Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Almost Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone! 

We had our mission Christmas conference this past week, so that was fun.  To keep us entertained we played a Family Feud type of event (pictures below), and your Boy Elder West was a final contestant (let's go!).  

Thank you to everyone who have sent presents cards etc.!! It truly has made this Christmas a special one. I feel so loved!!! 

The work continues and Elder Remus and I are doing great. The bike is doing me good, and I love getting my legs back in shape for the eventual ski season 🙃. Pray that I don't break an ankle today 🏀 playing basketball.

I strongly advise you all to read Psalm 139... HO HO HO! 

Love, Elder West

Love the desert sunsets and creative Christmas decorations!

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 serve...at 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 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

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


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! 

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

Monday, June 5, 2017

Goodbye Dad

Much has happened since last P-Day. My Dad is gone (my trainer Elder VanSweden, not my real Dad). He got transferred to Thatcher, Arizona, which is in a biking area, haha and right before summer too!  Poor guys. My new companion is Elder Jackson,and is super cool. He asked to be transferred here from his AP leadership position in Tucson. I've learned a lot with him so far, and I am excited to see what more his 22 months in the mission filed has brought him. He's going to go home after this area, so I will be his last companion.

We are pretty good buds already, and BOTH of us also have a real drive to get the work moving here in Silver City. We are going to have a baptism this Friday for our investigator Brad who I've been meeting with and teaching for a while. In fact he has been seeing the missionaries for many years. It's exciting to see the change people have as they apply the gospel in their lives. Brad has been a testament to me of the importance of keeping yourself worthy and staying in this gospel. Nothing else in this world can bring you as much happiness as being a dedicated member in the LDS church. 

This week I went tracking for the first time. It's extremely ineffective, but for the hour we dedicate a week towards knocking on doors, it shows that we are willing to do anything to find those who are ready and willing to receive our message. We struck out on every door, no one wanting to hear us except for one old man. He probably felt bad for us, because it started to rain. Our visit didn't result in much.  But my dedication towards God is what we needed out of that hour. 

I've seen an increase in my drive to do hard things, and more focus in the work. I've been able to finish my study (and it was study, not just reading) of the Book of Mormon. There is so much more I can learn from it, and I invite you all to read it... if any one is even reading this. There is no other book that can bring you closer to our Heavenly Father than the BofM. Thank you all, and remember who brought you here.

Love, Elder West

Letter from Old MacDonald

Last week we received a letter in the US Mail.  It was a nicely written letter from Bro. Jerry MacDonald whom Garret and his companion has been helping over the past month with his ranch.  

"Gary Brent,

You have an awesome Elder here in the Silver City, N.M. area.  You can be proud of him.

He and his companion have been in our home numerous times.  He has helped us brand some might big calves the "old fashioned way" laying them on the ground and holding them down with the muscle the Good Lord gave him.

He and his companion gave me a blessing when I had a heart attack.  Probably saved my life!

We love him.

The Jerry McDonald's 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Investigator Brad & the Holy Ghost

Hi everyone!  

B B B Radical for the win! Our investigator Brad is really moving along. He's been around missionaries for years now. His kids are baptized and a part of the church. His wife is an active member. He LOVES the church and has for a while now. So why hasn't he gotten baptized yet?  Elder VanSweden and I have been helping him out with those challenges and stresses holding him back. He's completely aware that baptism is important, and he wants to get sealed to his wife in the temple. But sometimes our lives hold us back from becoming what we want to be. And we hold ourselves back from becoming what God knows we can become. 

I'll get back to Brad, but let me tell you what's been going on lately with me. 

My district in Silver City, NM went to a Zone Conference in Arizona.  We were able to go to the Temple while we were out there... it never ceases to amaze me how peaceful and serene temples are. Unfortunately, I was limping the entire because because I hurt (rolled over) BOTH of my ankles the day before the trip (it's long story, but safe to day that I didn't feel good). 

Our days have been filled service, and I love it. Horses from the rescue ranch are doing good as always. We was able to eat more Rocky Mountain Oysters while flanking and branding calf's at Brother McDonald's ranch (its a ranch not a farm) haha. Also, something new to eat on the ranch...I got to eat cow tongue. It was, well interesting ... but nothing beats the taste of a fresh hamburger!  Yummmmmmmm.

