Monday, April 15, 2013

Happy Birthday Mom and Grandpa Ted!

Hey hey hey family! It's been another week that has far too quickly come and gone.
To start off, thanks a bunch for all the conference talks! I love them, and I'm excited to hear the ones you've sent me now. Thanks tons too for your love, care, packages, and everything. Missions are a true family affair, and we are all blessed because of them. That I know. You guys are the best. Thanks for fasting for me and Elder G. We appreciate your prayers and fasting, because we also are trying to find someone who will accept our message. I feel someone is close, we just have to keep pressing on and trying to find them. Before I go any farther, however, let me just say, Happy Happy Birthday to Mom and Grandpa Ted! I'm glad they had a good time and everything went well. Mom, your pottery is on its way!  Sister Nielson was a life saver and helped me so much! I gave her a big thanks. She's an incredible woman. I'm quickly realizing how much she does for the mission and for every one of us. We're lucky to have her! She and President Nielson make up a truly amazing couple.
Give Grandpa Ted a big Happy Birthday from me, ok? I'm glad you got my letter, Mom, as well.
Ok, now to do business. Story time, right? Well, nothing super exciting happened this week after our escapade with the hospital escapee, but we did have some good times. I'm continually amazed at the things I am learning while being a trainer. This transfer is changing my mission more so than anything else to this point. As I look back at myself as a missionary and where I am now, I'm humbled, realizing all the Lord has helped me to become. I'm still not a perfect missionary, far from it, but I know that the Lord is helping me every step of the way along this journey as a missionary. As President Monson says, "He whom the Lord calls, He qualifies." I know this is true. The opportunity to serve and love Elder G as his trainer so far through this transfer has pushed me to become more than I ever thought I could be. It's also humbled me. I've seen so many of my weaknesses come to fruition that I didn't even realize I have, but it gives me comfort that I can use the atonement to overcome them and with Christ's help become better day by day. I may have a long list in front of me, but I am willing and ready to take them down one by one.
I had an exchange with Elder M (my district leader) this week, during which I learned more than any other exchange to this point. It wasn't anything from what Elder M said either, but through his actions. I was humbled by how much he's learned to love the Polish people and how confident and how bold he is in his missionary work. These are areas I knew that I needed to work on, but I was humbled realizing just how far I really have to go. From the example that Elder M set, however, I know now what I need to learn, and how to do it.
Zone Training was another fantastic meeting. Dad, you're right, I feel ready to go take on the world after all of those. One thing they specifically discussed was trying to talk to 10 people a day with whom we wouldn't normally make contact. Some of those situations often come on buses or trams throughout the city. I'll be honest, it's hard to contact on trams, buses, and the metro. It can be awkward, but as we put ourselves in said 'awkward' situations, miracles happen. While riding on the tramwaj that day after Zone Training, I had an extra bag with me and tried to make the excuse, "It's ok, I don't need to contact. It'll just be too weird/awkard. I'm carrying too many bags, and these people don't want to be bothered." My mind flashed back to Zone Training, realized that such a statement was a Substitute for Success (part of our mission motto--Faith to Succeed without Substitutes for Success), and decided to put myself out there and follow the Lord's counsel He has given me through my leaders. As I did, success instantly followed. I think the 2nd or 3rd person I talked to was named U. She has mormon friends in Montana, and is searching for God in her life. She was willing and ready to read the Book of Mormon and wanted to learn about how it can help her in her search for God. My testimony continues to grow that as we follow the counsel the Lord and our leaders give us, blessings immediately follow. The sooner we follow, the faster the blessings come. As Elder Stanley G. Ellis said during conference, it's about doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done, and not when it is convenient.
Elder G and I have been studying and talking about bearing personal testimony, and I've realized just how powerful a pure testimony can be. When we can show these people not only what we believe, but why we believe it and how it has affected our lives, that's when we gain real power in our teaching. That's when the Holy Ghost can carry the power of our words unto the hearts of the hearers and miracles happen. President Monson counseled us in Priesthood session of General Conference to bear the truth with testimony, and I'm realizing now the "why" behind his words. He is truly an inspired man of God, and our prophet in these days. The more I follow his words and heed his counsel, the more my testimony of that grows.
I don't always know why the Lord has us do some things, go some places, or track down certain people, but I am learning to trust Him, to do what I should, and to watch Him unfold miracles in this work as I follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit and heed His word. Elder G and I had such an experience this week. We met a man named S a week or so ago (actually, literally seconds before our encounter with the hospital escapee) who invited us to come teach his family this past Saturday. Well, as we went to his house, we quickly realized the address he gave us doesn't exist. We were frustrated, discouraged, and didn't quite know what to do. We said a prayer, asking for Heavenly Father's guidance, and for a blessing on S and his family, wherever they might be. After the prayer, Elder G felt we should move on and be on our way home, for it was getting late and curfew was close. I was hesitant, wanting desperately to find this family, but followed him. As we walked out of the complex we were in, we ran into one of our investigators, M. We met with him a week and a half ago, and he is one of our most promising investigators at the moment. We were able to talk to him for a minute about his Book of Mormon reading and give him some encouragement. I'm grateful for a Heavenly Father that puts us in a place where we can be His tools in doing His work, even when we don't quite understand what certain things happen. In the end, however, everything works out, and His work goes forward, as I learned after thinking about this run-in with M.
Heath, I'm glad you had a good time at Prom! Grant sounds like he was a solid date. High school dances are some of my favorite memories of high school. I'm glad the knee is getting better. Keep up the good work and keep being awesome!
Hannah bear, I hope you are good. Good job on your spelling test! We placed 11 copies of the Book of Mormon this week, a really good number! I love you and miss you too. Thanks for your prayers!
Emms, good luck with your choir audition! You'll be great. Have fun with everything. Miss you tons too! You're super duper awesome!
Dad, thanks for all the advice. You're the best.
Mom, I love you lots and you're the greatest Mom ever. Remember that, K? Good. Keep the faith everyone. The church is true and I love you!
Elder Vernon

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