Thursday, November 16, 2017

Few thoughts...

Changes are in store for Oro Valley!  We spent most of our P-day running around visiting members and contacts Elder Bradfield wanted to see before he leaves.  His time is up and he is very ready to go home.  I look forward to my new companion and helping to lead the work in this area.  I've been frustrated with the lack of a teaching pool and investigators; which has not been very large since I arrived in Oro Valley.  I think things need to change and I'm ready to tackle them! 

- D&C 6:33,34,36 -
"Fear not to do good, my sons, for whatsoever ye sow, that shall ye also reap; therefore, if ye sow good ye shall also reap good for your reward.

Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail.

Look unto me in every thought; doubt not fear not."

I know that if I work hard, have the faith and desire to improve the work in Oro Valley the Lord will bless us and help us find those who are seeking the truth. I am hopeful with the right changes and my new companion the Lord will help us prevail. We must not fear our beliefs or the challenges we face. Yes, there are many adversaries out there trying to diminish our faith and trust in God. We cannot fear, because fear is contrary to faith. If we have complete trust in our Father in Heaven, we can trust us with his blessings. Then, we may reap the blessings after the trial of our faith. More often than not, we have to show ourselves as willing disciples, then we gain that reward we are promised. As we are patient and long suffering with Him, we are truly following God's command to all of us... to endure to the end.

- Philipians 2:12 -
"Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."

As we are working to endure to the end, we need to remember that is not only important to be righteous when others are watching, but we need to be on our game 24/7.  We must always remember, God is watching and looking out for us.

Love you all!

Elder West

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Break the Chains

"And behold I say unto you all that this was a snare (Satan's plan of control) of the adversary, which he has laid to catch this people, that he might bring you into subjection unto him, that he might encircle you about with his chains, that he might chain you down to everlasting destruction, according to hte power of his captivity."
- Alma 12:6

The one thing I've been reminded of (too often than not) is that Satan "desireth" to have us; to chain us down, and keep us from the truth. He wants to shut our eyes from the light, and see not what God sees in us. Lucifer was a liar from the beginning, and lies to us today. He uses vanity and deceit, trying to prove his hand in the world, to capture souls to be miserable like him. The way of a liar is to turn that which is good and pure, into a half truth, something far from righteousness. My favorite scripture in the Book of Mormon is 2 Nephi 1:23; which points to how we can escape the chains Lucifer uses to keep us to the world.

"Awake, my sons; put on the armor of righteousness. Shake off the chains with which ye are bound, and come forth out of obscurity, and arise from the dust."

Basically, just do it! We need to armor ourselves with good works, with the truth of the gospel, and be firm in our testimonies. So when the devil comes for us, we can rely on God, the greatest of all, to shake him loose. We have to keep our eyes open to the Lord's ways, and rise above our mortality. In the end, Satan is really nothing... 
"They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and shall consider thee, and shall say: Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms?" - 2 Nephi 24:16

When we are fully aware of Satan and his "power", we will be surprised as to how he got such a great hold of us?! He has no body, he knows not all of the intentions of God, and His ways. We know this, and should take hold of that which is greater, and brings lasting happiness... which is the Gospel. Remember your God, and His son. For he has descended further below than any of us, and put upon his shoulders much more than any of us can bear.

We become stronger and able to break the chains of Satan when we are humble, and when we are firm in our testimony, if we just give up ourselves to God who has created us. I've come to see this time and time again as I have felt inadequate.  But still, I glory God for making known unto me what I can work on. All of us are a work in progress in God's eyes.

Sorry, not much to tell about my new area or the work.  It continues to be a struggle and challenge for us, but we keep pressing on.  I get a new companion in 10 days and I'm excited to lead the work here and find someone who is seeking the truth.  Until next week.

Love, Elder West

Friday, October 27, 2017

It's fun to the YMCA

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, even as you desire of me so it shall be done unto you; and, if you desire, you shall be the means of doing much good in this generation."

D&C 11: 8

This passage from Joseph Smith's revelation to his brother, Hyrum, has hit me for some reason on a more personal level. I imagine how Hyrum must have had great faith and belief in his younger brother to be able to bear many of the same torments Joseph experienced. I've been reading the book "Revelations in Context" found in the LDS Gospel Library, and I'm beginning to realize how much I didn't know about the Doctrine and Covenants. The history surrounding the revelations are remarkable, especially how D&C Chapter 4 became scripture; which BTW everyone in our mission recites on a weekly basis. 

We are always looking for opportunities to serve in our area.  This week we had the opportunity to help with the local YMCA and their annual Trunk-or-Treat event. It was long, about 5 hours long! But great to be involved. We were asked to run the bouncy houses, which proved to be more of a "Mad House" than just being bouncy!  But we got a cool t-shirt out of it, so in the end it was all worth it.  Just kidding.

