Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Missionary Funtimes (illustrated)

From Elder Paul Freeman, dated February 6, 2008

Missionary Funtimes

From Elder Paul Freeman, dated February 6, 2008

Dear Mom,

It's been a pretty fun week. We just had a big group of missionaries finish and leave. My last companion Elder Ah Wong, the half Samoan from New Zealand, is still kickin around though. His mom came out and they're making visits and saying final goodbye's. Then, on Sunday they're flying halfway across the world to visit Jerusalem. It was kinda funny when he told me, because he didnt' sound too excited. It sounded like he really just wanted to go home. You see him in the last video clip. I asked him for his famous last words and he didn't have anything to say. It was pretty dang funny.

It's crazy to think about how long I've been out here in California. The work is going well and me and my companion figure I'll stay here in the Samoan ward for the 9 months I have left. I think that would be pretty cool. It might take that long for everyone we are teaching to get baptised, but that's another story.

Thanks for all the letters and prayers and everything. Ill get more out next time.

Elder Freeman

Faith Like Ammon & Alma

From Elder Paul Freeman, dated January 30, 2008

Dear Mom,

First, thanks a whole bunch for wrangling that bank account thing. I feel really stupid for having overdrawn like that, and to top it off, I lost my mission bank card and had to order a new one. I thought I was getting better at handling finances, but it looks like there are yet plenty of lessons to learn. But, the good news is that the mission account should be well full when I get my new card. So, don't worry any more about money for me.

We spent several hours in the office on Monday compiling a master list of Samoans in the High Desert to submit to President [Sanchez]. I'm afraid the list only represents about half of the people up there, so the total right now is around 147. That list includes members, less-actives, part-member families, and non-members. There's probably another 100 people or so we haven't met, and that includes congregations of other churches that we know are Samaon.
President told us that we should convert all of them.

I share his ambition.

But, that is easier said than done. First, some of them were previously members but have since left to start up their own church. Second, those churches are how they make their living. President admits that those details complicate the matter, but encourages us still. Something deep down inside me says it will take faith like that of Ammon, Alma, and all those other to get past these seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

What a wonderful opportunity we have! It's exciting and intimidating at the same time. I don't know how successful we will be, or what it will take to bring these people to the Gospel.
On top of that we found two new colonies of Samoan families, the majority of which are Seventh-day Adventist. One in Loma Linda and the other in Highland. They will all be difficult.

However, prayers are being answered and the work is going forth just like the stone cut out of mountain without hands.

Thanks for all of your help and support, especially your prayers. Know that I keep you in mine.
Elder Freeman

Every Member a Missionary

From Elder BJ Bernards, dated January 28, 2008

Dear Family,

Hello again. I hardly blinked and it's Monday again! I’m tired. We played a lot of basketball this morning. We had transfers this week and both of us stayed but not our car. Elder Hill is bummed because that was the first time he has ever had a car on his mission and it only lasted 6 weeks. But, it will be great for the area as we ask the members to help us out and sacrifice for this great work. We have been in their homes a lot lately. We are to teach 10 lessons in their homes a week. It has been great and this ward is starting to feel more and more like home as we work into people's hearts with love, service, testimony, faith, hard work, and a positive attitude.

I had one of the greatest experiences of my mission last night as we had our youth fireside at Sister Teague’s home. Sis Teague is the Young Women’s president.

We had Brother Rowe, who teaches seminary, share a story of a man he is helping out right now to receive the gospel. We had an older couple share their conversion story and how they went from super bad to super good.

Then we shared the first lesson out of Preach My Gospel which is the Restoration. My companion, Elder Hill, bore testimony and taught with power and faith [which] I have never seen in him before. I as well had my mouth and heart full as I bore solemn testimony to the beloved youth of this ward and to our non-member friend, D*** K***, about the truthfulness of Joseph Smith and the Restoration. I asked them to consider the organization that they all enjoyed so much, and think about the scriptures that they read, and imagine that this youth could conceive such a thing. It’s clear that it was impossible for him to. But, then I told them that my testimony does not come by logic, but by prayer . . . By scripture study . . . Through revelations from the Almighty who lives and loves through all eternity.

A profound silence took the room as the Sprit laid upon everyone’s minds. No one dared to breathe. It was so still. It felt warm and love. I told them that what they felt now was the Spirit, and that is how we know.

I smiled to all of them and shared a moment of recognition with those great people as I looked into their eyes and they knew they felt the Spirit. Women and men, young and old. Member and not, God loves all.

I hardly wanted to stop the silence, my heart was brimming with joy!

We concluded with a musical number by Sterling Taylor's family which fit in perfectly and then a message from the bishop who challenged us to pray for that witness of the Spirit. He had that chance to use his mantle as a Bishop. It warms my heart. Then we all sang together "A Child’s Prayer" which was sweet and perfect for the mood. I remember the great joy on their faces as we felt the love of our Heavenly Father, and for each other as we sang as a family. We truly all are [brothers and sisters]. Never hate each other or argue, love unconditionally as Jesus loves you, try to show kindness in all that you do, be gentle and loving in deed and in thought, for these are the things Jesus taught.

After the prayer we a ate cookies and socialized, and then by popular request I ascended the stairs again and played a song on the guitar for Sterling. It was a remake of the song by Tenacious D "Tribute". I changed the words to tell the stories of missionary work. It was super funny and every one laughed, but I think we lost all hope for referrals! Ha Ha Ha

Sister Teague was excited to hear me, before I played she was like" oh he is going to play a song!" Little did she know that I would be shredding the air and melting faces with my astounding vocals and lyrics. It was awesome! People cheered and clapped, and laughed. I loved it. We all need a laugh.

