Monday, April 28, 2014

First week with Elder Palmer and Todd and Shea Hill sealed in the Temple

This has been an awesome Week 1.
It's been so much fun being with Elder Palmer these past couple of days, and I'm really impressed by him. He's constantly looking for ways to improve and be a better missionary, and he's incredibly humble about the things he does well. Right before his first lesson this week, he was so nervous about what he's going to say or if the family will be able to feel the spirit. He was great and did just fine; I wish I had been teaching like that my first week. We get along really well, too, and have been having a good time together as we've been working in the Valley Vista ward.
Being on bike makes for such a rewarding night. I've honestly never gone to bed so fast in my entire life. We've been working nonstop the entire week, getting out and making contact with the people that past missionaries were working with as well as the majority of the member base. It's not too often that an area gets double-transferred, and so we have to put in a little more effort the first couple of weeks to ensure everything is how it's supposed to be. The ward is fantastic; the members are so nice and accommodating as well as pretty diverse. We have a couple of very new neighborhoods in which there are a lot of younger families and then we have a lot of custom lots with families who were out here before the highway was built. The ward has been very good to us this week as we've been trying to find out what exactly is going on.
About a year and a week ago, Shea Hill was baptized out in Tule Springs. This past Saturday, I was able to go to the Las Vegas temple and witness her and her husband, Todd, receive their endowments and be sealed together as a family - forever. It was absolutely incredible. The sealing ordinance was so beautiful and simply done; when they brought in their children, I lost it. It reminded me so much of my own sealing to my parents, and I was filled with the Spirit as I witnessed another family participate in an ordinance that means everything to them. I love those guys so much, and it was so good to see them dressed in white together at the temple. 2014 has been a good year.
Anyways, having fun and working hard! Love you guys so much and I'll talk to you next week!
Elder Palmer and Elder Dowdle

Monday, April 21, 2014

I get to train for my final 12 weeks!!!!

So.....I'm training!

I got the call from President Ahlander on Tuesday, and it threw Tunney and I for a loop. We had just had interviews a couple of weeks before, and Pres had said that I'd most likely be traveling for the rest of my mission. Definite curveball - we weren't expecting that at all. There are only two missionaries coming out this transfer: a spanish sister, and an elder, and so I'm to train this lone elder for the rest of my mission and I couldn't be more excited. I've always wanted to finish my mission training but it got to the point where I didn't think it could (or would) happen. Another curveball? I'm on bike for the first time! I'll be serving in the Valley Vista ward in the Lone Mountain stake and we'll be double-transferred in, so it'll be a fresh start with a new missionary and I'm so pumped to work harder than ever these last two transfers.

Since we live with the AP's, they gave me a little bit of information about my new companion and it got me really excited: his name is Elder Palmer and he's from Raymond, Alberta! It's about 45 minutes away from Cardston which is pretty cool. I'm so excited and it's about time I serve with a Canadian!

I've been thinking all week about how nice it's going to be to get back in the trenches. I don't have to worry about meetings, about trainings; no more spotlight, no public perception. For these last twelve weeks, I'm off the grid, and the only things I need to worry about are the work in the Valley Vista ward and the development of a new missionary. It'll be a trip to go back to it all after almost a year of some sort of leadership, but it's something I've wanted for a long time now. It's something I didn't think I'd get and an opportunity that 26 or so other missionaries that go home with me don't have. I have to make the most of it, and I will.

Elder Birch (probably the best in the mission) will be taking my spot, and that's an honor. The traveling elders will continue to travel and with Elder Birch in the mix now, it'll just keep getting better and better. It's been a crazy six months or so, but I couldn't have created a more picture-perfect ending scenario for my mission.

Here's to the next (and the last) twelve weeks.

I love you!


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

All over Southern Nevada

Hey y'all - 

Another super fun week with a lot of driving and traveling - we were just about everywhere in southern Nevada. We spent a couple of hours in Alamo, Nevada, spent a day in Mesquite, then got to spend days in Tule Springs and Bonanza zone. We went from the middle of nowhere to the letter streets in downtown Vegas, so it was a super eventful and varied week.

