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

Thursday, August 3, 2017

I Love to See the Temple

This week was definitely a week to remember; one to put in the record books for sure. We are still working with members for referrals, less active members and finding new investigators. We are trying hard to get our current investigator pool to move forward and progress, but sometimes the work slows down. July is coming to a close, and I have no idea where it went. Elder Jackson will be going home in three days, what a great time we've had together. He'll do great things I'm sure of it.

The best thing that has happened on my mission so far was going to the temple with Brad! Our nearest temple is the Gila Valley Temple in Thatcher, AZ.  Brad, his wife, and his son Gabe picked us up last week and off we went to Temple. It's about an hour and a half drive, so it's a good thing we're super close with Brad and his family haha. We had a great time talking and getting to know each other better. Brad and I are becoming good friends, and he and I will definitely keep in touch after my mission. We had the opportunity to do Baptisms for the Dead, where I was able to baptize Brad and then confirm 4 generations of his family. We did work for his dad, his grandpa, great-grandpa, and great-great-grandpa!  They now have the opportunity to accept the gospel in the Spirit World. I know Brad had a wonderful experience, and what a treat it was for me to help him in this journey!

Soon enough, Elder Jackson will be gone, so it will just be me and my Micronesian companion running this show. haha. The odds for me staying in Silver City for another transfer are small. So for the next three weeks I'll try to soak-in as much of this cool air as I can, before I head off to my second area. Let's all pray Arizona will simmer down before I get there. :) 

Love, Elder West

Monday, July 31, 2017

Bob

Our special "little" New Yorker was baptized this week. Well...actually he's not so little; he is a towering 6 foot 5 inches tall and pushing 300 pounds! Luckily I didn't have to get in the water with him haha. We had a great baptismal service, everyone who attended was sincere and kind, and the spirit was definitely there. To get Bob to this point, there was a lot of fellowship from the Ward towards both Bob and his non member parents. (so we will see what becomes of his parents.) After the baptism his parents had a reception at their home (which was real nice) and then members went over to Bobs place for a BBQ he was throwing. He's going to fit right in. (I forgot to take pictures sorry) 

Silver City has opened up her arms and has been pouring out its blessings. Pouring blessings of both investigators and more RAIN. The rain has been coming down every day this week. It's not very hot in Silver City, (so that's good I guess) but I always smell like wet dog!  Nearly every house has a pet and all of them want to lay on me for some reason, wet or dry; and then I get wet and smelly.... Blah. 

I got word from President Browning this past week that I most likely won't be staying in Silver City for another transfer. 🙁 BOO ...so I'm going to cherish these next four weeks.  I've learned to love this place and especially the people! 

Our missionary message to everyone has been: "through a modern day prophet, God has restored knowledge about the plan of salvation, which is centered on Christ's atonement and fulfilled by living the first principles and ordinances of the gospel."  I love this message!  As we all focus on our callings (no matter where we are), we can come to know Christ more fully, to be better people, and have charity towards our brothers and sisters. Joseph Smith truly has done more for this world than any other man, (other than Christ himself.) If we center our lives in the gospel we may return back to live with our Father in Heaven once again. 

Believe you can Achieve, and you will Succeed. (corny quote of the week...😁 lol)

Love, Elder West

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

My Drunk Uncle is from Micronesia


Hi everyone. Transfers were this week, but thank the good Lord I am still in Silver City! I don't have to head to the summer heat in Arizona yet. Yay!  Elder Jackson and I picked up our new companion, Elder Edward, to complete our trio. He is an awesome guy. He's from Micronesia, (it's in the South Pacific if you didn't know).  I have a funny story of a 'drunk uncle from Micronesia' I'll tell you later. All three of us have been doing well together. It seems I was meant to be part of a trio, like I've been prepared for this my whole life.  Haha. JK.  Its fine.

This last week has been hectic and filled with service as always! Ah... I love doing service. Anything to get me out of the white shirt and tie is fine by me. Anyways, more about Elder Edward. He has been pretty lucky coming from Arizona, to New Mexico, the land of enchantment! Much better weather during the summer. But when he arrived, it was pouring rain like cats and dogs. We have a 2017 Tacoma truck as our vehicle (not to brag) and so as we drove him from town we had his suitcases in the back bed of the truck and his stuff got soaked.... But lord almighty his scriptures were in tact! Miracles! 

