Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Shoulder to the Wheel

From Elder Paul Freeman, dated January 9, 2008

Dear Mom,

There seems to be a lot of confusion about our area right now. Our ward meets down here in the valley, but the boundaries extended beyond the mountains into the desert headed out to Las Vegas. The mission office is working on getting us a map of the boundaries, so we can know for sure. The area out in the desert includes Victorville and Hesperia etc, but the Samoan members out there have all their records in English wards because they can't travel every Sunday for church in their native language. As a result many have stopped coming to church, especially since they were denied an independent unit. The least that has been done for them is a Sunday School class in Samoan. First there was a class in a ward in Hesperia, now they just barely started a Samoan class in Adelanto. But, if people in other wards want to come they still have to go to sacrament and priesthood/relief society in their home wards, so they still have to travel.

In response to this situation the Bishop of our ward has proposed that we have someone set apart to preside over Sacrament and other services held in the desert as a dependant congregation to our Inland Empire ward down here in the valley. That means everyone's records up in the desert are transferred from the English wards to our Inland Empire Samoan ward, and have them meet together as a separate congregation while depending on the leadership here in the valley. The only problem is that this change involves three different stakes.

Now, our stake president down here in the valley has already called and set apart one of our good High Priests and former bishop to preside over this congregation every week and report to the bishop. This way all the members out in the desert share the privileges and responsibilities of the Inland Empire Samoan ward i.e. callings, tithing, Visiting/Home teaching, and most importantly having services in a language they can better understand and be understood.

All we are waiting on at this point is a time and a place to meet as a congregation. Once that happens we will be able to transfer records and other things like that. When that is all taken care of, we as missionaries will finally have something to stand on. Right now, we pretty much wander around up there finding people to visit, but have no where to bring them once they are found.

We've started teaching two families, one is part member. They are such good people and have great potential. We even told one of them we have the option of continuing to teach them ourselves or referring them to the English missionaries, but he said he'd rather have us do it.

There is so much to do up there the mission office has given us spare room in an apartment up in Victorville. We've been compiling a list of people we've been visiting that will serve as evidence of the needs of these people. President Sanchez is asking for a summary of each family and their situation. All the stake presidents concerned will be meeting this Sunday to review the situation and what can be done. We hope to find a way to get this list to the meeting.

So, that's about everything that's going on here. Plus a few people we're teaching down here in the valley. It feels like a heavy burden at times, but honestly I couldn't be happier. Sometimes I forget how much I enjoy hard work. But, I just want you to know things are going well and we are all being blessed more than we realize. Thank you for everything you do.

Elder Freeman

Monday, January 7, 2008

Gathering His Sheep

From: Elder Andrushka January 07, 2008

This week has been great. It all started out with a great zone conference where we got the desire to work harder. Then we got back to our house and planned out to work a lot harder. We found 28 new people to teach and set 20 new baptismal dates. This means that we have a lot of work to do.

We have changes coming up. Elder Flores is getting transferred. It’s sad and scary at the same time. I have found out that here you can’t get too comfortable. The Lord wants you growing and changing. So I will have a lot more responsibility. We’ll see what will happen.

The highlight of this week was, on Sunday we got up because we had 28 people to visit before church to make sure they go. So we got up and went out the door. Our church starts at 2 so we had to visit all the people before 2. This was something new that we were trying this week. It is really hard to get people to go to church here. They will promise you to go but when the time comes they won’t go. Part of this plan was to visit each family and teach about the Sabbath day, five minutes each person. Then after we ate we went on splits with members of the church. I went to one side of the area to get all the people and Elder Flores went to the other side. I had 11 people. 3 families walking across the town with me. I felt so thankful to my Heavenly Father for helping us find these families. It was one experience that touched my heart. We are working hard with these families.

I have gotten a stronger desire to learn Spanish better to carry out the work the way my Heavenly Father wants me to. I love this work. I love the spirit that I can feel. I love all the experiences that help me rise and become a better instrument of the Lord. I have come to realize the Spirit is the key to everything. If you don’t have the Spirit you can not carry out the work. If you don’t have the Spirit you can not receive revelations. Our whole lives are about learning. The sooner we learn how the Spirit works the more we can progress to start understanding the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As in most things in life, if you want to learn something you need to put your heart into it. My heart is in the missionary work.

The time is just flying out here. I love you all!!! I hope all is well at home. I don’t hear much. Just from Mom and little bit from Dad.

I bare my testimony of the reality of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I want you all to know that I have a firm testimony of our Savior Jesus Christ.

Elder Pearce