Sunday, July 8, 2018

June 25th - Frieeeeends!

"And since man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself; but the sufferings and death of Christ atone for their sins, through faith and repentance, and so forth; and that he breaketh the bands of death, that the grave shall have no victory, and that the sting of death should be swallowed up in the hopes of glory; and Aaron did expound all these things unto the king." Alma 22:14

Elder Brown and I had a solid week! We've been going on splits with all the elders in our zone, helping them plan for their areas, and setting some dope goals. We also got to pick a new zone focus for the coming month which was cool.

We actually got to do some YSA work as well this week, which was great. I'm excited for school at EA to start again because then we lose the two family wards and just cover 4 YSA Wards, and I've heard that's pretty swanky. 

Also random update, Elder Brown and I are total bros. Honestly there are so many random things we have in common it's kind of ridiculous. Post mission adventure plans have already been made, and countless inside jokes have already been born. 😎 Haha 

We are also playing a lot of basketball on our p-days, many dope workouts throughout the week, plenty of movie references, and stories of past shenanigans shared. He truly is a shenanstigator at heart, and therefore a brother.

Hope everyone back home is doing well! I apologize for not being able to write a longer email, but tis the nature of my life now. Stay as fresh as the haircuts of all the elders in my zone now (thanks for the fresh fades Elder Brown). 

Love G. West

Ok so this email will not be nearly as long as I would like it to be, our schedule has been less than convenient, cuz like everyone in the zone needs something, so sorry.

July 2nd - Enlightenment

"And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 


"And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name."

"And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ." Acts 5:40-42

When I reflect on the early apostles, I think of how courageous they were in sharing the gospel. They weren't as steadfast and immovable right from the beginning as they were at the end. "Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad." Matt 26:31

This gives me comfort in the fact that I am not a perfect disciple. It's interesting how "disciple" and "discipline" are only different by a couple letters. For us to be true disciples of Jesus Christ we must be disciplined and show self restraint, bridling our passions, facing adversity with calmness, and loving those who despise us (1Cor 13:5, Alma 38:12, D&C 135:4, Matt 5:44). This is not easy, but can be possible through the grace and wisdom of Christ. What a wonderful change it has been for me to want to be disciplined and not kick against the pricks. I don't know where I would be in my progression towards perfection or as a person if I had not come on a mission. 

I learned a lot this week, mainly because our zone had a conference and we had interviews with the president. It's so inspiring to be around so many good people. It's a real blessing to serve the Lord.

Onward and upward

Me and My companion Elder Brown

Love,
Elder West


June 11th - Hello There

"And the church did meet together oft, to fast and to pray, and to speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls. And they did meet together oft to partake of bread and wine, in remembrance of the Lord Jesus." - Moroni 6:6

This past Sunday in one of our Wards we were talking about the Sacrament during Sunday School and I feel impressed to share my thoughts. 

Amongst many scriptures that advise us "partake not of the sacrament of Christ unworthily" (1Cor. 11:29; 3Ne 18:29; Morm 9:29; D&C 46:4) there are many more things which I personally consider that will help us to "keep in remembrance" Christ and enable us to FULLY indulge in His atoning sacrifice. We read in the Sacrament prayers (Moroni 4:3; Moroni 5:2 etc.) that we must always remember Him. There is no better time than at church to look back on our previous week and move forward in the next. Once a week the Lord has set aside this sacred time solely devoted for this purpose. As we show God that it is important to us, our effort and repentance can make us whole. "For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered [week by week] continually make the comers thereunto perfect." - Hebrews 10:1

The Atonement, the great and everlasting sacrifice of Jesus Christ made it possible to be "at one" with Heavenly Father's personal path for us. Without the Atonement we would be lost and without hope. Because He did die and He does extend His mercy, we can be spiritually lead to a life the Lord would want us to live. For God is no "respecter of persons", but thoroughly concerned with the individual salvation of all of His children. So individually we must "work out [our] own Salvation" (Acts 10:34; Philipians 2:12). Personally we need to be concerned for the welfare of our souls. How can we do this when we are not thinking of Christ first, especially at church, especially during the sacrament? We are renewing our covenant with God, an Eternal promise, to remember His Son. Do you honestly think you'll do so during the week if you do not do so during a time specially sanctioned by the Creator?! How are you showing Him that it is important to you? Are you bowing your head in humility or just arching your neck to see the screen of your phone? Do you close your eyes in precious prayer or out of boredom? Are you making the Sacrament special or just something we do at church?

