Monday, July 14, 2014

I leave you with my testimony...

Well, it's here!

The week finished up quietly and so did I; I tried to leave the ward and the zone with as little fanfare as possible. Whenever I would stress or worry, I'd receive a gentle reminder from the Lord that the work is going to move along just fine without me. I let Palmer and Osburn take over on Sunday and it was as if I wasn't even there - they don't need me and I'm proud of them. While it all feels so natural, it feels alien as well - it feels like I'm just going to get transferred again. 

When you finish up a lesson, a conversation, or a commitment, you bear testimony to seal it. I'll close this blog with a testimony as well, to everyone who reads it:

Jesus Christ is the Son of God. It's only through Him that we can find happiness - real, lasting happiness. He came to Earth and was the perfect example - He showed us how to live, how to love, and how to interact with each other. He paid our debt, taking upon himself every sin as well as every pain and sickness that the children of men would ever experience. He died, and three days later He rose from the grave, defeating death and giving all men the privilege of living again. He lives today. He loves us all and knows us individually.

His church is found in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to the boy Joseph Smith and called him to be a prophet in the early 1800's, re-establishing the original church of Jesus Christ again upon the Earth. It's only within this church that the ordinances of salvation can be performed by men who have authority from God to do so. 

Because of these simple truths, I can live together with my family in Heaven forever. The knowledge of a loving God and a loving Savior has helped me understand my self-worth and why things are how they are.

I know this. God is our Father and He doesn't want us to be confused; I asked for guidance and understanding and He gave it to me. This is real, the only real thing in a world that worships fantasy. I would encourage all to ask God if these things are true. He'll show you, if you want to know.

What a ride. 
I love you, and I'll speak to you very, very soon.

Leaving Las Vegas...for a while...

Monday, July 7, 2014

Greg's Baptism and the 4th of July

I don't even know where to begin...
This has been an amazing week. We set a personal record for lessons taught in this area and we were able to teach a few new investigators who want to be baptized! Monday morning a member that we're close with texted us and wanted us to teach one of her friends in her home that night - that's a rare occurrence, so we were happy to oblige. We were able to have several lessons and answer many of her questions over the course of the week; this week she'll be bringing her whole family to the lessons so they can go through it all together. It's been great to see her "get it" and understand what baptism and the Lord's church can really do for her. This week I've been letting Elder Palmer take the lead in preparation for my leaving and he's been doing great; the lessons these week have been smooth and well-taught with him taking the reins.
The 4th was a lot of fun! We had to be with a member by 6:00pm and home by 9/9:30, so we went to a members home for a 4th of July party and watched the fireworks from their rooftop deck. The family (the Geists) invited the Moultons over as well, so it was fun to all be together the day before Greg's baptism. President Ahlander also let us watch some certain movies, such as "The Prince of Egypt", "The Best Two Years", "The RM", "17 Miracles", and get this: "How to Train Your Dragon" and "Frozen". We only had time for "The Prince of Egypt" and "The Best Two Years" though, but it still made for a great holiday.
Greg's baptism on Saturday was incredible. He was so prepared, it wasn't even funny - he's been waiting for this day for a couple of weeks, and his family has been waiting for a couple of years. It's been such an honor to be able to teach him and his family and to see the subtle transformation take place. His two older children that are out of state came into town for the baptism and came to church for the confirmation. His oldest son and his wife bore powerful testimony during the meeting and we watched from the back of the chapel as the ward swarmed them after the closing prayer. It felt so good to see the members wrap their arms around the Moultons and congratulate them. All day long I kept thinking about Dani's (Greg's wife) testimony and the way that she ended it, talking about how they're headed for the temple as a family and that she can't wait. The greatest joy I've ever felt comes from the knowledge that the families I've been blessed to work with will soon make covenants in the temple, sealing them together as a family for eternity. All I wanted to accomplish as a missionary is to provide for a family what missionaries provided for mine several years ago - I'm incredibly grateful that I've been able to see that come to pass.
I've been making a serious effort to ignore the clock, and I feel like it's been working. This doesn't feel like the last week. People keep saying it, I know that it is, but it sincerely feels like any other week. I don't know when it's planning on sinking in, but I'm not looking forward to it. I'll just keep working until they tell me it's time; I won't let up until then. I'll be able to email again next week, so this isn't the end - I love you so much and I'm excited to tell you these things in person.
Greg Moulton's baptism

Mission-mobil break-in. Nice...

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

"Trunky Papers" and some golf therapy!!

Hey guys!

During your last three weeks of your last transfer, the mission mails you your "trunky papers", an assortment of forms to fill out and send back for mission history. They're blank pages with titles at the top that say things like "My Goals", "Most Spiritual Experiences", "Major Things I've Learned", "My Testimony". I filled them out the best I could and sent them back, happy to get them off of my desk. They sat there for a couple of days, a constant reminder of my remaining time. It was nice to sit down and reflect on some important things for a little bit; I felt relatively selfish doing so, though. It's somewhat of a shame that we're to fill them out with a couple of weeks to go still, because there are still some experiences waiting that might affect what I wrote on those papers. Some of those experiences happened this week.

We taught more than normal this week, and I'm really grateful for that - after last week of practicing and meetings, it was nice to teach and get my hands a bit dirty. We were able to meet with some people we hadn't met with in a long time, maybe about six weeks time, due to either unavoidable circumstances (someone had a baby) or avoidable circumstances (motivation). Either way, some good lessons and good experiences; one of our investigators believes it all and is ready for baptism, but needs to get married first and we're unsure as to when they're going to do that. Another funny/odd experience: we set up a lesson with a less-active member the ward told us to visit, show up to his house and it's this forest enclosed by a huge wooden fence. We buzz the bell, he lets us in and we're in this beautiful wooded compound - turns out he's the caretaker for Paul Mitchell's Las Vegas house. It's hidden in our ward out in the desert a little bit, but it was neat - he took us on a tour. There are some celebrities that live in the custom homes in our ward: the pawn stars guy lives across from some members, Pauly D lives a block south of us...kind of weird. 

Anyways, Greg Moulton had his baptismal interview and did great! We met right before for a little review lesson and he pulls out all of the lesson pamphlets out of his pocket and goes, "I've been studying". He's so prepared it's not even funny; I'm so excited to see what he can do and who he's going to be able to help in his service in the church. That family is on fire and I'm doing my best to just stay out of their way as they keep heading for the temple. His baptism is the 5th at 5:00 and Tunney's giving the talk again; he's so stoked. I'm so grateful for this last area and the people I've met's been a curveball in my mission, but the best one, for sure.

Today ought to be fun - we'll be playing volleyball with Herlin's zone and then Palmer and I are golfing at a local (and cheap) par 3 course with Tunney and his companion. Golf therapy is much needed at this point.

Love you all so much!