Getting serious now. Prayer is real, and combined with daily scripture study of the Book of Mormon, it WILL help you. I've seen it in our investigator Brad and Ruth Seawolf. Both of them have had stumbling blocks in their way toward baptism. But, being obedient and following the admonition of our prophet Pres. Monson, as he promised this last conference, daily prayer and study of our good book, will give us the companionship of the spirit.  The Holy Ghost is what testifies of truth. His holy calling is to lead us towards truth, and keep us on the straight and narrow path towards the tree of life. 

I've realized a lot more about the Holy Spirit, and how he helps me in my missionary work. As I'm in a lesson, I can distinctly feel the Spirit there. Either strong or quiet. As long as it's there, the lesson is being directed where it needs to go. And I can feel the same spirit our investigators feel; and more importantly what the spirit wants OF them. Sometimes it's a quiet presence, encouraging them to gain further knowledge of our gospel. And sometimes it's strong and there is no doubt that the burning in the bosom is the Holy Spirit testifying of truth. But in each instance, I know what the spirit is doing, and it helps me distinguish what others need. 

As long as we are in-tune with our Holy companion, we will NEVER be lead astray. Keep him in our lives, so we can live and become the people we were meant to be. Stay near and you'll never stray afar.

Love, Elder West 

Taken from our mission car (truck):

Investigator Text Message Home

We received another text message and pictures from a member in New Mexico.  Garret and his companions were doing a service project.  This is what she said:

"I really love these young missionaries for their dedication to our Heavenly Father and their mission.  Thank you for doing such a great job raising them!" Sister Kathy Ladner

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Doin Work

These past few weeks have been AMAZING!  We've had so much going on that it's hard to keep up with it all. I've had the chance to help out with the "Tour de Gila" bike race. I guess it's a big deal; Lance Armstrong used to come to it. A lot of bikers from around the world participate and it draws a good crowd.

We were given a responsibility at the race, and MY job was to be a "neutral feed zone" where any cyclists could grab our bottles of water. We had to hold it a certain way, and try to keep up with individual cyclists as they sped by, and even try and reach big groups or "packs" of riders; like 50 cyclists at a time.  It was a lot of fun! 

Also, we had our baptisms for our kiddos out in Mimbres. They were so funny during the baptism. While we were baptizing one of the brothers, the other two were in the water sitting on the stairs next to the font.  (haha) They were awesome!. Hopefully it'll be an experience they never forget, because I know I'll never forget it! 

Something else that happened, I got a phone call from this old rancher brother (member) by the name McDonald (yes he is old and a McDonald, haha), and he asked us to help him out on his ranch. My responsibility was to hold down the calves (baby cows) while old McDonald rancher cowboy man, branded the calf, castrated the poor critter, and then cut some of their ears. At the end of it all, I was covered in blood, sweaty, and very tired. But it was so much fun. Quick side note, the smell of cow hair and skin being burned is not pleasant. That's also something that I won't ever forget. And I'm convinced that branding cows must be the manliest thing you can do. And boy do those little critters have some muscle! 

For the month of May, our Zone is having a friendly competition. We are trying to reach a goal of 70 new investigators this month. The district in the zone who contributes the most new investigators will get a pizza party. So far the Silver Surfers (my district) are kicking butt!! But of course we do. Even though we have the smallest district in total area ratio to the other district's in the Zone; the Lord is truly putting people in our way to hear the gospel. It's so awesome.

I've had a strange time lately out here. I'm not home sick. I feel Iike there's no one or nothing for me out-side of the mission. Of course I have my family and friends that have been there for me, through the thick and thin. Other than that, I really don't have "things" to miss. It's kinda bittersweet. I want to look forward to something coming home, but for now I'm just caught up in my service and loving missionary life. So I'll just keep focusing on my work.  

I know I'm not the best at emailing, or writing letters, so everyone please give me some slack. And if anyone emails me, I'll do my best to respond. And I really do love getting your emails, they motivate me and help me through the tough times. So thanks for all of your letters! Anyways, I'll keep ya'll updated.

Love, Elder West