Tuesday, May 28, 2013

[5/28/2013] Week 11: Kathy's Cake

Sorry, I didn't email yesterday. Library was closed for Memorial Day!

This week, we were handed off an investigator from Seattle Hills,
named Conrad. He and his new wife just moved into our ward boundaries.
He is such an awesome guy! We have had one lesson with him and his
wife so far, but already he has a testimony of the Book of Mormon and
knows he wants to be baptized. He recognizes firmly and clearly that
truthfulness contained in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and taught by our
church. He has discovered the power of seeking truth for himself and
knows he has found it. Clearly, Elders Valora and Brockbank have done
a great job with him thus far.

As I have been leading out in our work, I have continued to feel more
fulfilled with each day. We went and visited several complete
strangers from the area book, and found them all home when we stopped
by. Each visit has been endearing and promising. One lady we met was a
Messianic Jew! We will be visiting her again in a few weeks, for she
is busy this week.

I have had plenty of time to sit and talk with the Zone Leaders about
all that I have expressed to you, concerning [the work]. Elder
Marsden related to me the idea of having a "follow-up trainer" to help
me grow in the areas where Elder Deakin is not as strong. I think it
is a great idea. I look forward to having the opportunity to really
learn how to hit Shoultes hard. Of course, my next companion is up to
the Lord, and I am grateful for the immense effort President Wilson
makes in seeking divine revelation to most efficiently move the work
forward in the way the Lord would have it done.

Sister McBride and I are keeping in touch, and she seems to be doing
very well in the MTC. I try to send her letters of encouragement,
infused with advice to keep her going. She's only got a few days left
before she's off to Arkansas!

Super funny story of the week:

Today is actually Kathy's birthday, but we celebrated it last night
(she is a member, who is struggling with smoking, and whom we visit
regularly). Shortly before we were to leave for her house, she texted
us saying never mind, we would do it tomorrow (today) because nobody
made her a cake!! Well, we said, "Not on our watch!" (Literally; we
have too much going on this evening) So we hurried out and bought her
a chocolate half-sheet from Safeway and were on our way to save the
[birth]day! We arrived, lit all twenty candles -- signifying
[somewhere around] twenty great years -- and carried the cake out to
where Kathy was sitting. Elder Deakin realized, however, halfway to
the couch that he was holding the cake upside-down. He decided to
rotate it in his hands so that the "Happy Birthday Kathy" would be
readable to her upon presentation. In a flash, the cake was sliding
off of its near-frictionless plastic tray and plummeting down and
towards the wall. Not only this, but at the exact opportune moment, a
small grandchild was darting past Elder Deakin and, thus, beneath the
over-sized pastry sailing through the air, candles ablaze. Screams of
panic, disappointment, and twenty-dollars-down-the-drain rent the air.
In yet another flash, when all was surely lost, Elder Deakin swooped
down and corrected the cake before witnessing its utter destruction.
He brought it up completely unscathed.

 Elder Deakin's thoughtful comment on the fiasco: "Now we know that
there are surely angels round about me to bear up this cake."

I love you all! Keep being awesome!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

[5/20/2013] Week 10: Taking the Lead

In an interview with President Wilson, he told me that since Elder Deakin is leaving soon
(and is also trunky), I need to basically be the senior companion from now on. I have been
leading out more in our work and we have seen some success. I find it is more fulfilling
to fill our time with productive activities, always thinking about how we as a
companionship can move the Lord's work forward. I will need to continue developing
leadership skills so I can help direct the work in Shoultes with my next companion. It is
not always easy to try and motivate Elder Deakin to go out and do things.

I came across several names of former investigators in the Area Book that I felt impressed
to go visit. One, whose convert son is on a mission, wanted nothing to do with us! Another
was excited to see us, but expressed the same concerns as were listed under her "reasons
for being dropped" on the teaching record. She wants her son to learn about the Bible
first before we even start to teach from the Book of Mormon. Elder Deakin is concerned it
would be  a waste of time to start with the Bible and then branch into the Book of Mormon,
because if she's not willing to read it now, she may never be. Although it is slightly
discouraging, I feel I simply need to seek the Lord's counsel as far as how to address her
concerns and help her move forward.

