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 good...how 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 P-day...it 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

Monday, August 21, 2017

Onward I Go

It finally happened. My time here in Silver City has come to a close. It's a bitter sweet moment for me. I feel strongly that my service here has been good and it is time to move on. As I reflected this Sunday in Sacrament meeting, I truly felt that there is not much more I have to offer this area. I have had wonderful experiences and even seen many miracles happen. I will remember many of the members, their goodness and strong testimonies. I will never forget the opportunity of sharing the gospel and being an instrument in our Heavenly Father's plan, to teach, bless and even baptize. 

I was able to go calf branding one last time with Bro. MacDonald on his ranch. So that was fun! And... I was also able to see and say goodbye to Brad before my departure later today. I will not forget him.

I will be traveling to Tucson tomorrow with another load of missionaries making transfers.  A long day in a white van I've been told.  But it will be good to see the other missionaries and to move on.  I will be serving in Lordsburg New Mexico, about 45 minutes south of Silver City.  Its a smaller town, but I'm sure our area covers an even larger area of towns.  It will be interesting.

2Nephi 24:16-17

"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?

"And made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof, and opened not the house of his prisoners?"

Satan is nothing, he has no power over us unless we give it to him. When we see him, our hearts will turn from his unrighteousness dominion. He has nothing to offer. He loves us not. Those of his followers who cry unto him for relief or saving, will be screaming unto deaf ears. Choose this day who you will serve.

You cannot serve two masters. We make this choice everyday, so get on your knees and join God. He has already won the war, but it doesn't mean Lucifer won't put up a fight.

Keep God close, and he will deliver you. 

Love, Elder West

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Hiking with wolves

"So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." 
-John 8:7

This account of Jesus forgiving and forsaking an adulterer has been on my mind this past week. I try to remember not to judge others, and see everyone as children of God, who needs the Gospel. Keep in mind that no one is perfect (except for Jesus Christ.) Christ could have thrown the first stone, he was without blemish or sin. But still, he grants us mercy and allows us to access his atonement and grace. I try to apply and teach to "look inward before you judge outwardly." I recently started using a "metaphorical" rock in my lessons, where I hand someone a rock and tell them to "cast the first stone" whenever they are being judgmental. Harsh I know, and yes it is very passive aggressive haha!

Last P-Day we had a wonderful time on a hike... WITH WOLVES!  We went hiking with a pack of wolves and dogs.  One wolf was a K-9 wolf hybrid, another a coyote/ K-9/ wolf hybrid, a few dogs, and a FULL blooded wolf. The full blooded wolf's name is BewareWolf, I may have talked about him a while back. Our "wolf hike" was such an adventure; It was great being "one with nature" and a part of the pack haha! Not many people can say they've hiked with a wolf! 

Elder Edward and I have been working diligently to get people back on track and back on the straight and narrow. We've seen miracles... for example one of our investigators is now recommitted to hear from us, we've also been receiving more referrals from members giving us even more people to teach!  We have been working hard contacting anyone we meet, and asking them if they know anyone who might need the slightest bit of help. I feel this is the least I can do for the Silver City area before my eventual departure, so I can leave it in good hands with plenty of people to teach. I literally count the days until transfer calls, and I'm nervous to be leaving the place that has been apart of 1/4 of my mission! I can't believe it will be 6 months on the 15th, and yet I still feel that I haven't done enough! 

As I've had time to contemplate my success here, I have also come to realize the faults and fears I have as a missionary. For example, I find myself hesitating to quote the Book of Mormon too much. I feel that I might, as a representative of our church, put a bad taste in someone's mouth by trying to influence and quote from our sacred scripture. I think others will not consider my words as legitimate if I use the Book of Mormon verses using the Bible. There are many fears I have as a missionary, (don't get me started) but I love the quote in Mormon 9:31 which says, "Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father, because of his imperfection, neither them who have written before him; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been." This scripture shows us how others can learn of our wrongful actions. So don't be like me, testify of the goodness of the Book of Mormon, its truthfulness and blessings it brings to us, and I promise to do a better job of it as well. 

