straight from the MTC, this is their 4th proselyting mission. They are from L---, and their names are Bro. and Sis. S----. They are fabulous and are just what we need to fan the flames higher and higher here in NP.

I feel and the ward feels that The Lord has a mighty work to be done here. The whole mind set of the ward is changing one step at a time. They are coming out of depression and overwhelmed feelings, into bright rays of hope and glory. The restoration did happen, we do have the priesthood of the All Mighty, we have all the keys necessary to bring salvation to all who listen. I love this Gospel with all my heart, I know this church is true, it has come to mean everything to me. The blessings are soo clear, the challenges so hard, but the rewards so worth anything. The Love of God is the "most desirable to the soul."

Well that's my report for the week. We keep on seeing the blessings pour in. I know there will be a temple here in North Platte one day. I got that feeling yesterday. We don't even have a stake here yet, but thats the same case anywhere the gospel started.

Anyway, I love you all, and wish you all the best. May God's good grace shine down upon you, and may you feel his loving arms around you.

Elder Bernards