A family in our ward is currently housing a foreign exchange student from Germany, named
Jan, and invited us for dinner last night. We brought him a German copy of the Book of
Mormon and the Restoration DVD. When presented with these items, we could tell he was
touched! He even apologized for not having brought "gifts" to give to us! We offered him a
short and simple explanation of the Book of Mormon and taught him how to pray. He will be
returning to Germany soon, so we are praying that his heart will be open to the message

Mom, I called the bishop of the Atherton Ward in California on Saturday evening, and
talked to him about Grandma. I had forgotten to do it all week until then. Turns out, the
elders were already at his house right then! So he handed the phone over, and I talked to
Elder Mann (I think was his name) and gave him the details. He will keep me updated via
email. I had a thought, though. Isn't Grandma's neighborhood super locked down as far as
security, thus rendering it impossible for missionaries to enter and proselyte? Maybe
having her phone number would help or something.

In my personal study, I came across D&C 4 and comprehended it in a different light. Every
word of that Section applies so closely to what I am doing with my life right now. At the
end of the section is a list of qualities and Christlike attributes that I will surely be
working to develop for my whole mission. I have already made a list of things I need to do
to be a better servant in this marvelous work. Brotherly kindness is one that I will
especially work to improve.

In leading out over the past several days, I have discovered that there is so much to be
done from the Area Book, and it is important to keep that valuable tool in ship-shape so
that it can continue to be effective for future missionaries. I will continue to search it
diligently, seeking inspiration as to who the Lord needs us to work with next.

I love you all!

Elder Martin

[5/13/2013] Week 9: Fired up on the Spirit!

Martin Fambly,

This week, I had the opportunity to attend the Marysville Zone meeting and receive inspired instruction from the ZL's, Elders Marsden and Annand. I once again emerged fired up and ready to go find 10 prepared investigators. I also had the opportunity to meet with those elders when they came and joined Elder Zollinger and I for companion study this past week. They helped edify my gospel knowledge as well as my desire to work. I confided in them some of my reservations about the work Elder Deakin and I have been doing, and they gave me a lot of valuable counsel and encouragement. I am very grateful for their inspired leadership and direction.

Since Elder Aidukaitis visited the mission, I have committed to go to extra lengths to
fulfill my purpose, and while it has been difficult in some areas, I am finding myself
being slowly elevated to the higher plane of missionary work I long to reside on. I know
that the Lord can help me get there as long as I put in my share of the hard work.

We visited with Bodee Davis, a 9-year-old unbaptized child of record, this week for his
third lesson. He is making great progress and is clearly very excited to become a member
of the Lord's restored Church. He enjoys learning about restored truths, especially in the
company of his two brothers and loving parents. We learned that his dad, who is returning
to activity, has decided he wants to baptize Bodee, so hopefully he and the bishop will
feel he is ready very soon. Bodee loves having us over and pretty much adores Elder Deakin
and I. When he found out we were leaving to another appointment, he exclaimed, "How dare
you! You're not supposed to be teaching other people!" What a cute kid.

My study time has become very valuable to me. I know the Book of Mormon has a profound
effect on the proceedings of my day and the attitude with which I face challenges. Preach
My Gospel has reminded me why it is important to always rely on the Spirit and to always
stay committed to fulfilling my purpose as a missionary.

I know that I can always be better, and I am striving daily to find out how it is the Lord wants me to take the next step towards fulfilling my purpose.

It was so warming to hear from everyone back home. I'm glad to hear that everyone is doing so well and that Seth is recovering. He's fast on his way to becoming a big boy. ;D I was sad to miss Brandon's call. Tell me how he's doing!

Mom, I'm working on Grandma and I'll give you and update ASAP.

