Monday, March 21, 2016

Week 18

Hello Friends and Family,
This week has been absolutely incredible! "For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul;" The past couple of days, I started to learn how white and ready the field is. Because of a lack of people to teach, my companion and I turned on finding mode. Within 3 days we had picked up 7 new investigators freakishly easily. One of which missed our appointment because of an emergency at work, and then spent the next hour calling different lds churches trying to get a hold of us.

So our ward had a Chili Cook-off and we decided to enter it and use it as a missionary opportunity to get people to come. We called our entree Missionary Chili. It was actually the bishop's favorite Chili, but it didn't win any awards. I'm content with not winning, because we just bought canned Chili from Walmart.

As far as things I learned this week:

1. The field is completely white and ready to harvest. This week I am going to work my hardest to find as many people as I can. I feel like it should not be unreasonable to find 3-5 people a day in this area. 

2. Be enthusiastic about the gospel!!! Be out going and accepting of others. The biggest problem missionaries have is not having people extend a welcoming hand at church. Introduce your self to everybody you don't know and talk to everybody you do know.

3. Human ambition is a powerful thing. The moment you really set your mind to something, outcomes start to change. The moment ambitious people come together and focus on a goal, they become unstoppable. The moment a community becomes ambitious and combines their efforts to reach their goal, the world starts rapidly changing. As members we are united in Christ. Let our ambition to grow His church center in our lives. Let our love for His gospel drive us to change the culture of the world. We have the keys to happiness. We have the keys to thriving communities. Look at the examples from the Book of Mormon.

Have a beautiful week and share the Gospel!!!
-Elder Shill

To Me:
Hey Mom, I'm doing pretty well.  My comp is from Texas and he is an incredibly funny guy. I am having so much fun serving around him. There is a lot I am learning from him. The hardest thing I have had to do... Missionary work isn't physically draining (at least in this area), its mentally and emotionally draining. Investing your soul into helping someone come closer to Christ is exhausting especially when they do not follow through with their commitments. Watching people grow in knowledge but not testimony is the worst. The way I keep moving forward is feeding off of the energy the people who do keep commitments have. Seeing them progress gives me huge amounts of motivation. The people I teach are very warm and welcoming. People are just willing to talk about Christ and let us in. We can usually find someone who will talk to us within 5 knocks. That's one benefit of the South. We have plenty of dinner appointments. We usually eat with a member at least 3 times a week. This ward loves the missionaries. The meat down hear is OUT OF THIS WORLD. I had the best sandwich last night at a members house. It was like a french dip, Philli cheese-steak mix. Quite literally the best thing I had eaten. I would order that every day, all day long.

Elder Shill

To Tal:
Hey Dad, Here are the answers to your questions
1. In the ward I spend the most time with our Ward Mission Leader, Brother Blocker. He is absolutely incredible and devotes so much effort to his calling.
2. This ward is doing pretty well. There are many families that hold this ward together. Its a whole lot stronger than the little branch I previously served in.
3. We don't do a lot of service. We are actually trying to do more. We have approached the city to look for some projects, as well as members, and no body has anything to be done. 
4. We do work with sister missionaries. There is a set assigned to our ward that we frequently see.
5. We haven't had any issues come up. We are trying to get the ward a bit more mission minded, but they are still doing great.
6. I'm still able to save a little bit of my monthly allowance.
7. We are only allowed to drive 1100 miles per month, which is not enough miles. We record our miles daily and then send in our reports at the end of the month.
8. Every month we go on a split called rescue visits with the young men. We try to visit all of the less active youth in one day. We have about 3 member present lessons a week though.
9. My bike is actually at the Spanish elders apartment because they needed to borrow it. Normally I keep it on a tarp in our apartment
10. I have not had to speak in sacrament meeting yet, but i do bear my testimony of fast Sundays. 
11. My companion is from Texas. He is going to go into the army for several years. He was going to play college football, but after serving around military he decided to join. 


Monday, March 14, 2016

Week 17

Hello Friends and Family!!

