Sunday, April 14, 2013

[4/8/2013] Week 4: Guided by the Spirit

General Conference was certainly a delight. I found myself more focused, attentive, and enlightened during this Conference than in any other I've ever watched. I am certain that is because of the change in my calling since the last session and because of my earnest prayers preceding the Conference asking Heavenly Father to help me learn. I do hope we see an influx of member support in missionary work following the words of our Prophet and Apostles.

Some things that stood out to me (forgive the rough nature of the quotes; they are from my notes):

When we obey His will and serve with love, the natural consequence is power from God
-Elder Richard G. Scott

We have unlimited divine potential.
-Elder M. Russell Ballard

Peace is an abiding deep happiness and spiritual contentment.
-Elder Quentin L. Cook

Marriage is the sacred channel through which souls enter mortality.
-Elder David A. Bednar

Accept the fact that darkness exists. Do not dwell there; dwell in the Light.
-Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf

God's commandments are not a buffet from which we can choose what to obey and what to toss aside.
-L. Whitney Clayton of the Seventy

Aside from Jesus Christ, imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with.
-Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

This week, we were still unable to meet with Farlan, but we plan on seeing him on Wednesday. We were able to squeeze in three separate lessons, however, with another investigator, Jordan. Following the third one, he asked us for a blessing as he has been suffering from severe neck and spine problems. We did so, and what a marvelous experience! I felt 100% guided by the Spirit and he could not refrain from literally trembling as I called down the powers of Heaven upon his head and the Holy Ghost worked in him. I am so grateful for the marvelous power of the Priesthood.

We visited a recent convert this week, whose live-in close friend is lukewarm about learning more about the Gospel. We tried setting up a lesson with him, but nothing has come of it so far. Most of our visits to less-active members of the Church were unsuccessful. We did visit a less-active family and shared with them a scripture in Alma 26, emphasizing the glory and power of God.

I can always be better. Especially following General Conference, I am excited to continue building my relationship with and increase my reliance on Jesus Christ to make up the difference for what I cannot do. I pray earnestly every night for improvement, even little by little. I am absolutely seeing it happen. I love seeing God's hand in my life and in this work.

I have not been able to rid my mind of a certain thought. When I first hit the field, Elder Deakin was telling me that the work had only very recently ramped up. Suddenly, there were all these investigators, all these referrals, all these people to see. Before that, the work was a little harder to come by. I can't stop thinking that the work picked up because of my obedience. I know that may sound a little vain or prideful, but I made it a point in the MTC to be obedient; no exceptions. I have continued that attitude into the field, and it seems as though the timing is just about right for my obedience to have had an effect on the mission field, even before I arrived here. Because of this, I am striving to be continually obedient, even when other missionaries are not. It's not easy, and I'm definitely not perfect, but the Lord is definitely blessing me.

The funny story of the week will be borrowed, because nothing funny really happened to me. :p I heard this story at dinner about a week ago.

An elder serving in Africa was given a pet monkey by a recent convert as an expression of gratitude. His companion (the storyteller's son or something) was not ok with keeping it around, but decided he wasn't going to take the agency of his companion away. Eventually the mission president found out, and said that the monkey had to go; it could not stay in their apartment. According to African custom, however, one cannot just throw the monkey out into the wild. The only acceptable way to get rid of the monkey was to eat it! So the two elders ate their monkey for dinner.

Typing it out, the story is pretty unbelievable, but the member who told it to us didn't seem to be making it up. Pretty funny, regardless!

I love you all! Seth, keep fighting for success. Your truck will be awesome, Prom will be awesome, your Eagle Project will be super awesome, because you are awesome! You can do hard things! Especially when you rely on the Lord.

Dad, we made fajitas this week. It was awesome! I felt so cool! :D

Also, funny you should attach those pictures! The ones of Bethsy and David were taken by me! They treated me to breakfast right before I entered the MTC.

I'll be sending some pictures too.

I love you all! Keep being awesome!


Elder Martin

Saturday, April 13, 2013

[4/1/2013] Week 3: Fantastic!


Thanks for the recipe, we'll get right on dem fajitas today! Mom, I
think we'll also be stopping by Best Buy, so I'll get something there.
I still have plenty of travel cash that I think I'll use. It's about
$160, so I'll use that as the limit.

