Tuesday, April 7, 2015
This is officially my last email as a full-time missionary here in Houston Texas. It's hard to adequately sum up what I've learned and the knowledge I've gained and the experience my mission has been. This past year and a half is something I will cherish throughout the rest of my life. I have gained so many skills, seen so many miracles, and become a more capable instrument in the hands of the Lord as I have served here. I have grown to love the people here so much. I have gained an increased love for the Lord and a better understanding of His Atonement and how that works in my life and the lives of others. I love my Savior, he has helped me every step of the way and I know he will continue to do so. I love the Book of Mormon. It is the word of God and it is the tool in finding the Truth of the message we share. I am grateful for my understand in of the Plan of Salvation and the precious perspective it gives for why we do what we do. The whole purpose of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is to enable us to be perfected and to turn us to the One who can really change us. I loved listening to General Conference the past 2 days. What a blessing to hear from living prophets who are inspired of God to lead and direct us. What an opportunity to receive personal revelation and gain so many answers and so much direction.
As a missionary you're able to devote all of your time and attention to serving the Lord, coming home your time and attention of necessity has to be balanced between many things in just taking care of the necessary parts of life. One of my concerns was finding a way to keep the Spirit I feel here and the same purpose in helping others and being an instrument in the hands of the Lord. Many of the talks touched on a theme of reaching out to serve and lift those around us and the joy that we find when we do. So that's something I want to focus on at home is finding ways throughout the day and as part of what I do to lift and encourage those around me.
One of the things I have grown to know the most is the potential each of us have to do incredible amounts of good in the world as we seek to do so and as we turn to the Lord. A simple invitation, a friendly smile can go a long way, not to mention what can happen when people of that same mindset come together to make something happen. Lives will be touched and people will be brought closer to our Savior, Jesus Christ. One of the greatest joys in this life is to know you have been an instrument in the hands of the Lord, to know you have been on His errand, and to know that He has guided your footsteps. I have felt that while serving here, but I know that it is not limited to the missionaries to feel that way. There are miracles wrought by every-day people who seek to follow the Spirit and who are "quick to observe" and look for ways to bless the lives of others. Don't doubt your capacity to serve the Lord and bless His children, that is where you find the greatest joy. As Ammon puts it in Alma 26, "...behold, how many of them are brought to behold the marvelous light of God! And this is the blessing which hath been bestowed upon us, that we have been made instruments in the hands of God to bring about this great work... Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel."
I am so grateful for the time I have had to serve a mission. I would recommend it to anyone. It's hard. But the difficulty brings you close to the Lord if you let it and the joys and blessings are worth every sacrifice. I love y'all!
See you soon!! :D
Monday, March 30, 2015
This week was fantastic. We finally got LDSSA up and running on the North Harris Lonestar campus which means we got to be out there and invite people to come and attend! I love being on campus talking to people, it's invigorating and I didn't realize how much I missed it until I got to do it again for a couple days last week. It's the best. It doesn't quite beat A&M for the sheer number of people to talk to and the variety of ways to contact and just how big the campus is, but it's still great and I'm loving it! It's weird to think that over half of my mission has been working with the young adults and on college campuses, kinda unique. Besides just being on campus we also had our first LDSSA meeting, which is basically an institute class. We talked about the Plan of Salvation and had 3 members and 4 non-members there most of whom seemed pretty interested. Our Mission President is teaching the class this Wed and it should be awesome!
We also had one of the best missionary meetings I've ever been to this week. The missionary gurus from the head of the missionary department in Salt Lake came and talked to us and taught us a few things that I wish I had been implementing more throughout my entire mission. You live and learn, right? They talked a lot about planning (which I have definitely gained a testimony of) and how we begin teaching, but they put it in such a way that it made so much sense and I felt some urgency about it. I can't communicate everything in an email, but some highlights are: in order to find (D&C 35:12), teach (Matt,23), and work with members (D&C 88:81 change warn to warm) we need to plan effectively. If we're having trouble in any of these areas it's probably because we're not "studying it out" enough in our planning. Planning is a lot like a pilot taking off. You might know what you're doing and might have done this many times, but you still run through the whole checklist to make sure everything works the way it's supposed to. Also, as we teach we need to establish the right expectations with people. They need to know we're representatives of Jesus Christ and they need to feel it. They need to know it's important for us to meet with them frequently... I'm not doing this justice, but I learned a lot. Also, if the missionary lessons were to be described in one word (or two) each, it'd be Restoration=Revelation, Plan of Salvation=Atonement, and Gospel of Jesus Christ=The Way. It was a interesting way to look at the lessons we teach and where the focus is. The Restoration really is all about revelation. God speaks to man. He speaks to Prophets and He'll speak to you. The PoS is all about Christ's Atonement. Without it nothing else would be possible, and His sacrifice is truly infinite and affects all parts of the Plan. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is The Way. It is how we come to Christ it is the method by which we apply the Atonement, it is the process of becoming perfected.