In symbolism to partaking of His goodness, let's look toward another instance where there is a group of people gathering and consuming. "And it came to pass that I beheld others pressing forward, and they came forth and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press forward through the mist of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron, even until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree."

"And after they had partaken of the fruit of the tree they did cast their eyes about as if they were ashamed.
And after they had tasted of the fruit they were ashamed, because of those that were scoffing at them; and they fell away into forbidden paths and were lost." (1Ne 8:24-25; 1Ne 8:28)

We may partake but not internalize the impending importance of the ordinance of the Sacrament. Our we may just taste and just do so without thought or feeling. I can't stress enough how much I love and appreciate my Savior and the gift of the Sabbath and the chance I have to indulge in His Atonement. 

Enjoy your week!

Elder West

P.S.
I ate 15 Dennys pancakes today. I now hold the ATM record.

And part of a video we made... 

Kbye



June 4th - Weekly

"And there are many among us who have many revelationsfor they are not all stiffneckedAnd as many as are not stiffnecked and have faith, have communion with the Holy Spirit, which maketh manifest unto the children of men, according to their faith."

Hello everybody, its good to write to you this week! There have been a lot going on... so I'll make this quick and painless.

Recently our Zone has had the opportunity to help out a potential investigator clean her house. This place was honestly the filthiest home I've been inside on my mission (and that's saying something). It was a single wide trailer, literally falling apart. The floors were made of particle board, most of which was rotting away and many parts had holes where you could see outside! Cobwebs lined the walls and they were not without spiders. Luckily they had two dogs and 4-5 cats which had defecated all over the place. The mother had her clothes layered about a foot high in her bedroom, all of which smelled of cat urine. Don't even get me started with the bathrooms. Needless to say it was a BAD situation. The mother of the family anxiously wanted us to come help her "tidy up", because the CPS (child protection services) were threatening to take away her kids. We did the best we could but after our help doing what we could with her home, unfortunately (or fortunately depending upon how you look at it) her kids were still taken from her.

Let's get to some happy stuff now! We had a Zone Conference and an MLC, which were both AMAZING! At our Zone Conference our Mission President's Mission President from his mission came to speak to us. Wise words from a wise man, he essentially told us to not lie and to get married as fast as necessary when we get home haha. At MLC we had the opportunity to hear from Elder Taniela B. Wokolo from the Quorum of the Seventy and also an Area Seventy attend the conference and give us some training. Elder Wokolo is now in my top 3 favorite General Authorities. That man can spit out scriptures like it's none of your business! My respect for the leaders of the Church has grown ten fold. They are true servants of God.

Today we went to an escape room, we escaped. Just thought I'd let you know.

Have a good week Y'all

Love Elder West

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

April 30 to Gila Valley Zone


April 30th

"No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." Matthew 6:24

To my surprise I was transferred from Sierra Vista a few weeks ago after only being there for three months! A few highlights these past 6 weeks since I have been a slacker on my letter writing. Sorry everyone...

I was asked to be the District Leader of the Sierra Vista area in January. Elder Dickinson became my companion when I first arrived but then left 4 days later due to health complications... Elder Gee became my next companion.

Elder Gee and built up a great teaching pool from nearly nothing.  We had the opportunity to do service with some members in the Ward (I'll include pictures).  We helped out at a camp site and ended up making s'mores for the kids. (the little kids asked me to help them out).

I got to defeather, gut, and clean a chicken.  That was interesting.  I promoted my little chick to Elder for the day. hehe

In April I was transferred to the Gila Valley Zone and asked to be a Zone Leader. Sadly I had to say goodbye to Barbara, she will be getting baptized soon!!  I'm so proud of her! :)

Gila Valley is basically small town rural Arizona. I've already worked with my new companion before, so I know we will get along and we both like to work hard.  But I'm really upset to leave a biking area! We have to travel throughout the Zone to attend District meetings, move missionaries around from one area to another, work with our zone missionaries, and help train the District leaders, so we have an awesome van! 

