Monday, November 1, 2010

Learning and Applying

Travy boy is "getting so big--yes he is." (Said in the same voice I, Katie, use to talk to my doggie, cat, and little babies. Oh--and my brothers when I'm proud of them but have to talk in a teasing voice so they smile and take my praise). So proud of Trav! And for the record--the sheep vs. sheep herder story was something I learned in my mission.

Ahh man happy halloween everyone! This past week was tough but actually has been really positive for me too. We had a lot of good things happen and both puertas and i really made an extra effort to be focused and dilligent all the time, i think it realyl helped. First off though, it was good to hear all those updates mom, i can't believe that chris lynch is taking the discussions! That just blows my mind, it made me soo happy to read that though i just couldn't stop smiling. That would be a really cool experience to have the discussions at our home too. One of the members in our ward this past sunday got up and bore his testimony about how awesome it has been to have us, the missionaries, over at their place teaching our investigator chris, beacuse he said the spirit has just been super strong evry time we come over. I know it would be really powerful and edifying for chris lyunch and the family. But other updates sound good too, i can't believe everything that the boys are doing, going to utah, spirit week, church dances, work, football playoffs, halloween. The list goes on. It was super good to hear about everyone though i just loved it.So this past week, both puertas and i had some trying times on a personal level, but as we talked we just emphasized to each other the need to focus and stay busy. We really planned well this week and even had a zone conference about how to better use our time wisely and stuff like that. It was from the AP's and the Mission president so it obviously was...awesome!

But first things first, we foudn out that Jose Ramirez court case got appealed! So he won't be getting sent back to mexico as long as he continues to attend his little court sessions or something. But that was a huge relief and also that whole family is getting baptized this saturday and they are erally excited! They made huge strides this week. We even went over to their place (the day after the talk about the word of wisdom), and we opened the fridge and had him pop open all his corona and she opened her bacardi lights, and they just dumped em down the drain! It was awesome hahah. We have pictures on Puertas' camera so i will try and send them to you if i can get them off his camera. THey were down thoguh, i mean it was hard but they all were talking about how happy their kids are that they are tossing the alcohol and it was just cute to see the little girl Saith, who is 9, she really was super happy and it just made the moment a spiritual one. So they are giving up all that stuff and just it is so cool to see how willing they are to give thigns up for the Lord, they are true examples to me. It also shows how prepared they are to hear the gospel, I know heavenly father has been preparing them, maybe even for years, to hear the message that we bring and now it just finally clicked and they are just so awesome. They came to church this week too and they bought little church pants and matching shirts and vests for the two little boys who are 5 and 3. It was pretty fuinny.

We have worked a ton with them though this week, we see them everyday and they always haev a ton of questions. It is cool to feel the love that they haev for us. I know that it isn't our words that they believe but at the same time, we make sacrifices for them and really try to help them in any way that we can, and when they recognize it and appreciate it, it really makes us feel good ha! So they are doing really well and are alwayus looking out for us.Oh and real quick before i forget, on thursday when we went to zone conference, i got to see Will Hines! It was soo awesome. I think it was katie that talked to the member Brother Shambaugh in our ward here about getting will's number. I got the president macdonalds approval to have a member call you guys and get his number, so I had shambaugh do it. They are an awesome family and he speaks spanish and always helps us out with splits and stuff. They are the family taht we are teaching Chris Harris with. Also Brother Shambaugh said that he knows Grandma and Grandpa Calvert. He said his parents live down in san jose and are in their stake. He even called his mom in front of me and was like "hey do you know the calverts? and she says Oh yeah wade and ruth!" hahah so that kind of made me smile. But yeah after our zone conference with Elder Kikuchi (soo sweet), i got to see Will (ill tell you about kikuchi in a sec). Will looked good though, and it was just awesome to see a familiar face haha. We only got to stay for afew minutes cause we had to get back from Eugene but regardless, it was great to see him and i really want to get down to eugene so i can get some better MISSIONARy contact with him. Conference with Elder Kikuchi was great though. He stressed the importance of obedience in the morning schedule. People tend to get lazy with studies and working otu and stuff (myself included i'm sorry to say), but he stressed the importance of really getting that FULL study time, both personally and as a companionship, and doing workouts to wake us up and just following the schedule to the T! He actually made us some promises too that if we would have 100% obedience to the morning schedule we would double and even triple baptisms by next year some time. He also promised that 80% of our progressing investigators would be baptized. WOW that was intense. So we are all trying super hard, not that we weren't studying or waking up before, it's just that sometimes we might start 5 minutes late and then end late and cut out comp study by a few minutes or i wuold just read scriptures instead of workouts, (someone told me i could do that?). But this week has been way better just doing everything EXACT. It reminded me of the MTC a little bit, which i think it's a bummer that sometimes we forget those abilities that we developed there. Regardless studies and everything went better this week, but specifically my personal study.