Elder Martin

[5/6/2013] Week 8: Challenge vs Chill

It has been an uplifting and edifying week for me. I had the opportunity to hear from
Elder Aidukaitis in the MTC, and he was just as captivating and didactic this week at our
mission conference as he was a few months ago. I am grateful to have someone as fired up
and brilliant as him to help direct the work. One of the most profound things he said to
us was simply: "Do not be a tourist in the mission." I have expressed to y'all before that
I do not want to go home having felt like I could have done more, and Elder Aidukaitis'
words reinforced that feeling. I know that I can definitely do better about literally
filling my planner every day. It will be difficult to do, I think, with Elder Deakin, but
if I tell Elder Deakin exactly how I feel, I think he will understand my desire to really
give it my all. I have slowly been doing better about being courageous enough to make
suggestions as far as going out and doing more during our days, persuading him to keep
working hard in the fourthwatch of his mission.

Last night, we had a spectacular experience. We attended what is called a "cottage
meeting" at the mission home, where missionaries bring investigators and/or recent
converts (we brought Jordan, and would have brought Ellen, but she hasn't been attending
church! ): ) to listen to other recent converts tell their stories and bear their
testimonies. There was a politician from the Congo who only spoke French (we heard his
whole story through an interpreter) and had to flee to the US as his life was in danger.
He was touched by the effort members of the Church made to communicate with him. He could
not get people to listen to him for longer than two or three minutes at a nearby Baptist
church. But a French-speaking RM was found and he was taught the Gospel through him. He
recounted coming across Amos 3:7 in Africa and feeling determined to find a church with
living prophet.

I must admit I feel a little selfish in that surely the event was more for me than anyone
else present! It was so inspiring to meet those people and hear their incredible stories
and feel the Spirit testify of the truthfulness and validity of this great work. I walked
out of the mission home feeling so fired up and ready to go out and find people just like
the ones we met last night, with their own unique stories, concerns, and challenges and
help them experience the joy of coming unto Christ.

On Saturday, after the long, draining mission conference, we arrived home at about 6:45pm
and ate dinner. Afterwards, I could tell Elder Deakin was tempted to stay home and take it
easy - and I was too - , but I didn't feel right about doing nothing for almost two hours.
I suggested we go out and visit a few potential investigators and a less-active family,
and he agreed. One of the potentials was a missionary contact that we hadn't yet been able
to get a hold of, but she ended up being home when we went by! The other was a similar
case, and we were able to set up a lesson for Tuesday. Had we taken the easy route, we
would not have made that progress.

I know that at this point, the work in the Shoultes Ward seems to be going at the rate of "onesies or twosies" (a quote from Elder Aidukaitis), and other missionaries have heretofore convinced me that this is normal, acceptable, or ordinary. But after listening to Elder Aidukaitis and attending the cottage meeting, I am inspired to be an extraordinary tool in the Lord's hand, because He has extraordinary work to do. It will not be easy, and I will have to strive to rely wholly on the Lord, but I know it can be done.

I love you all! As Jordan would say, "Hold on to the Word. Just keep it with you and let
it be inside you." Ahh, I love that guy. He's so chill.


Elder Martin

[4/29/2013] Week 7: New Members, Old Members--Small World.

Howdy-durdy, erryone!

This weekend, we conducted a fantastic baptism. The whole time, Jordan continually
described a feeling of lightness, joy, and freshness. After his confirmation at church, he
immediately stood up and thanked everyone in the congregation for supporting him, saying
he didn't know how to express what he felt. Then the bishop got up and said into the
microphone with a sly face, "Don't worry, Jordan. We can get you an opportunity to express
your feelings to all of us very soon!" Everyone in the chapel laughed, but Jordan didn't
quite get it. :p

The next step for him is to receive the priesthood. I can't wait! He knows the awesome
power of the priesthood and the blessings it brings into the home. We gave him another
blessing on Thursday because he had been suffering from severe abdominal pain all day and
seconds after I closed the sealing, he described his stomach beginning to loosen. How
awesome is that??

On Thursday, we visited with a less active member whose son was excommunicated. Usually,
he scurries into the back of the house upon our arrival, but this time, he joined us in
the living room and asked tons of questions about the Church and the gospel. Elder
Zollinger (the DL) and I had a wonderful time answering his questions about the
priesthood, the Atonement, and about the Restoration. I found it so interesting that I was
able to settle a lot of his concerns based on what I had studied just that morning!