Not much more to tell, but you'll be hearing from me soon as I head to Eastern Arizona University YSA!  😏  haha, JK

Love Elder West

Gila Valley

Barbara's First Day at Church





Sunday, April 15, 2018

Barbra

"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." - Philippians 2:12

How easy would life be if your parents were looking over your shoulder 24/7 making sure you were doing the rights things? We would have hardly any choices if our God were there also. This is our Father's Plan, to prove ourselves not just in His presence, premortal life, but to show our devotion to Him when we are without Him. A conference talk I read recently described how foolish at times we are in feeling safe from others realizing our secret works.  

"Do not take comfort in the fact that your transgressions are not known by others. That is like an ostrich with his head buried in the sand. He sees only darkness and feels comfortably hidden. In reality he is ridiculously conspicuous. Likewise our every act is seen by our Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son. They know everything about us." - Richard G. Scott April 1995

President Kimball taught: “To every forgiveness there is a condition. The plaster must be as wide as the sore. The fasting, the prayers, the humility must be equal to or greater than the sin.” “It is unthinkable that God absolves serious sins upon a few requests. He is likely to wait until there has been long, sustained repentance.”

This is what life is about... REPENTANCE! It's there for a reason, use it. We can't change the past, we can only correct our course and learn from our mistakes. Come back to the path of righteousness, God will always be there with open arms and a heart full of compassion for the truly repentant soul.

These past few weeks have been different to say the least. My new companion has been transferred out of our mission due to difficulties and discomfort he feels while exerting himself on a bike, walking, etc.  He apparently has had health issues from a previous injury. So now I have Elder Gee! We are going to do good things together, I've had the spirit witness to me numerous times that this is what has needed to happen. 

Our work is moving on. We have an investigator Barbara who is preparing for baptism soon. We hardly teach her at all! We give her assignments and pamphlets to read, and she reads them! She goes through the pamphlets numerous times, and is reading the Book of Mormon on her own and is absolutely loving it! She teaches herself and we just come for support, to answer questions, and bear testimony. Even in her old age, she is finding answers to questions she didn't even know she had! The Gospel rings to her, God is calling to her. How marvelous it is to be a small part in her life, this is what missionary work is all about! Helping the one. 

A week or so ago, my previous new companion, Elder Dickinson and I went to this "chicken wing" place for dinner. They have this "homicidal wing challenge" where if you eat 20 of their hottest wings you get a free t-shirt and your photo gets posted on their Facebook page. So naturally I took the challenge and succeeded!  Haha...those buggers were hot! 

That's all folks, remember to keep in mind the messages we heard from our recent conference. 

Love,
Elder West

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Down with Elder Downey

My time with Elder Downey has sadly come to a close. It's been a good six weeks my man! Before Elder Downey leaves, we went to lunch at this sushi joint they have out here. It's one of those "hole-in-the-wall" kind of place, but I was surprised; it wasn't too bad and we didn't seem to get sick. We also tried hard to solve our Rubik's cube in under a minute, Elder Downey was a little faster than me (and I taught him how to solve it), but I'm a proud Daddy :).

Our current teaching pool isn't very big, but we are working hard to get into people's homes. The one person we are trying really hard to help is Barbara, and she has just been a missionaries dream! She's about 75 years old and I love her to death! She loves the Book of Mormon, she know's Joseph Smith is a prophet, and she finds so much peace from knowing the Plan of Salvation. She wants to be baptized, but the only problem is that she has social anxiety.  It's very difficult for her to get out and attending church meetings may not easy for her either. She is very comfortable with us, so we are praying that in time she'll gain the courage to come out of her apartment.

Spiritual message of the week..

"Wo be unto them that shall pervert the ways of the Lord after this manner, for they shall perish except they repent. Behold, I speak with boldness, having authority from God; and I fear not what man can do; for perfect love casteth out all fear."
-Moroni 8:16

How can you gain power? Boldness+Love=Power. If we can overcome fear, we can overcome the stratagem of the devil.

The upcoming transfer Elder Downey is leaving and I will still remain as the District leader (blah), giving training's and so on.  So sorry if I don't feel up to preparing a very spiritual e-mail, I'll try to be better in the future.

Until next week.  Love,
Elder West

Pictures:

1) a funny sign we saw this week
2) my current Rubik's cube record.  53 second
3) picture of our District (the chairs indicate how many transfers each missionary has left before heading home)