Monday, February 24, 2014

Ups and Downs

I am sorry I have not posted a picture in a while. I will have one for next week!!

As we all should know, life is meant to have its challenges so that we can grow. I am not complaining and saying I have an awful life, but believe me when I say it has been a fairly disappointing week. We can always find the bright side though, and I do have a great experience to share with everyone.

One day this last week, I was not feeling the best about myself as a missionary. I felt that I was not making enough progress in becoming the person God wants me to be. I know that what he wants me to be will be the happiest person I can possibly become. I just felt that I made some backwards progress on this specific day. However, I have learned to love prayer because of days like this. When I really want to communicate with God, I kneel down with my scriptures at my side. As I expressed to Him the feelings of my heart, trying to imagine my real Father in Heaven listening to me, I could feel His love. Psychology would describe this as a relationship that we have created based on fiction, but what happens next is evidence to me of a real God. He communicates with us by His Spirit and also by His words found in the scriptures, written by prophets who He has given authority to speak His word. I thought something so random that it just seemed like my own thoughts being silly. "Jonah 2:3" I way, I'm just making this up, but I'll check just in case. This is not a scripture I would have remembered specifically, but it turns out that Jonah's experience in that verse and the rest of chapter 2 was very applicable to mine. As I read, I could picture myself being in a "whale." That is very much how I was feeling. As I finished the chapter, I was filled with peace and hope for the coming days. 

This experience may seem insignificant to anyone else who reads it, but to me it was evidence of the reality of God. I would encourage each of you to take all of your compiled feelings at the end of each day, positive or negative, and bring them before God in prayer. If you are willing to look for His counsel and guidance, He will show it to you. Just listen and then keep your eyes open and ready to see His answers. I wish that all of you can have experiences through which you can feel God's love for you. Many people say that if there is a God, he is not influencing society today. That is because people are not seeking Him in their lives. I know that the way to become most successful and happy in life is to keep your heart close to God every day, sincerely searching for Him and His will for you.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

It's Still Winter???

The weather this past week has been awesome! It's been in the mid-40s or higher every day! I didn't know Wyoming was capable of getting this warmer in the winter season. This has provided great opportunities to be outside and find people to talk to! One day last week, we just took some time to walk around for a while, and we found some interesting things to do. As we were walking, this big, black dog came running behind us. It was a shock, but we noticed that he wasn't chasing, but he was being chased by his owner's grandson. We asked if he wanted help rounding up the dog, and between breaths he got in the words "yes" and "please." So, I ran as fast as I could to get past the dog and turn it around, then my companion came from behind and grabbed the dog by its collar! I realize that I would have to take a lot more time to make this story amusing, but just trust me when I say it was crazy! As we continued walking, we knocked on a door of a house that we thought potentially belonged to Hispanics, but to our surprise, a very old woman in a wheelchair came out. We talked for a little bit, and asked if she needed anything. It turns our that she has had some debris in her yard from the surrounding trees and has been very worried about getting it cleared out. She didn't know anyone who could help, and we could see the concern in her eyes as she told us how she didn't want to get in trouble by the city. That was a great opportunity for us to share the love of Christ through service, and quite frankly, our schedule was looking pretty empty at the time, so it was good to have something to do. Work is the best way to fill time, especially when the efforts go to helping someone else out!

We also took some time to go downtown to the Mayor's office to try to contact him. Thankfully, in a town like this, it is not too difficult. We didn't talk to him directly, but his secretary was very open to having him contact us. We think meeting with him will be a great opportunity to discuss the Hispanic population here in Casper and to improve our relations with the public as missionaries. I also hope to find some more opportunities for service through the meeting. I will let everyone know how it goes.

I would encourage everyone to look for opportunities to reach out to those around them. Pay attention to people, put yourselves in their shoes, and I'm sure you'll be able to find opportunities to share Christ's love. In studying His life, we can constantly find that he "has compassion" on the people he sees. When we earnestly desire and seek the welfare of everyone we see, we can feel God's love more in our lives, and I know that this practice is what Our Savior would have us do. I would like to remind everyone of Christ's response when he was questioned as to the great commandment in the law in Matthew 22:

 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

 38 This is the first and great commandment.

 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

"Love thy neighbor as thyself." Do not underestimate this phrase. Anything that you would do for or wish upon yourself were you in the situations of those around you, do the same for them as much as is in your power. We do so much for ourselves every day. Christ's law is for everyone to share the load that our fellow beings carry.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Call me Professor Dudley

So, this past week, my new companion came into town. Elder Bell has been on his mission for 18 months now, speaking English the whole time, so I'm going to have a great experience teaching him. It's really cool, because I have thought in the past of teaching Spanish as a career, so this will give me a little taste of it. We spend one hour a day in our apartment learning Spanish, and I stand at the front of the room, like a Professor, and make notes on our whiteboard. Then, I explain the concepts more in depth and we practice them. It makes me feel like a genius. That's why it was so vital that I got asked to teach a class in church in the Spanish language. All I will say is that I did not feel like a genius after that, and I left the building as a more humble man. I actually do know that I have a lot of work to do with my Spanish speaking abilities, for the record. I am not a genius, and I know it.