One more thought. In the women's broadcast on Saturday the analogy was given of an empty can and a full can. Pressure is applied to both and the empty can is crushed while the full can withstands the pressure. I've been thinking a lot about what it means to be filled. I found a wonderful scripture talking about us being "vessels" 2 Tim 2:19-21 "...be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work." We can be filled with honor, grace, power, light, truth, knowledge, glory, charity, love, joy, peace, the Spirit... but we have to seek it. 2 Nephitalks about the Holy Messiah, "full of grace and truth" John 2 gives the miracle of water-wine. They had to fill the waterpots first. What do the waterpots symbolize? I'd love to hear your thoughts! What does being filled (with any of the afore mentioned good things) lead us to do? How are we filled?
Love you lots! This is my last full mission week, see y'all soon!!
Monday, March 23, 2015
Dear family and friends
There were some really powerful moments this week teaching and contacting. What a privilege to be an instrument in the service of the Lord, no matter how I am used. We had a really powerful lesson with a recent convert who's struggling a little and it was amazing to testify so boldly to her of the reality of the Atonement of Jesus Christ to help her in every part of her life and of the very real blessings that come as we are consistent in the little things and as we make God our first priority. Scripture study and prayer are so important. That's what keeps us grounded and nourished and growing. Consistency in testimony is what brings true conversion.
We also were walking around a neighborhood talking to people and saw these 2 older ladies on a bench, a mother and daughter. The mother had just had open heart surgery last week and had walked out of the house for a minute. We just got to talk with them of Jesus Christ. They had such great faith and it was wonderful to talk with them. The daughter invited us to pray before we left and as I gave the prayer the words were not my own. The Lord spoke through me and I could feel of His love and care for these people. He feels the same love for each of us. I was so grateful to have the Lord use me for something as simple as a conversation and a prayer with these people. The things we do have more impact than we know.
A couple of the other highlights of the week were getting to attend the temple sealing of a convert I taught and who was baptized 10 months ago. That's right. She got special permission to get endowed and sealed before she was a member for a full year and I got to be there for it! I missed the endowment because of a sudden change in time, but I was there for the sealing and what a joyous occasion. The Spirit was there so strongly to testify of the eternal nature of the promises being made that day. What a happy, happy day.
We also had the baptism of Callie this weekend and that was also an amazing day. Baptism as well is an eternal covenant. We make promises with God that will bless us through our life. Callie was found because a young women's leader saw she was turning 12 soon and could come to girls camp and knocked on her door and the Lord had prepared her family to come back to church. They are an amazing family and both sets of grandparents came for the baptism. One of the sweetest moments was hearing their sincere thanks and how much they had been praying for this. The Lord truly answers our prayers. He hears us and will answer in His own time. I am so grateful to have been a part of that.
I've also been thinking a lot about the significance of being filled as it talks about it in the scriptures. It often mentions people being filled with the Spirit, or glory, light, joy, love... if we are filled with goodness there is no room for the bad. It's important to be filling our lives and ourselves with goodness. Some cool references on fill/full. Alma 34:27 "..Let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually." Matt 5:6 "blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." Alma 26:11 "...my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God." Just a few of the many. Food for thought.
I love y'all! Hope you have a wonderful week!
Monday, March 16, 2015
Sorry y'all, this is going to be really short. We're going to the Rodeo today and I'm pumped! :D We spent most of this week teaching Callie, our 11 yr old getting baptized this weekend! She is so great and so eager to follow the things she is learning. I am so impressed by her simple faith. We've been over there almost every day this week, what a miracle to get to teach her and help her family in the last few weeks we have here. I've been thinking a lot about faith this week. How we grow faith, what we can do through faith... Something that stuck out was that our faith grows through obedience that leads to consecration. Obedience and sacrifice lead us to consecration and a willingness to do all the Lord asks of us. As we come to know God better and as we trust him enough to be obedient we will be blessed to work many might miracles. Study faith in Preach My Gospel! There's lots to learn!
