Monday, February 22, 2016

Week 14

Hello Friends and Family,
This week has been pretty good.

One thing I really like about this area, is all the little kids love to hangout together outside. We were trying to contact a media referral and they didn't answer the door. As we were putting on our helmets to go to the next house, a little kid about 10 years old road up on his bike and challenged me to a race. Believing my odds for winning were pretty good, I accepted his challenge.  Doing my best not to slaughter the kid, I threw my bike into a low gear and road parallel with him until the very end when we tied. After that, a swarm of little children challenged us to a foot race. We accepted. Being pretty winded, some teenager, decided he wanted to beat me in a race.  Getting really serious, he tightened his shoes, and took his racing stance. I, in my slacks, white shirt, tie, and slip on dress shoes, prepared to lose. On "Go" we both took off as fast as we can. After about 10 seconds, He quit the race because of the lead I had on him. I'm pretty sure, that is the first race I have ever won.

Also, all those little kids raided my stash of pass along cards. I don't know why they wanted them so badly. Eventually I just handed one kid a stack and told him to pass them out because they were like piranhas. One kid reached into my shirt pocket, because that's where I keep some, and he stole my name tag! Luckily I got that back.

Needless to say, I love the people here. They are crazy, fun-loving people that really do have good hearts. Frequently people tell me to be safe, and I do, but I truly believe that when it comes down to it most, if not all, people have a kind heart.

Lessons I learned:
  • The worth of a soul is great in the sight of God: As I have been studying the Atonement of Jesus Christ, I realized one of the best ways to understand its significance is to study why it was necessary; why God wants us to live with him; what God has planned for our future. In short, what is the worth of a soul? I read a beautiful talk about an 18-month old girl who fell down a hole. Her rescue took several days and during those days millions of peoples eyes were glued to the television praying fervently for this little girl who they had not met. For a moment, those people knew how precious her soul was. They knew of her potential. In this pit of despair, this poor girl was miserable, hopeless, and didn't know exactly what was going on. I'm sure it was hard for her to see the bright future. In a way, we have all fallen into this well of mortality. We struggle, we have pains, and we often don't really know what's going on. We lose sight of our potential. We lose sight of the fact that we are sons and daughters of God. We also forget that we have millions of ancestors "glued to the television" praying fervently for us. Something I am doing to more fully understand the worth of a soul is trying to build Charity. Charity is the pure love of Christ. It is recognizing the worth of a soul.
  • Be a genuine friend: We had lost contact with one of our investigators. A couple days ago a member from the branch, who we had taken to her lessons, ran into her at the store. I don't know exactly what happened, but I do know that love and open arms were extended. Without us knowing, she walked to church and actively participated during class. She had a completely different attitude. That member extending love and support did more for her than I could have ever done. I have heard several people say that they joined the church because it felt right, but they stayed when things were hard because of their friends.
I love and miss y'all,
-Elder Shill

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Week 13 :)

Hello Friends and Family!

Heather was Baptized!!!! She is such an amazing woman who is completely embracing the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Her baptismal service was beautiful and the spirit was really strong. She brought a friend (non-mormon) who said that she felt the spirit and it was "refreshing." We aren't teaching her... yet. Whenever we run into Heather there is more light in her eyes. She tells us stories of people who see it. She says that people she has know for years ask her what changed. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a doctrine of hope. It is the brighter future and the ultimate source of happiness. Everyone who embraces the doctrine becomes empowered to face the world head on and push through life. In my personal studies I just read about King Lamoni's Father, who is a king over kings, willing to give up half of his kingdom to save his life, but to become a disciple of Christ he was willing to give up his entire kingdom. This story alludes to the question, what are you willing to give up to be a disciple of Christ? Are you willing to give up your entire kingdom? What price do you put on your eternal happiness? I know that this is the true church of Christ. I know that He governs it through his living prophet Thomas S. Monson.

Things I learned this week:
  • Life doesn't change until you make the decision: People are agents, not objects. Until someone decides they are going to grow, they can only stay stagnant. We have a couple investigators that have a "It will happen when it happens" mentality, and that is completely untrue. Something can only happen when you actually decide something and implement your decision. If you want to stop drinking, strive to stop. No progress can be made if no effort is being put forth. Move forward and pray for the strength to push through anything that might hold you back. Think about a jet-ski. You can twist your handle bars and strive to change directions, but until you give the jet-ski some gas, you cannot change directions. 
  • Faith is key: We had a wonderful lesson with a less-active family about faith and how we can strengthen it. There is a reason that faith is the first principle of the gospel. I feel that there are a couple misconceptions about faith. It is not blind hope in something. It does not provide a excuse to be lazy by saying ,"God will take care of it". Faith is a principle of action. In order for God to step in, you must be striving your hardest to over come your challenges. God gave us a brain so we can use it. Faith is a "If I magnify my calling, God will help me" kind of thought. 
Im sorry my letter is a little short this week, the library was holding a computer class that put us pretty far behind schedule. 

