Monday, April 24, 2017

Lawrence needs some Jesus

The Lawrence adventure deepens as we nearly come to the close of my first transfer here. Next week I will bring news of the changes the transfer brings. It will be likely I will stay in Lawrence. Elder Daly's head is on the chopping block for the changes, but anything can happen!

We've been working hard finding a lot of new people. Serving with YSA, I've since learned one cannot attend the YSA if they have children. I joke that learning an investigator has children is a wonderful conversation starter. Previously: "Oh you have kids? That's wonderful! Our Heavenly Father sent us to this world in families so we can safely and peaceably teach our children about Christ and His Gospel." Now it's: "Oh, you have children? *sarcastically* Great, just great! Say no more, we're out of here!" Don't tell our investigators that! Some might try to convince us they have children.

Elder Daly and I are walking through a dark path through a wooded park at night. There are some people behind us, so my diabolical mind begins to think it would be such a creative ice breaker to give these this couple a nice scare. Elder Daly is very disapproving about my suggestion, but I hide behind a bush nonetheless. When they got close enough, I let out a small "BOO!" as I make movement towards them. Scared those two to death! They enjoyed the unexpected adrenaline and talked with us as we walked with them. Their names are Jake and Abby. Those two were the last of the nine investigators we have begun to teach. The Lord works in mysterious ways, therefore I can consider my actions to be justified as I too work in strange methods. I have no regrets!

I would like to congratulate my brother Alekken. He has only a few more doctor trips until he can turn in his mission papers! To any and all of you, please mention his name in your prayers. It's a difficult thing to leave all of your life behind, serve God with all your heart, might, mind, and strength, leaving behind all other personal affairs. It wasn't easy for me, it wasn't easy for anyone I know, I dare say it wasn't easy for Alma the Younger who left his political success as chief judge to devote all his time and attention to serving the Lord. I venture also to say it wasn't easy for the apostles during and after Christ's ministry, nor easy for any one of our general authorities. To my dear friend Alekken and any future missionary, here's some things you ought to know:

Have faith - Trust that your Heavenly Father loves you, that He has given each of us His son. Faith is a principle of power. It leads to action and to repentance.

Be hopeful - Believe you will be blessed. Remember the Lord teaches "I the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say" (D&C 82:10). Have confidence, be optimistic. We are promised even if the gates of Hell gape open for our souls, it will be for our good.

Remember the two greatest commandments - Love the Lord, and love your neighbor. Remember without charity, we are nothing. Charity is a gift we must pray for as Moroni teaches us in the Book of Mormon.

Be worthy - A missionary must be clean and worthy to have the Spirit. You must always seek to have the Holy Ghost in your heart, and it will not be with you if you offend the Spirit. You must honor your priesthood because you will be given many, many opportunities to exercise it. In fact, going on a mission is a very important priesthood duty.

Value learning - It is important to learn on your mission. Learn more about the scriptures, learn how to teach, learn how to work with people. Be prepared to learn a lot! Remember the Spirit will come to your mind and your heart and will teach you often. 

Be humble - Remain as teachable as you can. Know that the Lord is in control, and that is the only way to serve in the Lord's way. This offers protection, peace, and the dwelling of the Spirit in the heart of any missionary.

Have patience - Don't be frustrated with yourself or with anyone else. Everyone is doing the best they can. Trials will come, because a mission isn't easy. Life isn't easy either, so this is great practice! All you will encounter will be struggling to overcome something. Including you!

Work hard - Life is short! And a mission is even shorter! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Give it everything you have! You will enjoy your mission so much more if you are diligent.

Obedience - Obey the commandments! This is a surefire way to receive a ton of blessings. Including special covenants you have made all your life with the Lord. Remember we are promised if we remember Him, keep His commandments, and take upon ourselves the name of Christ, we will always have His Spirit to be with us.

Well I'm done preaching. I'll step off my soap box now. But one last thing...