Love y'all! Sorry it's so short this week.
Love y'all! Sorry it's so short this week.
Monday, March 9, 2015
The beginning of this week seems like a long time ago, a lot's been happening. We've got some very exciting updates on the people I mentioned last week. Our 11 yr old investigator is getting baptized in a few weeks and she is so amazing. She has such great faith and is so sweet. It is a joy to teach her because she is so eager to learn and act! It's different teaching someone so young, they accept things more easily, their hearts are more open, and you have to teach more simply. It's a struggle for me sometimes, I've been so used to college kids with lots of questions, but the gospel really is simple and straightforward. We also got to teach the Hernandez family this week who showed up at church in a different ward last week and are eager to learn. We've had trouble getting back in contact with them recently, so keep them in your prayers, they are so great and it's the first family I've been able to really work with on my mission, I'm excited about it! :)
We also had MLC this week and we've been focusing a lot on Vision lately and unifying the mission and exercising faith in accomplishing what the Lord would have us do. I've been thinking a lot on what I need to change and work on personally so that I can do what the Lord needs done. I went on exchanges this week with a wonderful sister. She is so diligent and organized and inspired me to be better. I am grateful to serve with wonderful people who are eager to do the will of the Lord.
Another thing I'm really grateful for in this area is the opportunity to do so much more meaningful service. I really didn't get to do much of that in College Station because we didn't have time and we hadn't found as many opportunities. Here we have things 3x a week! Thursday we voluntereed at the arboretum and potted plants for a few hours. Thank goodness we got the inside job because it was quite chilly. But we also got to work with some amazing people not of our faith and I just loved getting to talk to them about their lives and their interests and passions. I have gained such a love for talking to people, it's invigorating! When I don't get to on days we're planning more and have just a few appointments, or when we don't get to spend much time finding I feel different. Talking to people makes me feel like a missionary, but it also just makes me happy! Every single person is a child of God and has infinite worth and I get the opportunity to meet so many of them who each have unique backgrounds and experiences and challenges and strengths.. I think that's something I need to keep up after the mission, I need people more than I thought I did. Sorry my time's run out, I wanted to share some insights about the sacrament I had sitting in church on Sunday. Go read the Bible Dictionary on Sacrifice, just the first little bit is so profound and there's so much to learn from all of it. But I looked at the 6 different parts of offering sacrifice in Old Testament times and thought about that in relation to the sacrament. Tell me what you think. Love you lots!
Monday, March 2, 2015
Life has been pretty good the past week. There's been a lot of changes, but I'm feeling the strength of the Lord and I know my capacity to remember things and learn people and places quickly has definitely been increased. I feel like I've been here several weeks already, even though it hasn't been a full week yet! I'm with Sister Combs, who is awesome. She's dedicated and fun and we came out together! We were roommates in the MTC. So since we both have 5 weeks left, we figured they're probably pulling Sisters out of this area (like they're doing with many areas just because we don't have the number of missionaries we used to. Our mission is losing a net 90 somethin' missionaries) So it makes for a very interesting transfer and we're trying to help all the work going on here transition smoothly to the elders who are staying in the area and yet still keep busy and effective up until we leave... it's a trick for sure. But we have seen incredible miracles here!!
First off, I'm in Cypress Creek, which is similar to my first area, Spring Branch, in that we have a really nice apartment because the rest of the area is a little ghetto, and it's not even that bad, there are many other areas in the mission that are much higher on the sketchy scale. We have a strong ward with many great people sharing the gospel and the work is just thriving! We got in with a part member family last week who decided they wanted to come back, and their 11 yr old daughter wants to be baptized. We didn't find her though, her beehive leader was looking at who should be coming to New Beginnings and decided to stop by and invited her and we have this miracle. You have more influence for good than you know!! So we're teaching her tonight and she came to church yesterday.