As I have reflected on my mission experiences so far, I have come to better realize all of great blessings which have come my way. I am being reminded all the time how imperfect I am, and I have seen more flaws I have yet to to still overcome...which is a gift indeed. :)  With my recent change in companions, I have also a better understanding of patience and how to deal with others. Another passage that hit me this week was Alma 8: 8-10. When I insert my name and replace the proper pronouns into this scripture it hits a little closer to home.

"And it came to pass that when (Elder West) had come to the city of (Tucson) he began to preach the word of God unto them. 

Now Satan had gotten great hold upon the hearts of the people of the city of (Tucson); therefore they would not hearken unto the words of (Elder West).

Nevertheless (Elder West) labored much in the spirit, wrestling with God in mighty prayer, that he would pour out his Spirit upon the people who were in the city; that he would also grant that he might baptize them unto repentance."

This area has been difficult for me; we have seen little success in our efforts.  I know baptismal success is not all what missionary work is about, but never-the-less it is disappointing to me. I know God has a plan, and I trust in His divine timing; even thou it is often much different from my own. Patience is an application of Faith, and Patience and Long Suffering is a principle of Charity. By applying more patience and charity I've learned that sometimes we just have to wait to see what others may become, and remember all of us are striving to become more like Jesus.

Love, Elder West

Here is a pic from our YMCA event.  Not everyone in the picture are missionaries; you can notice the missionary badges on a few of us. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

3 Days of Service

"Behold, they have been sent to preach my gospel among the congregations of the wicked; wherefore, I give unto them a commandment, thus: Thou shalt not idle away thy time, neither shalt thou bury thy talent that it may not be known." -D&C 60:13

I've been trying to figure out what I am "good at" being a missionary and in my work. What I have found, is that I  love the scriptures!  I love how the scriptures correlate between each other and to our own lives; but most important how the scriptures will build a testimony of the truthfulness of our gospel. We all have gifts that we should not "hide", refer to Matthew 25:14-29. The Book of Mormon is special, and has touched my heart in a number of ways. I think the most powerful thing about it is the its power to convert and testify! There are many instances of people who love our gospel, love the people in our church, and appreciate how we run things. But these same people fail to gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon, and thus cannot enter into a baptismal covenant. Having faith in God and trusting His spirit will bring you a testimony that you need. If you can't say you believe "all" the words of the Book of Mormon, what do you believe? Do you read it and ponder its message in your heart? Most importantly do you apply the principles and application that you learn in your study?

I have felt a great amount of grief and anguish for the people in my new area. They have the audacity to say we don't believe in Jesus, and that we have not accepted him as our savior. How foolish are they? His name is in the name of our church! His name is on the cover of our book! How can you then say we don't believe in him? ESPECIALLY when all we do is in HIS name! As you can see I'm very passionate about this. I digress...

This week was full of service. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. A grand total of about 12 hours within those 3 days. Thursday was our usual service at Catalina State Park. Friday, we (along with about 20+ other missionaries) helped out a non-member weed and mend their yard. It's funny to see the people who obviously have never done yard work before; they don't even use the tools haha! The best service was Saturday, where we got to help work and tend the grounds of the Arizona, Tucson Temple! What a privilege!  I could see the love and care the members took while working on the temple grounds, even as we put in new flowers and arrangements outside. I could definitely feel peace just being on the grounds of the temple.  I've felt this on all of our temples. And what a treat it will be to one day make more covenants there, and set up an eternal family. Most people don't know of this joy, and my job is to help them!

What a blessing it is to be on a mission, I've learned so much about myself and the Gospel! I don't even know where to begin. I wish you all a good week. And if at times you do feel weak, and you think you are below the Savior's mercy, read "It Isn't a Sin to Be Weak" by: Wendy Ulrich, in the April 2015 Ensign. I loved it and hope you can learn something new also. Have a good one!!!

Love, Elder West

New companion

"The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise."
-Proverbs 12:15

Elder Hugh is out of here, and Elder Bradfield is in! Elder "Brad Daddy" has been on his mission fir 23 months so after the next 6 weeks he will be going home as well. So as the saying goes, "I'm killing another companion!" (that's mission lingo for being a missionaries last companion)

Elder Bradfield is a great guy and has been a good missionary.  Unfortunately his challenge in life is that he has a pretty bad stutter, but after working with him the last couple of days it has not become much of a hindrance to our work. His stuttering actually gives me more time to think about what I'm going to say haha. 😉 We have been meeting with this potential investigator by name of Dave. Dave is an "elder" in another church, which is probably a form of a "payed clergy" or job for him. He is very adamant about his understanding and position on religion, and is not willing to change (at least for now!). When Dave reads the Book of Mormon he discounts everything it says. This attitude reminds me of a scripture in John. We need to make sure we are open to the fact that we don't know everything, and to "try every spirit" (1John 4:1), because there are those who work for the adversary, and bring destruction to our testimonies.