As I was reading through my old copy of... guess what... The Book of Mormon study (do you see a theme here?), I found a quotation I wrote in my book. I wrote to remind myself to "likened the scriptures" unto myself. I wrote "compare and contrast the original verses in 2 Nephi 4:20 to my version. Correlate the words to your life; Laman and Lemuel had done sin on their trek to the America's. Don't we sin as well in our Wilderness? Being led astray and off yonder to roam uncharted seas?" 

Here's my take on the verse. 

"My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the world; and he hath preserved me upon the sins of my past."

Thanks for all of your letters, your advise, and love.  I know I'm not the greatest in replying to your letters, but I'm working on it.  

Love, Elder West

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Flanking like a pro

Yo yo yo, Elder West in the house! Reporting in from Silver City New Mexico, aka the Land of Enchantment aka the "coolest" place in the mission (literally). Looking back on this week, it's been a long one (and yet went by so quickly) at the same time. Elder Jackson is officially home, so we are back to a two person Elder companionship... Boo... But now I get to drive the truck....yaaay! 

We've seen a new found energy here. Elder Edwards and I are closer, now that it's just the two of us, and man is that kid a hoot. There's so much I don't know about him; but the more I learn about him, the more I appreciate him and respect his judgment. What a willing missionary and someone I can look towards for guidance and support.  He is truly a wonderful person. ...enough of my missionary crush on my companion, here's the skinny from my experiences this past week. 

Some of our investigators are starting to show promise. Namely a little family of a mother and three daughters. Because of a faithful member, they are coming to church consistently, meeting with the missionaries (us), and are being fellow-shipped by the ward. What more could you ask for! There are some details we have to fine tune, but the foundation and support is there. Also, we got to play basketball this week at the church with some members, less actives, and non-members. We contacted them a little and hopefully we will see some success through our efforts on and off the court (see what I did there). 

Every week is made better when I am wrestling some cattle to the ground. My numbers now are up to about 50 or so cows... give or take. I'm getting pretty good at it too. The other Elders are new to it, so Brother McDonald has had me "coach" them how to flank properly. It was rough at first, but eventually they started to get the hang of it. A few times I had to jump in and pick up the cow off the ground and wrestle it down to the ground so we could get into position. Not the safest thing, but I know what I'm doing now. According to Bro McD, "the other Elders have a tough time gettin' them hefers' to the floor, so Elder West needs to step in and take the reigns sometimes." 

People are moving forward in the faith and I'm consistently in awe of the diligence of some of the members that we have here in Silver City. Brother Darnell for example, the older man with the Model T vintage car, has been doing great lately! He stopped drinking tea and coffee, he hasn't been drinking beer for the past month, and he came to all 3 hours of church this Sunday! Yay! All of this so he can go to the temple. And sometime soon he hopes to get the work done for his wife and himself, so they can become sealed for time and all eternity. Brad Gutierrez (baptized last month) is extremely involved in church, and will be getting a church calling soon enough. Bob Sroka, our recent baptism will be receiving the priesthood in two weeks. All good things. 

I'm happy I could leave some impression in this part of the Lords vineyard. I've been a part of many miracles, and I've seen our Heavenly Father's guiding hand lead me in my studies and my interactions with my fellow men. My goal for my mission, (for my life really) is to be able to have a sure faith in Jesus Christ. Enough faith where I would be able and willing to give up my life. I don't know when I'll ever reach that point, but as I testify so often, it is through our willingness to give up everything that we gain salvation. Thank you all for your influence on me and my journey. 

D&C 98:14-15
"Therefore, be not afraid of your enemies, for I have decreed in my heart, saith the Lord, that I will prove you in all things, whether you will abide in my covenant, even unto death, that you may be found worthy. For if ye will not abide in my covenant ye are not worthy of me."

Alma 26:30
"And we have suffered all manner of afflictions, and all this, that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul; and we supposed that our joy would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some."

Do all that you can, and Christ will make up the rest. 

Love, Elder West