Sterling Taylor leaves tomorrow for Tampico Mexico. We have been working with him for a couple of weeks. He has been scared and nervous for a long time and worked at a skate shop and hung out with pot heads and rockers and stuff like that. We have been going over there every Sunday and teach him from Preach My Gospel, but what taught him the most was my attitude and faith and testimony. I tell you this because we need to recognize the powerful effect that our image has on everybody. What do people see in us? Do they see light? Happiness? Do they see the Spirit?
I saw a profound change in him yesterday as he gave his farewell talk. I could see a vision of him returning strong and full of faith and love for everybody. He is a leader and the Lord will bring it out of him. He has the sprit now and is looking to the future with faith, and hope!

I love the gospel!

So this week a group of people let us in and have a bible study with them. They went over Proverbs. We didn’t push or anything. They actually asked the questions. We were able to teach them so much about the Church from those minutes we spent with them. They liked us so much they invited us back next week. In Proverbs was a scripture that mentions the "preparations of the Lord." I smiled to myself as I read that and knew that those people have been in a preparation for us! Ha Ha HA!

We have been working a lot with Megan who has been progressing. We had just a great visit on Saturday with some members. It was a miracle to get them there. The Lord provided for all of us. We watched The Restoration with her and her kids, and met her concerns boldly with scripture and testimony. She thinks that God doesn’t have a true church on the earth. So we referred her to read out of the [Book of Mormon].

We should see her again tonight. We are taking things less formally and are letting the Rowes teach a [Family Home Evening] lesson to her and her kids. It should be fun.

I never realized how fun and natural missionary work should be. We love them into the gospel. We are bold and invite. That is where our success lies. Attitude and faith give us the perspective to see opportunities and achieve success.

I love you all and pray and fast for you constantly.

Please write me soon. I miss hearing from you.

Elder Bernards

Monday, February 4, 2008

New Family

Email from Elder Andrey Pearce

Dear Family,

Mom and Dad all is well. I had some difficulties with the changing of the email addresses. I think I have figured it out. I sent a letter from last week and some pictures. Let me know If you get it.

Well this week was interesting. As time goes by I gain more experience and knowledge that this is the Church of Jesus Christ. I was very saddened for the loss of a great prophet. He is very dear in my heart. He has been a great example for me. I thought to myself, "As one great and honorable man leaves this world we need many more like him". I testify that he was a prophet of God. I can remember the many times that he gave a talk that I could feel a blaze of spirit just warm my soul.

We found a cutle little family here in Nicaragua. They are about 25-30 years old. Both study and married. You don't find many families like this. Our second visit with them they asked "What can we do to join your church?" We are very exited to work with them. We could just feel the Spirit strong. I know that we were guided to find their house.

My new companion is great he has taught me so much about missionary work. I finally feel like I am waking up from all that has been taking place in coming to a new country, learning a new language and all that comes with that. I hope to bless many peoples lives here in Nicaragua.

I am excited for the new Prophet Thomas S. Monson. I know that this is the Church of Jesus Christ. I know that these times are hard and they're about to get harder. We have to stand as a light in this world to shine all the truth that we have.

I have been working with lots of less active members. Trying to help them understand the covenent that they have made with their Father in Heaven and endurung to the end. As I teach my vision becomes more open to my goal in life. I want to return with honor to the presence of my Heavenly Father.

I hope that all is well at home. I love you all. I don't have much time to write. I love the statement by Gordon B Hinckly ¨´It will work out´´ Do your best´´. I hope and pray to do my best every second.

Thank you for all your prayers and support.

Love Elder Pearce

Importance of Home Teaching and Visiting Teaching

Email from Elder Andrey Scott Pearce, January 28th 2007

Dear Family,

My mission is flying by so fast! I feel like I just barely got here. I have so much more to learn. Most of all so many more people to help.

My new companion is great! He has adapted to the new area just great. I can feel the spirit as we study in our companionships. We have been working hard. He has been teaching me some awesome skills. Most of all how to be more happy doing this work, to not always being serious.

We are not at this moment seeing many baptisms. We are seeing great progress and changes in this area. I have been seeing many changes in the ward. We have been working hard on letting the members understand the importance of home teachers and visiting teachers.

This recalls a sad story that took place. Flores and I contacted one house and she started by telling us that she was a member. We asked her why we have not been seeing her at church and how can we help. She told us of her story. She said, “I was baptized. I love the teachings, love the church. I started going but once I was sick”. I don’t recall why she didn’t go but she said, “No one visited me. I didn’t go the next week and no one visited”. This sister stopped going for 3 or 4 months and no one visited. She didn’t feel like part of the church. She said, “One day I didn’t visit my congregation in my other church. I had my friends and my pastor come by my house. I thought to myself, what a tragedy that other religions can stop by the member’s houses, visit the congregations but the Church of Jesus Christ are too busy in their lives”.

So we have been working hard on that. We have been seeing changes. Last week we saw the Relief Society president out visiting. We have seen the Priesthood quorum president put more emphasis. The members are really catching on fire. We have some activities planned to teach Family Home Evening and the importance of the prophet, Book of Mormon and Visiting Teaching.

I am glad to see the fruit of our labor. I know that it is a gift of our Heavenly Father. We have had great response of the members. I am excited for my next two changes in this area.

I am sad for the death or our dearly beloved prophet. I know the work must move on and I am excited for the new prophet of the world.

Hoping to find and teach people this week and working on activating members of the ward.

Love you and sounds like home is the place to be right now. I wish I could see.