We have had some trouble getting a hold of our newest potential investigator, Ellen,
because of her recurring health issues. But she did attend Jordan's baptism and just
basked in the Spirit. We hope to have a wonderful first lesson with her on Wednesday. She
seems to be immensely prepared by the Lord.

We also have another potential that the Spanish Elders tracted into, named Pam. She is a
Baptist mother of 4 or 5 who seems genuinely interested in hearing more about what we
believe. Hopefully we can set something up with her in the next few days.

I'm sorry to hear about Aislynn, although I must commend her for keeping the child. It's
never too late to develop a relationship with the Lord. Doing that will help her immensely
through what must be a very tough time.

I can't believe Seth is about to start driving! That's insane! Tell him he needs to write
me back!! I sent him a letter a few weeks ago. I wanna hear all about Amanda and prom and

Mom, in the middle of my personal prayer last night, I was struck with a very strong
impression that I should encourage you and Dad to pay tithing in full faithfulness. I know
things are really tight for us right now, but that just means we can't afford not to pay
tithing! I know it's hard, but the Lord will bless us immensely. Just trust in the Lord
and He will be happy to bless you. He is practically on the edge of His seat, with His
hand on the big, red lever waiting to pour blessings upon your head! :p Remember, Just Do

I really appreciate all the encouragement and support I'm receiving from everyone,
especially about Elder Deakin. He's a great guy and I don't want him to feel like his last
few months were a waste. Y'all are wonderful!

Oh! Crazy thing! Two weeks ago, we had dinner at the Vezzani's home. They are young couple
with two kids and another on the way. They have a live-in roommate, named Delilah, who is
in her twenties and used to live in San Antonio. Turns out, she is very good friends with
James Thornock! They used to hang out and stuff! Isn't that crazy? Small world!

I love you all! Y'all da bomb!

Elder Martin

[4/22/2013] Week 6: Fresh Courage Take

It's incredible to me that I have already completed my first transfer.
The time truly flies.

As I mentioned previously, our investigator, Jordan Edwards is on date
for this Saturday. We confirmed with him that he still is planning on
being baptized. I am so excited!

We also met yesterday with a new potential investigator, the fiancee
of a recent convert. Her name is Ellen, and she already knows a lot
about the Church as she has been taking lessons for a little over a
year. Even though she suffers from severe epilepsy, she bears brightly
the light of the gospel in her eyes and has expressed a strong desire
to be baptized. However, she and her fiance are living together and
plan to be married in the near future. I'm sure that will only prove
to be a small hurdle. We'll be seeing her again on Tuesday.

We visited a potential investigator's home, but they were away, so we
walked a few blocks down to visit a less active family, street
contacting on the way. Only about half of the less active family was
home, but it was an effective visit nonetheless. The father, who is
usually marginally participatory, was fully engaged, discussing
personal interests and sharing mission stories. The children who were
present sat down and participated in the lesson.

My personal study time is still on the rise. I find that when I
structure it and pray for the Spirit beforehand, I get a lot more
substance out of the time I spend, and usually, I find myself
referring to what I read throughout the day.

I have done a lot more to convince Elder Deakin to work hard. It's not
easy, but as I call upon the Lord for courage, I have seen that we are
spending more of our time being effective and productive. I am
grateful for this added strength. Sometimes I feel, however, as though
I have to be the one setting the example for obedience. Regardless, I
am grateful for the opportunity; I know that obedience has played a
huge role in Jordan's conversion.

We visited Farlan this week and let him know we're still thinking
about him. He expressed gratitude and welcomed us right in. He still
just wants to take a break for a little while. We plan on inviting him
to Jordan's baptism.

By the way, I'm totally becoming an awesome cook, Elder Deakin and I
cook fajitas, stir fry, and fettucine alfredo on a regular basis. I
even cook French toast this morning, no recipes or anything. I winged
it, and they were delicious!

I'm really glad to hear that Seth is receiving quality care and that
they're honing in on a solution. I still pray for him daily. That last
test sounds kind of fun. :p Let me know how it goes!