Monday night we left for Mesquite and spent the night with Elder Herlin and his companion, Elder Frost (they're the Zone Leaders out there). It was good to see Herlin again; we sat in on their Zone Training Meeting and then followed the Panaca and Alamo elders back to their respective towns. The fastest way to Panaca from Mesquite is through St. George, Utah, so we stopped for lunch there and made our way to Panaca through some small towns like Enterprise, Utah. I loved the drive - it reminded me of the yearly Dowdle road trip up to Utah and the surrounding states. We made our way back late that night and spent the next day in Mesquite. It was so much fun - I was with a spanish-speaking companionship, Elder Scola and his trainee, Elder Fotheringham. Sitting in on lessons in a different language was a trip, but it was a sweet experience to watch these two teach and contact people. 

After a planning day down in Vegas, I was up in Tule again on bike with a companionship, and let me tell you - I love being on a bike. You feel somewhat ridiculous, and so it's much easier talking to people on the street; you already feel silly, so why not talk to them? These two elders in particular didn't really need me at all - they were teaching really well and leaving effective commitments. I love to see that. The next day was in Bonanza zone and holy cow...that was the most people I've ever talked to in a single day. We were on bike and probably spent an hour talking to people for every 5 or 6 houses we passed...we weren't moving very quickly. The first person we talked to was Rudy, and he set up an appointment with us later that night. Long story short, we went back, he was there, we taught him, and he's set for baptism on the 17th of May. Amazing day - I'd love to serve in that area (J street and Washington). 

Last night was the missions first musical fireside, and it was so much fun - such a hit, we're going to start doing it on a monthly basis. 330+ people showed up, and so it's only going to get bigger as we keep doing it.

The best part of the week? Charisa McNary was baptized this Friday night! It was so awesome and such a spiritual night - she's been learning and attending church for a while now, and so she was excited to finally be able to make that special covenant, that special promise, with God. I love her and Duane, her husband, and I'm so excited to see what the rest of their life is going to be like now. 

Great week, great people. I'm in love with what I'm doing. Thanks for everything and I love you!


Monday, April 7, 2014

What a great Conference weekend!!!!

Hey - super good conference, huh?

I was looking forward to it all week and now it's gone! So many great messages, though - I had some questions and thoughts going into conference this year (like they tell us to do; this is my first time actually doing it) and they were answered and addressed pretty quickly in the first couple of sessions. About three speakers in, I had the realization that what I'm hearing is pure, unadulterated doctrine. The Spirit was bearing witness so strongly of all of the truth I was hearing that I began to panic, wondering if I was picking up on all of the truth that I need to. I had to calm myself down a little bit and remind myself that I'll be able to read the talks in a few days time - I don't have to grab everything first listen. 

For those not familiar with the structure of our church, it's identical to that found in the primitive church established by Christ himself. Jesus Christ called 12 apostles to lead and direct the church, giving them power and authority to preach and to act in the name of God; this was done to ensure order and provide saving ordinances, such as baptism. After the crucifixion of Christ, the church was left in the hands of the apostles, who were persecuted and eventually killed/died. 

Because we claim to be the very same church Christ established in the meridian of time, we have the same structure He had organized - apostles and prophets. These modern-day apostles and prophets have the same power and authority and the same job description as their ancient predecessors, Peter, James, John, etc. That job description is to preach the gospel and to call the world to repentance. The apostles of today did just that this past weekend. 

Elder Holland called the world to repent of it's tendency to "create God in the image of man"; Elder Anderson called the world to repent, claiming that changes in civil law do not change the moral laws of God; Elder Hales called the world to repent of "selective obedience", picking and choosing which commandments are convenient. They couldn't have been more clear. Calling the world to repentance is just half of the job, though. We also heard peaceful and reassuring doctrine: Sister Reeves reminded us how merciful the Savior is; President Uchtdorf promised us happiness if we show more gratitude; President Monson testified of God's reality and personal love for us all. 

How grateful am I for the words and warnings of modern-day prophets and apostles. Those who lived during Ezekiel's day didn't have the book of Ezekiel; they had Ezekiel, the man. The children of Israel didn't get to study from the book of Genesis because they had Moses in person to tell them information pertinent to them in their specific time and circumstance. I'm forever grateful for a God who loves me enough to give me a prophet for my specific time and circumstance. If I listen to their counsel, I'll be just fine.

Love you and hope you had a good week!