Monday, September 29, 2014

Week 14: Crazy Times!

Hey everyone!

I hope everything is going great at home because things are certainly going well over here. This area is actually beginning to pick up a little bit, and I'm super-excited to be a part of it. 

We have had some crazy fun experiences this past week. We were able to share three lessons with the 12 year-old girl that we have set for baptism. Whenever we teach her, her grandma (who is a less-active) sits in on the lessons and totally adores everything we teach. One morning, my companion were talking about teaching them about the law of chastity, but when I went to do my personal study, I had a strange impression that we needed to teach her about tithing and fast offerings. When we went to teach them that night, the grandma said that she'd been wondering about tithing because her mother-in-law was such an active tithe-payer, and she really wanted to follow that example. It's awesome to see gifts of the Spirit (in this case, discernment) in action!

I also had another cool experience while on exchanges with another missionary on Friday. We just decided to go at it that day, and talk to everybody that we saw. We went to visit a less-active in the ward who I had never met before. The person who answered the door was a non-member lady who is the wife of the less-active. We asked if the less-active was home, but it turns out that he's stationed with the army in North Carolina. We asked if we could share a message with her, and she said yes! We taught her about the Restoration, and she told us a little bit about her husband's family. She said that her in-laws (who are LDS) would be thrilled to know that she was meeting with us. It's amazing to think about how many opportunities there are to teach people in part-member and less-active families, and really, the Lord isn't going to bless us with new converts until we've cleaned up and organized His house a little bit.

We were also able to finally help our ward agree on a legitimate ward mission plan. The last few months have been rough since the ward council has been a little difficult to work with, but we're making progress. The ward is becoming quite a bit more goal-oriented. Hopefully this continues because this area really will blossom if it does.

It's crazy to think about the times that we live in. This dispensation really is the final one leading up to the Second Coming. It is really easy to see that the Lord is hastening the Work. In D+C 4, the Lord talks about how the "field is white already to harvest; And lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul." The only thing required to hasten the Work is work! We have to do everything we can to help others receive the joys of salvation so that we can truly enjoy salvation ourselves. There's a parable in a book called House of Glory by S. Michael Wilcox called "The Parable of the Keys." I won't include it in this letter, but I would encourage each of you to look it up on the internet and read it. I can promise that salvation and exaltation will not be joyful without all of God's children. We are what brings Him joy. That's why it is imperative that we are member missionaries, and that we do our family history work.

I hope all of you have a great week. Keep in touch, keep up the good work, and keep sharing the Gospel!

Elder Jones

Monday, September 22, 2014

Week 13 - The Savior's Atonement

Hey everyone!

It's great to hear how you all are doing. After hearing about some of your experiences from this past week. It just makes me think about how thankful I am to have all of you in my life. I truly have been blessed to have been raised where I was.

This week has been pretty amazing. We have been able to teach a lot more lessons than usual, and even got to go on some crazy exchanges. On Tuesday night, I had the chance to go on splits with the high priests in the ward. We went to visit one of our investigators who just so happened to be standing out in front of his house working on his car (and smoking a cigarette...). We were able to have a good discussion about the First Vision and how we can receive answers from God. He and his son are non-denominational Christians who have very Catholic views in regards to doctrine. He told us how he believed in the Trinity, and had questions about our view of the Godhead. It was a wonderful conversation, and said that he still really wanted to meet with us. Hopefully we can find another time to meet with him (he has a crazy work schedule).

On Thursday, I went on exchanges with the two other greenies in my district. All three of us were put together because our trainers all had to go to a leadership meeting. I was the only one with driving privileges, so I got to drive (don't worry Dad; I didn't drive too fast ;) ) One of the lessons we taught was to a man who "really wants to find the truth". He had been dropped by other missionaries about a year and a half ago because he couldn't make a decision about baptism. We taught him about the Restoration, and he actually remembered quite a lot. I even extended the baptismal invitation to him at the end of the lesson, but he told us that he wanted to know for sure before he agreed. I can kind of see why he was dropped before, but hopefully the Spirit is able to touch his heart because he really is a receptive, golden investigator. He was quite thankful that we invited him to baptism, though.