We're working with a bunch of other people and some recent converts who have been through a lot in their life. I think the Lord needed to remind me of some lessons and help me meet more people in this area, I love it here already. We also had some Elders call us and tell us there's a family that wants to become Mormon who walked into their ward today, but they're in our area...so we're seeing them today too. What incredible miracles! I've never gotten to really teach a family having been in YSA wards for the past year. I'm so excited for the things that are happening here.
And I didn't even mention how the campus work is going!
So the day I got here I started calling around to everyone I knew and talking to some of the people that the Institute teachers had recommended down here. We're working on the Lonestar, North Harris Campus right now, and most of the people that go there are in the Sam Houston 1st Ward, which I served in several months ago! So I know many of those people already, and Frank, who is going to be our LDSSA president I know really well because I taught him all the new member lessons! So we've been working hard to get everything ready that he needs to meet with some other people today to get the club officially recognized by then end of the week so we can go recruit people to join it and come to Institute as soon as possible. That side of things have moved miraculously quickly as well. I am so happy my knowledge and connections could be put to such good use here.
It's weird being back in a family ward. Sacrament was louder, there's kids everywhere, there's other wards in our building... I didn't realize how used to the YSA I'd gotten :P the adjustment is good for me. Thanks for your love and prayers! I'm excited for the next 5 weeks and the miracles they will bring and for the chance I have to be serving here among such wonderful people as the Lord's missionary.
I'm so excited for my brother Caleb to be joining the ranks today as Elder Andreason.
This is an older picture of me at Tiffany's Baptism
Monday, February 23, 2015
Dear Family and Friends,
This week has been a little crazy, one of the craziest of my mission. I thought I knew what this transfer was bringing, my companion is going home, and I only have a transfer left (6 weeks), so naturally I thought I'd just stay in this area and finish it off. Wrong! President called us Friday night asking us if our area could sustain loosing both of us because I could be useful in helping another campus in Houston get off the ground. We have several campuses in the mission, many community colleges and things and this is the only one we can't proselyte on yet.
So after lots of prayer and discussion we arrived at the decision that I should be transferred. It seemed a little sudden and drastic, but I feel a lot of peace with it. The Lord needs me somewhere else for 6 weeks, and though I don't know all the reasons why I am eager to find out. I feel like the Lord knew I needed a little more refining here at the end and things weren't hard enough to make me really turn to him as I ought to, so these last few weeks are going to help me learn how to really rely on the Atonement again. We got a new companion Saturday night and she's going to take it over with a new sister....so basically white-washing (2 new missionaries in an area together) thank goodness she's been here on exchanges a bunch before and is somewhat familiar with it, so the hand-off isn't completely cold. I'm excited for the new adventure of a new area!
We also got to go to the temple this week with a couple of our recent converts. We were able to work with them on Family History before hand and they both found many names and really caught the fire of the work and finding their ancestors. It was a wonderful thing to be a part of and so nice to be in the temple and find the peace that is there. I wish I had more to share, but it's really just been a whirlwind of change this week and a lot of adjusting and making sure the area is ready to go and everything is in order. I did have some cool insights in my studies today, and found some questions, so maybe y'all can help me answer them and add any insights you have :)
I was reading in Alma 4:13-14 Alma is sad because the people are again becoming wicked, it reads "Now this was a great cause for lamentations among the people, while others were abasing themselves, succoring those who stood in need of their succor, such as imparting their substance to the poor and the needy, feeding the hungry, and suffering all manner of afflictions, for Christ’s sake, who should come according to the spirit of prophecy; Looking forward to that day, thus retaining a remission of their sins; being filled with great joy because of the resurrection of the dead, according to the will and power and deliverance of Jesus Christ from the bands of death."
So while reading that I had a couple questions come to mind. What does it mean to do something for Christ's sake? How do we do that? Why do we do that?
Also, the importance of retaining a remission of our sins. Mosiahtalks about how we do that, and D&C 20:31-34 also talks about how salvation is not a one-time event. It is a process and requires that we are consistently and continually turning to the Lord and allowing Him into our lives. We need to continually avoid temptation and use the Atonement to help us transform into what Christ would have us be. Matt "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." It's a journey and He'll be with us every step of the way. He's the one that has power to change us. He has power of deliverance. look for that phrase in Alma , Alma 15: 2-3 (vs 3, no deliverance), and Alma , 1 Nephi , and 2 Nephi 11:5. Food for thought.
Tell me what you think.
Love y'all bunches!!