It seems as though I've been running into a lot about neuroscience
lately, with Seth's issues, another lady in our ward who has had a few
TIA's, with poor little Liam's trials, and with our new investigator
Ellen. I just want to help everyone! I think I'd definitely like to
study that when I get back.

I can't wait to hear more about Seth's truck!

This week, we did all kinds of biking all over the area. We found a
beautiful bike trail that leads all the way up this giant hill at a
gradual angle, so we traversed that in order to visit some less-active
members. After we were done working up on the hill, we came to the
main road that extends away from and down the hill. It's laid on a
three-tier stair-like hill and the descent runs for about a quarter
mile. We decided to just book it; what better way to get down? About
halfway through the first tier and at about 25 mph, we zoomed past a
giant spray-painted sign that read simply, "SPEED KILLS". Great!
Fortunately, we are both still alive, but what a thrill!

I love you all! Keep working hard to show your love for the Lord and
earn His blessings. I have seen how it works out here and know that
obedience and faithfulness will work for y'all too!

Elder Martin

Monday, May 20, 2013

[4/15/2013] Week 5: Rock Star Investigator

This week, it's an awesome story.

Jordan is such a rock star! This week, we challenged him to pray specifically about baptism. For a while, he has known that the Book of Mormon is true and he has known that he wants to be a part of this Church. But for some reason, he was apprehensive about baptism. He wanted to feel 100% like this was what he wanted to do. He really wanted to have the desire in him. So I asked if he had prayed about baptism specifically, and he said he had not. I challenged him to do so, and with much, much prayer on our part, amazing things happened! Ever since Jordan embarked on this journey he has had signs given him by the Lord. Small things will happen here and there that are really only significant to him. For instance, he has in the past traveled to the grocery store, not knowing why, and run into the missionaries there. Or he has had an interesting dream on the same night as his mom. Or he has gotten a fortune cookie with something relatable to our faith. These are all small things that are easy to call coincidence, but Jordan assigns significant meaning to each of these instances, and Heavenly Father knows that. He prayed about baptism and minutes after he finished his prayer, he was able to find his grandmother's Bible that was given to him a long time ago, but that he had misplaced. When he did find it, he received a text from us (we send him one every morning to remind him to read and pray about the Book of Mormon), and decided to read in the Bible. He flipped to the back, and there, scrawled on the inside cover, were eleven scriptures - all about baptism. He texted us right away telling us about this incredible experience. He was so excited that he had gotten such a sure answer! We had a powerful lesson with him on Friday about the gift of the Holy Ghost and set a date yesterday for April 27th. I'm so excited for him!

Unfortunately, Farlan sort of dropped us this week. We just hadn't seen him in a while, and he left us a voice-mail saying he wants to "back off for a while". He said it was because of his wife's recent death and his hectic schedule. It was a heart-breaker, but we're definitely not going to give up on him.

We had interviews with President Wilson on Wednesday, and I took the opportunity to tell him how I've been feeling like I'm not doing enough. He gave me some great ideas for improving my personal study time and for making better use of our proselyting time. So far, my personal study time has been vastly improved and I get a lot more out of it, and the proselyting is doing alright. We've been pretty busy seeing less actives and recent converts. Here's the thing: I haven't tracted once since I've been out here. It's said to be the least effective form of proselyting, but I just feel like we're not doing enough finding. We do find a good amount of our investigators through members, but I just donno.

I'm still feeling healthy, so that's good.

It's super awesome that you're going the gym regularly. It really is a good feeling. And on top of that, you're making friends! Keep it up! I do appreciate your letters and I don't typically have time to respond, but I like staying up to date that way.

I'm glad that they've found a lead on Seth. I'm still praying for him every night. I hope the sodium is all it takes.

I love you all! Stay yourselves on the the Rock of our Redeemer and you will never fail. I have learned this week absolutely, that I have to rely on the Lord to work miracles for our investigators. I can't do it. I can only pray earnestly and fervently on behalf of them, and He has to do the hard work. And every time I've prayed for Jordan, the Lord has delivered it's amazing to me! I'm still bewildered by the way this week has gone.


Elder Martin