Monday, April 25, 2016

First Transfer and more...

Elder Hilborn and I sure lived it up to the fullest in our last few days together.

 We witnessed an awesome miracle with Diana North. We discussed the Book of Mormon, and we came to find out Diana is reading ahead of the assignments Elder Hilborn and I invite her to read! Elder Hilborn felt it was time to talk about the Word of Wisdom. Diana listened carefully. By the end of the discussion, she committed to live the Word of Wisdom by surrendering all of her coffee and cigarettes. Diana and her son even tore a few of those putrid deathsticks! Of course, there's been obstacles. There was a moment we thought we were going to lose her, but because of the incredible involvement of the Ward Mission Leader's wife, Diana chose to continue the fight. There is no doubt in my mind the prayers upon the behalf of those whom I am teaching brought about this wonderful blessing!

An investigating family I would like to mention is the Dobson's. They are constituted of Leah (single mother), Cassy (16 year old daughter), and Wyatt (5 year old son). Finding them was miraculous! Weeks ago, I felt inspired to talk to a man we learned to be Cade Watts. Elder Hilborn and I had a great lesson of Joseph Smith and the role of our Heavenly Father and thought Cade to be interested. However, Cade Watts gave us a bogus address. Cade most certainly did not live there, we came to learn. But who did? The Dobson's! Leah and Cassy have been very interested so far, very exciting. We gave them a tour of the church. During the tour, Leah expressed a concern about the baptism approaching too quickly. I felt an incredible surge of the Spirit as I testified of fact Heavenly Father loves Leah. I could feel it burning inside me like I have never felt it before. Never before have I felt the Spirit burn so brightly within my heart.

It was a difficult thing to say goodbye to Elder Hilborn. I hadn't realized I had made such a great friend until it was time to part. It was a very sad time. However, I have a new companion. His name is Elder Michael Zurcher (pronounced Zer - ker) from Providence, UT. Really close to home! Although we didn't know each other, we do know some of the same people (Makayla Holt and Audrey Durrant to name a couple). A very neat coincidence.

The one time Elder Zurcher isn't camera-shy is when he has an opportunity to use my iPad without my knowledge. 

Elder Zurcher from Providence, Utah

On Friday, Elder Zurcher and I had a unique opportunity to be event security. There were countless taser and all manner of riot weaponry jokes. I never want to work as security. It's actually a pretty boring job.

Also, we had the opportunity to teach Martha again. We taught from the Book of Mormon and testified of it's truth. Martha is one stubborn Catholic woman, but she is as wise, kind, and intelligent as she is pig-headed. She's agreed to read the Book of Mormon and to pray about it. I myself am praying the Spirit will lead her to the truth.

William is doing very well! We are pals! William teases me a ton, and I give it right back. Because William has a lot of time, he enjoys coming with us to teach. How I wish you could have heard him testify to a man named Damon Anderson! William said, concerning the Spirit, "It is the greatest feeling you could ever feel." It was an awesome spectacle.

Another shot of William's baptism: yours truly, Elder Hilborn, William, Sister Viera, Sister Hansen, and Danny Higgins.

We've had the wonderful opportunity to meet with some of the single sisters in the ward: Diane Rasmussen and Renata Kraft. Sister Rasmussen is wishing to adopt me, silly woman. I love her so dearly. You'll never meet a more loyal, outspoken person. We call Sister Kraft 'Special K'. Sister Kraft loves nicknames and especially adores 'Special K' because it was given to her by the missionary that she claims converted her. As many frightening people one could meet in the streets, as many vindictive and poisonous back-biting members of the ward, there sure are some truly wonderful people here. Diamonds in the ruff.

I thank you again for your wonderful support. I've stopped trying to find the adequate words to describe my immense feelings of gratitude. I love you. I pray for you.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Baptism and the Power of the Spirit of God

Elder Hilborn moments -

Thursday, Elder Hilborn and I left the car parked outside of WG's house to see a few investigators that lived within close proximity of each other. Elder Hilborn began to read surnames engraved upon decorative stones placed in front of the houses we passed (it's a popular thing to do such in Kansas). Seeing an opportunity, I quoted from Spiderwick, "That's amazing!" Elder Hilborn, excited, curiously asked, "What?" It was too easy! I said, "You can read!" I got a playful icy glare. He knew I was quoting something.