First and foremost I would like all of you at home to share this message on social media: ! This is the church's new Easter Initiative and it has a beautiful message about Christ. Often times, we really wonder if sharing something on social media will really help, but I can promise you it does. In Newport News, we had a now-investigator (who I believe is still investigating the church) hit a low point in her life. During her distress, she started to sincerely pray for help in finding Christ. Christianity did not make sense to her, yet she still believed in Christ.  After her prayer, she opened up Facebook and the first thing she saw was a post from her friend quoting the Book of Mormon. She took that as her answer from God of the direction she needed to go. She requested a Book of Mormon, and later that night we delivered it to her. Will every post bring someone to the missionaries? Probably not. However, I am thankful that her friend chose to post a scripture, and I hope each of you will share Christ and His Easter Message. I know that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass.

As for my week, it was pretty great -like always. There is never a dull moment. There is always something to do and someone to help. North Carolina is such a beautiful state.

Lessons I learned: 
  • Book of Mormon brings the spirit: There is a family the missionaries have been teaching for quite a long time and all I will say is they need a little peace in that chaotic home. The biggest struggle we face has been quieting the children long enough to teach a lesson. Everything we tried just wouldn't work. Every lesson we ended up talking over screaming to the older kids and parents and nothing productive would come out of the lesson. We decided to take a different approach this last lesson. We decided that we were going to liken the scriptures to the family, because it worked well with a different investigator. I bet, for the first time in years, that house was quiet. The spirit was so strong it either captured the attention of the children, or put them to sleep so we could teach. For a moment we paused and sat in crystal clear silence and let the spirit fill the room. After a couple minutes, one of the younger children reverently remarked on the quietness opening the perfect segue into identifying the fruits of the spirit. For the first time in a long time, that family enjoyed peace and really took our message into their hearts. We invited that family to read a chapter of the Book of Mormon every single day as a family and they eagerly accepted. 
  • We stopped by two days later to see if they actually read, and they hadn't. To say the least, we were disappointed. We asked why, and the family just looked at us like we were idiots, and then pointed out the rambunctious kids.  I heard a quiet voice, sounding like mine own thoughts, prompting me to read the first 5 verses. Thinking I must be insane I dismissed it. I then heard it again reminding me that I had promised, as a representative of Christ, that family peace if they would read their scriptures. I decided to try it. By verse 5 the room was still and the family was asking us to read more with them. In 5 verses, in less than 5 minutes, with almost no effort, there was once again peace in the house. At the end of the chapter we smiled, looked up at the family, and reverently said, "I told you it would work." 
  • Pondering: Often, people neglect the significant step of pondering the scriptures. At zone conference I realized that is one of the most important ways we can measure conversion, and real intent. Weather or not the investigator is pondering the scriptures is just as important as weather or not they are reading the scriptures.  It is the easiest way to see how much of our message has entered their heart. Its through pondering and deep study that we gain the desire to apply it into our life.
Stay frosty my friends,
-Elder Shill

Monday, March 7, 2016

Week 16

Hello Friends and Family!!

I cant believe I have been out for more than 3 months. It feels like I just entered the MTC last week. I absolutely love North Carolina! The people here are so incredibly nice. I didn't realize how real southern hospitality was. Everyone we talk to is willing to listen to us, or , at least, politely turn us down. I absolutely love my new companion. His name is Elder Tortorici. He is one of the funniest loose-cannon people I know. We get along so well its amazing and we teach really well together. There is so much I can learn from him about being a hard working missionary and loving the people. He is going home in about 6 weeks so this is going to be quite a fun transfer! 

Its really weird working in a ward. I'm used to a small branch where about 35 people show up. Now there are a couple hundred! The member support here is incredible. Every one is asking for opportunities to come out and teach with us. 

