Amar y Servir

Amar y Servir

Monday, March 28, 2016

Faith in Finding

This whole week I would think that it is safe to say that is nothing short of a miracle.  We have been working as a zone to find and Elder Studyvin and I have been working on some other things to hasten the work in our areas as well.  Such as asking for referrals from everyone and inviting everyone that is present to come and participate.

We actually have found two of the people we have put on date that way.

The story that I want to share is from what is currently going on is with one of the families we have on date.  Back in January their mom, Rosario, was baptized and we have been working on her kids.  Her husband hasn't been too fond of the church and everything, I would attribute it to him not sitting in and participating in the lessons, so we have only seen him a handful of times. We have been working closely with the kids and doing everything we can with the Ward to fellowship them and help them have a good time.  Things have been going fairly well, which is most evident in the oldest daughter.  Her name is Abril (which is April in Spanish).  She has been a slow work in progress, yet one of the most fun to see.  In the past month or two she has been doing a lot.  She has been teaching some of her friends and cousins (she taught one of her friends how to pray right in front of us, and her mom told us of another time just recently of her taking one of the pamphlets and teaching her cousins).  Now, as things have progressed, she has told us that she "really!! Really!! Wants to get baptized". We are going to work with them as much as we can and we hope that their dad will be able to open enough to sign over permission for them to be baptized.  We will see how everything works out.  I know it will work out.  Just in a matter of time.

The West Maricopa zone, our zone, met our goal to find 55 new investigators for the month of March!  Even though there was some area book errors that gave us a few extra, we still met our goal and reached 57 legitimate investigators.  This new focus, on developing a greater faith to find and simply being out and about to find more people to teach, has led us to know having 18 people on date.  Of which around 15 of those have a high likelihood of being baptized in this upcoming month of April.  As with the rest of the mission, we are getting really excited.  Throughout this past month I saw at least every three days a "Ya Tu Sabes" (Basically a celebration for success.  E.g. Finding a new investigator or someone getting put on date.) and there were many days we'd get 3-4 in one night.

One of the small things that made a big change, that I would attribute our success to, would be the unison in the zone.  We all got on board with the zone goal and we even had a challenged issued in both districts to pray for one another.  This invitation was issued after the second week, which is a week where we fell behind.  The next two weeks, we made up for the lost ground and came back strong.  The power of prayer issued in unity for the success of the zone, yielded an amazing result.  I am excited to take this excitement to have lunch with president Griffin, then take that energy and set an even higher goal for April.  Including with more baptisms this month.

Elder Studyvin and I are finding continual success with the 6 investigators we have on date.  We will probably drop one, but we are still finding more.  One thing that I found that really helped is follow a simple process.
  1. Contact the individual and offer to share a short message for about 10min.
  2. Once inside, invite all to participate.
  3. Get to know them for 2min, complimenting them on a few things they have.
  4. Open with a prayer and share the video, inviting them to focus on how they feel and ponder the blessings they have received thanks to Christ.
  5. Ask them what they felt and what their thoughts were.
  6. Testify of Christ
  7. Ask to come by for 20min to share the message of Christ's restored gospel, which will build upon the beliefs that they hold dear of Christ.
  8. Leave them the Restoration pamphlet to prepare for the next lesson.
  9. Leave with a prayer.
This whole process, as we have improved and had a few go's at it, we have kept these visits to nearly the 10min mark we set.  Not one has exceeded 15min.  When we have returned and taught the restoration, we always invite them to baptism with a date.  This has resulted in so many on date.  All but one of these 6 are progressing really well.

I am super excited.  I love serving the Lord in missionary work.  There have been a few times where I have been doubtful or have been scared, but pushing through we have found much success.

1-4) Breakfast at Lazaro's (The burrito was the size of 3-4 of my fists.  Soo good!). We went with Ruben to celebrate his B-day, which was like 2 weeks ago. 

Elder Studyvin got sick

We handed out Mesa pageant cards for about 2 months (From Jan 25th to March 21st). We handed out a lot as an apartment. (My companionship won though, gotta love seeing the whole Ward there on Wednesday night for mutual ;)

Monday, March 21, 2016

Another Great Week of Wonders

This week was one of the best weeks I have had on my mission so far.  As a focus for the month of March, our zone has been shooting for a higher goal in finding more New Investigators.  It has been really fun to see the zone get excited and work hard.  This goal we have is for 55 NI and on average we have been getting around 33 NI for the past few months.  Right now we are already to about 40 and we are in week 3!  One more week to go.