Meeting with him has only strengthened my testimony, like a refiners fire. Trials bring blessings.  Sorry it was so short, more next week I promise.  

Love Elder West

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Hard for a Rich Man to Enter into Heaven

"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."

Matthew 19:23-24

Remember that it is the things of the world that keep us out of the Kingdom of God. Seek not to get gain but to have abundance to give. The dynamic of Oro Valley, AZ is very different from the humble confines of Silver City, NM. There is a lot of wealth in my new area. Many of the people we become in contact with look upon the treasures of the world and think "What more could I need?", oh how little do they know.

2 Nephi 9:30 reaffirms "... And behold, their treasure shall perish with them also."

What a treat is was to listen and watch General Conference, to treasure God's word. He puts valuable tools and information in our reach in order to uplift us and those around us. In accordance with the Church's recent push to use every available resource, the Arizona Tucson missionaries are now able to use Facebook.  We can begin using Facebook to find those interested in the church and a way to communicate with investigators in a different sphere of influence. What a time to be a missionary! I am also able to use Facebook Messenger (which is our main focus in communication) to contact those at home during our allotted email time on Monday's. So for those who would rather contact me through Facebook, Garret West is my name (obviously), and my picture will be me with a white shirt tie, and name tag on.  I only have 90 minutes on my p-day to use Facebook so I hope we can all connect!

I hope everyone is doing well, and I invite everyone to read through our last General Conference addresses when they become available, and pick out a principle or call to action a principle you can work-on to further convert yourself to the Lord.

I thank you for all the prayers and support that I have received.

Love, Elder West

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

I'm about Hugh?

Contrary to what was told, I am not serving in Lordsburg, NM. I am in fact, now serving near Tucson, AZ. Oro Valley, AZ to be exact. My new companion is Elder Hugh, he's been in this area for 6 months now. Both of us are very intent on being exactly obedient to the spirit of the law. He's always smiling and having a good time, so I think we'll get along great. I've been extremely blessed with my companions so far, so I'll thank Heavenly Father for that and pray for continued blessings in my assignments for the future. haha. 

Tucson reminds me a lot of Henderson. Dry, hot, and very populated. I'm not in the center of the city, it's more of a suburb. So I feel right at home. I am currently writing to you from a Pep Boys shop, where we are sitting in the lobby waiting for our car to be repaired because it decided to die on us a few days ago. Luckily, someone stopped when our car gave out, and he gave us a lift home.  We thanked him by sharing our beliefs of eternal families and gave him a pamphlet on Temples and Families with our phone number written on it. His name is Tyler. He works at the O'Reilly auto parts store, he just got engaged, has a few kids at home, and will be moving soon... COINCIDENCE? (I think not). I'm positive the Lord intended to have our car die on us so we could meet him. Even though I'm less than enthused to be sitting in Pep Boys on my was a good contact. I digress. 

I would like to share a great scripture I came across the other day and relay some insights I had on it. 

D&C 82: 3-4

   "For of him unto whom much is given much is required; and he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation.
   Ye call upon my name for revelations, and I give them unto you; and inasmuch as ye keep not my sayings, which I give unto you, ye become transgressors; and justice and judgment are the penalty which is affixed unto my law."

As members of the true and living gospel, much is expected of us. It wasn't by mere luck we were born into God's true and everlasting church in the latter days. We were required, by divine design, to use our benefit to bring others unto the gospel. He has asked us to spread the gospel to every kindred, tongue, and people. Full time missionaries are NOT the only ones with a calling to spread His message. More importantly, members are to bring their families and friends to the realization of the Restored church. Let me refer you to a talk by Hartman Rector Jr. In the 1979 April General Conference titled, "Following Christ to Victory."

Read and ponder the message and consider the responsibility we have because we are members of Christ's church on the earth today. 

"Obedience brings blessings, exact obedience brings miracles. Realize how insignificant we are, and yet how much love God has for each and every one of us. If we do as He asks, he is bound by his word to help us. Not because he has to, because he wants to. Give God something to work with. We are promised that if we have only a desire to grow, He can work with it. But, if we give Satan room to infest our hearts, he too can work on us. I know if we give Satan even an inch, he will take it a mile. Protect the cracks in your hearts, fill them with love and compassion of your fellow sons and daughters of God. Don't let pride break down the foundation of your faith, and as always, press forward. 

Also, I added a few pictures from this week's activities. 

1. A cool sign we saw outside an investigators home (I'm so proud 😉 Mormons are welcome)
2. A butterfly I caught one night after returning to our apartment. 
3. My Grandpa's Super Retro missionary tag!  I think its like 100 years old. I'll be wearing this from now on.

I do have a new address, so if you wish to send me a letter of sorts, the mission office address is 939 W Chapalla Dr. Tucson, AZ 85704

It may not get to me extremely fast, but if you send it there it will get to me. 

Love, Elder West