The text was from our Relief Society President, Sister Jarvis, who had
us for dinner, not from our phone. So we're a
ll good! She has a son on
a mission and a daughter leaving soon, so she decided to send a fellow
missionary mom some love. :p Her husband is our Ward Mission Leader
and is so, so involved! I'm grateful to have such an awesome WML.

This week has been a fantastic one.

Though one of our more committed investigators, Farlan, had to cancel
his appointment, we were able to have several other great lessons. We
taught Jordan Edwards, a 23 year-old young man living with a member,
about the Gospel of Jesus Christ last week and intended to show him a
helpful video about the Restoration this week. We quickly discovered
that he had already seen it, so we decided to read a few chapters of
the Book of Mormon with him and break them down so he could understand
the doctrine and feel the Spirit. What a miracle we witnessed! He was
feasting upon the words of Christ, expressing how wonderful the Book
of Mormon was. At the end of the lesson, we asked him to pray, and he
offered a beautiful prayer, by the end of which he was fighting back
tears. I was so grateful to witness such spiritual momentum working
inside him.

We also started with a new investigator this week, Bodee Davis. His
family are all members, though less active, and he turns nine in a few
days, so we're trying to get him ready to be baptized. We decided to
teach him a shorter lesson on the Restoration and include an object
lesson using a Rubik's cube (mixed up was the religious scene Joseph
Smith knew, then solved was the restored Church, same as it was before
being jumbled) to help him understand. We committed the whole family
to read the Book of Mormon together on a regular basis.

On a related note, Elder Deakin taught me how to solve a Rubik's cube!
But he's way quicker. His record is 58 seconds!

We also visited with a less active member, Kathy, whose life has been
a circus lately (refer to news article from previous email), with
trials abounding left and right. We read with her in Mosiah 4 to help
her understand how to become more like Christ, to obtain a remission
of sins, and to show charity.

In our Fifth Sunday meeting yesterday, Bishop Russell invited us to
read this month's Ensign and pay particular attention to an article on
the enabling power of the Atonement. As I read through, I was
especially impacted by a quote from Elder Holland:

"[This] may be one of the Savior’s commandments that is, even in the
hearts of otherwise faithful Latter-day Saints, almost universally
disobeyed; and yet I wonder whether our resistance to this invitation
could be any more grievous to the Lord’s merciful heart.” Elder
Holland added, “I am convinced that none of us can appreciate how
deeply it wounds the loving heart of the Savior of the world when he
finds that his people do not feel confident in his care or secure in
his hands."

So often, I feel like I don't trust enough in the Lord to take care of
me, especially when things get hard. I try to brave trials, even the
smaller ones, by myself. I can definitely improve here. I will "sue
for loving favor" more often and more sincerely. I want to be filled
with the love and spirit of Christ as we so often read about in the
Book of Mormon.

I'm really happy to hear about Seth's improvement. I love how he's
asking Amanda to prom! He's such a stud! Seth, your older brother
approves! I think it's pretty awesome that Steve is being a good sport
about it, too. That's hilarious!

Mom, you're doing great! Keep up the Wellness Coaching. I'm glad you
were able to have the Lord confirm to you His will for you. Now all
you have to do is work hard, and He will make up the difference!

Dad, thank you so much for your spiritual insight. I keep forgetting
that spiritual progression is a process and that I need to be patient
with the Lord. He is obviously very patient with me!!

One of Elder Deakin's recent converts, Derek, is going to the temple
soon. So we have special permission to go with and join him when he
receives his endowment. So we get to go more than twice this year!
We're cheating the system! Yeah! He is also being sealed at a later
date to his wife, who was already a member. Whoop! That's one reason I
really want to get another camera soon! :p

On that subject, I might just send the broken one home, and you can
see if it's not too expensive to fix. If not, extra camera!

