Friday, December 8, 2017

Light the World

I just have to say, everyone needs to watch the #LightTheWorld videos. I love them!

It's a great time to be a missionary and a great time to testify of Christ. Sadly, I do not get to enjoy the snow this year, but the decorations are legendary!  Elder Remus and I are on bikes now, so we are trying to figure that out. Hopefully I'll be able to get my legs back in shape for the ski season when I get home!

Love you all.  Merry Christmas!

Elder West

Monday, November 27, 2017

I'm a father!

My time with Elder Bradfield has come to a close, and I am now the proud parent to Elder Remus! He is straight from the MTC, he was born and raised in Columbia, Missouri. Both of us are working great together so far, and there are only good things to come!

One profound experience that we had this week was while we were tracking in the late hours of the day. If you don't know this already, Arizona does not have day light savings time... so that means it gets dark earlier now, by about 6 or 6:30. As you can imagine, it’s not ideal for us to contact people in the dark, but we try it anyways. Elder Remus and I thought we should get out of the car and walk the streets in one of our areas and knock on some potential investigator doors and stop by a few less active members. We began walking from house to house, trying to make sure we are spiritually in-tune for any promptings we may have along the way. We met one lady who was very nice, so try to see if our discussions go anywhere, but it was getting late and we needed to begin walking back to our car before it got too dark.  As we are walking back, we start reminiscing about handing out a Book of Mormon earlier and other jolly fun things we did. We pass by this house and I look inside the window and see a lady in front of her computer on the phone. I want to talk to her, but immediately I think of a million reasons why we shouldn't...its getting late, its dark, she's busy because she's on the phone, etc. etc. so we keep walking. About a minute later I feel a strong impression that we should turn around and knock on her door, so we head back. We walk up to her door and knock. She hangs up the phone, leaves her computer, stops everything she is doing, and greets us warmly at the front door. Now I need to point out, that this is extremely out-of-the-ordinary for this area, we never get a warm welcome, especially so quickly. She invites us into her home, which is also very odd; I have only been invited inside a home after a first contact once before, during my entire mission. She then asked if WE had any questions for her. Both of us are kinda dumb founded at this point, as we are usually the ones asking all of the questions. She then proceeds to tell us how her daughter used to take the missionary discussions and she even invited the missionaries over for dinner in the past. Wow, now she is super nice! We talk a bit, she asks US for OUR phone number, (another first) so she can have us over for dinner sometime. Amazing experience for us, especially for Elder Remus, being in his first area, and an awesome way to end a long day of contacting! Honestly, that was the best cold contact I've ever had, thank goodness this is God's work and not mine. If this were my work, it would be impossible to get anything done… haha.

One "fun" experience I had today during P-day was while playing soccer. It's in a small turf field in the middle of an apartment complex that we visit periodically... and it so happens, that soccer balls and glass don't really mesh together very well (go figure). Yes, I broke someone's window. Luckily the lady was very nice, apparently it has happened to her before (I don't know if that is a bad thing or a good thing). I spoke with the apartment manager about how I will be paying for it, so it's all good for now. They were very surprised that I fessed up, they told me that most of the time when this happens no one claims responsibility. Oh well, such is life.

I hope everyone has a good rest of their week, and remember to be thankful for all that we enjoy. 

Love you all! 

Love, Elder West

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