Friday night, I hear: "OH, JESUS!"
"Excuse me?"
"My lock screen is a picture of the Savior, and it was bright! Above the brightness of the sun!"
We had a good laugh.

"I'll definitely be able to make that," Elder Hilborn says, looking to squeeze past a parked car without backing the vehicle.
"No you will not!" I say. It was simply impossible. This isn't enough to convince Elder Hilborn. He makes the attempt anyway. I watch, amused. When it becomes clear the endeavor has been in vain, I see Elder Hilborn rage through the window. It was hysterical!

I See Fire by Peter Hollens plays in the car
"How many times have we sung this song together?"
"Not enough."

I made pancakes for the both of us. Elder Hilborn chowed like a madman. "Don't just hork it down!" and every time Elder Hilborn scarfs food too fast, this happens:
*hiccup* ... *hiccup* ... *hiccup* ... Two seconds apart. This went on until he grabbed some water. He took a sip and said to me, "Sorry. The second I drink some water it stops." .... *hiccup* ... I laughed really hard at this spectacle.

And now to the point -

Saturday, we had an appointment with D.N., a 52 year-old single mother. Her youngest son is a junior in high school. Many instances she expressed she did not want to meet with us, but I felt that we shouldn't give up! Elder Hilborn agreed, so we were able to interest her in a tour of the church. During this tour, we had Sister Unworth with us. The tour went so very well. Sister Unsworth and D are very similar and were able to share an interest of church history with each other. Because D opened her heart, she was able to feel the Spirit and expressed her desire to be baptized! We invited her to church and she accepted.

Later in the evening, WG was baptized! I can't even begin to describe in accurate detail my feelings during this excellent service. So many people came! We couldn't fit everyone in the room to watch the baptism. There was immediate change in WG as he came out of the water. When Bishop Somers brought WG out of the water, he gave WG a big hug. WG just glowed, and radiated happiness. I can't give accurate account of the joyful feeling within my heart. I've never in my life felt happier. When the bishop addressed us after the baptism, welcoming WG into the ward, the Spirit was heavy in the air. It impacted WG in such a way that it was as though WG and the bishop were having a conversation alone. WG is a new man, and the Savior is to thank.

In the early morning of Sunday, Sister Moore gave D a ride to church. I used every ounce of strength I had in my body to follow the Spirit that I would be as welcoming and kind as possible. In sacrament meeting, WG was confirmed a member of the church and received the Holy Ghost. Because it was fast Sunday, he went to the pulpit to bear his testimony. I was shocked! He thanked Elder Hilborn and I, and said he knows this church to be true. It was such a powerful moment. After this, our typically lonely pulpit became flooded with converted testators. Testimonies were borne left and right! Elder Hilborn and I also bore our testimonies. Elder Hilborn bore an amazing testimony of the eternal family. I expressed my gratitude for the ward's service and for the opportunity I have been given to serve them. I bore my testimony of the Spirit in the meeting saying, "I am ASTONISHED by the power of the Spirit in this meeting." Bishop Somers concluded the meeting and pronounced his gratitude for the testimony I had given, adding his witness that the Spirit indeed was SO powerful! I was so thankful D was there for all of it.

Elder Hilborn and I taught about the organization of the priesthood during the second hour in Gospel Principles class. We had a full house! Every chair was taken, and D took the front row! The Spirit carried to the class from sacrament meeting. Everyone taught one another, all of us learned new things, all were edified by all.

One testimony from Brother WG was all it took for the entire ward to feel the Spirit in their hearts. It changed the course of the meeting, the day, and souls there to feel of the power of the Spirit of God.

Monday, April 11, 2016

A baptism...

It's certainly been a most unusual week. Elder Hilborn and I took three trips to Salina, pronounced Suh-lie-nuh. Not Suh-lee-nuh, I am having a rough time pronouncing cities in the Kansas Wicheetah mission (:

Salina is a hour-and-half trip we took first on Friday because of Zone Training, a time we hear from the missionary leaders i.e. Zone Leaders, Sister Training Leaders, and sometimes District Leaders. I got a Baconator for lunch following the meeting! If one could capture happiness between two slices of bread, it could only be done with a bacon cheeseburger.

On Saturday, Elder Hilborn and I went to the afternoon session of Stake Conference. Because we neglected to fill the gas tank before returning to Hays, we encountered a difficulty of trying to find the nearest working gas station in the boondocks with very limited miles remaining before depleting our fuel reserve with a very outdated GPS. It was a frightening time. Prayers were offered, and faith was mustered. By miraculously divine intervention, we found a gas station on the way to a destination we surely were not going to arrive with the limited amount of gasoline in the tank. Because of this fiasco, we arrived home at a quarter past eleven at night, but Heavenly Father takes care of His missionaries!