On a more missionary minded tangent, our investigator Bob will be getting baptized this Saturday! Let's gooooo!!! Yay. I'm so excited for him. He has been waiting for this for a while, and he is more than ready to become a member. 

Other than that there's nothing more to say. Maybe next week will be a little more spiritual. Oh!  While doing some service this week we found this creepy severed doll head, and we've been playing tag with it. Basically we try to put it in the other elders truck bed without them noticing, and they try to put it back in ours. Don't judge me, we have to find new things to keep us entertained haha. Oh and we almost got shot this week, so that was cool. Anyways, over and out! 

Pictures:
One of our bug battles we hold 
The baby horned toad I named "Henry".  I kept him in my pocket all day this week. 

Love, Elder West



Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Goodbye Pres Passey

Yo yo yo? My people, it's been too long. Sorry about that. 

This transfer is coming to a close, and I have no idea where the time went!? Silver City has been treating me well!!... and I just found out that I will be spending another transfer here in the land of enchantment! Woot woot! 
I will be apart of a trio of Elders for three weeks, because my companion right now (Elder Jackson) is coming to the end of his mission.  So I am getting a new companion who has been out for a while. But because he is new to this area we working together until Elder Jackson leaves and we can get him familiar with the Silver Springs district before I leave. I most likely will not be here for two more transfers, but I'll cherish the time that I've been here. This has been a great area.

Lately, we have been working closely with unbaptized youth in less active families. We've seen a good amount of success from it, as well as more opportunities from referrals (yes referrals) coming also from those less active members. 

We said goodbye to our mission president, Pres. Passey, and welcomed President Browning. President Passey has not been my mission president for too long, but still, it's a bitter sweet moment. Our new Pres is pretty cool, and I think he will be a good fit for our mission. I look forward to getting to know him. 

That's pretty much all from me. Its hard for me to have the desire to write much, so take it easy on me!  All is well, all is well. 

And here are a few pics too from the fun we've had lately.

Love, Elder West





Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Wolves, Monks, and more!

"... No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing..." 
One of my favorite lines from the Standard of Truth. 

These past few weeks of the transfer are such a blur. We are almost halfway through the transfer period but it still feels like I've only been here for a month or two. I've been on my mission for over 4 months so far, and yet I've learned so much. Elder Jackson and I have been working real hard, and hitting our missionary standards (the numbers, stats, etc.) every week, but it has always been one thing or another that keeps us from reaching our total goal. Either an investigator doesn't come to church, or we don't find enough investigators for the week. But THIS week we hit our numbers! Yay! LET'S GO! 

There have been quite a few miracles lately for us. One is that we have found about 5 un-baptized youth from LDS families who need to take the lessons. Yes, they are low hanging fruit, but our final goal is still the same; bring souls unto Christ no matter the age or background, all souls are precious to God. Brad Gutierrez got baptized! It's been a long road. He has had a tough background, being in gangs, going to jail, and having children at the age of 16. Crazy. But through his 5 years being married to a member of the church and investigating the gospel, we helped him get into the water. Now I am happy to report he is a member of the church, and holds the Aaronic Priesthood. 

Some cool things we've done these past few weeks. 

1) visited a monk monastery
2) had a dead squirrel put into our bathtub by the other Elders (story will be provided) 
3) fed a pack of wolves hot dog bits, by tossing them off my foot (story will be provided as requested)
4) took district pics in front of a bug infested box spring that we spray-painted

The monk monastery was cool and very interesting.  I care not to share the whole story about the pack of Wolves we fed unless asked by PERSONAL MESSAGE (Yes that is incentive to email me ya hooligans). 

Now to the dead squirrel. The other Elders in the area, Lewis and Kinder, thought it would be a great idea to break into our apartment and put a dead animal in our bathroom. They climbed up our balcony, shimmied open our glass door, and left the rodent in there for us to find later that night. Elder Jackson and I knew it was them, so when we called them on the phone, they were busting up laughing.  You know we will one-up-them soon. Haha

As always, keep on keeping-on. And remember who you are and what you stand for. "... Persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame; but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent,..." 

Love, Elder West