Things I learned this week:
  • The power of likening the scriptures: In Greensville, there is a less-active who has not been at church in many years and we are trying to get him to come. For quite some time, the missionaries have been stopping by his house about once a week to share a message and then beg him to come to church. The entire ward is trying to get him to come. Its almost ridiculous how much support he has yet he still isn't coming to church for various reasons. For many weeks, the missionaries have been taking a different approach to build his testimony. We are trying to get him to regularly read his scriptures. When we stopped by this week, we were disappointed to find out that he had not been reading. Instead of doing a generic read a chapter and leave, we decided to teach him how to apply the scriptures into his life. After a couple of verses we would pause and talk about what each verse meant to us. We came up with some incredible analogies and the spirit was incredibly strong in the room.
  • We are all bags of dirt: We paused on 1 Nephi 2:10 because I noticed the word "immovable". When I hear the word, immovable, I think of a mountain. No matter what comes its way, It will never move. I likened that unto how we should be when Satan tries to temp us. No matter what he sends we should be immovable in righteousness. As I was explaining this to him, my companion asked him if he felt like a mountain. After a moment of thinking about it, he said no. He felt like a bag of dirt, easily picked up and thrown around. As soon as he said that I thought, "How many bags of dirt are in a mountain?" It became instantly apparent to me why we go to church. At some point in time, we are all a pile of dirt, but if we place ourselves on a mountain, we can find added protection and become immovable. As we join others in following Christ, we are also strengthened. We also have the opportunity to strengthen others. 
  • Tin-Man: Some times, the first step in fixing a problem is asking for help. Im not exactly sure how we created this metaphor, but its a good one. The poor Tin-man from Alice and Wonderland was stuck. He could not move no matter how hard he tried. Feeling hopeless he probably accepted that fact that he would never do anything again, because he physically couldn't. His life changed when a little girl happened to walk by and he asked for help. People are waiting for the opportunity to help. They just need to be invited. Similarly, Christ is waiting for the opportunity to help. He just needs to be invited. 
I love yall,
- Elder Shill


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Week 15 Next Stop Greenville, NC

Hello Friends and Family,

This has been such a fun week yet frustratingly slow. Because of illness, we had to stay inside over half the week and then little obstacles kept popping up that prevented us from working. Most of the time it was a flat tire that needed to be replaced, which meant that we spent the rest of the day on foot walking to the bike shop to get a new tube. Bikes are more maintenance than I thought. Even though this week had its frustrations, we never stopped smiling and had many fun things happen along the way. 
To start the week off, I decided I needed a hair cut. Out of pure curiosity, and a little pride, I pulled out Elder Allred's buzzer and courageously walked into the unknown. To my surprise, it actually looked decent. With a little more practice, I think I may be pretty good at cutting my hair. After seeing how easy it was to cut your own hair, Elder Talbot decided to try. That was a mistake. After a good laugh, he gave up the buzzer and let Elder Allred fix his hair. I wish I had pictures of us right after the hair cut; however, any pictures I send home this week are post-cut photos. 
The next morning, we woke up and Elder Talbot was convinced he had strep throat. After a couple of calls to the mission nurse, she decided we should visit a local clinic so he could get professional help. They swabbed him for strep throat and luckily that came back negative; however, they weren't finished. They then decided to check for mono... You know that moment, when your in a room filled with guys who call each other "companions", live together, and dress similarly, and request being with in sight and sound of each other, and then a nurse feels its necessary to check for mono... That was probably one of the funniest experiences of my life! I wish I could convey the awkwardness we all experienced, including the nurse. Thank goodness that test also came back negative!

The next day we were hit with a huge storm! We had 8 tornado warnings on our phone, which technically means that a tornado touched down. I never saw any tornadoes, but it was extremely windy. It was so cool looking out over the James river and seeing huge waves crash against our shore. I will also say that I know for my self that it was very very windy and rainy. ;)

To end of the week, transfer calls came on Saturday. To much surprise, both Elder Allred and I will be leaving and Elder Talbot will remain in Newport News. I have mixed emotions about this. I'm excited to experience a new area with a new companion. Im also devastated to leave this area. I truly love the people here and it has been an honor to serve them for the past 3 months. I will be going to Greenville North Carolina, which I hear amazing things about. 

Things I learned this week:
  • Every discussion can in some way be related to the Gospel of Jesus Christ: I heard a quote somewhere, about every thing and investigator says can be tied to a principle in the gospel. So, I decided to try it at a dinner appointment. During our dinner discussion, we started talking about how much chaos is in the world. When it came time for us to give our spiritual thought, we used the dinner discussion as a spring board into our lesson. It was so much more powerful, because people saw the way the Gospel works. Looking back on what I said, I know I had in no way planed any of that. I have know idea how I was able to string together those thoughts.  I know that the spirit was guiding my utterances. 
  • Take life's trials head on with a smile: Even though this week was full of disappointments, we did a fantastic job keeping everything optimistic and entertaining. 
I love y'all,
-Elder Shill