Before i get there though, Kikuchi also had us learn a new way to teach the Joseph smith story which was pretty powerful and the whole meeting was just a spiritual downpour haha. The only set back was that we sat down with him at 9:00, had lunch at 12:45, and then sat down again at 1:30 until 4:30. So it was a LONG meeting. Don't get me wrong, we got a ton out of it, but there were some times where it was just hard to stay all there ya know? That was great though and seeing will after was awesome.There was one cool experience that i wanted to share, that wasn't a huge thing but it was very powerful to me. We went over to Angel and Destiny's house. They are 11 and 10. They come to the spanish ward every week with their grandma who is a member, but their parents, who are members, will not let them get baptized. They have been coming to church even since before i got here to salem, so it's been a long process. SO, we go over there and every time we come over they love seeing us, it just feels good when we are in there. We asked them how their book of mormon reading was going, and they finished it...the WHOLE THING! They are only 11 and 9 and they have read the whole thing! We also asked them how it was going with sharing their testimonies to their parents. We challenged them to do that every day about something about church. They said they did it a few times and they are just so awesome! But, we had been there for a little bit talking with their grandma about how we could "soften the parents". So at this point, we were ready to leave but we asked the kids, is there anything we can do for you guys? Angel the 11 year old boy said mmm no i dont think so right now, if i do think of something i will tell you. And then we ask destiny the little girl and she is thinking about what to say. you can tell she was thinking hard too, but eventually she says, "Umm, i...2 times yesterday i prayed that i would be allowed to get baptized, and i was just wondering if you missionaries could pray for us too?" OHH my gosh it was so sweet. I can't even tell you how, i don't even know what word to use, tender it was. It was just soo sincere and innocent and her desires were so pure and true. We just said of course destiny, we pray for you every night! It was a realyl sweet experience.We are still teaching Chris Harris and things are going really well with him. He is getting baptized on the 13th of this month and is already flying out a friend from utah to come see it. WHen we heard that we figured he was pretty committed haha. We could tell through other ways of course. We have been tecahing him at the shambaughs home and he is just a stud. He knows a ton and is really willing to learn and just take in everything that is true. He has had a crazy past but is willing to just drop it all and move on, doing what he knows is right.

It is more evidence to me that with all the missionary efforts of the past that were focused on him, that "failed" were actually preparing him for right now. He for whatever reason this time around, really feltlike this was the right life for him. He has come soo far just in two weeks and from what i hear, he has made HUGE leaps and bounds from who he was even a year ago. The guy is a stud and he is getting excited for his date. We jsut made up his baptismal program for him yesterday and things are just going so well with him. We are so excited for the 13th! This week, we had interviews with the mission president's wife sister macdonald. As we were talking i made a little realization about myself that made me really happy. The letter that i wrote last week was such a downer letter. That week was super hard! And just as i have gone through this week which has had it's own challenges, i really feel like i am learning to love the people that we teach. It is soo cool to be lost in thought about our investigators and how we can help them. Last week (not this past one), i was devastated for our investigators that were having bad things happen to them and weren't always making the best choices. In that devastation i really felt like i have grown to love these people that we are teaching. And now it has become so exciting to see them get baptized, not because I want to make sure we get our "stats" or our baptismal numbers, but because i know and they know, that their baptism is going to change their life and it is the path the God wants them to take. In just this past week it has been awesome to really see these people gain their testimonies little by little, as they learn that this is in fact the way for them. I am just so thankful for the help of Heavenly Father this week, he has really blessed us in our discussions and just being able to bring the spirit with us.

