Monday, November 25, 2013
We got a few inches of snow here in Casper and for a few days the highs were barely in the 20s. That really isn't that cold for this area, but considering it's still November...yeah.
I have so many pictures to share, but for this week, here's a picture of my neighborhood under a sunrise that we enjoyed while jogging. It is so hard to breath at this altitude..seriously, I'm from Seattle, so that will take a while to get used to. Anyway, I live up that little road at the right of the panorama.
Honestly, we have a beautiful sunset and sunrise almost every morning and evening. It is so awesome. Oh wait, I have to share another picture. We had such a cool experience. A family in the ward (What's a ward?! I explained it last week.) owns 70,000 acres about 1 1/2 hours from town, and they invited us for dinner. The drive out there was so beautiful...almost as beautiful as Washington. Really. Another family made the sacrifice of driving two cars out there to get us all there, which was so kind. Check out the ranch.....and I would love to send pictures of the drive, but I can't choose one.
We drove on state highways until we turned onto a county dirt road, which took us twelve miles back to the ranch. This family is an inspiration. They drive the distance to go to church every Sunday and they even bring their kids to youth activities throughout the week. That is dedication.
The work here has still been mostly looking for people who will allow us to teach them about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but I did finally get to teach my first lesson to someone who is not a member of the church. He has very strong Christian views, and is also a scientist, so it's really cool to hear him talk. We can tell he has a strong relationship with Heavenly Father, which is awesome. Basically we are just trying to discuss the importance of the church. When Jesus Christ was here on Earth, He organized His church and gave the Apostles the authority to act in God's name for the benefit of the people, which authority is the Priesthood (see Ephesians 4:4, 11-14 and Hebrews 5:4). He does not believe that Jesus Christ has one church that possesses that authority. I agree that most, if not all Christian churches are great. They bring people closer to Christ and teach people how to follow Him, which leads to happier lives. However, the Priesthood authority is necessary to perform ordinances like baptism that allow us to be cleansed of our sins so that we can live in the Kingdom of God (see John 3:5). It is definitely through Christ's sacrifice that we are saved, but we must do our part by acting on faith to live His Gospel (See James 2:17-26 and Romans 6). I know that our works do not save us. The purpose of our works is to unlock the power of Christ's Atonement so that He may allow us to be saved in the Kingdom of Heaven, when we stand to be judged (see Revelation 20:12-13). The mercy and grace of God will have no effect on us unless we accept Jesus Christ not only in our beliefes and with our words, but with our whole lives (see Matthew 10:38-39). I invite everyone to follow Jesus Christ with all of your hearts. I am trying my best to do so, and I have hope because of that. I know that Jesus Christ came to Earth, was baptized, organized His church, performed miracles, then gave His life and suffered so that we may be saved. I cannot even begin to fathom the weight of this action, but I do know that it happened, and that His Gospel is the way to be able to live with the Father (John 14).
If there are any questions, if anyone disagrees with anything I've said, or if you just want to contact me, write me a letter:
Elder William Roger Dudley
South Dakota Rapid City Mission
2525 W Main Ste 311
Rapid City, SD 57702
that is not my address, but they will forward the mail to me.
Pictures are welcome in the mail, too. I miss everyone's faces :)
Monday, November 18, 2013
I testify to all that the Gospel of Christ as taught by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true Gospel on the Earth today. It possesses the same authority that was given by Jesus Christ to his Apostles when He was on the Earth. He reestablished His church and authority through Joseph Smith in the early 1800s. If you don't know about it, you should. Meet with the missionaries to learn about it. Don't take my word or theirs, though. You can know it is true, through prayer, as taught in James 1:5. This is how I know it is true. Whenever I pray, study the scriptures, or serve God by serving others, I know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to the Earth and that I have a Father in Heaven who loves me. He sent His Son to suffer and die, so that we can be able to live with Him and our families for ever if we have faith in and follow Our Savior. It has brought so much peace and happiness in my life and hope for my life after death. I know its true.
The most amazing thing that has happened so far is a chance meeting we had with a young man named Akeem as we were riding our bikes at night. A few weeks ago, he moved here from Bakersville, CA to support his aunt and to work. What a great guy! He is usually very bored with not much to do, and he isn't liking the church his aunt takes him to. When we started talking to him about our church, we could see his eyes light up. He is so prepared for the Gospel by his situation, and we are extremely excited to teach him and invite him to come and follow Jesus Christ.