I would just like to share one cool experience. One of the people we are teaching has had a hard time believing what we've been saying, and has not taken much action to research and ask God to find out for herself. The past week, she was going through some stress with their family's side business. She was worried that they would be short on money because their product was not selling. She remembered that people had told her about experiences with praying then opening up The Book of Mormon to a random page and finding their answer, so she tried it. The first words she saw were "Have faith." Even though this may seem like a coincidence, I know that God speaks to us through the scriptures when we need direction, comfort, or counsel. If we have an open heart, are sincere, and ask in faith, God can communicate to us in a way that may seem insignificant to onlookers. However the feelings of love and peace that God sends to us through the Spirit are undeniable as we have such experiences. (John 14:26-27 and Galatians 5:22-23)

Another Scripture that has really stuck out to me lately is Mosiah 28:3 from the Book of Mormon. It is talking about the sons of Mosiah who had been fighting against the Church but had been rescued by God through the appearance of an angel. This was a very similar experience to that of Saul/Paul in the New Testament. This verse describes their attitude as they were preparing to travel to the land of their enemies to preach the gospel and try to bring as many souls as possible to repentance through Jesus Christ. (I will include verses 1 and 2 to give some background):

 1 Now it came to pass that after the sons of Mosiah had done all these things, they took a small number with them and returned to their father, the king, and desired of him that he would grant unto them that they might, with these whom they had selected, go up to the land of Nephi that they might preach the things which they had heard, and that they might impart the word of God to their brethren, the Lamanites—

 2 That perhaps they might bring them to the knowledge of the Lord their God, and convince them of the iniquity of their fathers; and that perhaps they might cure them of their hatred towards the Nephites, that they might also be brought to rejoice in the Lord their God, that they might become friendly to one another, and that there should be no more contentions in all the land which the Lord their God had given them.

 3 Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble.

This is the attitude and sense of urgency that I am trying to exemplify as I serve my mission. As I grow in understanding of God's doctrine, especially the Atonement of Jesus Christ, I desire more and more to spread the gospel to the hearts of anyone that I can.

Monday, February 3, 2014

GO SEAHAWKS! (Oops. I mean, I'm a missionary so I don't care about the Super Bowl...)

FYI, this picture was taken before the Super Bowl. I was at another apartment for a day, and they just happened to have cups from two of the teams that the Seahawks faced in the playoffs, so I had to take this picture. All I heard was the score, and that's enough for me. If I were to take a post-game picture, the 49ers cup would be in the same spot, and the Broncos cup would be all smashed up on the ground. My face would express an emotion similar to that of Phil Conners on Groundhog Day when he finally wakes up and it's February 3rd (It's funny because the Super Bowl was on Groundhog Day :D)

On a serious note, the Super Bowl really helped me to appreciate these two years I have to get away from all of the madness of sports, politics, entertainment, etc. Even the first three months here have brought me so much growth as I have focused on the gospel and my Savior, Jesus Christ. So often, we get caught up in the things of this life, and we allow them to control our emotions. In the long run, all that matters is how we have served God in this life. As individuals, in our families, at work, the only happiness that lasts forever comes from devotion to God. As we show our love for Him by obedience in all aspects of our lives, we will learn to trust that God's way is always the best way. Many people preach that as long as we believe in Jesus Christ, we will be saved. I do not disagree. However, if we truly believe in Jesus Christ, we will also believe all of His words, among which are commandments to love God, love others, repent and be baptized, and much more. If we truly believe in Him, and love Him, we will constantly strive to do the will of God at every moment, because we trust that He loves us and will only ask the things which are best for our eternal welfare (John 14:15, 21-24; 1 John 2:3-5; 1 John 5:1-5; Proverbs 3:1-8; many other scriptures).

That is why I chose to spend two years devoted to inviting people to come to Christ. Even if I am too imperfect to love everyone, I know that God loves everyone. If I truly love God, I will serve His children, and I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is something that every soul needs but not every soul has found.