From when we got up, to when we got in for the day, both Puertas and I just felt good, i know we had the spirit with us this week and sometimes i think we just take that for granted. Some more good news, is that with Angel and Destiny, the grandma talked with their parents and they finally said that we could "prepare" them for baptism. I think that means just teaching them the lessons and stuff but we couldn't even do that before and i know that they will be baptized. They haev such sincere desires for it and i know Heavenly Father will not hold this back from them. It is just a matter of time, and that is one of my biggest flaws. I find that i continually have to learn patience. I have noticed that over and over since i've been out on my mission. Lastly, i wanted to share some more personal things, that i have kind of found just through studies and prayer. Elder Kikuchi challenged us to study the Book of Mormon for at least 30 minutes for the rest of our missions or lives for that matter, and also to help our investigators get to know the prophets. I will explain. WIth all the records of the prophets in the americas in the book of mormon, they all testify of christ. We have been going through the book of mormon and finding the specific chapters where individual prophets testify of christ. We then bring these chapters to our lessons with investigators and have them meet Nephi in 1 nephi chapter 11 or king benjamin in mosiah 2,3,4. So i myself, wanting to really strengthen my erlationship with the Savior, studied a number of these chapters this week, along with the New Testament. While some of these experiences are very personal, i will say that this week was very powerful. The testimonies of Christ and then reading about his life and his works, were so inspiring and uplifting. As i turned to him in prayer i felt this week a very helpful hand in my life. My prayers continued and changed, not just to a plea for help in this work, but into more of a conversation. I was able to turn my fears and pains and sorrow over to the Savior, and also i could share my joys and successes with him with just as much ease. In the new testament, (i have to study up on this more), but he refers to his apostles throughout by different names.

At first i think he calls them servants, then something else, but at the end of his life he refers to them as his friends. I think it is just cool for me to actually realize right now as i am writing this to you all, that we should all try and emulate that transition. I have discovered that transition on what feels like a large scale this week, but i know i have so much more to learn. I felt this past week like a friend to the Savior Jesus Christ, not just his servant going out and acting in his name. What a healing and empowering experience it has been and will continue to be, i just know it.

I got a letter from Katie this week about an experience she had and what advice mom told her. And that was, that Jesus Christ has already suffered for all the pain and sorrow that we feel, so why don't we just turn our pain that we feel now over to him. We don't need to keep it inside of us just for the sake of feeling sad. Before my mission, my "release" or "vent" would be to play music or skateboard or even jsut listen to music. I'm trying, not to lose those passions, but alter my source of emotional and spiritual solace, and turn the Savior into my "release". With all of this, i'm not saying that the mission will now be easy or that my emotions don't get the better of me at times, but what a blessing it is, to know that the Savior is always there for us. He never leaves, it is us that strays from him.

I honestly cannot remember where i was reading this and if it was in a letter from someone i apologize that i don't remember but it was about a shepherd and a sheep herder. Some guys are out in the mountains camping or something and then they hear an odd sound, it's a man singing. They go and look for the source of the sound, and they see a humble shepherd, with one of his sheep on his lap. He is petting it and calling it by name, and singing to it. He loves it. He sets that sheep off his lap and takes another one, calling it by name, singing to it, loving it. That is the difference between a shepherd and a sheep herder. The Herder will chase the sheep and use the dogs to scare them into a rote path where he wants them to be, but a shepherd loves his sheep and knows them by name. In return, they follow him, willingly. That is why they call Jesus Christ the Shepherd.Again i'm sorry cause i think someone sent this to me in a letter, when i get home i'm gonna go look up who it was but, wow what a powerful thing. All in all, this past week was a very positive experience. A lot of good things happened and Elder Puertas and I are really bonding and working well together. We get along really well but we both realize what we are doing here and get work done! I have learned a lot this past week and i know that it will carry into this week as i am still trying to pick out what Heavenly Father wants me to get from each experience i have. My faith is in Him, Jesus Christ, no matter what the results are.Sorry to sound preachy this week but i was kind of learning stuff even as i was writing this letter so i just had to keep going. Things just started to click a little bit. Remember how much i love you all. You all mean everything to me and that love is so strong. I can't believe how good everyone sounds it just makes me smile. I know this week will bring new challenges or even more of the same, but i will face them regardless and get through them, as i know will all of you. I seriously love you guys so much and ill be honest, last night for halloween and on saturday when i was carving my pumpkin really fast, i missed everyone a lot! I'll be honest again and say that i even got excited for christmas when we all get to talk hahah but we don't need to go there now :) Thank you all for your support that you have been. Every prayer and letter and thought on my behalf means the world to me. Stay strong in your testimonies because it will not get easier to choose the right, but remember where you stand. I love you all so much! I hope you all have an incredible week =)Love Elder Edwards

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