What I have been able to see has been something absolutely humbling and inspiring to me.  As we have been working together as a zone to reach this goal, our focus has been more unified as a whole.  One illustration of the unification of the zone we had both district meetings and after attending one, I was able to go on exchanges with the district leader of the other district.  After talking with him, I learned that in both meetings they had a discussion focused on praying for one other so that we may have success.  I had a spiritual confirmation to me of the power of prayer that Saturday night as as well as this morning when I saw that we were so well on track to reaching our goal.  For as it says in Doctrine and Covenants 38:27 "Behold, ... I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine."  The more unified our zone has been, the greater success and motivation has been present in hastening the work.  One thing we do is that when someone has an amazing lesson, or when they find a new investigator, they send a text to the Zone Leaders.  Who then send it out to the zone.  In these previous weeks, we have had these "Ya Tu Sabes" (Means now you know!  That was a zone inside joke, and since we are the zone with the most Spanish missionaries, we had to go Spanish.) almost every other day!  I'll fill you in if we were able to reach our goal next week.

Another fun thing that happened this week with of the lessons that we had.  With Luz Mejia, a single mother of 6.

We've been visiting with Luz for the past 3 months about. (Wow time really flies by). About two week ago we invited her to be baptized on the 27th of March and she accepted.  The Spirit was in abundance and it was a sincere yes.  However, after her not showing up for church the next Sunday, I was wondering what was going on.  The reason being is because she doesn't really work that day and she lives 2 blocks away from the church building.  We tried throughout the whole week to have contact, and had no success.  Sometimes the kids would answer and say she was doing things like "She was in the shower" or "she is washing clothes" and for me, some of those things are so generic, it is hard sometimes to believe the credibility of those statements.  So we continued and found her last week Sunday morning, inviting her again, with a yes saying that she was going.  And again she didn't go.

So by this point we were coming to the conclusion that we were probably going to move on and give her more of a make or break lesson.  Until she continues to show commitment and progression, in other words, is repenting and growing in her conversion, we would need to move on and would return when she was ready.  So we had contact again with her Saturday.  She answered the door and we caught up a bit and she was still very open and friendly with us.  (Note: I was with an English Elder on exchanges, so unless I kept him in the loop, I was doing most of the talking.). 

So we eventually started the lesson and followed up with praying and reading in the Book of Mormon.  She said she hadn't read the Book of Mormon in a while, but said she enjoyed reading it.  When we mentioned baptism, she expressed the doubt that she felt that because her baptism was enough because it was between her and God, not necessarily for a church.  She also reminded us that she had prayed on multiple occasions and every time she said a prayer, asking if the Church was true, she would have a nightmare that night.  As we continued to talk about baptism I asked her if she could go inside to get her Book of Mormon, so that we could share a scripture with her.  It was to talk about baptism and then I was going to transition it into the necessity to be baptized with someone that had the priesthood.  I still was going to focus on the positives of everything she did in her baptism, but also convey the necessity of it being done with the proper authority to be considered valid in the eyes of God.  Along with that, we are the only church that can promise that, through the same authority, she could have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.  

While she went in for her Book.  I related what happened to Elder Osai he mentioned  Joseph smith story in repose to her nightmares.  So we read that with her.  All meanwhile Elder Osai, my companion for the day, was praying so that she could understand. I bore testimony that it was true and that she could come to know the truth for herself.  Following that I translated Elder Osai's testimony for her.  I could see that was special and I could feel the sincerity through the Spirit.  I promised her that if she prayed sincerely tonight to know it was true, and she didn't have another nightmare she could know for herself that that was an answer to her to know that this was true.  She said she would pray again, and we left setting a visit for the next Wednesday.

We stopped by in the morning and she said she prayed!  She told us that she didn't have a nightmare and that she was getting ready to go to church.  The sad and confusing part of it all, was the fact that she didn't go.  I pray that we know what the Lord would have us do, and I hope that we can help her to continue on with what she has been able to learn.

Talking afterwards, me and Elder Osai, about understanding the sons of Mosiah, we could comprehend better Mosiah 28:3 "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.". I could understand better the need of having charity and a love towards all men.  I know better now, being out these 20 months, and doing everything I can to contribute to the work, what it must've tasted like to be one of the sons of Mosiah.  Truly it is a special feeling to have a similar love to all those around us.  I wish that I will be able to develop that love for the rest of my life.

This puts into perspective of what life truly is, a fight between good and evil over the souls of men that they might be saved. Our very brothers and sisters in the spirit.  I know that this work is true, it is the greatest work we can ever be apart of.  I know as that we continue to further develop our relationship with our Savior, there is nothing holding us back from seeing our beloved ones as they truly are, as our brothers and sisters.  I feel my love for these people and the Savior grow each day.  I am so grateful for this privilege to serve and to be a servant of the Lord.
  1. Just having some good kneaders all you can eat French toast.