Our Sunday trip to Salina sure was interesting. I accidentally met Elder Roads, the general authority of the seventy in charge of the area, in the bathroom. Interesting guy. "Elder," he said to me "the question I have to you is..." I began to greatly anticipate his excellent advice, "Are there any paper towels left in the men's bathroom after stake conference?" I was stunned. He smiled and said, "It's a mystery of the kingdom!" We laughed and I made an exit, rather amused.

The event to follow is rather excellent news! W+++ was interviewed by a counselor of President Bell (as is necessary in the case of probation) and has been found worthy to be baptized! Yes! W+++ is getting baptized on Saturday the 16th! I am absolutely ecstatic! Elder Hilborn and I are working to compile the program of the baptism this week and we couldn't be happier.

I thank you so much for prayers on behalf of W+++ and for the Spirit to touch his heart. Indeed, the Holy Ghost has greatly impacted his soul. I cannot wait to report how the baptism unfolds!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Sickness, Conference, and prayers...


Well I got sick again. Stomach flu this time! This is my third illness and I've only been out for three months on Wednesday. It's rather unbelievable. I sure am developing lots of immunities! I missed out on my first opportunity to attend Specialized Training. As far as I can gather, the Assistants to the President and the President himself provide training to the zone. It's alright though! God has a different plan for me!

Never before have I been so excited to watch General Conference! I so loved Eyring's opening remarks to those searching for an increased capacity to love the Savior. My hearts go out to all feeling the same. Tears struck my lap the same moment they left my eyes as he bore his testimony. I also dearly loved Ballard's words of family council. Powerful forces, these councils. Many many times have I been rescued by the Spirit's influence and the love of my dear parents in such councils of all forms. The concluding prayer of the afternoon session powerfully asked a blessing to be upon the missionaries. So much so, Elder Hilborn looked at me with tears in his eyes saying, "They prayed for us!" We are so humbly grateful for all prayers. They make such a difference.

I was also very entertained to note Uchtdorf's reference to Chewbacca in the Priesthood session! Including his directed approach to single men searching for a perfect woman, "Brethren if there truly were a perfect woman on this Earth, what makes you think she would be interested in you?"

W+++ came to the Young Single Adult Family Home Evening Tuesday night. We played a board game called 'Pit'. I only won a single game out of nine or ten, so I'm learning to be a better sport. The awesome thing is, W+++ volunteered to provide the spiritual thought for next week. Two minutes of time one reads a scripture, provides insight and bears testimony to begin the evening. The desire I see within him to be a part of the fold is unique. The first I've seen on my mission. I am so enthralled to see this desire work within him to push him to do difficult things. He is breaking the habit of chewing tobacco, reading the Book of Mormon,  and praying. I truly believe he will be baptized. The Spirit is working in his heart. I know your precious prayers on his behalf are moving mountains within his soul.

Thursday, much to my dismay, W+++ admitted to drinking alcohol and getting in a bar fight. He had blood stains and facial wounds to prove it. We ensured to discuss with him the feelings of guilt he felt and how to repent through the atonement of Christ. We invited him to follow the pattern of repentance as outlined in the Book of Mormon.

General Conference was a good experience for W+++. He and Danny Higgins, a returned missionary of a few months from Oregon, are becoming great friends. It brings a lot of joy to my heart to see this. In fact, W+++ attended each and every session. I am amazed!

Ever since Saturday morning, I was greatly anticipating the time to hear from Jeffrey R. Holland. Glorious after glorious talk came and went, but no Elder Holland. Of course my excitement could not be contained. Danny leaned over to me at the time the concluding speaker of General Conference was to be announced, "Do you think Elder Holland is going to be the concluding speaker?" in an attempt to make fun. I smiled and said with conviction, "I KNOW Holland is going to be the concluding speaker!" To those of you familiar with my admiration for Jeffrey R. Holland, you can imagine how I jumped for joy at the announcement of his remarks. My penmanship at the time I was taking notes faltered because I was shaking with excitement! His message of hope brought such peace to my soul, and rest from my worry. I sure pray everyone has an opportunity to either hear or read his words from this time. They are profoundly inspiring.