One thing that has been on my mind a lot recently is the Atonement. We learn that the Atonement is the only thing that can change us, that we can't become like our Heavenly Father without it; but how can we more fully utilize it? The answer: live and learn the Doctrine of Christ. 
The Doctrine of Christ is the most important thing that we can learn about. It teaches us to have faith in Christ, to repent, to be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and to endure to the end. The only way we can internalize this doctrine is by having faith unto repentance. One scripture I read today really stood out to me:

And now, it came to pass that when king Benjamin had made an end of speaking the words which had been delivered unto him by the angel‍ of the Lord, that he cast his eyes round about on the multitude, and behold they had fallen‍ to the earth, for the fear‍ of the Lord had come upon them.

 And they had viewed‍ themselves in their own carnal‍ state, even less‍ than the dust of the earth. And they all cried aloud with one voice, saying: O have mercy, and apply the atoning‍ blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified; for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who created‍ heaven and earth, and all things; who shall come down among the children of men.

 And it came to pass that after they had spoken these words the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission‍ of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith‍ which they had in Jesus Christ who should come, according to the words‍ which king Benjamin had spoken unto them.

These people only received a peace of conscience and a remission of their sins because of their faith in Christ unto repentance. It was because they recognized the need for the Atonement and wanted to change that they were, in turn, changed.

I would hope that we all learn to have that faith and desire, because Christ is the only way we can improve. One of my MTC teachers said that "Christ is the answer to everything, including your French toast".

I love you all and hope you all have a great week! Keep in touch.


Elder Jones

Monday, September 15, 2014

The weight's not too heavy...

Hey everyone!

I just want to let you know that all in all, being a missionary is awesome! Sure there are tough times, but it is really neat to share the gospel with a ton of people. I have had so many cool opportunities this week, it's hard not to be grateful.

The coolest thing to happen this past week would have to be going on exchanges with my zone leader Elder Carson in his area. He's probably the nicest person I have ever met. He has made charity a part of himself. We were able to teach 3 lessons on Friday, and each of them were really spiritually uplifting. The last lesson we taught that day was with a young man who lives in a very sketchy part of Las Vegas. This young man has had so many interactions with church members in the last couple months that he is convinced that God is trying to tell him something. I'm pretty convinced of that too. We taught him about the Restoration. When we got to the part about Joseph Smith, I read to him the account of the First Vision and then asked, "How crazy is that? That a kid like that was able to talk to God is just incredible, right?" And the young man got the biggest smile on his faith, started to laugh, and said that he believed it. It was so cool! We even invited him to baptism. He said yes at first, but once he realized the kind of commitment that he would be making (keep the commandments, go to church every week) he backed off a little bit. He did say that if he was to get baptized, he would want me, the zone leaders, and his friend who shared the gospel with him to be there. It's so awesome to see the excitement that some investigators have!

Another awesome experience was that the young girl we have set for baptism came to church yesterday. Her grandma has not been active for a long time, but expressed interest in coming to church again. After sacrament meeting, we talked with the grandma and she said she really enjoyed it, and that she wants to come next week. Our hopes are if we can get the grandma active, to feel the Spirit, and become converted, that the girl will be able to find that conversion as well. One of our area's biggest problems is retention; I really don't want to see this girl get baptized and then stop coming to church because then we'd be responsible for having baptized someone who wasn't ready. That's not what Heavenly Father wants.

Even so, the responsibility that we have is what makes our efforts worth it. If I am doing everything I am asked to do and strive to accomplish the tasks at hand, Heavenly Father won't hold any blessings back. If I don't do what I'm asked, why would He even bother helping me? Everything in this mission, in this life, or in this gospel, is tied directly to obedience and effort. Heavenly Father actively tells us, "I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say, but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise." (D+C 82:10) It's not even our will that get's the job done; it is when we try to be like the Savior and say, "Not my will, but thine, be done." (Luke 22:42) If I don't talk to that person, I'm responsible for not sharing the gospel with them. Heavenly Father has commanded all of us (not just set-apart missionaries) to do missionary work, so it is really important that we show our the Lord that we are willing to do what He asks of us.

I would like to challenge each of you to look for opportunities to share the Gospel with someone this week. I can promise that if you are actively studying, praying, and searching, that the Lord will give you courage and opportunities to help change peoples lives. If you have any neat experiences, write me and tell me about them. We are uplifted and edified when we share our testimonies with others!

I love all of you so much. Thank you so much for all of the good things that each of you do in your everyday lives. It's not always the big things so much as it is the small things that we do for others that really influences other people's lives.

Keep in touch! 
Send letters or emails, and just let me know how you all are doing. I'd love to hear from each of you!

Elder Jones

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Week 11 - Learning to listen to the Spirit!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Week 10 - Commandments give us protection, growth and improvement.