I love y'all:
- Elder Shill

Monday, February 8, 2016

Week 12

Hello Friends and Family,

I have learned so much from this week,

Personal study has become one of my favorite hours of the day. I'm starting to understand what Nephi meant when he said his soul delighted in the scriptures. I became engulfed in the scriptures this morning. I was reading it as if I was reading my favorite book during the climax of the plot. I can honestly say that that has never happened before. The more I study, the more I love to study. I could honestly spend the entire day studying the scriptures and feel like I had a successful day. I especially love my deep read of the Book of Mormon. I am learning so much about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I'm on 1 Nephi 15 and every chapter has taught me so much.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the answer to any question. We all have stresses in life, and we all need to find a place where we can find rest and peace. I know that whatever toils with your mind before you go to sleep can be fixed with Jesus Christ's Atonement. You just have to read your scriptures and pray earnestly to come closer to Christ and the rest fits into place. I invite you all to experiment with the Gospel! Jump in with both feet! Be 100% Mormon for a month and watch your life change.

Heather passed her baptismal interview!! She is going to be joining Christ church on the 13th! I am so excited for her as she begins her journey to follow Christ.

Our other investigators seem to be doing pretty well. They are slowly growing in the gospel. Random things, usually the death of a loved one, keep happening that prevents them from being able to come to church, which is frustrating. There is protection at church. It is a place of rejuvenation. We had an investigator, who we had not seen in a couple weeks, decide to read the Book of Mormon. When we finally got back in contact with him he had read all the way to Alma. My companions and I were blown away!

This testimony meeting was one of the best testimony meetings I have participated in. Almost every person bore a quick 3-5min testimony on the savior and kept their remarks on Him. There were no long emotional monologs or fun experiences that had occurred over the past month. The testimonies were simple yet profound and the spirit was undeniably there.  

Things I learned this week:
  • Pray sincerely: In Preach My Gospel, there is a small section that goes into more detail about what we should  be praying for. Two things really stood out to me. First, review your day with the Lord. Tell Him what you did and how you felt. Sometimes I open my planner and I tell him about everything that we planed. It becomes a way to hold myself accountable to the Lord. I tell him about how my day went and I tell Him about what I have planned for tomorrow. The second thing I learned is to pray with the spirit. I know it sounds silly, but you can ask god what you should be asking for. Ask for guidance in your prayers. This practice, helps conform your will to the Lords. I highly recommend studying Chapter 4 of Preach My Gospel.
  • Stand out: While we were out proselyting, we received a call from another companionship asking for help with a  service project. We met at the edge of our boundaries in front of this mechanics shop and started to discuss what we needed to do. After a minute, he walked up to us and asked, " Are y'all gentlemen?" A little confused and flattered we all responded, "We sure do try our best to be." He then started introducing us to everyone he knew: His family, who happened to be eating lunch with him, and his fellow mechanics. We told them a bit about who we were and what we did. They were baffled to say the least. Be different. It will bring you opportunities to share the gospel.
  • Contention is not the tone that resonates with the spirit. We have had a couple of really good lessons with groups of people where one or two people just are not on board and try to energetically preach their side with powerful language and volume. Instantly the spirit left. Everybody in the lesson noticed it. I'm thankful that it happened because it became a witness to the validity of our message. After a while, the preachers left and the remainders wanted to continue meeting with us.
I know this gospel is true.

I love y'all,
-Elder Shill

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Week 11

Hello Friends and Family,

This week has been great! The snow has melted and it is 70 degrees today. As much as I hate the heat, missionary work is so much easier because people are actually outside. One of my favorite parts about the area I am in is I have the opportunity to ride a bike. It is so much fun stopping people on the streets and throwing mine and their comfort zone out the window. We meet some pretty funny people with some pretty interesting names. Sometimes I'm not sure if people are giving us fake names or if they are being completely serious. One person stopped us on the street and just thanked us for actually following Christ. He said that Mormons really showed others, through their actions, their devotion to Him.

Baptism is immanent! Our investigator, Heather, is completely prepared for baptism! She is so excited to join the church. Every time we talk with her there is even more light in her eyes. She is becoming eager to learn about the church. The more she learns, the more she loves it.

We have several other new Investigators that have a ton of potential. You can usually tell who is going to be progressing and who isn't. One of our new investigators we have been able to teach daily and he is already excited for baptism. I'm just hopping that his faith will be strong enough to help him get to church a couple of times.

Lessons I learned:
  • The Lord places people in your path, if you listen: On exchanges this week we had a really neat experience where we were lead by the spirit to a new investigator. We were about to go across town to visit some people but we decided to visit an Investigator who lived near the area we were at. As soon as we hopped off our bikes, a man walked out of his apartment and saw us. Our exchange focus was "Talk to Everyone" so we decided to talk to him. As we were teaching he said that 1) He didn't really know why he came out side 2) He's been struggling in life, and 3) We brightened his day. We are going to meet with him tomorrow. As a side note, the person we were going to stop by wasn't even home.
  • Everyone needs the gospel: We recently started teaching this guy, we had met before. We played basket ball against him on p-day. As we were teaching him, he started opening up with many sincere question about religion, and where there are so many different churches. He said he is interested in learning more about our church, and accepted to be baptized when he knows for him self.
  • Sharing the Gospel brings happiness: Quite simply, the most successful feeling days are the days we talked to everyone and declared repentance.

I will try to take more pictures this week.

I love and miss y'all,
-Elder Shill