Recently, just over a month ago, a Spanish group was formed here in the Casper area. I will thankfully have the opportunity to work with them a little bit. There were already 60 people who attended church in that group on Sunday. My assignment, however, is the Casper 1st ward. For those of you who aren't familiar with the organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a ward is a congregation determined by the area you live in. There are also smaller congregations called branches. A group of several congregations form a stake, and there are hundreds of stakes throughout the world, making over 15 million members of the church. In a ward, there are generally between 100-200 active members who come every week and willingly serve the church is various positions of leadership, teaching, etc.
I live in a town home with my companion and one other set of Spanish speaking missionaries. My companion is Elder Kirton and we live with Elders Dommer and Juarez. Elder Juarez is a native speaker from Guatumala, and he is a blast to be around. I love the others, too, and we get along really well. Elder Kirton, who is training me, is a great missionary who sets an awesome example for me. Although I am not working in Spanish, it is so great to be able to practice the language with the others. It was such an unbelievable blessing to be sent to this area with the opportunities I will have, but I do believe it because I know that my Father in Heaven loves me and is overlooking the work of the missionaries throughout the world.
I was so excited to find out where I'll be serving. When the announcements were being made for all of us new missionaries, I could barely stay in my seat. Then I heard my name and stopped breathing. The announcement was that I am serving in Casper, Wyoming and that my companion is a Spanish speaking missionary. I was so pumped!! Casper is known throughout the mission as the area where there are so many wonderful members of the church who almost every day provide dinner for the missionaries. It has been so wonderful to meet everyone here.
My first stop was the mission home in Rapid City, which is the house where the Mission President and his wife live. They are so awesome! I got to spend two nights there waiting for the ride to my first area. We played ping-pong, ate great food, and went through some orientation/training. On Tuesday, I got to work with the local missionaries. We did some door to door contacting, and someone let us in to teach about the Gospel! It was awesome. What I learned from that experience is that the Lord really strengthens and wipes away our fears as we do His work. I felt terrified to knock on strangers' doors, but as stood there in front of the door, all doubts and fears vanished. I know that this is God's work, and that as I continue to work with faith in Jesus Christ, I will receive the strength I need, and I will be able to find people to teach whose hearts are open to receive the Gospel.
Well, I forgot to bring my camera to the library, so you'll have to wait again for pictures. Sorry :(When I flew into Rapid City, it was snowing! The next two days were almost 50 degrees, so that was an unexpected surprise.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
I arrived here at the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo last Wednesday. When we got here, we were escorted to our dorm with our luggage, and I had a very interesting surprise...my dorm, which is made for 4 people, is actually housing 6. WOW, it is crowded in there, and we've had to share small closets and desk spaces. Thankfully, I love all of the other 5 missionaries that I'm housed with. Sadly, the computers here won't let us share pictures, so those will have to wait until next week.
One funny story, then down to business. There is a missionary here who has a girlfriend back home who sent him with her perfume for whatever cheesy reasoning. This is definitely not in line with the purpose of the mission, but that's beside the point. He asked one of the other missionaries to smell it and to describe it. He said something to the effect of "it smells like grandma." At that point, the one with the perfume got upset and started to have all of us smell it. He was asking for it...long story short, we now call him grandpa. So that's pretty much all the fun for the past week, the whole experience is a lot more serious than it sounds from this.
The schedule is very strict, filled with classes, teaching practice, study time, meals, and some exercise. It's been a tiring adjustment There is almost no free time, which is how it will be my entire mission. We do have one day a week for whatever errands we have to run, and that day usually leaves some free time, which is good, because that's the only day I'm allowed to write e-mails or letters. Could I break the schedule guidelines? Yes, but it wouldn't be worth it, because I know that God will bless and strengthen me for obedience. It does test my faith though, so it will continue to nourish my trust in the Lord.
We've been very focused on our purpose to help others by inviting them to come unto Christ through believing in Him and following His Gospel. I've been realizing how huge the effects of the Gospel have been on my life, and I know that it is made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. My happiness and hope really depends on my faith in Christ and my willingness to change my ways and follow Him.
If anyone feels a lack of happiness, purpose, or structure in their life, the Gospel as taught by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the right source to turn to. If you would like to feel true happiness and have real hope, I know that coming closer to Christ is the answer. So talk to your local Mormon, and ask them if you can meet with the missionaries. The message they have for you will help you in any aspect of your life and with any struggle or concern you have, as long as you are willing to trust in God and rely on a relationship and closeness with Him. He turns nobody away.