2. Ribs almost as good and my old man's (Dosm, you still have my vote)

3. Hna Navas and Elder Studyvin

4. I did some interpreting for a member of the Stake presidency in sacrament meeting yesterday.  It is fun!

5. Elder Osai and I.

Monday, March 14, 2016

I Feel My Savior's Love and My Love for Him

I feel like this week has been very good to us.  The Lord's hand has been in the work.  There is no doubt about that.  I have been with Elder Studyvin who has helped be be happier and we continue to work hard.  The "little things" are getting done to a better T and I am seeing mini-miracles through the process.  I feel that my motivation to do the work has developed from a obligation to more of a desire.  The study of the scriptures and more sincere prayer, focused on the Savior, has made the difference.

We had Elder Arnold come visit our mission for our mission tour.  It was a great visit with a lot of tips and pieces of advice on how to improve on missionary work.  The biggest takeaway I got out of it was to work more closely with the members, especially through our leaders, and invite everyone to hear the message about the restored gospel.  This includes inviting everyone present in the home to hear as well, while asking for referrals.  I can say that that was a great piece of advice. (I will explain later in the email).  One thing that was pretty special was that during lunch he took all of the STL's and Zone Leaders into to do quick interviews.  We went in as companions and then individually.  It was funny because he asked if I had a girlfriend.  I gave a nice little smile and said I didn't.  I think he was looking to catch me on something, but I passed. :)  He also said in the interview that he wanted me to tell you two, mom and dad, that he commended your efforts to raise a great son.  (I cannot tell you how many times I have hear that on my mission.  You definitely done a great job ;)  

The work here truly has grown and Elder Studyvin and I have been working well.  We have been getting a lot of different Ward lists put together such as Future elders, Part member families, un baptized children 9+yrs, and Less Actives (we have been working with the Hermanas and the list has gotten into the hundreds.  It's amazing how many people are just within our reach and right in our very midst.  This is what we can call as the low hanging fruit.). We have been taking some time to go through some of these lists, especially the less active list, and we are already starting to find people that no longer live there or are not even interested.  Through this process we even found a couple moving to Chile on the first of April.  This is going to help the leaders a lot find out who actually live in the Ward and who they can help.

Speaking of working with members and part member families.  We actually had a great lesson last night.  This was right after we had finished the missionary devotional and we were hurrying over to a lesson we had set with our recent convert, Mariana Banuelos.   On the 20min drive over there (I took an exit late and took an extra 5min). I was thinking if it was worth the drive this late at night to go and give the lesson.  Other doubts were floating in the back of my mind, but I knew that there is always something good that can come out of even the small things.  So we went over and caught up with them to see how they were doing and asked if we could open with a prayer.  In the prayer the prompting came into my mind that we should ask if anyone of her kids were there and if they would like to hear just a quick message about Christ.  She was a little hesitant about inviting her oldest son in, but she did it anyways.

So we hooked up my iPad to the TV (thanks mom for the adapter) and showed them the most recent church initiative #Alelujah.  (Btw if you haven't seen it yet, go on gospel library and check it out!  The 300+ person and 1000+ virtual choir is amazing!).  When we finished we asked everyone what were some of the feelings that went through their mind as they watched the video.  The first person to comment was the oldest son, Roberto.  He pointed out how every one of them looked like they had so much peace.  We testified to him that he could have that peace as well in his life and asked if we could come by the next day to share that with them.  He accepted!  So we will be visiting with him tonight and see if we can set a date with him tonight.

We also have Rosario kids on date for April 10th, everyone except the oldest daughter who is 14 years old.  She knows it is true, just has a doubt that she doesn't feel comfortable yet.  She said she'll tell us, but it has to be in private.  She is a great girl and is doing almost everything that a Mormon would (she even says that she is a Mormon and defends us against her friends who make fun of us) she just has something looming over her that is preventing her from making this decision.  If I finish here, I am hoping and praying that I will see her baptism before I leave.  I want to see that whole family in white more than anything.

Btw I am super impressed with another on of your little excursions that you decided to make mom and dad!  It seems like that as you both work to with your heart, might, mind, and strength,  you at times get a nice little treat to relax and enjoy the wonderful world that our Father has created for us.  Rest well and have fun!!

1.) We had some member give us some food.  So we enjoyed it in the church.

2.) We are teaching English class currently

3.) So that house that we moved all of the rock onto the yard?  Yep totally was voted the best property of the month! Woot Woot!

πŸŒ… Elder Nathan Benson πŸŒ…

Monday, March 7, 2016

PME Capitulo 11 Promise Blessings and Bear Testimony Frequently

This week was by far one of my favorite that I have had.  The reason being what my focus has been on for the past couple weeks along with what was presented in our mission's most recent Mission Leadership Conference, MLC.  

