Sunday, November 30, 2014

[11/27/2014] Week 90: Irony


Man, it's crazy how fast time flies. I've been in the Silver Lake ward in Everett for five transfers now, which
Went bowling with the district
is abnormally long. And what's weird is that I've worked super hard the whole time I've been here, yet not a whole lot of people have progressed in their learning about the gospel. But this past week, we had a ton of success finding people and meeting with them to teach them more. It's been a blast. But it's just weird how it didn't really start happening until my very last week in the area. I think it was a humbling experience for me. We as humans can't really do anything for ourselves. In this kind of work, God is really the moving force behind everything. I definitely learned that. I just offer Him my best, and let Him do with it what He sees fit.

This week, we taught one young lady named Sarina. We got a member fellowshipper there and everything, and the lesson was awful. The room was loud, Sarina and the member did not click, our teaching was clunky and our questions were canned, and Sarina seemed less and less interested as the minutes rolled by. Then, at the end of the lesson, we invited her to pray. She did so, shyly. She buried her face in her arms on the desk, prayed silently, and said "Amen!" when she was done, almost playfully, as though she hadn't taken it seriously. Then she described her experience: "I got butterflys! I don't know why, but it just brings me to tears." Later, she texted us saying, "Thanks for meeting with me today. It was exactly what I needed." So that just goes to show that we are not the teachers; the Spirit of God is.

Makin' s'mores with Elder Foster after a long day at work!
[regarding long underwear] Pops, I don't really know. I have the waffle kind now, and they do well, but I'd be happy to try the synthetic. Whatever's cheap! And was that first line of your email a pun? If so, good one. If not, good one.

When you get a chance, go watch the "He is the Gift" video newly created by the Church. It's a good reminder of the true meaning of Christmas. Then post it to Facebook! And get ready to share with friends the pass-along cards that come with this month's Ensign. Member missionary work to the max!

Love y'all!

Elder Cole Martin

Monday, November 17, 2014

[11/17/2014] Week 89: My Testimony


Emailing didn't go as planned this week, so I'm short on time. But I think I'll just take a moment to bear my testimony of the restored gospel.

I know that there is a God. I know that He has a very particular and a very perfect nature. We as a people are made aware of His nature by virtue of a prophet -- a man called of God in modern times to describe the nature of God to others, to broadcast and testify of God's plan for the salvation of all men, and to invite others to experience the very real power of God in their lives, that they might gain for themselves a life changing conviction of what is real and true. Such conviction comes by exercising faith unto repentance. Repentance is the precious opportunity God gives us to change, to recognize our true nature and realize our true potential. If a person truly wishes to experience lasting change for the better, I encourage them to read the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. It is full of witnesses of God's power. It is full of true accounts of people whose lives have as well been changed by looking to the example of Jesus Christ and modeling decisions after it. I know I have been changed by the word of God. I almost didn't even notice it. Gradually, I have changed in my heart. I have changed in my thoughts and my desires. I have changed in where I place my love and my trust. If one were to sincerely study the message of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, they would see as I have seen that it is a masterful creation that could only have been created and orchestrated by the hand of God. The priesthood of God has been restored for the salvation of all men and women who choose to come unto Christ. God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent and yet He knows me. He is aware of me. He knows I chose to come here in spite of the mistakes He knew I would make. He blessed me with a Savior. It is a perfect plan. When I am not enough, I turn to Christ for repair. When I am alone, I turn to Christ for refuge. When I am wronged, I turn to Christ for recompense. When I forget who I am, I turn to Christ for remembrance. I have been blessed in my life to have been led to a knowledge of God's plan for me and of the reality of a Savior, and He invites all people to afford themselves the same opportunity to learn of Him, follow Him, and become like Him.

I love being a missionary, and I love to do God's work. I love to see the change that occurs in others and simultaneously witness a powerful change in myself. I'm grateful for this opportunity I've had.

Elder Foster and I set a goal last week to work with members more. This week, we've been spending the last [and darkest] hour of each proselyting day to sit down with members of the ward and help them establish a personal mission plan. So far, it's going pretty well. We're already seeing stake referrals flow in! And get this: some of them have come from members outside of our ward with whom we haven't set up mission plans. Blessings all around!

Well, all for now. Ta ta!

Elder Martin

Monday, November 10, 2014

[11/10/2014] Week 88: Humbled by God's Love

Hey, hey!

This week was awesome in that I learned a lot about the love of God and my love for Him. It was not awesome in that we didn't get to see a lot of our investigators or they otherwise dropped us. But that's the nature of the beast, I guess. We're just gonna keep our shoulders to the wheel!

On Tuesday, we had zone conference with the Lynnwood zone and we got to watch Meet the Mormons. If you haven't seen it yet, do everything within your power to go and do. Moreover, do everything within your power to get a nonmember friend to see it with you. It will shatter any false or "weirdy" misconceptions they have about the Church of Jesus Christ and its members. It will also help them feel the Spirit of God testify that what they are watching is true. It's great.