I know this church is true, I know the Savior lives! I know Joseph Smith truly is a prophet, the first of the last dispensation, to restore the gospel to the Earth never to be taken again. What a wonderful time to be alive!

It's 5:59 PM and Lawrence needs some Jesus! Love you all! I'm going to get to work.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Happy Easter!!

Happy Easter everyone! What a great time of year it is to celebrate our Savior, His work and His message! A story from two weeks ago: Elders Candland, Christensen, Daly and I are driving to the local Wal-Mart, listening to our shallow canon of missionary tunes. Two flirtatious young girls begin to horse around, waving at us from another vehicle and dropping cans of soda out of their car. I disapprovingly keep quiet as our driver, Elder Candland waves back. Big mistake. The girls begin to follow us! Our car full of elders makes it all the way to the Wal-Mart parking lot and the grocery store with giggling girls in tow. I ignore it, but my companions are no help. We do not see them in the store again, but as we return to the car, all of us find these things:

Thankfully we learn after inviting them to attend church (not my idea) the girls are sixteen years old. Learning this extinguished all hopes of my companions, whatever those hopes may have been. But hey! We have some Kool-Aid now.

After preparation day last week, we attend the YSA FHE. We learn it is to be a self-defense class. This is very exciting news to me! I learn some Krav Maga and Shodokan. David Mortensen, the man teaching Shodokan to us has studied this art all his life because his father is a sensei for Shodokan. There are a ton of similarities to Aikido, so David and I have a great time throwing each other around from various holds.

I'm uncertain still how Elder Candland managed to convince a certain member of his ward to gift him a sword, but it has happened. Of course I couldn't resist getting a couple of pictures with it.

If you look closely, you can almost see the expression of the small child in me that so wants to be just like Darth Maul. Though I am not smiling, be assured this is the face of happiness.

We had a really great lesson with TJ Tesdahl this week in an underground pizzeria, teaching him about the nature of the third member of the Godhead: the Holy Ghost. Elder Daly and I testified deeply of the wonderful blessings which come from the constant companionship of the Spirit: protection, comfort, direction and guidance, and warning. TJ has taken an interest in keeping himself from certain ensnaring darknesses that roam this Earth, though he is yet unwilling to break his habit of smoking tobacco and drinking coffee. However we are seeing progress with TJ even if it remains slow.

Lesson with Katie and Austin

It will be our second contact with Katie Bussmann as Elder Daly and I sit in our seats at the Signs of Life bookstore. We pleasantly greet her and she surprises us by saying we will be joined by a friend of hers, Austin Anderson. Austin arrives at the very same time our assistant ward mission leader, Kenneth Wilson. The lesson to follow is immense! Fantastic questions Austins asks bring so much happiness to my heart. "Where do we go when we die?" and, "How can we know the Book of Mormon is true?" Clearly we switch gears into the Plan of Salvation. Austin keeps drinking it in and asks an increasingly numerous plethora of genuine questions. Forty-five minutes later, Kenneth announces he has ten minutes to be in class and we look at the time. Not one of us could believe just how long we sat learning more about that Great Plan of Happiness and Deliverance from Death! We shared how the Gospel has blessed our lives so immensely and took leave of them.

In a dinner the next day with the Steimle (s-time-lee) family we discussed how the Spirit can and will teach us something new, beyond bringing a certain idea to remembrance if it is necessary. Our conversation ventured to the lesson with Austin and Katie. I had taught, but did not know previously, we will receive further instruction in the Spirit World concerning our salvation. We will not receive all instruction in this mortal life. My mind simply never ventured to this idea before, but it came upon my lips in the moment it was needed. Brother Steimle encouraged me to find doctrine concerning this truth. The very next day in Gospel Principles, I read this from Joseph Smith: "When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the gospel--you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil [died] before you will have learned them. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave."

Aha! The church is true guys.

Elder Daly and I had a really great Easter dinner. The senior couple in Lawrence invited us as well as the sisters and the 2nd ward elders, Simonton and Bird. I will provide pictures perhaps next week.