For me personally I have been looking for a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.  I have found that building a personal testimony of the Savior is vital to experiencing true joy.  I have had many experiences where the only thing that has consoled my troubled being.  This past week I had a day where I was overwhelmed and was making rash observations of myself.  Elder Studyvin heard me out, which helped, but we had a lesson not to soon after.  So what happened was that we decided to go to the lesson.  

The plan that we had was to share a previous Easter MormΓ³n message that the church had put out along with sharing the scripture Alma 7:11-13, one of my favorite scriptures on the Atonement.  As we shared the message, I felt an abundance of the Spirit.  It was something so special to me that I can't really put into words.  I found that as I was able to take some of the things that I have learned and apply them to our teaching.  The part that has helped me a lot has been having a focus in mind from the very beginning of the lesson.  Before my focus was more on teaching them the principles and at the end leave them a commitment that we had planned.  However, I found that the commitments weren't very powerful and depended a great deal on the Spirit that was there in the lesson.  As I have now changed the focus to teaching with the commitment in mind.  In a way teaching and testifying and building up to the commitment, not only have the commitments been more clear and easy to understand, but the Spirit was in greater abundance as we were teaching.

In a recent lesson with a single mother, Luz, who we have been teaching for a while, we had a very powerful lesson where the Spirit was strong.

So we went in, and there was a noticeable difference in her character and in her home.  She still claimed that her children were trying her patience and such.  So partway into the lesson, I shared with her the changes that I had observed, and I gave the credit to what she had been doing.  That is, reading the Book of Mormon almost daily and praying often.  She has asked to know if the church was true and has received nightmares, but she has continued to show confidence in us. (Which I considered was a good sign.). So as we taught the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Spirit began to fill the room.  So evident was it for me, that I felt my soul enveloped in peace and absolute assurance that what was being shared was true, and that God was testifying of the truth of what we taught.  I could say the phrase "the Spirit was so thick in the room, you could cut it with a butterknife" and realize that I have never felt and recognized the Spirit to be so vivid and true for me as it has been at this time.

During in the lesson there was something different that I was trying to apply.  In MLC we had gone over chapter eleven of PMG and my big takeaway were three simple things.  Teach with the commitment as the focus, promise blessings that are applicable and personal, and bear simple and sincere testimony of the power and blessings of living that principle.  Teaching Luz, the focus was majorly on the gift of the Holy Ghost and how it will bless her and her family.  Another thing that we had prepared was that Mahonry and Hna Callejas could share personal testimony of the blessings that the gift of the Holy Ghost has provided in their lives, being a youth and a mother.  This applied well to Luz because she had 6 kids and is a single mother.  The Spirit was powerful, nearly palpable in the sense.  So full of the sensation was I of this great manifestation of love that the invitation to be baptized was a natural extension to provide her the opportunity to be a recipient of this great gift.  It was clear that she was desirous of receiving such a blessing that when we extended the invitation, March 27th, it was an immediate and unrestrained yes.

I like a scripture that I had read just the other day,
Mosiah 7:12 And now, when Ammon saw that he was permitted to speak, he went forth and bowed himself before the king; and rising again he said: O king, I am very thankful before God this day that I am yet alive, and am permitted to speak; and I will endeavor to speak with boldness;

13 For I am assured that if ye had known me ye would not have suffered that I should have worn these bands. For I am Ammon, and am a descendant of Zarahemla, and have come up out of the land of Zarahemla to inquire concerning our brethren, whom Zeniff brought up out of that land.

In my mission I have found that as I share kindness and sincere love for them, and testify with truthfulness and boldness, the Spirit has testified to me and those I teach with great power, even unto some to accept invitations to commitments to repent and grow closer to the Savior.  I can't say that everyone has kept those commitments, but I know that they have come to feel of the testifying power of the Holy Ghost.  They have experienced a stirring in their hearts and that is what I have set out to do.  I will not be satisfied with only them enjoying our company for 45min and shortly after return to the weekly routine.  But I will not be dismayed when they freely use their agency and not follow through with what we invite them to do.

I know that as we do our very best to sincerely grow closer to the Lord and ask forgiveness for our shortcomings and press on, the Savior will be with us every step of the way.

Thanks for sharing with me the family update.  I am so glad to see my family living the gospel and striving to do what is right. It inspires me to be better and grow closer to my Savior every week.

πŸŒ… Elder Nathan Benson πŸŒ…

Some yummy tostadas we had yesterday.

I dry erased marker drew our mission president, what do you think?

Zone meeting was interrupted by the fire alarms going off and us having to call the fire department to help us figure out how to turn them off.  So we snuck a photo or two.