On Wednesday, I went on exchange in the Mill Creek ward with Elder Nelson, who just entered the mission field two months ago. We had a fantastic day and we saw so many miracles tracting and just had so much fun working hard together. On top of that, it was my first time back on a bike in a while, so that felt great. I missed my girl, Gwendolyn (that's what I named my mission bike). Then I crossed a busy street a little too soon/late and came pretty close to a Jeep, so I had to book it across and ended up popping my tire trying to hop a curb. I guess road bikes aren't built for that. Let me tell you, it was a huge blessing to work with a new missionary. I felt rejuvenated! He has so much faith and is so far along already in his growth as a missionary. He recognizes clearly the difference it makes to work hard and be obedient. If you remember my mention of a young married couple, Brady and Haley, Elder Nelson and I went back to teach them again and now they are investigating in the Mill Creek ward!

On Thursday, we attended the most powerful mission leader council of my mission. We discussed how to create a celestial, Zion-like culture in the Washington Everett Mission. There was a lot of great discussion and really open, sincere comments. It seems like sometimes we as missionaries focus on the wrong things, or we do the right things for the wrong reasons. We forget what it is we're really doing out here. This is the work of salvation! This is how Heavenly Father reaches out to his children and invites them to come back to Him through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We must never forget that this is His work. We determined that it has a lot to do with virtue and charity. It has to do with the true desires of your heart; the pure love of Christ and of Heavenly Father for His children -- including us, His servants; and aligning our will and our ways with His. If we can all purify ourselves and become like Christ, we will, by necessity, come together and be "one mind and one heart" -- the definition of Zion. Elder Foster and I had the privilege of giving a short spot of instruction on love during mission leader council (hence how I learned so much about love this week) and it ended up being really powerful for us. I can't believe sometimes how blessed I am and how much God loves me. Really, we are all so incredibly blessed to live at this time in this dispensation, and in fact, God loves all of His children uniquely and personally. It's up to each of His children to determine and seek out that relationship and learn to recognize His affection.

I'm grateful for the support I receive at home and abroad. You're all swell! Thank you for your sacrifice and I encourage you each to keep on truckin'!

Elder Martin

Monday, November 3, 2014

[11/03/2014] Week 87: Rocks and Rills and Socks for Christmas

Dear fambly,

Again, this week was a looker-upper. We found two new investigators, taught our first member-present lessons in quite a while, and were "this" close to having investigators at church.

We taught Abdul twice this week, and he kep
t all of his commitments perfectly. He understood clearly Alma chapters 40-42 and found that reading the Book of Mormon answered all of his questions that stemmed from reading the Plan of Salvation pamphlet. So when we came to teach him and follow up on his experience reading the Book of Mormon, he had no questions for us! We moved into teaching him the gospel of Jesus Christ, focusing on a standalone lesson on repentance. We employed the bold commitment found in Preach My Gospel, "Will you repent of your sins?" to which he joyfully responded that he would. He has a tender heart -- as it seems most African people do -- and was highly concerned with how to properly perform restitution for mistakes he made in Africa when he is now living in America. We taught him that we may not always be able to perfectly restore the damage we do, but that it's important to remember the last step of repentance listed in the pamphlet: "Acknowledge the Savior". We testified that though we cannot ever become clean and pure for ourselves, the Savior provided a way for us to bridge the gap between spiritual death and eternal life--a bridge that, when crossed, is not meant to be looked back upon. I love repentance. I love the opportunity to erase our mistakes through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and move onward and forward with happiness in our hearts, peace in our minds, and priceless experience in our remembrance.

Last night, Elder Foster and I contacted a potential investigator that the Thomas Lake elders initially found. His name is Canyon, and he's way interested in learning more, but I want to touch a little on what happened after we got back in the car. It ended up being that I said and taught a lot more during the contact, whereas Elder Foster said relatively little, which is uncharacteristic of our companionship. When we sat in the car, I asked whether there were any particular reason he hadn't talked as much, as I had tried to provide opportunities for him to transition in. When I asked this, I came off accusatory and condescending, though I didn't intend to. What followed was a heated argument about our companionship and whether we communicate effectively enough. Once we calmed down, we had a really, really effective companionship inventory-esque conversation about where the breach really seems to be in our communication. What we learned is that each of us admires the other more than he realized and is internally trying to "measure-up" to the other. We talked a lot about the strengths we see in each other and how, even though we're two very different people and think entirely differently, we can work together really well and complement each others' weaknesses.

I found out today that my trainer, Elder Deakin, is getting married in December. #mindblown

Christian, all of the elders emailing here with me enjoyed hearing about your encounter with the storm trooper. It's little moments like that that make a mission priceless.

Oh, Mom and Pops. I don't really need anything for Christmas. If anything, I'd really like your help getting some things home (like my mission bike, stuff I've acquired, etc.) when the time comes. I think a couple of pairs of gray and blue socks would be helpful just to make it through these last few months. But that's all. Otherwise, use the extra money on other people at home, or on other Elder Martins! On that note, I did get your Halloween package, as well as one from the Sanfords (they are awesome). Thanks so much for your love 'n' care!

I love y'all!

Elder Martin