Funny story of the week:

We were asked to help the bishop feed his alpacas this week because he
was down in Seattle for bishop-y stuff. So we went over to his house
with another member, Brother Sopi, to get the job done. Before getting
out of the car, Brother Sopi warned us that one of the alpacas was a
spitter. When I was filling up their water bucket, the alpacas kept
their distance. But one of them was very friendly, and showed a
particular interest in humans. She approached me, Brother Sopi's
advice clicked in my mind, and I had the foresight to back away before
she could hit me with her salivary spray. Fortunately, it was a light
attack. I made a mental note as to which alpaca was the perpetrator.
Later Elder Deakin and I were filling up their trough with alpaca food
and petting the soft pelts of the furry beasts. Whilst doing so, I
noticed in the corner of my eye a culprit silently approaching Elder
Deakin's left side - I was on his right. She sniffed at him and then
me and then back at him. My neck rigid and face to the front, I
whispered out of the side of my mouth, "Elder Deakin, she's here..."
He responded, "Who?" and turned to look. The timing was impeccable.
The alpaca let loose a cone-shaped shower of spit, aimed directly at
Elder Deakin's face. He had no time to react, and so the poor soul
endured the attack. I guffawed wildly like a ticklish toddler. He
wiped his glasses in defeated silence.

I love you all! I hope this week is a wonderful one for you! Keep
working hard and relying on the Lord. Y'all rock!

Elder Martin

[3/25/2013] Week 2: The Work is Great!

Hey, Fam!

We're definitely still very busy. He [Elder Deakin] just likes to talk about home a lot. 

It snowed this week! Isn't that crazy? I was in the middle of personal study, and it just started coming down right outside the window. Haha, I just haven't seen snow in a while, so I was glued to the window watching the enormous Washington snowflakes come down, taking pictures and recording footage. 

Farlan came to church for the second time this past Sunday and stayed again for the full three hours. He's coming along nicely. He keeps telling us he "doesn't want to be another one of our failures", but he's our most committed investigator at the moment! I can tell he really feels the Spirit during our lessons and at church, but he's stuck on the notion that he's too late in his life to be making a change like this. He also has been really busy, so he hasn't had a whole lot of opportunity to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. But that's key! This week will be our third lesson, on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Hopefully we can help him commit to a baptismal date. We'll see what the Spirit says! He also showed us his mom's Chrysler Imperial after our last visit. Let me tell you, that is a pretty car! I took a few pictures. You'll be able to see that it's in great condition!

We also visited with another investigator, Jordan, who just turned 23. We taught him a lesson early in the week and then returned a few days later to read the Book of Mormon with him since he has trouble comprehending what he reads. We read three or four chapters of 1 Nephi and broke everything down for him. I could really tell he was feeling the Spirit and getting excited about the Book of Mormon. He works night shifts cleaning parking lots with a giant street sweeper, so sometimes he's hard to catch at home and awake, but he's definitely committed to progressing. 

I'm finding it so amazing how I have such love for these people that we're teaching. Everyone has a story, and with that story, come specific concerns, desires, and aspirations. The gospel can remedy any concern, fulfill any righteous desire, and realize any wholesome aspiration. It's like I can't get the fullness of the message to come out of my mouth fast enough! 

Funny story of the week:

Elder Deakin needed to renew his temple recommend and has been trying to get an interview for several months now, but President Wilson is very busy. He worked up the courage to call the mission president one evening to set something up. When he picked up the phone, President Wilson said he would be right over. At 9:30 that night! Elder Deakin and I were flipping out because the MISSION PRESIDENT was coming to OUR APARTMENT! Good thing we had inspections that morning, so we had recently deep, deep cleaned it. When he arrived, we were on our best behavior. We greeted him at the door and he proceeded to take off his shoes before entering. I hospitably uttered, "Oh, you don't need to take those off." He quickly responded, "Oh, but you're supposed to," pointing to a widely ignored sign on the wall RIGHT NEXT TO MY FACE that read, "Shoes off, please!" How embarrassing! Elder Deakin and I were both wearing our shoes at that moment! He then asked to use our restroom - which, fortunately, was absolutely spotless - before conducting the interview. I went quietly to our study area to write in my journal...

Seth: Keep up the good work, Seth! I want you to know that I am working out every morning! We've got two 30-lb dumbbells in the apartment, so I'm making do. :p What's the best exercise for my pecs? Hit me up, buddy!

Dad: I am trying really hard to lose myself in the work. I'm not sure how long it will take or what steps I need to take to make it happen, but I'm definitely praying for inspiration and for the softening of hearts every day. I know the Lord is the only one who can do it, and that I have to rely on Him and the Spirit to do all the hard work. I am also striving to make the Atonement a daily process, so that I can better align myself with His will.

I love you all! Keep sending me love! It's a bright spot in my week! Margo, I wrote you back today, so keep your eyes peeled!


Elder Martin