Lawrence Senior Couple

My many thanks for all your hard work in supporting me and loving me through prayer, thought, and emails. I dearly love each of you and this church so very much. Where, oh where, would we be without our families and the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ? Love you all.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Good-bye Great Bend... ...Hello Lawerence!!


So happy to be here. It is the bomb to be back in the city in a college town!! Ah I love it.
I'll tell you what though. It broke my heart to leave Great Bend. It's never become easier to leave an area in the whole three times I've done it. Here's a picture of us with Jamie Crone. He's our assistant ward mission leader.

Elder Goodman, Elder myself, Jamie Crone, Elder Boyer, Elder Porter

When we went to visit the new home of the family who is recovering from the fire, the Enfields, we ate dinner with them. We met Sister Enfield's mother who says, get this, that I remind her of Mushu from Mulan. Oh man, I burst into character and nobody could get me to shut up! It was a good time. "Of course! I'm travel size for your convenience. If I were my real size, your cow here would die of fright. Down Bessy!" The family told us a wonderful story. They were so sad to have all their pictures and geneology perish in the fire. However, for some reason unknown, pictures and photo albums were tucked away in the very back of the trunk of their car. Sister Enfield was sure she stashed the very same photos in a box in the basement. Her daughter was certain that photo album was on her bed during the blaze. The entire family testified to me the Lord had preserved their records in His infinite mercy. Angels retrieved those precious records. Amazing. Here's a picture!

And a picture to say goodbye to the Montgomery family, and a shoutout for being so good to us. 

Anyway, Lawrence. It's a college town, it's a decently large city. Tons of college students. My companion is Elder Mason Daly from Las Vegas, Nevada. We serve the Young Single Adult ward. It is such a different experience. For example, we know the members by their first names. You'll get a weird look if you call someone 'Brother Nelson' and not by their first name, 'Cody'. There are no families, no children. But everyone is so relatable because they're my age.

Last week we cleaned a ton because of the large mess left behind from a home bound missionary, Elder Tonga. You might see him on TV if you are a BYU football fan. Forgive me if I want the apartment clean before I start taking pictures of the place. I guess I'm more like my mom than I realize.

Elder Daly, myself, Troy, and Jonathon 

Being in Lawrence is especially neat when you are serving among friends! 

Sister McArthur, Sister Gillespie, Elder Christiansen, Elder Candland, yours truly, and Elder Daly. 

I've served with Sister McArthur and Elders Daly and Candland in my six-month Wichita service. Elder Christiansen is a former companion from Great Bend! Sister Gillespie and I were in the MTC at the same time. We met at the airport. No strangers in my close group of friends! Love it.

In most excellent news, I've another Nathan Drake moment to report. Some collateral damage from a home-bound missionary can sometimes include missing keys. Keys to the apartment, the church, the mail. One day we come to the apartment to find it locked. Elder Daly and I quickly conclude we are locked out. However we do know the door to the second story balcony is unlocked. I take a peak at the balcony and find there is no way to climb it. I explore my options and decide to find a large dumpster to climb. At the heart of our rather large apartment complex, we find what we are looking for. Elder Daly and I begin to wheel it to our building. A black man rolls up on his car, "Yo! What are you two doin'?" Elder Daly explains the situation. I pipe up, "You want to help?" The man responds quickly. "Well, sure man. Let's do this." We roll the behemoth   below our balcony and I teach this man we now know as Don to give me a proper boost as we are both standing atop the dumpster. Our efforts were most successful! We broke into the apartment and gained a new friend! Apparently Don lives in our same complex room number C4. I have dubbed the man 'Don the bomb' for obvious reasons. Here is a picture of the balcony we scaled together.

I came to terms with sending a few pictures of our messy apartment. It's a work in progress so expect some improvement.

I love Lawrence, I love Kansas! I love being a missionary, and I love this gospel! I love the Lord and I love each one of you! Thanks for cheering for me. You're the best!